At the Bus Wash, Grime Gets Cleaned on a Daily Basis

(Saturday, December 8, 2007 4:49 AM EST)
Each running an average of about 200 miles per day, the buses at the Arlington Metrobus Division on North Quincy Street can get pretty grimy, but the garage has bus wash that can handle the job.

Each time a bus is brought back to the lot, it's driven through a lane where three maintenance workers refuel, check the tires and fluids and drive it through the giant washer.

“We wash them every day we can, unless it's freezing cold,” said Jim Sine, supervisor of maintenance, explaining the buses aren't dried after washing and can freeze if temperatures are low enough.

The bus wash is very similar to a car wash, except that it's on a much larger scale.

The buses are required to drive through at three miles per hour. They are washed with a biodegradable soap, and all the water is recaptured and reused, which can make for a pretty funky smell. (The water also goes through a reclamation system before leaving the site.)

In addition to daily maintenance in the washing lane, drivers perform safety checks each time they board. The buses also are inspected by a mechanic every two weeks, and are serviced every 6,000 miles.

A thorough cleaning of the interior is done every 30 days, although the drivers are “constantly spot-checking,” Sine said.

The Arlington Metrobus Division has 31 maintenance employees who keep the 89 buses on the lot up and running. With proper care, the buses have a lifespan of up to 20 years.

For many of Metrobus maintenance workers, upkeep of the buses is a source of personal gratification.

“I'm a workaholic,” said Sine, who has been with Metrobus for more than three decades. “Most people who work buses are workaholics. These are our babies. We're proud of what we do and how we can serve the public.”

Rise mechanic Barry Miskell performs maintenance on one of the 89 buses at the Arlington Metrobus Division facility.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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