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Buses towed away daily because they run out of gas, says union boss


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Buses towed away daily because they run out of gas, says union boss

'It used to be very rare that a bus would ever run out of gas. Now, it happens every day. We have three tow trucks, but it's not enough.'

Updated: November 13, 2018
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Within the last year, hundreds of buses have been towed off Montreal streets because they ran out of gas after a change in STM maintenance staffing and workflow. ALLEN MCINNIS / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Within the last year, hundreds of buses have been towed off city streets, not because they broke down, but because they ran out of gas, the boss of the Société de transport de Montréal’s maintenance workers union told the Montreal Gazette Tuesday.

Gleason Frenette said as a way to save money, the STM eliminated some jobs in its maintenance garage, which forced them to institute a new system of gassing up the buses. Instead of fuelling them at the end of each day, the STM’s new directive only calls for buses to be gassed up on an as-needed basis.

“It used to be very rare that a bus would ever run out of gas,” Frenette said. “Now, it happens every day. We have three tow trucks, but it’s not enough. We have had to hire private contractors (to tow away all the buses that run out of gas).”

Frenette said he has now twice flagged the problem in private meetings with Luc Tremblay, the STM’s director general, but the situation has not changed.

Making matters worse, Frenette said it’s difficult for bus drivers to know if they have enough gas when they leave for the day, because the buses in the STM’s fleet don’t have gauges that indicate how much fuel is in the tank.

 

“We pay enough for the buses, you would think they have fuel gauges,” Frenette said.

Frenette was reacting to a Montreal Gazette report Tuesday that highlighted a crisis in the STM’s bus fleet, plagued by frequent breakdowns, and a backlog of maintenance. The report showed that despite investing to boost the STM’s fleet of buses by more than 100 in the last five years, there are actually fewer buses available to pick up passengers during the morning and evening rush hours than there were in 2012.

Renée Amilcar, the STM’s executive director of buses, admitted the agency eliminated one staff position for refuelling buses, which has saved the agency $1 million annually. However, she denies that buses are routinely running out of gas. She said operators keep track of the kilometres driven by the buses between fuelling, so they know how often they need to be gassed up. What’s more, about 15 per cent of the fleet are the newer hybrid buses, which have yellow indicators that light up when the fuel level is down to 10 per cent.

“When that happens, the driver will call and the bus will be switched at the end of the line,” Amilcar said. “We try to fuel up before that happens, like when you’re driving your car, you generally try to fill up before the light turns on, but it does sometimes happen that the light will go on.”

As for the high rate of buses parked waiting for maintenance, Frenette said the situation has gotten worse since 2017, when the STM’s figures revealed one in five buses was parked. This past summer, there were 606 buses parked in garages for maintenance or repairs which is one third of the STM’s fleet of 1,800.

He said the buses the STM gets from its supplier, Nova Bus, are plagued with problems.

“We have a lot of problems with the motors,” Frenette said. “They arrive from the factories with problems. We have to repair them even before they take on any passengers.”

Frenette blamed hybrid engine technology, saying hybrid diesel-electric technology was designed for the trucking industry and vehicles that go long distances on highways. It is not ideal for buses that stop and start frequently. Amilcar agreed that hybrid technology is a problem. However, she did not believe the hybrid buses broke down more frequently than diesel buses.

Tremblay has said part of the reason for the high number of parked buses is a backlog caused when maintenance workers refused to work overtime. However, Frenette said the union only refused overtime for six days last May, not for a year as Tremblay has claimed.

Frenette and Amilcar agree on one thing: that the STM has to invest a lot more in preventive maintenance. That has been a sticking point in negotiations between the corporation and the union, now in mediation. Amilcar said the STM wants more maintenance workers to conduct preventive maintenance on buses on nights and weekends, but it doesn’t want to pay them overtime to do so. Frenette has also said maintenance workers want to have fewer hours of overtime so they can spend more time with their families.

https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/buses-towed-away-daily-because-they-run-out-of-gas-says-union-boss

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Si seulement la STM mettais autant d'énergie a bien faire leur travail plutôt qu'a sauvé leur image tout irais super bien dans cette compagnie la. Beaucoup de mauvaise volonté dans la gestion. En bref il crée leur propre problème et par la suite vont sur la place publique pour expliqué leur choix. 

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18 minutes ago, budgebandit said:

No fuel gauges LOL 

J'ai posé la question à Craig Sauvé et son explication est que c'est une norme nord américaine. Les tanks de diesel des bus ont tellement de capacité, qu'il est pratique courante, autant au Québec qu'en Floride de ne pas installer de gauge dans les bus. En contre-partie, du moins pour la STM, il est attendu que les bus soient réapprovisionnés régulièrement. Il semble donc que le problème repose entièrement sur la décision de la STM de ne les remplir que "lorsque nécessaire".

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21 minutes ago, franktko said:

Et pourquoi ne juste pas faire le plein quand elles tombent à sec? Ils sont vraiment obligés de les remorquer?? 

Apparemment, le processus pour repartir un moteur au diesel qui est tombé à sec et commence à aspirer de l'air est infiniment plus complexe que pour le moteur à essence de la plupart des automobiles.

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2 hours ago, paulwillyjean said:

J'ai posé la question à Craig Sauvé et son explication est que c'est une norme nord américaine. Les tanks de diesel des bus ont tellement de capacité, qu'il est pratique courante, autant au Québec qu'en Floride de ne pas installer de gauge dans les bus. En contre-partie, du moins pour la STM, il est attendu que les bus soient réapprovisionnés régulièrement. Il semble donc que le problème repose entièrement sur la décision de la STM de ne les remplir que "lorsque nécessaire".

Merci de l'info @paulwillyjean!

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