Many residents in large, urban communities rely on public transportation to get to work, school and other venues. We recently got a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to keep a transit fleet that services 200,000 riders daily running on schedule.
The transportation authority’s fleet maintenance center ensures the 750 buses, 80 light rail vehicles and two inclines are always ready to go by scheduling and performing routine maintenance. These efforts, along with the goal of reducing the average age of each vehicle to six years, support the authority’s commitments to become sustainable, protect the environment and encourage residents to use public transportation for their daily commutes.
The fleet maintenance center schedules and coordinates general maintenance for each vehicle, including oil and coolant changes, battery charging and tire rotation. The center generates used oil, oil filters, spent batteries and tires as a result of these routine tasks. The shop also uses washing solvents to clean parts and sometimes generates paint wastes from touching up scratches and dents. These waste streams are recycled whenever possible to minimize the amount that needs to be sent to the landfill.
Maintenance technicians also realize how important it is to prepare for the occasional incidental spill. Loose absorbent is used to clean up small leaks and spills, and absorbent mats, socks and booms are kept on hand for larger spills.
The authority has procedures in place for any leaks and spills that happen while their vehicles and equipment are on the road. The mobile fleet service vehicle maintenance staff members clean up small spills while the authority contracts with the county’s fire and hazmat team to clean up larger spills.
Vehicle fluids aren’t the only types of spills that the authority has plans to handle. They also have procedures in place for bio-hazard (bodily fluid) spills that occasionally happen on a bus or other transit vehicle. To ensure the safety of their drivers and passengers, the bus or vehicle is taken out of service and brought to the garage to be cleaned and disinfected by trained service team members.
Scheduling oil changes and having plans in place for out-of-the-ordinary spills isn’t something that most passengers consider when they step on a bus or train each morning. This preparation, however, plays a vital role in keeping transit vehicles on the road and on schedule — and as a valuable resource for the community.
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