Update on Winnipeg Transit

These articles prepared by CBC News and Winnipeg Free Press provide a good update on new developments at Winnipeg Transit.  Currently, Winnipeg Transit is  still in the early stages of addressing the emissions challenges.  It will be critical that we see positive results for an extended period of time in order to ensure stability and continuity for purposes of scheduling bus routes.


Old Calgary buses sold to Winnipeg to help that city’s service shortfall:  Sale is a win-win for both municipalities, according the Calgary Transit fleet manager

By Drew Anderson, CBC News Posted: Apr 05, 2016 5:40 PM MT

The City of Winnipeg is doing a little second-hand shopping in Calgary. For buses.

“Winnipeg had a couple of issues meeting commitment levels on a regular basis with their current fleet, so they needed to have some replacement buses on fairly short notice,” said Russell Davies, fleet manager for Calgary Transit.

“So we sold them 24 buses that we were due to be retiring. The total deal was roundabout $260,000, about $11,000 per bus.”

Davies said it was a win-win situation for both cities, as Calgary was looking to retire the buses and Winnipeg had an urgent need.

For Calgary, it meant a little more money to pad the budget. If the buses had been recycled it would have taken man-hours to prepare them for scrap and resulted in a comparatively measly $500 payment per bus.

For Winnipeg it meant a cheap alternative to new buses that currently cost around $650,000 each, according to Davies.

Shelf life of buses

It’s not the first time Calgary has sold older buses to other municipalities, although Davies said it’s not “something we do every day.”

The buses headed to Winnipeg are around 20 to 22 years old.

“We try to limit the life of our buses to 22 years, which is still considerably longer than other agencies. I think agencies down in the states typically retire their buses after 12 years.”

Davies said Calgary Transit has bought second-hand buses in the past, but not for about 10 or 15 years.

“Since that time we’ve developed some fairly long-term fleet plans and council has been very supportive in terms of providing sufficient budget to meet our fleet requirements,” he said.

“So as buses retire, we typically place an order about a year beforehand to replace them. So we’ve been fairly fortunate in the way council supported us, really.”

With files from Diane Yanko

Emission problems among Winnipeg Transit buses appear resolved:  Six out of service, down from 75

Winnipeg Free Press   By: Aldo Santin   Posted: 04/5/2016 5:18 PM

The problems with Winnipeg Transit’s troublesome diesel buses appear to have been resolved.

Transit director Dave Wardrop told councillors Tuesday that only six buses are out of service with emission control problems — down from 75 vehicles when the issue was most acute at the beginning of September.

Despite the turnaround, Wardrop remains cautious about the reliability of the technical fix.

“We’ve work diligently with suppliers to come up with a revised maintenance schedule for these buses,” Wardrop told councillors on the public works committee. “We’ve been having some success with it.”

Winnipeg Transit bought 101 New Flyer diesel buses between 2011 and 2013, but most of them were out of service on a daily basis, for up to a week at a time, because of recurring emission control problems. The problem became so acute in early September that Transit didn’t have enough buses on the street to fill its full schedule.

Transit routinely takes buses out of service for regular maintenance but those with the emission issues were inoperable and compounded the fleet shortage.

At the time, transit had a fleet of 595 buses but 109 were out of service — 75 because of emission control problems.

After several weeks of trial and error, engine manufacturer Cummins suggested Transit stop trying to repair the faulty emission control devices and the city instead bought new replacement parts from Cummins at a discount.

The solution worked. Transit resumed its full service schedule in early December and four months later there have not been any unusual maintenance issues.

Wardrop said the troublesome engines are being shipped to Cummins for upgrades and repairs. It’s an expensive process, he said, but added Winnipeg Transit doesn’t have the required number of mechanics or the space to do the repairs itself. Wardrop said he expects similar repair work in the future will be done at a new transit garage facility.

“We’re capable of doing the work internally,” Wardrop said. “The issue is just capacity.”

To be on the safe side, Wardrop said Transit is buying 24 used buses from Calgary’s transit fleet, in the event there is a relapse with the technical solution on the diesel engines.

The 24 Calgary buses will cost Winnipeg Transit a total of $264,000 plus another $90,000 to refurbish them for service, he said, explaining these vehicles will allow Winnipeg Transit to retire some of its older vehicles, which were left in service because of the mechanical problems.

“This is all part of our strategy to help carry us through this period of monitoring of the emission control systems on the late model buses we’ve been struggling with,” Wardrop said.

Cummins has upgraded its diesel engines, he said, adding he’s looking forward to see how they perform when Transit makes additional purchases for 2017.

Wardrop said the size of the bus fleet is now up to 625 buses and will reach 630 to 635 once the Calgary buses are in service.


Sept. 8
Size of the fleet – 595
Total buses out of service — 109
Buses out of service due to emission problems — 75

Sept. 17
Total buses out of service — 98
Buses out of service due to emission problems – 57

Oct. 15
Total buses out of service — 89
Buses out of service due to emission problems — 40

Nov. 24
Size of the fleet — 614
Total buses out of service — 63
Buses out of service due to emission problems – 19

Dec. 3
Size of the Fleet – 621
Total buses out of service – 57
Buses out of service due to emission problems — 19

April 5
Size of the fleet — 625
Total buses out of service — 67
Buses out of service due to emission problems — 6

Read more by Aldo Santin.




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