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New Facility will Support MST’s South County Services

MST broke ground on its new South County Operations and Maintenance Facility in July. The 11,000-square-foot King City complex is expected to open in late 2021.

Plans call for four maintenance bays and storage space for 40 buses. Built to accommodate future battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the structure also includes an HVAC system with bipolar ionization technology. Johns Hopkins hospitals use the same tool to stop the spread of airborne pathogens, including COVID-19.

The new facility will support MST’s fixed-route and on-call services in King City, Greenfield, Soledad, Gonzales and other South County communities where the agency has been expanding for nearly two decades. Storing and maintaining buses near the start of these routes eliminates a daily 50-mile drive from MST’s Salinas facility. That reduces vehicle wear and tear, fuel costs, greenhouse gas emissions and labor expenses.

“As it makes MST operations more efficient, the facility will also move 35 jobs to King City. Those professionals contribute to the local economy, and we’ll hire additional personnel over time as we grow our South County services,” says MST Assistant General Manager Lisa Rheinheimer.

The 190 jobs generated by project construction will produce an estimated $77.5 million in direct and induced economic return.

Facility Funding

Strong partnerships helped MST fund the $17.2 million project. Construction is partially financed by a first-of-its-kind federal loan through the Department of Transportation Build America Bureau’s Rural Project Initiative. The $8.5 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan requires no principal payments for the first five years, followed by payments for 30 years at a fixed rate of 0.78%.

The Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) will contribute $10.4 million in Measure X funds during construction and for loan repayment. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) put an additional

$4.3 million in federal bus facility funds toward the project, and local dollars will also support costs.
“This is a wonderful example of regional, state and federal organizations and officials working together to make an important project happen, even during a global pandemic and economic slowdown,” says TAMC Executive Director, Debbie Hale.

Community Impact

State and local officials were among the dignitaries speaking at the July groundbreaking. They highlighted the project’s environmental and economic benefits, and praised a Hartnell College – MST job training program planned for the new facility. Officials called the agency’s South County investment a vital link to medical care, education and jobs. Lack of access to meaningful mobility options stifles the ability of persons with low income, the disabled, elderly and veterans from fully participating in society, and this project will allow MST to fill mobility gaps in the Salinas Valley, an area with projected population growth and an increased need for public transit.

MST Assistant General Manager, Lisa Rheinheimer, underscored the financial impact for both communities and residents.

“The average family spends 20% of their income on transportation needs, second only to the cost of living in their homes,” said Rheinheimer. “It was important for MST to ensure safe, low-cost and reliable forms of transportation for all members of our community, so they can put that money in the bank and not into gas tanks.”

“This is a wonderful example of regional, state and federal organizations and officials working together to make an important project happen, even during a global pandemic and economic slowdown.”