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Maintaining our extra Olympic buses during the Games

Maintaining our extra Olympic buses during the Games

One of our extra Olympic buses out at Oakridge Transit Centre. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.
One of our extra Olympic buses out at Oakridge Transit Centre. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.

Yes, the Olympics are over, but I still have a couple of articles left to share about our work! This article is by Charlotte Boychuk from CMBC’s employee communications team, and it recognizes the great work of our bus maintenance staff. And for a bit of context, part of our old Vancouver bus depot, Oakridge Transit Centre (OTC), was reactivated in order to store and maintain the extra 160 buses we used for the Olympic period. (Normally, OTC houses just CMBC’s trolley overhead department and some of our Community Shuttle fleet.)

Behind the Scenes with Maintenance at OTC ‘Olympic Central’

Jack helping oversee the Olympic fleet. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.
Jack helping oversee the Olympic fleet. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.

If you want to track down Jack, Burnaby Transit Centre (BTC) Maintenance Manager, he can be found at night and well into the morning during the Olympic period assisting Alan at Oakridge Transit Centre (OTC), who manages the garage on a day-to-day basis.

Jack and Alan oversee the Olympic fleet, consisting of 129 conventional and 20 community shuttle buses, currently used to augment our fleet of ‘Specials’ serving the various Olympic venues.

Together they work with the Special Work Team (SWT) and OTC Mechanics to help maintain the fleet.

OTC SWT mechanics Marie, Curtis, and Omar in their Olympic gear. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.
OTC SWT mechanics Marie, Curtis, and Omar in their Olympic gear. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.

The SWT mechanics are a group of floating mechanics that fill in at any garage as needed. Currently they are providing coverage around the clock on three shifts at OTC, ready to fix any of the Olympic fleet that comes in for minor repairs such as broken lights, mirrors, or other ‘quick fixes’ under two hours.

If buses require major repairs, Fleet Overhaul and the other Maintenance garages are standing by ready to help.

“We are well set-up to provide quick turnaround to prevent cancellations or breakdowns. ” said Jack, “thanks to a great deal of planning that went on ahead of time.”

Mechanics Vince and Steve with shop clerk Wendy at Oakridge Transit Centre. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.
Mechanics Vince and Steve with shop clerk Wendy at Oakridge Transit Centre. Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.

Mechanics Vince and Steve, who regularly maintain the non-revenue vehicles, such as service, shop, line and parts delivery trucks; pool cars; and tractor trailers, are also assisting with Olympic fleet repairs as required.

Shop Clerk Wendy Henschel said OTC is very busy right now with the added new mechanics and nine additional interior student cleaners.

Most of the Olympic fleet consists of retired Orions and New Flyer buses brought back from storage for the Olympics. A Special Work Team inspected the buses over a two-week period, starting them up, changing oil, checking the electrical, replacing batteries and ensuring they were road safe. Any larger repairs were sent off to Fleet Overhaul or the other depots.

Lewis! Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.
Lewis! Photo by Charlotte Boychuk.

Lewis, a Maintenance Planner, is on-site to ensure that maintenance is not missed and work orders are complete on the Olympic fleet as quickly as possible.

Lewis explained that “although the fleet was inspected, we’re keeping a close eye on the buses to make certain nothing gets overlooked.”

The odd bus has had some minor problem such as bulbs out, a burst hose or farebox issues. “We even had to replace a seat, which someone decided to take as perhaps an Olympic token.”

Because the majority of the buses are coming back to the Depot later than initially anticipated, they still have to be booked-out to get ready for the next day.

Things are done a little different at OTC each morning. Before going into service, Operators take the buses out after doing pre-trip inspections them on the property. They are then driven to VTC to be fueled, washed, and to have their fareboxes prepared for the next day, all of which takes approximately 15 minutes.

According to Jack, the fleet has worked out very well and our mechanics have done a great job getting these buses ready to go.