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Road Services Division fixes buses on the go

Road Services Division fixes buses on the go

One of our Road Services Division vans!
One of our Road Services Division vans!

Our buses have a type of “first aid” help on the road now!

It’s the role of the new Road Services Division from the Coast Mountain Bus Company (CMBC) — high-tech mobile units that fix minor bus issues out in the field.

Broken mirrors, light problems, farebox issues, destination sign problems, and more — now nine teams of Road Services mechanics are able to help, working out of fully-equipped Sprinter vans at major transfer points throughout the region. The ultimate goal is to provide efficient continuous service for our customers.

So now, operators with on-board mechanical problems can stop by the Road Service vehicles and get help from on-duty mechanics. The operators can also contact the Transit Communications Centre (TComm), who can get an on-road mechanic to meet them at a particular spot.

And for lengthier repairs, the Road Services group serves as the first line of response for the shops. Mechanics will diagnose the situation and relay the information to the owning garage, allowing for a more efficient repair process.

What’s in the Road Services vans?
– pressurized oil and coolant fluid dispensing systems
– laptops with engine diagnostic software, and a wireless connection to the shop for easy access to bus history and parts availability
– INIT communication (that’s our GPS bus traffic monitoring system)
– farebox diagnostic equipment
– at Port Coquitlam, a one-ton truck houses specialized equipment required to maintain the natural gas buses. And in the event of an emergency (and only if necessary) this truck is equipped with a push bumper to move the bus to a safe work location.

The division launched in March 2009, spurred by the size of our fleet.

“Most large transit companies have this kind of service when they get big,” says Gary Strachan, managing director of fleet maintenance at CMBC.

“When a bus breaks down on the road, traditionally the operator would call the shop and the shop would dispatch mechanics. But that’s disruptive to shop work, and when there’s so many road calls, it’s more practical to have people on the road from the shop. It’s a natural progression.”

The program is still evolving, and the vans will continue to be upgraded. But right now, some CMBC mechanics see it as a great new opportunity.

“It’s given me a chance to get out and try something different, while helping out both the operators and the shops,” says Dave Walsh, a mechanic for 19 years.

“It’s neat when operators come over and ask about little rattles and shakes on their bus, and we’re able to fix them up so they don’t have to deal with these annoying little problems all day.”

It’s all good experience — especially as the Olympics ramps up. The Road Services Division will be a key part of the transportation strategy, acting as a first response to keep our buses healthy and on the road.

And so far, their work has been a success. Road Services operates from 6:30 a.m. to around midnight, and they’ve helped road calls drop by 20 per cent.

Great work, Road Services — thanks for keeping our vehicles going!