GONZALES — City of Gonzales has facilitated the donation of three buses to sister city Tateposco, Mexico, in order to help with public transit for residents and students attending the University of Guadalajara.
The decision was made by the city council during its Jan. 6 meeting, allowing Gonzales to obtain two metro-sized buses and one smaller community vehicle from Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) and then drive them to the border.
“The mayor and city council, through the city manager’s office, wanted to continue the strong relationship we have with the sister city,” said Deputy City Manager Mark Hartunian. “They had sent a contingent to meet with the city manager to help facilitate finding them transportation vehicles.”
Hartunian inspected surplus vehicles from MST and found the three buses, with the smaller community vehicle having a capacity of 18 passengers.
“They donated three vehicles that will pass through the city of Gonzales and we’ll make sure that all the arrangements are met,” Hartunian said.
“They’re going to use them primarily for community transportation to help students and community members gain access to the University of Guadalajara,” he added. “It’s for a public need, which is consistent with the desires of the city, education and providing resources and helping youth.”
The trip between Tateposco and the University of Guadalajara is more than 50 miles one way.
When asked about the status of the vehicles, Hartunian explained that MST has requirements for when they take vehicles offline, at which point they are deemed surplus and subject to donation or can enter the secondary market.
“By and large, this is what they try to do with them,” Hartunian said of having the buses re-enter service under a new owner.
The City of Gonzales has donated equipment to Tateposco in the past, including a fire truck and Jaws of Life, as well as having sent personnel to train Tateposco staff on how to use the equipment.
“In reverse, they’ve brought mariachi here,” said City Manager Rene Mendez.
Mendez explained that from Tateposco’s end, being a sister city is about cultural exchange.
Tateposco is within the District of Cocula, which is credited as the birthplace of mariachi.
The groups and traveling exhibits that have come from Tateposco to Gonzales have attended festivals in the park and helped to educate about the history of the art.
“We have a huge community from Tateposco here,” Mendez said.
Over the decades, families from Tateposco have come to Gonzales, making the city a central point to visit. As families travel between Gonzales and Tateposco, opportunities, especially in education and jobs, benefit both communities, Mendez said.
“They feel good that their family back home is doing what they need to do,” he said.
“The costs are nominal,” said Hartunian, when asked about the budget for the transport. “For us, it’s going to be fuel, getting the vehicles here, and then the costs associated with delivering the vehicles to the border. Essentially that’s going to be a lot of volunteerism. It’ll be employees of the city that have the appropriate licensing to drive the vehicles. It’s a matter of fuel and incidentals.”
He added of the estimated $2,000 cost, “It’s taxpayer money, but it’s for an extraordinarily great purpose.”
“I can clearly make the nexus for the public benefit to both communities,” Mendez said.
“To use those vehicles to go to the University of Guadalajara is in the same spirit of what we do in Gonzales to do everything we can to advocate the ability for our youth to get to higher education,” Hartunian said. “It was the perfect investment to make.”