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Winter weather tune-up keeps campus buses rolling

CABS bus preparation begins in the wee hours

Freezing temperatures and snowfall may slow down commuters, but Transportation and Traffic Management staff arrive overnight to keep CABS buses on schedule in inclement weather. CABS gives 5 million rides each year, and bad weather can’t slow them down.

While most students are sleeping, TTM mechanics are hard at work: Thomas Young and two other mechanics check buses to make sure 47 vehicles, including buses, small shuttles for Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center and paratransit vehicles, are ready to roll.

To warm up the buses, the mechanics turn on the lights and keep batteries warm before drivers get behind the wheel.

“As long as everything fires up correctly – basically you can tell if it fires up or if it doesn’t fire up – we make sure the heat is on for the pedestrians,” Young said.

“Winter is our biggest time,” said Christy Miller, TTM’s transit operations supervisor. “That’s when we see our highest ridership. That’s when we see our biggest mechanical issues that we have to overcome, and it’s a huge team effort just to keep things moving for sure.”

Once the drivers arrive, another safety check is performed to look at everything from the horn and windshield wipers to the lights, odometer and wheelchair lift.

Vehicle operator James Gump shows his dedication, coming in early during bad weather to stay on schedule.

“You have to think about the students and try to get them on time there, and with the pre-trip, you’ve got to make sure that the buses are ready to go safely for everybody,” Gump said.

CABS drivers travel an average of 150 miles per day, moving an average of 30,000 riders.

Mariana Ordonez says she relies on CABS buses.

“It’s really nice because I myself don’t have a car on campus so I can just hop on and go to where I need to go, and they’re usually on time. Yeah, it’s pretty good,” Ordonez said.

Winnie Sampson rides the buses often, and says the drivers make the ride special.

“Some of these bus drivers are super,” Sampson said. “They’re super caring. They wait on you. They smile at you. They talk to you. They greet you. Some of them are wonderful.”

Freshman Kaylee Clark’s just took her first ride on a TTM bus.

“It’s definitely really important,” Clark said. “It’s my only means of transportation to get to my research opportunity at Jameson Crane besides walking, and walking to Jameson Crane is not really optimal, especially in the winter.”

Not all bus stops are the same. Some high-traffic areas have heaters to help keep people warm.

The day isn’t complete until each bus is cleaned. Thanks to all the work behind the scenes, CABS is on the road in the sun, rain or snow to get the campus community where it needs to go.

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