TCRP Report 184: Maintenance Technician Staffing Levels for Modern Public Transit Fleets, identifies existing tools and practices used to determine optimum maintenance technician staffing levels and provides an analysis of variables that influence maintenance technician staffing needs. The report also documents the research team’s development of an MS Excel-based Maintenance Staffing Calculator, a tool for managers of transit agencies of any size to use in estimating the optimal number of bus maintenance staff to meet current maintenance needs. It may also be used as a predictive tool, to determine staffing needs during the vehicle procurement process. The Maintenance Staffing Calculator is designed to help maintenance managers (1) breakdown staff by location or sub-fleet; (2) adjust raw employee numbers to full time equivalents and available productive hours using information on current technician staffing, other employees contributing to maintenance, breaks, vacations, and shift information;(3) calculate preventive maintenance, core maintenance, and unscheduled maintenance task hours required, by sub-fleet; (4) calculate heavy maintenance and repair hours required; (5) model effects on staffing of changes to fleet composition or usage; (6) model effects on staffing of changes to maintenance times or intervals, accounting for overtime required; and (7) compare results to a group of peer agencies. The Maintenance Staffing Calculator, a user guide and a Power Point presentation summarizing TCRP Project E-10 are available on TRB.org by searching for “TCRP Report 184.”
At one time, a simple measurement was used to determine if a transit agency had adequate maintenance technician staff using a basic bus-to-mechanic ratio. If an agency had four or five buses per mechanic it was considered to have an excellent “bus-to-mechanic” ratio. That formula is clearly from a time when engines were less complex, most fleets were using diesel fuel, and computers were not an essential mechanic tool. Today, a computer is as essential as a socket wrench and the number of maintenance technicians needed to maintain a modern fleet can be difficult to measure. The number of maintenance technicians at a transit agency is based on financial constraints, fleet age, annual miles, powertrain type, how much work is outsourced, and a multitude of other key factors. There is no “textbook” formula for maintenance managers to determine the optimum ratio of maintenance technicians for their fleet size, as the number varies tremendously between public transit fleets. Many public transit buses are in service well beyond the FTA minimum requirement of 12 years, 500,000 miles. Transit agencies replacing buses are faced with significant leaps in technology over the past 6 to 12 years and now can purchase clean diesel and hybrid engines, and choose among various alternative fuels--all of which require highly skilled technicians. In addition, today’s new engines require preventive maintenance every 3,000 miles, half the rate of the older, simpler engines. With new labor-intensive engines, various fuel types, highly sophisticated electronics, and an increase in preventive maintenance frequencies, many maintenance managers realize they need to hire additional staff. The results of this research provides a resource to help maintenance managers evaluate staffing requirements to maintain an aging, high-mileage fleet or to transition into new technology hybrid or battery-powered engines.
EDSI Consulting prepared this report under TCRP Project E-10. The primary objective of this research was to produce an interactive staffing tool for use in determining optimum maintenance technician staffing levels for small, medium, and large public transit bus and other revenue fleets. To accomplish this objective, a review of fleet and staffing data from 321 transit agencies in the National Transit Database were analyzed and 2 rounds of in-depth interviews with transit agencies were conducted to identify main factors driving technician staffing levels.
In addition to these data gathering efforts, the research team developed the Maintenance Staffing Calculator and MS-Excel-based tool to help transit systems of various sizes determine the optimum number of maintenance technicians required to maintain a modern public transit fleet.
TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 184: Maintenance Technician Staffing Levels for Modern Public Transit Fleets identifies existing tools and practices used to determine optimum maintenance technician staffing levels. The report also provides an analysis of variables that influence maintenance technician staffing needs.
STATUS: Completed. Published as TCRP Report 184.
TCRP Report 184 resources available online include the following:
* The Maintenance Staffing Calculator User Guide
* The Maintenance Staffing Calculator
* An completed example case showing how the Calculator works
* A PowerPoint presentation providing a summary of the work done under TCRP Project E-10