At Metro transit, we take special pride in making sure all of our transit vehicles are cleaned and serviced every single day before they go into service. It’s one of the first things out-of-town visitors notice, and they compliment how nice and clean our buses and trains are compared to transit vehicles in other cities.
It’s no small task to make 400 buses sparkle and shine inside and out. For the MetroBus fleet, it all starts every night around 6:30 p.m. After a long day of transporting passengers to important destinations across the St. Louis region, a MetroBus is ready to return home for a little pampering. However, unlike most home garages, when a MetroBus pulls into a Metro garage the journey isn’t over — it’s only the beginning.
The process for taking care of MetroBus vehicles starts at the same place at all three MetroBus garages — at the fuel pump. The bus is hooked up to the fuel line, and as diesel fuel flows in, essential bus diagnostics flow out. Information about that particular bus is downloaded into Metro’s computers, which includes the vehicle’s mileage, bus number and fuel information.
This is also the time when antifreeze, transmission fluids and engine oil are checked and maintained, and a large vacuum is attached to the front of the bus. This powerful machine – known as the cyclone vacuum – removes loose items inside the bus, sending discarded material through a tube and into a trash compactor. While this machine hums along, other items on the bus are inspected for any damage and flagged for repair, if needed.
Like a NASCAR pit crew, Metro’s maintenance team has this down to a science. From when the bus pulls up to the fuel pump to when the cyclone vacuum is pulled off the bus, the entire process only takes four and a half minutes. Crews are able to work on up to three buses at a time, ensuring every bus in operation gets proper attention.
After a quick check of the windshield fluid and the tires, it’s time for the car wash and a top to bottom cleaning.
Then the focus is on the bus interior, and workers clean the seats, headrails, the floor and the windows.
From start to finish, a routine clean can last between 20 minutes to 25 minutes. (Each night, about eight buses are selected to undergo a more detailed clean, which can last two to three hours.)
“Every day, our maintenance team does an amazing job to ensure our fleet of almost 400 buses are clean and in top-notch mechanical condition,” said Ray Friem, Executive Director of Metro Transit. “It’s all part of our commitment to provide our passengers with a superior transit experience, while at the same time protecting the investment taxpayers have made in our transit system.”
Taking care of the MetroBus fleet isn’t as easy as it seems, and the whole process involves multiple steps. But, by keeping the buses in the best possible condition, Metro is able to provide a stronger transportation system for the region while ensuring a clean bill of health for many trips to come.