Out Of Fuel Buses : Going Nowhere Fast

Posted by Reza Tavassoli on 2-May-2019 7:21:00 AM
Reza Tavassoli
The Bad News

bus transit executive holding fuel gauge

Buses running out of fuel on the road occurs far more often than most people would believe. It is a major, very expensive problem, in terms of both money and citizen good will. The problem is much more complex than it seems, but also a lot simpler to solve than many within the industry believe . 

Bus Inspection Pit of a Major City Transit Maintenance Garage

Many articles have alluded to the inconveniences of the buses running out of fuel, and some suggested possible misreporting of problems labeled as “bus breakdowns.” The numbers floated so far are in the hundreds of 'out-of-fuel' bus incidents a year for any given public transit operation, depending on the size of the population and corresponding fleet of buses. If you dig deeper, you can find some shocking numbers that suggest the potential cost of these 'out-of-gas' incidents can rise to as much a $5K per incident. Dig deeper still and you learn that these costs, mainly related to labor, break down as follows:

  • primary driver pay hours
  • dispatcher pay hours
  • replacement driver pay hours
  • on-site inspectors
  • towing
  • in-garage safety inspection
  • mechanic pay hours
  • refueling
  • associated administration costs

Traffic jam on busy highway where a bus that is out of gas is blocking one lane.

The Good News

Could there be a more efficient solution? We believe so and are working hard with many North-American transit authorities to make it work for our common clients, the public. Yes, it’s true that many buses don’t have a gas gauge, but this is not as unusual as one would think on public transit vehicles. There is an intensely rigorous and expensive process to perform safety qualifications on any part of the bus. In many cases, buses are custom built and they can range in cost from $250k to over double that amount. Once all the safety conditions are in place, adding a gas gauge just isn’t the same as it might cost on a car.

So, what’s the solution? Well, it’s an extra part to the SM2 fleet management system .

Image of Coencorp's VDU Vehicle Data Unit or 'Little Black Box" It involves adding a small piece of equipment to the buses’ onboard computer to relay vital engine information (fuel levels and much more) directly to the fleet managers and also to the bus driver via mobile notification. We call it the VDU, or Vehicle Data Unit.

“The little black box that says a lot! SM2 Fuel’s Vehicle Data Unit is truly plug-and-play: no programming or configuration required. Once installed, the VDU automatically relays vehicle data such as engine hours, mileage, idle time, and engine fault codes. It automatically identifies the vehicle, physically guaranteeing that fuel is dispensed to authorized vehicles only.”

We are working hard and looking forward to implementing this solution at  all our public transit customers.

City Transit Bus Stalled on street Due to Running Out of Fuel.

Our real-time data relay will give the drivers and dispatchers the power to prevent costly breakdowns before they occur. The bus itself will notify them when it is low on fuel and arrangements for replacements can be made to prevent most break downs. The data transmitted goes beyond any fuel gauge. It empowers the transit authority with live data to plan and predict labor allotments, minimize emergency over time, lessen insurance expenses due to preventable breakdowns, and even collect data on driver behaviors and passenger loads. It’s a small piece of equipment that becomes a powerhouse tool for the transit authority and allows them to do what they do best, deliver public transit, safely and efficiently.

For more information on the benefits of Coencorp’s SM2- fleet management systems, our VDU, and any aspect of our fully integrated & customizable systems, our excellent support team is ready to answer your questions. You can also get more information from our other blog articles or request a meeting with us. We are always eager to help you find solutions to your unique challenges.

Topics: public transit fuel management, fleet fuel management, vehicle data, preventative maintenance, fleet management, real-time data