Bus maintenance, schedule ongoing focus for transportation

March 11, 2013

April Wefler
[email protected]

Recently, the power steering pump, master cylinder and hydro boost for Bus No. 5 all went out at the same time, costing $2,800 to repair.

Because of how often the buses are used, the university has to maintain shuttles often. On fuel and bus maintenance combined, the transportation department spent about $150,000 in Fiscal Year 2012. The money comes from students’ Transportation Fee, which covers buses, drivers, fuel and maintenance.

“All the bus maintenance issues are pretty standard year-round,” said Russ Wilcox, transportation services supervisor.

Typically, a bus will be rotated every six to seven years.

Buses are used not only for the Four Diamonds and Sunset Creek routes, but they are also used for athletic team trips to Denver and other states, field trips, the Family Development Center, summer conferencing, Rec Center snow trips and any university-related travel.

In 2010, 229,563 people rode the buses. That number increased to 336,742 in 2011 and continued increasing to 400,186 in 2012. In January alone, 22,491 people used the bus.

Since 2001, UCCS went from three buses and six drivers to nine buses and 16 drivers.

The university chartered Ramblin Express, a locally owned passenger transportation company, up until 2001 when it created its transportation department.

“We found it cheaper, more cost-effective to provide buses and drivers,” said Wilcox, who was been a supervisor since 2002.

The department has looked at other ways to make the buses more cost-effective.

Craig Modisett, equipment operator two, received praise on March 2 for an athletics charter aimed at presenting a new bus in a different perspective.

“It was a combination of presenting the new bus as a marketing tool and how he was interacting with passengers and passerby taking pictures outside … going out of his way,” said Wilcox and Jim Spice, executive director of Public Safety.

Costs aside, staying on schedule is another important focus. Wilcox said that sometimes it’s difficult to stay on schedule with traffic, weather conditions and vehicle accidents.

“We’re pretty close to schedule most of the time,” he said.

Although some students might think the buses are off schedule with the new Alpine Village and Sunset Creek route, Wilcox said all they have to do is look at when the bus is leaving Sunset and add five or six minutes to that time.

“It still comes through regular,” he explained, adding that the bus arrives every 25 minutes.

Spice added that the best planning tool would be for students to look at when the bus is leaving Sunset and wait at the Alpine bus at that time. “That way, you know you’ll get it,” he said.

“It probably [doesn’t] take more than five or six minutes to get up the hill from Sunset,” Wilcox said.

Each bus also has a sign indicating whether it goes west to Four Diamonds and Sunset Creek or east to University Hall.

Sunset Creek is a temporary route; the lease is up in June and with the addition of 192 beds in the new Summit Village, Spice said the university is not sure yet whether the Sunset Creek apartments will continue to be necessary.