What is being done to make the system more reliable? How much maintenance work is required to keep the system running?
As a member of the team who monitors Metro’s primary Twitter streams and issues real-time service alerts from the Rail Operations Center, I see these kinds of questions on a regular basis. And I know how service changes can mess up someone’s day.
Many of our riders have even asked when maintenance work will end. The short answer is: it won’t.
Because Metro operates on a massive scale, covering Los Angeles County with more than 15,000 bus stops and 105 miles of rail, routine maintenance is necessary to help reduce wear and tear on buses and rail cars. On average, all six rail lines travel about 5,045,270 miles per year while operating at least 20 hours each and every day. Each bus travels about 42,000 miles per year. That’s over three times the average annual mileage of most peoples’ cars!
Regular upkeep is also needed for a better riding experience — to keep rail cars and buses clean, the air conditioning working and all the things that go into a smoother ride. Plus, regular maintenance lengthens the lifespan of our transit vehicles which are extremely expensive to buy. Metro’s most recent purchase — approved by the Metro Board in June — was for compressed natural gas buses that cost about $674,576 each and electric buses that cost $1.46 million apiece. Ideally, Metro replaces buses every 14 years.
The average life-span of a train car is 30 years. Seventy-eight of the new light rail trains from Kinkisharyo were recently purchased for $299 million. A new contract was signed in April to purchase 64 heavy rail cars for $178 million.
So what is Metro doing to keep your system running? A lot, and it’s too much to cover in just one post. In addition to our usual maintenance work, Metro now has dedicated funding from the Measure M sales tax approved by L.A. County voters last year for a State of Good Repair program — something most agencies do not have.
Over the next several months, I’ll be sharing exactly what our efforts are through the Maintenance Diaries series with behind-the-scenes photos and videos as we visit bus divisions and rail yards. We’ll take an in depth look at the work it takes to keep our trains and buses moving 24/7/365.
Here’s a quick list of some, but certainly not all, of the topics we’re planning to cover. Let us know in the comments below which one you’re most interested in!
- Maintenance Diaries: Preparing trains for service at the Blue Line Rail Yard.
- Maintenance Diaries: How Metro trains are powered.
- Maintenance Diaries: Metro’s Central Maintenance Bus Facility.
- Maintenance Diaries: A look inside the Red Line Rail Yard.
- Maintenance Diaries: How bus service is restored after a breakdown.
- Maintenance Diaries: What makes a train run smoothly?