The National Academies

TCRP E-05 [Completed]

A Guidebook for Developing and Sharing Transit Bus Maintenance Practices

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: Transit Resource Center
Principal Investigator: John Schiavone
Effective Date: 9/26/2003
Completion Date: 7/15/2005

People involved in the maintenance of transit buses must frequently address issues that arise for which no internal written maintenance practices are currently available. Consequently, information must be gathered to assist in determining how best to address the issues. Whether it is an equipment problem, an inspection procedure, a campaign replacement, a climatological adaptation, or a routine cleaning, information usually is gathered from other transit systems and vendors, and a maintenance practice is developed that meets the needs of the local system. That practice then becomes the de facto norm for the system until a better way to address the issue is identified.

Unfortunately, the results of such efforts are not typically shared with the rest of the transit industry. Consequently, many transit systems, facing the same issues, expend valuable time and resources seeking the information from other transit systems, and some "reinvent the wheel." An improved methodology for developing and sharing such maintenance practices would greatly improve bus maintenance efficiency.

With the advent of the Internet, new tools and information sources are available to assist in developing and sharing bus maintenance practices; however, many transit systems are not aware of their existence. Both TRB and APTA maintain transit maintenance WebBoards that allow maintenance managers to compare notes and share information on common issues of interest, and their use has been steadily increasing. In addition, product manufacturers and suppliers maintain websites that often provide guidance on maintenance issues that arise.

There are potential pitfalls, however, to the use of some of these tools (e.g., inconsistency in the quality of information, the need to adapt the information to local conditions, warranty issues, proper citing of references, use of copyrighted materials, and legal and liability implications associated with sharing maintenance practices).

Research is needed to provide guidance to transit systems on a methodology for developing bus maintenance practices and sharing them with the rest of the transit industry. The intent of this research would not be to develop universal best maintenance practices, but, rather, to assist maintenance managers in obtaining relevant information, validating it, filling in the gaps where necessary, developing a practice most applicable to local conditions, and appropriately sharing maintenance practices with the rest of the transit industry.

The objective of this research was to develop a guidebook that provides a methodology to assist maintenance managers in developing and sharing bus maintenance practices. The guidebook includes case studies that use the methodology to develop practices for at least six specific maintenance problem areas. The research also prepared recommendations on how tools for developing and sharing bus maintenance practices can be improved in the future.

Status: The revised final report has been published as TCRP Report 109.

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