On the Cusp of a New Era of Maintenance

It goes without saying that maintenance is one of the most important cogs to transit. Without a proper department, an agency can’t keep its equipment on the road or make sure it’s customers are using safe, clean and secure equipment that will perform to spec in the event of an emergency.

The Mass Transit team decided it was time to put together a special maintenance supplement to highlight what’s going on in this crucial department and what’s new. Tight budgets and infrastructure challenges are common issues for all transit agencies, but maintenance departments have to tackle them in a much different manner than other departments and face unique challenges.

With every new technology introduced to the market designed to improve customer service and driveability of buses or rail cars, maintenance departments are finding themselves having to update training for technicians, buy new equipment and change their shops in order to accommodate new diagnostic equipment and tools while balancing needs of existing equipment.

But with each challenge, maintenance departments are finding themselves with some changes to really benefit and compliment their work. The advent of new rail propulsion systems had grown diagnostic equipment technology making it easier to find and fix issues on cars so they keep moving.

Meanwhile, transit agencies in extreme climates are working to maintain the equipment and keep vehicles moving while fighting the heat and the cold.

Technology will continue to grow in North American transit and sometimes old solutions are bringing forth these changes. With pure-electric powered buses appearing more often in the United States, engineers are looking for ways to make electric buses hold their power longer without additional batteries. In one article in this issue, Brian Eichler of Maxwell Technologies says in China buses are using pure ultracapacitor systems to overcome issues which arose in running them in parallel with batteries.

It’s exciting to see all the innovations coming into the transit world and how they will revolutionize the industry while tackling some of the most pressing sustainability and social issues facing communities across the world. And with these changes it’s also opening the door to a new era of maintenance, which will continue to change how technicians do their job in order to keep vehicles running better and longer.