How do they do that? is a series for The Source that explores the technology that helps keep Metro running and passengers and other commuters moving. Some of it applies directly to the trains, buses and freeways and some of it runs in the background — invisible to nearly everyone but essential to mobility in our region.
How much does Metro spend each year to repair and recover bus seats ruined by food, drink, gum and graffiti? In 2012, the cost was $865,000 in taxpayer dollars to replace stained, carved, graffitied or torn seat inserts. The covered inserts that fit into the back and bottom of Metro bus seats range in price from $10.44 to $23.46 each. In addition to the cost of the inserts, Metro bus divisions expended $1.5 million in labor, replacing both window guards and seat inserts.
The most common reason that a seat insert is changed? Graffiti.
Last year was not unusual. More than 55,000 seat inserts were replaced … or about one every nine minutes. Bus maintenance works constantly to keep up with seat damage so that the buses look good and we don’t have to sit on dirty or destroyed seats. It’s not easy to keep up.
Each bus has between 40 and 57 seats, depending on the size and the style. And with just over 2,200 buses in the Metro system, that’s 88,000 and 125,400 seats that are targets for graffiti.
It takes less than 10 minutes to replace a bus seat insert but 1 1/2 hours to replace an entire seat section. An insert, which looks something like a seat float (see photo above), can be unscrewed from their metal supports, pulled out and the new insert pretty quickly added and screwed back in. But a seat section installation — replacement of the entire seat — is more complicated, requiring assembly of the seat supports and inserts before the whole thing can be carefully fastened back into the bus. Replacement of the entire seat is only done as a result of severe damage. In 2012 there were 79 seat installations — the whole seat including metal supports for the 2-to-3-passenger covered seats — on Metro buses. The cost, not including labor, was an additional $220,000.
In 2005, Metro changed the design of the bus and train seat covers to multi-colors to camouflage graffiti and make the seats more difficult to mark. But vandals are starting to use new markers and other tools to more effectively destroy the seat covers.
In the meantime, seat recovering and repair continues. Passengers who see graffiti/tagging on buses and trains can report it to the Graffiti Hotline at (800) 675-4357 (select #2) . This hotline is available with live operators 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have a cell phone, please put the number in your contacts so it’s handy.
Categories: How do they do that?