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2014 Bus Maintenance Survey: Technician Staffing, Training Issues Grow

Posted on May 20, 2014 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

As lack of dedicated federal funding and state and local issues continue to take their toll on public transportation budgets, 64% of respondents to this year’s METRO Bus Maintenance Survey say they are buying more parts due to aging fleets.

Meanwhile, electrical (issues/training) remains the number one issue in maintenance shops throughout the U.S. and Canada for the second year in a row, with training and staffing each jumping into the top five as turnover rates continue to grow due to retirement.

Diesel remains the top type of vehicle propulsion for many fleets, while many continue to explore the usage of alternative propulsion, including hybrid-electric, natural gas, biodiesel and propane.

When asked what questions an agency should ask when exploring the possibility of adding alternatively-propelled vehicles, the top answers were “What are the true costs associated with implementation?” “What is the actual range of the vehicles?” and “What maintenance issues did you experience?”

Diesel remains the top type of vehicle propulsion for many fleets, while many continue to explore the usage of alternative propulsion.
Diesel remains the top type of vehicle propulsion for many fleets, while many continue to explore the usage of alternative propulsion.
For the fourth year, METRO sent out its survey to even more maintenance shops, spanning a wide demographic consisting of large metropolitan to small and rural transit agencies as well as university-focused systems. Questions covered topics ranging from fleet size to average age of their fleet, hours of training provided per year and how that training is delivered, and the top issues in their shops to what parts they buy most often.

Agencies varied in fleet size, with the largest maintaining 2,300 buses and the smallest 26, with the mean boasting a fleet of 285 buses. Meanwhile, respondents’ salary levels ranged from a high of $170,000 to a low of $65,000, with the mean earning $93,000.

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