The Delaware Area Transit Agency shall wander no more.

The Delaware Area Transit Agency shall wander no more.

The organization closed on properties at 118 and 119 Henderson Court on March 22, DATA executive director Denny Schooley told the Delaware County commissioners at their March 26 meeting.

The transit agency had been operating out of a doublewide trailer in Brown Township.

"This new facility will give more of a sense to us and to the community that we are here to stay," Schooley said, "that we're not just gypsies in the night wandering from place to place."

DATA had been leasing the 18,000-square-foot facility since July 2010 but was able to purchase it and the neighboring property outright with a $1.25 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

Schooley said DATA will next hire an architectural and engineering firm to provide the expertise to modify the facility for the transit agency's specific use.

"We're going to install a compressed natural gas fueling station and begin to convert our fleet over time to natural gas," Schooley said.

On Thursday, the U.S. government reported that natural gas fell to a 10-year low at $2.15 per 1,000 cubic feet.

"We can run our fleet on natural gas for roughly half the cost of running it on gasoline," Schooley said.

DATA also will benefit from a more centralized operating location. The doublewide in Kilbourne was nearly six miles outside the city of Delaware. The new facility is near the intersection of London Road and Pittsburgh Drive in Delaware.

"Most of our trips begin and end in the city of Delaware," Schooley said. "So the first thing our new location will do is reduce the number of deadhead (empty bus) trips we have to make during the course of a day. That will dramatically reduce fuel and labor costs for us."

The DATA fleet includes 22 vehicles: 16 with a capacity of eight; five with capacity of 16; and one larger trolley with a capacity of 26. Each vehicle can accommodate at least two riders in wheelchairs.

Schooley said the new location also will allow his agency to consider operating a garage and doing all of its own repair and maintenance work on vehicles.

"We'll look at what's more cost-efficient: contracting the service out or doing it ourselves," he said. "But, at least now we have that option."

Commissioner Tommy Thompson told Schooley he was excited that DATA had a permanent home.

"The county was lucky that we had a facility out in Kilbourne all those years that we were able to utilize," he said. "But being located more to the center of the county is going to allow you to provide better service. And I look forward to seeing our bus service expand."

DATA receives 275 requests for rides daily. In 2011, because of funding constraints, it turned down 1,300 rides.