PARTA receives $1.3 million grant

PARTA+buses+sit+parked+at+the+PARTA+headquarters+across+the+street+from+Dix+Stadium+on+Summit+Street%2C+where+the+CNG+pump+will+be+built+next+year.

PARTA buses sit parked at the PARTA headquarters across the street from Dix Stadium on Summit Street, where the CNG pump will be built next year.

Alex Tinline

PARTA is taking steps to become more environmentally friendly by installing a second condensed natural gas fueling pump.

Through the grant they received earlier this month of over $1.3 million from The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Ohio Transit Preservation Partnership Program, PARTA will be the first in Portage County to take this step. 

“Our buses will be powered by natural gas. … It’s almost 100% clean, so it doesn’t have the emissions which diesel has,” said Katherine Manning, PARTA’s director of planning. “The fuel comes domestically, so you don’t have to buy it overseas.”

The natural gas is being obtained locally through the process of fracking. Fracking is when gas or oil is forced out from the subterranean rock layer by injecting liquid at a high pressure.

The station, which is set to break ground in spring 2019, will be a public-private Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station, which any other public transit can utilize. Transit systems such as Akron Metro and SARTA (Stark Area Regional Transit Authority) have already made the transition to natural gas.

“It is one of our goals as a transit to be environmentally friendly,” Manning said. “The goal of transit overall is doing ride-sharing and moving people on one vehicle. Instead of having 30 cars moving, you have one vehicle with 30 people on it. (It) is much more environmentally friendly.”

Other plans include capitalized maintenance funding to pay for expenses, including bus inspections, bus repair and building maintenance and funding for five 16-passenger buses for Dial-A-Ride transportation.  

“We (PARTA) use those buses (Dial-A-Ride) for students with disabilities — if somebody broke their ankle or somebody needs transported aside from a big bus,” said Zac Sansone, a senior business management major and PARTA’s campus road supervisor.

PARTA is currently applying for more grants to fund the expansion of a larger facility to shelter the larger buses at their station located on Summit Street across from Dix Stadium.

PARTA general manager Claudia Amrhein said in the original release about the funding that she hopes the grant will lead to more transit work going forward.

“I am pleased that ODOT and the State of Ohio has taken the steps to fund the needs of transit and the most vulnerable among us who rely on public transit. PARTA and Portage County residents will benefit greatly from this investment,” Amrhein said.

“I look forward to continuing to work with the state to meet the needs of transit now and into the future.”

Alex Tinline is the parking and transportation reporter. Contact her at [email protected]