MTA Celebrates Re-opening of Mother Clara Hale Depot With Ribbon-Cutting

Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Thomas F. Prendergast, New York City Transit officials, union representatives, and community and elected officials celebrated the re-opening of the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Harlem on Thursday, November 20.  The depot opens for limited service on Sunday, November 23.

The new depot will house 120 buses serving the M1, M7, M35, and SBS M15 routes when the facility fully opens on January 4, 2015.  It consists of three floors, a mezzanine and has the capacity for 150 buses.  That will allow NYC Transit to accommodate any growth in the future. Starting Sunday, three routes will operate out of the depot: M9, SBS M60, and M98, with more joining them in January.

 NYC Transit worked with Harlem-based advocacy group WEACT and local officials involve the community in the depot’s design, which emphasized environmental mitigations.  The final result includes LEED certification; a green roof that uses plants to cool the facility, absorbs CO2 from the air, and reduces storm-water runoff; thermal insulation to save energy and reduce emissions; a solar wall that serves as a passive heating device; rainwater collection for water treatment to wash buses; cost-effective and energy efficient Heat Recovery Units on the roof for a heat exchanger and; a high efficiency white roof that will prevent heat gain in warmer weather, but will not reflect light onto nearby buildings or cause glare.

“It’s one of the most environmentally friendly facilities we’ve ever built, with state-of-the-art bus maintenance equipment that will go a long way toward enhancing service while minimizing our footprint on the surrounding community,” Chairman Prendergast said.

The Mother Clara Hale Depot was built in 1890 as a trolley barn and was modified in 1939 to become the 146 St Bus Depot.  It was rehabilitated in 1990 and renamed to honor Mother Clara McBride Hale in 1993.  In January 2009, NYC Transit began demolition to rebuild the depot for modern bus operations. Testing and commissioning activities started in March 2014, with final completion in November 2014 of the $262 million project. 

President Carmen Bianco commended the design, saying it “includes enough space onsite for employee parking and has an off-street queuing area for returning buses, which eliminates the need to wait on the street outside the depot.  Inside the depot, a system of interior traffic lanes and ramps allows all buses to enter and exit via Lenox Av to improve traffic flow.”

“This is a project several years in the making,” said Darryl Irick, Senior Vice President of Buses for MTA New York City Transit and President of the MTA Bus Company.  “And with the community’s involvement and input from the start, we have been able to deliver a modern, sustainable depot that will serve Manhattan residents for years to come.” 

NYC Transit made every effort to use Harlem-based firms and local personnel for the new depot.  The MTA worked with elected officials, trade unions, and private vendors to model programs that resulted in local training and hiring. 

MTA Arts & Design and NYC Transit also incorporated artwork into the depot’s design. The façade is embellished by the first art project coordinated by MTA Arts & Design for a bus depot.  “Mother Hale’s Garden,” by artist Shinique Smith, encompasses large-scale mosaic artwork installed on the east facade of the depot facing Lenox Avenue, and laminated glass artwork in windows on the north and south sides of the building.  The combined square footage is approximately 6,672 square feet. Smith collected clothing, fabric and other items from the community surrounding The Hale House and the site of the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot to incorporate in her artwork. Ms. Smith also worked with first-grade students at PS242 to draw flowers and incorporated the children’s drawings into her glass artwork for the north and south windows of the depot.

To see photos of the event, click here