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York County's Rabbit Transit facility will be one of the first of 29 transit hubs in the state to receive a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station — and one of only seven that will be accessible to the public.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards announced Monday that Trillium CNG team had been selected for the $84.5 million project in which Trillium will design, build, finance, operate and maintain CNG fueling stations at 29 public transit agency sites through a 20-year agreement.

Rich Farr, Rabbit Transit's executive director, said the deal had been in the works for several years, and the company already has plans in motion to ease the transition.

Rabbit Transit is in the process of moving its York facility from 1230 Roosevelt Ave. in York City to the former Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff warehouse at 415 Zarfoss Drive in West Manchester Township. Renovations on the warehouse have been designed to accommodate the CNG station.

None of their vehicles can currently operate on natural gas, but Farr said the organization has already placed orders for four new vehicles that can operate on natural gas. Farr hopes the vehicles and fueling station will be ready in time for Rabbit Transit to move into the new facility by the end of August, he said.

Farr said the goal is for all of Rabbit Transit's vehicles to run on natural gas, but that may take up to 11 years because they recently purchased vehicles, which must operate for 12 years before replacement.

Approximately 70 percent of Rabbit Transit's vehicles will be eligible for replacement within the next five years, Farr added.

The Zarfoss Drive facility will also be one of seven to receive a CNG fueling station accessible to the public. As part of the agreement, PennDOT will receive a 15 percent royalty, excluding taxes, for each gallon of fuel sold to the public to support the cost of the project.

PennDOT will receive at least $2.1 million in royalties over the term of the agreement, according to the release.

Farr said Rabbit Transit's benefit from the agreement will be reduced fuel costs and a reduced impact on the environment.

Based on current CNG, diesel and gasoline prices as well as fuel usage, agencies can save a total of more than $10 million annually, according to the release.

Rabbit Transit's Gettysburg facility is also scheduled to receive a CNG station in 2017.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.

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