OC Transpo's single tier, 40 foot, low floor buses are aging. On average the vehicles are ten years old. Most drivers would be looking for a new set of wheels at the ten year mark, but new buses are expensive; in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, in a bid to save money OC Transpo officials have launched a mid-life refurbish of its fleet of 320 buses.
Eastway Contracting, located in Pembroke in the Upper Ottawa Valley, has just won the bid to do a portion of the work. Up until now however, the bus overhaul was being done internally at the Transpo garage just off the Queensway in the city's West end. In the video below Ed Thomas, program manager at OC Transpo describes the extent of the work.
Under those side panels mechanics found structural problems and corrosion - all fixable. What wasn't fixable were the side panels themselves. Once they were off - they were almost impossible to replace and very expensive to repair. The solution? Find new panels. The city called for tenders last year and a local company, CCI Manufacturing won that bid. It's a custom composite manufacturer which just relocated from Ottawa to a larger site in Arnprior, west of the capital. David Bradly, who worked in Ottawa's high tech sector has transformed a hobby into a growing business, now serving a diverse clientele with his fabricated products.
Once CCI ships the panels back to OC Transpo they are painted and placed on the bus frame. CCI has a contract for 50 buses. Ed Thomas says CCI has produced a quality product at a bargain price. In fact, the entire mid life refurbish is good for taxpayers and the bottom line.
35 old buses have been overhauled and are back on the road for another 5 years, but with almost 300 still to be refurbished OC Transpo felt the job was too big to be done internally. That's why Eastway has been brought on board.
CCI's David Bradley says he hopes to work with Eastway to manufacture the side panels for the rest of the bus fleet. In fact, he says his company is ready for even bigger contracts.
OC Transpo's ten year old buses will begin being transported to Eastway facilities in Pembroke next week for their safety and cosmetic makeovers.