You’d be forgiven if you thought that during the summer school break, when ETS needs 150 fewer buses each day, that service technicians would enjoy a more ‘relaxed’ workload.
Despite the lower requirement for buses, says Fleet Services’ superintendent of maintenance Gabrielle Caouette, several factors keep technicians on their toes, preparing the whole 900+ bus fleet for resumption of ‘normal’ service in early September when kids are back in school.
“There is a lot of low-priority maintenance that we have to catch up on in the summer, usually small things like replacing interior lights. They’re little jobs that that could wait – they don’t affect safety or mechanical reliability.
“We keep track of every one of those small needs for each bus, and during the summer, we work hard to make those to-do lists disappear,” says Gabrielle.
“Our servicepeople, who sweep the buses daily, also use the summer to give each bus a thorough inside, all-surface cleaning,” she adds.
Fleet Services staff also have to ensure that there are enough buses available to serve the many special events that happen in summertime, like the Heritage Festival that requires 350 buses every day.
“We’re highly aware that the Festival is a big revenue source for our ETS client, so we focus a lot of attention on making sure there are enough buses to not only serve the Festival, but to provide regular service to the rest of the city.”
At-home Edmonton Eskimos games are also big in their demand for chartered ETS buses. Gabrielle says the Eskimos charter as many as 140 or more buses, depending on which team is visiting.
This summer, Fleet Services went above and beyond in its efforts to prepare buses to meet additional demand for various events such as the FIFA women’s soccer games and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention.
Then there are unpredictable events, like the buses that were required for the memorial service to honour Constable Daniel Woodall, who was slain in June.
“On top of all of those requirements, we want to allow our technicians and servicepeople the opportunity to take their holidays in the summer prime time,” she says. “That places added pressure on their colleagues still on the job.”
“And finally, we need enough buses for new operators to be trained.”
“No matter what the season, our people are very concerned about providing the service that we’ve committed to provide to our customers,” says Gabrielle.