City of Greeley, Colorado
Member, APWA Fleet Services Committee
The City of Greeley, Colorado, population 75,000 is an agricultural and industrial community located 50 miles north of Denver. The Equipment Maintenance Division is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works and has an annual operating budget of $1,654,000. The fleet is divided into two areas: Transit fleet for bus operations and the Central fleet for the City vehicles. The Transit fleet has approximately 29 units which fall under the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) jurisdiction and requirements. The Central fleet has approximately 485 City units in addition to handling licensing and emissions for the Fire Department.
Transit units are a challenge to keep clean and ready to go on daily routes from 6:00 a.m. to usually 9:45 p.m. In addition, the models vary and ages range from 1982 buses with over 500,000 city miles to the 2002 model bus with the latest updates. The Transit vehicles account for approximately 40 percent of the Equipment Maintenance budget. In January 1994, after being under a contractor service for four years, the Citizen Budget Advisory Committee accepted Equipment Maintenance's proposal to provide transit vehicle maintenance using in-house staff. Funding criteria requires that maintenance of Transit vehicles be billed separately from maintenance of City vehicles.
Gary Taylor, Transit Manager, strongly supported bringing maintenance of vehicles in-house. "Our maintenance and repair service has improved considerably and both the drivers and the mechanics now work together to solve problems and find ways to make the buses more reliable and comfortable for the riders," Taylor said.
The changes were immediately evident when services were brought in-house. The City maintenance staff set work hours (5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) for operations. Staff handle quick fixes when the buses pull out in the morning. Major repairs are accomplished during the day, but most of the maintenance is completed in the evening when the vehicles are not in service. Vehicle availability has improved and the number of open work orders has decreased substantially.
Equipment Maintenance staff are careful to avoid unnecessary costs. As vehicles were replaced, there were generally no buyers for the older buses. Staff found ways to use the parts to contain repair costs for other older units that were due for replacement. Parts costs decreased by more than $50,000 per year. The effort to contain costs continues as the mechanics track warranties carefully and stay current with recalls and a preventive maintenance program.
Brad Bauer, Route Supervisor, has the responsibility of coordinating the transit service and vehicle repair. Bauer gives the mechanics a lot of credit and states, "They know the buses and do a good job."
The task of bringing the remaining City vehicles back in-house was a monumental undertaking since the City of Greeley maintenance operation had been shut down from October 1990 to December 31, 1998. The City Council was given a presentation on what could be done by in-house services which included time adjustments to fit user needs, closer warranty tracking, changes in preventive maintenance to increase departmental productivity, cost savings, and pride in ownership of the services which was evident in the Transit history of operation.
The City Council approved the proposed in-house operation on October 9, 1998, and the real work began. A previously formulated time line was implemented to get the shops up and running by January 1, 1999. The following items were then accomplished with the help and cooperation of many City Departments:
The first few months of operation were used to familiarize staff with the fleet and develop the goals for the Equipment Maintenance Division. Monthly financial reports are used to compare our service and costs to the private sector. Hiring experienced A.S.E. and trained staff gave credibility to the operation.
Key to the success of an operation is the support of upper management. William Sterling, Public Works Director, understood the need for the improvements to the division and supported the division changes to the City Council and Budget Advisory Board.
It is clear to staff that meeting the needs of the customer is primary and instrumental in support of any operation. If we fail to meet the needs of our customers, and are not competitive with the private sector, we can expect to be questioned by our competitors, the customers, and our employer. Accountability, which means knowing your costs, will support a company in keeping services and operations under their management.
Judy Workman received the "Fleet Professional of the Year" award from the Rocky Mountain Fleet Management Association in Reno, Nevada in 2000 and received Certified Equipment Manager in 2003. For questions you can reach her by calling (970) 350-9375.