Manager: Herb Barboza
Fleet: Oahu Transit Services Inc.
Operation: Contractor for transit bus and paratransit services
The stop-and-go nature of city bus service is tough on equipment, especially for any fleet trying to get its buses to last 12 years or more under such constant duress. Now imagine providing such service on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. If buses break down here and the local dealer or distributor doesn't have the part on hand, it might take a while — and cost more than a few extra bucks — to get it.
That's why durability and reliability for bus chassis and engine alike are so critical to keep the passengers moving. Regular preventive maintenance, of course, plays a key role in ensuring such longevity and performance, but it's the “how” of such PM practices that determines the success or failure of keeping the island's buses up and running day-in and day-out, year after year, for a decade or more.
Oahu Transit Services (OTS) faces just such a routine yet complicated task in its role as a contractor for the city and county of Honolulu, operating mass transit for the island of Oahu and moving over 226,000 passengers a day. The company operates 531 fixed-route buses and 166 paratransit vans, for a total fleet size of 697 vehicles. It expects to get a “normal” 12-year life cycle out of its buses, with 355 big Gillig coaches making up the lion's share of the fleet.
The job of keeping the fleet operational falls to Herb Barboza, vp-maintenance, and his staff of 370 employees, of which 184 are heavy-equipment diesel technicians. His operation is comprised of four maintenance divisions: two operations garages, with 231 buses at one location and 300 buses at the other; a third operations garage takes care of the paratransit vans; and the last is solely responsible for “unit rebuilds,” namely engines, transmissions, and other related transit vehicle components.
“The durability of our fleet can also be linked to a very aggressive quality assurance program we developed 20 years ago,” Barboza says. “[The program] continues to be our first line of defense in keeping our fleet safe, clean and dependable. Our philosophy is straightforward: ‘It's not what you expect, but what you inspect that ensures results.’”
And it's been proven to work. Two of the company's Gillig transit buses powered with M11 Cummins engines amassed one million miles each over 15 years of service and became the first vehicles of their kind to earn recognition in the Cummins Million Mile Club, which is predominantly comprised of freight trucking customers.
“In retrospect, our on-time PM program did the job it was intended to do,” Barboza says. “It is really not the result of doing anything special. We follow established thresholds, replace components at the time or mileage intervals recommended, and use good quality products. At the end of the day, it's either pay me now or pay me much more later.”
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.