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This article was published 15/10/2015 (2196 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg Transit may have found a solution to its problematic buses, but officials don’t know if it’s a permanent fix.
Transit director Dave Wardrop said when the New Flyer buses were inoperable, maintenance crews would take up to a week to dismantle and clean the emission-control systems.
But at the suggestion of the engine manufacturer, Cummins, Wardrop said crews are now replacing the entire emission-control system with new units purchased from Cummins.
"We’ll see if this latest resolve is a long-term solution," Wardrop said Thursday at the finance committee, where he was seeking approval to increase the 2015 budget because of cost overruns caused by the faulty engines.
The warranty on the Cummins engines had expired but Wardrop said the manufacturer had offered Winnipeg Transit a $7,700 discount on the price of its replacement emission-control unit, which normally cost $11,000 to $12,000.
Transit was forced to dramatically revise its morning and afternoon rush-hour schedules in September when crews were unable to keep enough buses on the road.
Transit slashed the number of buses on its rush-hour routes. The schedule will be reviewed in December, depending on how many buses it can keep in service on a daily basis.
The situation was linked to 101 New Flyer buses purchased between 2011 and 2013. The vehicles' emission-control systems repeatedly break down even after they’ve been repaired, leaving the buses inoperable.
Wardrop said the problem reached its peak 19 months ago. As soon as some were put back on the road, others would break down. A work-to-rule situation during labour talks in the spring caused a backlog from which Transit was never able to recover.
Wardrop said crews have been able to limit the number of buses out of service on any given day – it was as high as 109 at the start of September but down to 89 buses Thursday morning – and reduce the number of buses needing emission-control repairs. In September 60 buses needed emission-control work, but Thursday the number was 40.
Wardrop was at the finance committee asking to increase the department’s budget for the year by $730,000. The funds would be taken from transit’s operating reserve account.
The emission problems had pushed the parts replacement and repair bill for the year over-budget by more than $4 million.
Wardrop said he was able to mitigate that higher tab in part by enforcing a hiring freeze, but feared he would still be $730,000 short by the end of the year.