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Brookhaven plans regional school bus hub

One of three diesel/electric hybrid buses operated by

One of three diesel/electric hybrid buses operated by Suffolk Transportation Service, Inc., is pictured during a press conference regarding the company's new transportation hub for school buses in Coram. (Aug. 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Brookhaven and Suffolk Transportation Services Mondayunveiled a new $6 million regional hub for school buses that will include a 13,000-square-foot expansion and create 150 jobs.

"This is the first time a transportation hub will be built in Brookhaven," said Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine. "It's the transportation hub for the future."

Exactly 150 full-time jobs, many of which are for bus drivers and mechanics, will be added to the company to complete the expansion, officials said.

Adding employees is good, considering jobs nationwide are hard to come by, said Pat Bowden, president of Transportation Workers Union, which represents Suffolk Transportation Services. The jobs will pay between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, she said after the afternoon news conference in Coram.

The bus yard originally consisted of two sites totaling 7,500 square feet, but will be enlarged in part due to tax breaks from Brookhaven's Industrial Development Agency.

Agency officials said Monday that the value of those breaks has not been determined.

Officials also announced Monday that some buses will have the latest child-safety equipment, ensuring students won't be left sleeping on buses.

Drivers will now have one minute after parking the vehicle to walk to the back of the bus and push an emergency button to be certain each seat is empty and counted for.

If the driver fails to push the button, an alarm will sound. Motion detectors on the bus will also trigger an alarm after the bus has been parked, officials said.

Even the most diligent bus drivers can forget to check for children, said Tom McAteer, executive vice president of Suffolk Transit Services.

The buses, too, come with a recorded intercom system voice that can talk to children, helping them to relax if they are ever left on the bus.

Suffolk Transportation Services plans to demolish its two outdated structures to make room for the new building, which will include a fueling station.

The company serves more than 25,000 schoolchildren and 10,000 public transit passengers each day.

It has two other facilities in Ronkonkoma, as well as others in Bay Shore, Brentwood and Islip.

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