Management & Operations

2015 Bus Maintenance Survey: Issues with Engine Tech, Staffing Are Growing Trends

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Lane Transit District
Lane Transit District
While diesel usage is up at transit agencies, so is the amount of alternative-fueled vehicles, according to respondents to this year’s METRO Bus Maintenance Survey.   

Overall, 92% of respondents report using diesel — up 15 percentage points from last year — with hybrid vehicles (53%) being the top choice of alternative fuels, followed by biodiesel and natural gas, which are tied at 28%. Gasoline, a new selection for this year’s respondents, came in at 53%.

Electrical (issues/training) remains the biggest issue in shops, followed this year by exhaust gas recirculation systems and staffing, each jumping 2014’s No.2 issue engines/transmissions, which comes in this year at No. 4. One-hundred percent of this year’s respondents reported filters as the parts they buy the most.

When asked what questions an agency should ask when exploring the possibility of adding alternatively propelled vehicles, the top answers were “How much training will be necessary and who will deliver that training? “What are the true costs associated with implementation?” “What is the true cost per mile to operate?” and “What is the expected timeframe until true return on your investment is realized?”

METRO sent out its survey to hundreds of 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 2,200 buses and the smallest 27, with the mean boasting a fleet of 288 buses.

To view the entire survey, click here.

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