I. PROBLEM TITLE
A Guidebook for Bus Fleet Maintenance Staffing
II. RESEARCH PROBLEM STATEMENT
A critical resource needed to keep a transit bus fleet available for revenue service is the maintenance staff. There are a number of factors in transit operations throughout the country that make it impossible to develop simple rules-of-thumb that any agency might use in developing their own program. In fact, there is considerable risk in an agency implementing another agency’s practice without fully understanding the critical inputs under which it evolved. There is general consensus that models developed in the past will no longer work. More importantly, there is the feeling that the process of staffing is so unique at each agency that generalized models, even sensitive to changes in some of the critical inputs, simply no longer apply.
With fleet maintenance making up approximately 20% of an agency’s operating budget, combined with the capital investment that goes into the acquisition of the fleet, it is critical that the business process of staffing be tailored to each individual agency. Unfortunately, there is no single, up-to-date authoritative source on how to go about managing this aspect of a transit operation and, until recently, there hasn’t been a way to quickly get the word out on potential best practices. As important as managing the skill set of the individual staff members is the management of the staffing of the program itself.
The objective of this work is to help an agency to identify the critical inputs to staffing a bus fleet maintenance program, then suggest how those inputs can be developed into a strategy that makes sense for their particular needs, complete with metrics to help in managing the process. These inputs will be outlined in a guidebook that an agency can use in either staffing up a new program, or re-aligning an existing program. A case-study format will be developed and an on-going method of sharing experience through an accessible knowledge base will be proposed.
IV. RESEARCH PROPOSED
Research is needed to identify the key inputs to staffing a fleet maintenance program. Experience suggests that such inputs may include:
· Fleet size, manufacturer, model, year
· Technology deployed
· Types of maintenance service offered within the agency vs. services contracted out
· Tools and equipment available to do the work
· An on-going analysis of work orders
· The extent to which procedures are documented and standards exist
· Transit service currently offered as well as planned for the future
· Corporate culture and past history
· The importance of monitoring daily weather
· Maintenance philosophy
· Maintenance policies, programs and OEM recommendations
· Transit system management structure
· Overall productivity at the agency
· Access to the local labor pool
· Negotiated work rules (contract implications)
· Un-written practices
· Regulatory requirements
· The willingness to seek and share knowledge
· Facility and capacity constraints
· Continuous improvement in response to changes in any of these inputs
V. ESTIMATE OF THE PROBLEM FUNDING AND RESEARCH PERIOD
Recommended Funding: $300,000
Research Period: 18 months
VI. URGENCY AND PAYOFF POTENTIAL
This proposal is urgent in that:
-Fleet maintenance makes up about 20% of an agencies operating budget.
-Continuous changes in technology require changes in skill sets.
-Provides a basis for improving material forecasts based on work scheduled along with staffing needs
-Provide a methodology for resource allocation
-A comprehensive staffing tool will support work force development and succession planning.
-Reducing wasted material and labor resources.
-Provide a basis for identifying resource usage compared to plan
-Changes in skill sets drives the development and cataloging of training modules.
-A well trained staff is more likely to maximize the useful life of the fleet, adding some relief to replacement.
VII. RELATIONSHIP TO FTA STRATEGIC RESEARCH GOALS and TCRP STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
FTA Strategic Research Goals
(2) Improving Capital and Operating Efficiencies – realizing the greatest economic useful life of the fleet, through the management of the fundamental business process of staffing, are the motives behind this research.
TCRP Strategic Priorities
V. Revitalize Transit Organizations – not only is it important for an agency to become aligned with technologies, changes in the work force, and partnerships, it is critical that management understand how to keep up with changes as they occur.
VIII. RELATED RESEARCH
- Profile of a Successful Transit Maintenance System, APTA Annual Meeting, October 1984, R.L. Hauser, GMC.
- E-5 TCRP project on developing and disseminating maintenance practices.
IX. PERSON(S) DEVELOPING THE PROBLEM
The 2004 proposal was opened up for comment from the industry using the committee’s web board.