News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Funds earmarked for Palomar College program with NCTD

Federal grant to go toward zero-emission buses and training
Palomar+College%E2%80%99s+Learning+Resource+Center.+%28Courtesy+photo%29
Palomar College’s Learning Resource Center. (Courtesy photo)

Palomar College is in line to receive funding for an apprenticeship program to train North County Transit District workers in emerging zero-emission transportation systems, the college recently announced.

At the end of June, NCTD announced that it was awarded more than $29 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle grant program to purchase 23 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric buses. The grant includes funding for the apprenticeship program.

“This funding will help us broaden our relationship with NCTD beyond our current efforts to develop internships and apprenticeships,” Star Rivera-Lacey, Palomar’s superintendent/president, said in a college news release. “This program is responsive to the region’s workforce needs and prepares students to earn a livable wage as technicians for electric and hydrogen-fueled buses and commercial vehicles.”

The federal grant money is in addition to funding that NCTD has received to purchase six battery electric buses and 12 additional hydrogen fuel cell buses. With the anticipated purchase of 23 hydrogen fuel cell buses funded by the grant, the transportation agency will have 41 zero-emission buses in operation by 2025, according to NCTD.

“This funding is critical to ensuring NCTD meets federal, state, and local goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also create good-paying jobs in the community,” NCTD Board Chairwoman and Solana Beach Councilwoman Jewel Edson said in the news release. “The purchase of 23 additional hydrogen buses will transform NCTD’s fleet and further our transition to 100 percent zero-emission operations.”

In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving North San Diego County communities’ air quality, the new zero-emission buses will replace aging compressed natural gas buses, officials said.

Construction is expected to start this year on a hydrogen fueling station at the transit district’s West Division facility in Oceanside, according to NCTD. The goal is to support the deployment of 50 hydrogen fuel cell buses at the complex. The buses will be used on the district’s Breeze bus routes that serve the cities of Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar, in addition to Camp Pendleton and Fallbrook.