Over the years there have been some people who have commented to me that working for the government is a retirement job. In some areas perhaps but even though we’re not a retail garage the work is always there and always waiting. It’s still physically and mentally challenging trying to keep up with new technology and scheduled maintenance that never ceases to let up.
Retail is a different level of stress dealing with customers and private vehicles. I’ve been in that industry and I totally agree when something goes wrong you feel the pressure of the customer who’s paying a good chunk of cash to get a job done right and on time. With that said my respect for retail garages is high and I take that into consideration when taking a bus in for warranty. I know it’s not going to get done immediately due to that wave of customers breathing down their necks.
The advantage of working in a fleet atmosphere is there are spare units that allow us to do the job right without cutting corners and checking our work thoroughly before releasing the bus back on the road. However this last month the spare board has dropped to zero several times because of the steady barrage of work coming in to the garage.
The day I shot this video was on a Monday and there was myself and one mechanic present so we had to hustle to keep up. Priority is with services which averages three per day. To maintain our in house PM program which includes motor vehicle inspections we must get servicing done at the mileage specified on each bus. There are gov’t inspector audits every June where they pull files and inspect our PM program.
If services are over the mileage or repairs are sloppy there is a risk of losing our PM program and we would have to take all of our buses to a private truck shop for inspections. This would be devistating on the budget considering shop rates are 130-140 dollars and hour plus tax plus shop supplies and so on. So this an extremely important area to keep above board and consistently follow without oversights.
When I’m working on the floor I get behind on paperwork but there’s a window there that allows me to help out with shop duties without any negative effects on the administration end of things. When I started working here 20 years ago there was one gas mechanic and 2 heavy duty mechanics. We also had one service man full time. We kept up even with engine rebuilds and other repairs but there were less electrical issues. Today hunting down an electronic problem takes precious time and emissions have added to our labor as well.
When you consider our fleet has 77 buses a lot could go wrong in a short period of time so with that in mind I hope to keep a consistent turnover and keep up with repairs and maintenance. Not knowing what could happen from one day to the next makes this job very interesting and challenging.