NOVEMBER 20 -- New York City Transit's first "green" bus depot -- the Mother Clara Hale Depot at 146th Street and Lenox Avenue in Manhattan -- opened today with great fanfare and speeches by top officials from Transit and TWU Local 100. 300 buses will run out of the facility, beginning on November 22 with a smaller number and then scaling up. The state-of-the-art depot, which features LEED certification and a green roof, was built on the site of a trolley barn that started operating in the 1890. TWU Local 100 organized the property some 45 years later.
In his remarks, TWU Local 100 Secretary-Treasurer Earl Phillips talked about how, when he began work as a Bus Mechanic 22 years ago, the diesel fumes from the depot were so thick it looked ghostly. He mentioned the death last year of longtime Maintainer Tony Nigro, who worked at the facility and whose death from lung cancer was found to be job-related. He had been retired for only three months. Phillips praised the new, bright, and clean depot, and said: "We come to these jobs to work for 25 years, retire, and have a good life with our families – we don’t want to die on these jobs." Today we’re not negotiating," he continued to MTA CEO Tom Prendergast, who was also on the dais, referring to the Local 100 contract, which expires in 2017. "We’re friends. Today we’re laughing, but in another year and a half we’ll be fighting for betterment, for good salaries, and good depots. Let’s work together and move forward."
The Depot is named for longtime community activist Mother Clara Hale, who founded a community center, Hale House, that helped over a thousand drug addicted babies and young children who were born addicted to drugs, and many who were suffering from HIV. She famously said, "hold them, rock them, love them and tell them how great they are."
The Depot uses passive solar heating, collects rainwater in storage tanks for washing, and has heat pumps for greater energy efficiency.