Thursday, October 19, 2017

A State-of-the-Art Shop Poised for the Future

Did you know the maintenance shop at our Merrill Creek Operations Base services a fleet of 200 buses? This bustling hub of activity is definitely where the action can be found. On average, the shop creates approximately 850 preventative maintenance and repair work orders a month. We also do our own component rebuild in-house, for both engines and transmissions. It takes exceptional equipment, tools, and training to create a state-of-the-art shop like ours, and a dynamic team of mechanics to bring it all to life.

Our larger maintenance shop at Merrill Creek (we have a smaller shop at Kasch Park where our Double Talls and Vanpool vehicles are serviced) has two large working areas. The main area has a total of 14 working bays. Four bays have 2-post lifts designed for coaches up to 40 feet, four have 3-post lifts designed for coaches up to 60 feet, and two are flat (non-lift equipped) bays. These are getting new lifts added to increase our lift capacity. Also included in the main area are four pit bays primarily designed for preventative maintenance work. The secondary area (our body shop) has three flat bays and one spray booth. The shop is bright, well-ventilated, and so clean that the agency actually hosts its annual Thanksgiving lunch on the premises each year!

Our main shop also has a dedicated component rebuild area. When our engines and transmissions are at the end of their life span, we tear them down and completely overhaul them with new and reconditioned parts. They are tested on dynamometers that allow them to run outside of the vehicle, ensuring that if there are any problems, they are caught before they ever even get in the bus. For example, a rebuilt engine is hooked up to water, fuel, electronics, and transmission, etc., to simulate being in a bus. This engine dynamometer makes sure there are no leaks, fault codes, loss of horsepower or torque. This not only allows us to control the quality of the finished product, it is also cost effective. Community Transit is unique because most shops (and even dealers) outsource this technology.

In March of this year, Community Transit updated its maintenance software system, providing our technicians with a single, easy-to-use portal to manage assigned work, making our maintenance recording system virtually paperless. This system also provides access to the company intranet, email, and web services. Additional computer terminals were added throughout the shop to meet the needs of our growing fleet of vehicles and our maintenance team.

Community Transit prides itself on being an industry leader. Our state-of-the-art shop is uniquely designed to meet the challenges of today, while being poised for the huge growth demands projected for the future.

Want to work here? We want to hear from you! "Don't let the size of our shop and equipment intimidate you! All prospective employees are given a shop tour during the interview process, and all new employees get the training, tooling and assistance they need to be successful," assures Ken W., Assistant Maintenance Manager. Apply today to be part of the team.

Did you enjoy this Talking Shop story? What other shop topics would you like to see featured? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Left Something on a Bus? We're Here to Help

There’s nothing as frustrating as when you step off a bus then realize, as it rumbles away, that you’ve left something inside. All you can think is: How am I going to get that back?

Fortunately, the answer is simple: contact the RideStore at Lynnwood Transit Center. If your item is found, it will be at the RideStore ready for pick-up after 8 a.m. the next business day. “We are in the business of trying to get your items back into your hands,” said Matt Coomes, RideStore supervisor.

Lots of bikes
Surprisingly, bicycles are one of the most common items left behind on buses, about 20-25 per month! Bikes are stored off-site because of their size, so please schedule an appointment with the RideStore for pick-up.

Bikes ready for pick-up by their owners.
Due to lack of space, bikes are held for 10 days before turning them over to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office as lost property. Other items are held for 14 days before being destroyed or donated.

More service = more found items
Community Transit is steadily expanding service and is now up to 37,000 rides every day. Consequently, there are more items going through Lost & Found than ever before. “We handle about 10,000 items per year now,” Matt said. (And some of those items are truly strange – click here to read more about the oddities left behind on our buses!)

RideStore Supervisor Matt Coomes
reviews items found on a single day.
Collecting all found items at the end of each day and sending them to a central location for pick-up is the most efficient way to handle such a high volume. “Emergency” items – such as critical medications, wallets or keys – receive special care. “We try to be proactive,” Matt said. “We want to reunite people with their stuff.”

No item too small
Obviously, checking your seat before getting off of a bus is the best way to prevent loss, but if you think you left something behind, Matt says to call the RideStore immediately. “It doesn’t matter if the item is small or has no value; if you lost it on a bus, call us. Chances are that we have it.”

If you leave an item on a Community Transit bus (or Snohomish County Sound Transit bus), call the RideStore at (425) 348-2350, or email