Rio Hondo College, a National Training Center member of the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), recently received a grant from the State of California to purchase a new CNG shuttle to add to the college’s transportation fleet.

U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, secured $500,000 in federal funds for Rio Hondo to help the college purchase an El Dorado National Aero Elite Ford F-550 CNG.

The steep incline from the bottom of the campus to the school’s main building has been a difficult trip for disabled students. The new CNG bus will make the trip much easier because it is handicap accessible.

“This new, handicap-accessible, natural gas-powered bus will make getting around Rio Hondo College easier and more convenient for all of our students, especially those with disabilities,” Napolitano said. “I was proud to help Rio Hondo College secure the necessary funding to upgrade its transportation and make its campus even more welcoming to students of all backgrounds.”


Congresswoman Grace Napolitano and Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Ted Martinez, Jr., Ph.D, stand in front of Rio Hondo’s new CNG bus. Credit: Rio Hondo College

Russell Castandeda-Calleros, Rio Hondo’s director of government and community relations said, “Not all of the federal funding was spent on the bus, and the college can use the remainder to purchase more shuttles at a later date. We’re very proud to add this bus to our fleet to accommodate students.”

Castandeda-Calleros noted this is the third bus purchased with federal funds, and the new CNG-powered bus is the first that is green. The bus contributes to promoting cleaner air and more efficient transportation around the campus.

The new bus will also be a part of the college’s Go Rio program, which allows 2,500-3,000 students to get to and from the hillside campus. From a starting point of 900 students using five different transit agencies to get to and from the campus, Go Rio has grown to thousands per school year, Castaneda-Calleros said.

Montebello Bus Lines, the Sunshine Shuttle, Metro, Norwalk Transit and Foothill Transit buses are Go Rio’s providers. All full-time students with no outstanding debts to the college are eligible for a discounted transit pass that is honored by all the program’s transport operators.

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