SunLine Transit Agency Celebrates 40 Years Serving the Coachella Valley and Paving the Way to Advancements in Zero Emission Transit

By: Andrea Carter

SunLine Transit Agency is celebrating its 40th anniversary of serving the transit needs of the Coachella Valley.

The agency is dedicated to leading the advancement of alternative fuels while providing safe, accessible public transportation to the businesses, visitors and residents of Greater Palm Springs. SunLine Transit Agency operates a fixed route bus service and curb-to-curb paratransit for the mobility impaired. Its fixed route and paratransit vehicles travel more than 4 million miles per year, covering over 619 bus stops located throughout a 1,120 mile-service area, carrying approximately 4.82 million riders.

Formed by a joint powers authority in 1977 to operate the Coachella Valley’s public transportation system, SunLine has made major strides the past four decades in the development and implementation of not only its own clean fuels fleet – but has been recognized as a national leader and pioneer in zero emission transit. SunLine innovatively took on many “firsts” in the industry – from being the first transit agency to convert its entire fleet from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to putting the first fuel cell bus into service.

In 1992, SunLine’s Board of Directors sought to preserve the air quality in the Coachella Valley and voted to transition its fleet to alternative fuels. In the next couple years, CNG buses were arriving – adding 40 to SunLine’s fleet as well as a transit and public CNG fueling site.  By 2000, the agency featured its first zero emission bus as well as on-site H2 fueling.

SunLine then brought in a fuel cell hybrid bus in 2002, and in October of this past year, unveiled the 7th generation of the fuel cell bus at the California Transit Association’s (CTA) annual fall conference in Riverside, CA.  At that same conference, SunLine Transit Agency was honored with CTA’s Transit Innovation Award.

Serving as the test bed for fuel cell technology development, hydrogen fueling infrastructure and commercial operation of fuel cell buses, SunLine Transit Agency commercially operates over a quarter of the nation’s fuel cell buses partially on renewable hydrogen produced on its property.

In April 2017, the State’s California Climate Investments program announced SunLine as the recipient of a $12.5 million grant for a pilot project that will deploy five new zero-emission buses in the Coachella Valley and help fund existing hydrogen infrastructure.

Beyond its strides in innovation, SunLine has been a committed community partner – “giving back” through a number of programs. The agency hosts initiatives like ‘Pantry to People’ and ‘Fill the Bus’ food collection events – as well as the ‘Pack the Bus’ backpack and school supply drives at the beginning of each academic year.

As part of its 40th anniversary, SunLine will be surprising riders on 40 buses on different dates over the next couple of months as part of its 40th Anniversary Rider Rewards Program. The purpose of this initiative is to celebrate 40 years of transit service in the Coachella Valley by thanking customers for their loyalty with prizes ranging from movie tickets, car washes and dinner certificates to SunLine water bottles, canvas bags and more. The agency kicked off the celebration by treating riders to 40-cent rides on May 31, 2017.

“We’re so pleased to be celebrating this major milestone with our customers and the entire Coachella Valley,” said Lauren Skiver, CEO/General Manager of SunLine Transit Agency. “The SunLine team wishes to express our gratitude for the strong community support we have received through the years.”

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About SunLine Transit Agency

SunLine Transit Agency is a joint powers authority formed in 1977 to operate the Coachella Valley’s public transportation system. SunLine offers fixed route bus service and curb-to-curb paratransit for the mobility impaired. Its fixed route and paratransit vehicles travel more than 4 million miles per year, covering over 619 bus stops located throughout a 1,120 mile-service area, carrying approximately 4.82 million riders. SunLine Services Group regulates three taxi franchises who provide taxi services throughout the Valley.  SunFuels alternative fueling station offers compressed natural gas and hydrogen for SunLine and the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about SunLine Transit Agency, visit sunline.org.

 

 

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