VA: PRTC Completes 4-Year Project to Overhaul Buses

May 1, 2014
When your vehicle costs $550,000, you want to ensure that it lasts.

When your vehicle costs $550,000, you want to ensure that it lasts. 

When that vehicle is a motor coach style passenger bus, that means rigorous ongoing maintenance and a mid-life overhaul so the bus performs as well at the end of its life as it does at the beginning. So the recent completion of a four-year project to overhaul 61 of PRTC’s oldest OmniRide commuter buses is cause for celebration.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission operates OmniRide commuter bus and OmniLink local bus services in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.

ABC Bus in Winter Garden, Fla., won a competitive procurement to perform the overhaul work including repairing electrical systems, rebuilding air conditioning systems and replacing engines, transmissions, suspension systems, brakes and lighting. The buses were also repainted, wheels were polished and seats recovered.  

“These buses are practically new inside and out,” said Eric Marx, PRTC director of planning and operations.

The 45-foot-long buses were originally manufactured by Motor Coach Industries between 2002 and 2006. By substantially overhauling the 57-seat buses when they were between 7- and 8-years-old, PRTC is averting potential future maintenance problems and helping to make sure that OmniRide passengers continue to have a safe, comfortable and reliable ride throughout the life of the bus, Marx said.

By performing mid-life overhauls, PRTC’s coaches provide the same high quality service throughout their useful life. Since federal and other sources of public funds are in short supply it makes good business sense to do mid-life overhauls and keep the buses in active duty for as long as PRTC does, Marx said.

The project cost $12 million and was paid for through a combination of federal, state and local sources.

Taking about 10 weeks on average, ABC initially overhauled two buses at a time but increased to three and eventually four buses simultaneously. Only a few buses were overhauled at a time so PRTC had sufficient buses available to sustain full service.

Now PRTC is turning its attention to its next bus overhaul project. ABC has won a second competitive procurement to perform mid-life overhaul work on PRTC’s 40-foot Gillig buses, which were manufactured in 2005-2006. The 45-seat Gillig buses are primarily used for PRTC’s Metro Direct service to and from nearby Metro stations. PRTC has a total fleet of 154 buses, almost entirely manufactured by MCI and Gillig.