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A GUIDEBOOK FOR DEVELOPING AND SHARING TRANSIT BUS MAINTENANCE PRACTICES SUMMARY Maintenance procedures that are documented into a set of formal work instructions, referred to here as "practices," offer transit agencies many benefits. Practices help ensure that workers with different backgrounds all perform their duties in a consistent and thorough manner because the instructions contained in the practices incorporate the collective experiences and insights held by the agency, by the original equipment manufacturers, and by the industry at large. Practices also help ensure compliance with federal and local regulations and provide essential instructions for promoting safety, disposing of hazardous materials, using special tools, and including standard repair times if desired. The complexities involved with government regulations, occupational safety, and bus technology are far too great for transit managers to simply assume that all work- ers fully understand them and will perform their jobs in a proper manner. What may be considered "proper" for some workers could easily turn out to be in direct viola- tion of a critical regulation or a manufacturer's requirement needed to maintain warranty coverage. Practices leave little room for interpretation because they docu- ment the steps that an agency expects its maintenance workers to follow, providing explicit instructions that can be referred to and updated over time. Some agencies incorporate these instructions directly into their classroom training curriculum. For those who monitor worker performance and establish productivity and quality requirements, practices become the standard against which individual performance is uniformly and fairly measured. While virtually every agency uses a basic checklist to conduct preventive mainte- nance inspections, many, especially smaller agencies, simply do not have the time or staff to develop instructions for other essential maintenance and repair activities. Fortunately, the transit community has a great deal of collective knowledge concern- ing practices, and the community can freely exchange this knowledge without the com- petitive pressures typically found in other industries. Regardless of how extensive or unencumbered the knowledge is, however, that knowledge is of little value if agencies cannot get to it. Those without access are forced to find solutions and establish proce- dures in virtual isolation, even though much of the equipment and tasks are similar throughout the transit bus industry.

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2 Aware of this dilemma, the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) pro- duced this "Guidebook for Developing and Sharing Bus Maintenance Practices" to give agencies equal access to the collective knowledge that exists in transit. Topics covered in the Guidebook include legal considerations; obtaining, applying, and prioritizing ref- erence material; tips on writing well and using photographs to enhance practices; tailoring practices to unique local conditions; formatting practices; and updating and validating completed practices. Also included are seven sample practices developed from applying the Guidebook to popular maintenance jobs performed on a variety of buses operated by large and small agencies alike. The examples can be used by agen- cies as a starting point to prepare their own practices on similar topics. Another key element of the Guidebook is its Web Board component, an Internet site sponsored by TRB and made available free of charge to the transit community. The Web Board contains an electronic copy of the Guidebook and features a library of exist- ing agency practices cataloged under major heading groups so agencies can share their practices with others. Agencies can also use the Web Board to locate reference mate- rial from a variety of other sources, including original equipment manufacturers, TRB, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Community Transporta- tion Association of America, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and others. Agencies can add their practices to the Web Board at any time by following a basic titling sequence. The Guidebook offers guidance. It does not attempt to make one universal approach or format applicable to all. Instead, it includes the tools needed to tailor practices to an agency's own needs and local conditions, recommends a format for structuring the practices to ensure that all essential elements are included, and provides a platform for sharing the practices with others. The Guidebook is also structured to give agencies maximum flexibility in applying the guidance. For example, users could read all of the background material in advance before writing the practice or begin writing the practice and refer back to specific sections as needed. A Microsoft Word template has also been created to facilitate the practice-writing process. Another option is to download an existing practice cataloged on the Web Board and modify it to suit the agency's own particular operation. The Guidebook allows those without computer skills or Internet access to obtain essential reference material and to write the practice using more tradi- tional methods.