Modesto embarks on consolidating its fleet maintenance under one roof

kvaline@modbee.comDecember 24, 2013 

Modesto is consolidating its fleet-maintenance operations under one roof, which officials say will increase productivity and result in efficiencies that could save the city about $500,000 annually.

Modesto now services and maintains its 835 buses, police cars, sedans and heavy equipment at three locations – the Modesto Regional Fire Authority services its own fire engines and other vehicles. The plan is to have all fleet work done at 1609 Eighth St., where the city opened a $17.8 million bus-maintenance facility in July 2012.

The facility includes seven maintenance bays for the city’s buses. The city plans to build eight more bays for the rest of the fleet. The cost of the addition is estimated at $5.5 million, but Senior Civil Engineer Kris Ohlson said that estimate could change as more of the project develops.

The City Council on Dec. 10 approved hiring the firm Lionakis for design services on the project at a cost not to exceed $374,187. Ohlson estimates construction could start in late summer 2015 and take about one year.

Public Works vehicles and equipment now are serviced at the city’s Corporation Yard on Jefferson Street, and the city’s police cars and sedans at a garage on Ninth Street. But the city is losing both facilities. The Ninth Street facility is expected to be demolished for the new downtown courthouse, and the maintenance facility at the Corporation Yard is part of the right of way acquired for the state’s upgrade of Highway 132.

But the city would consolidate its fleet operations even if it were not losing two of its maintenance facilities, said Steve Fischio, Modesto’s fleet, parking and streets manager. He said the city has been saving money for this project since 1998. The $5.5 million was raised through fleet services charging city departments for servicing their vehicles.

State and federal grants covered 90 percent of the cost of the $17.8 million bus-maintenance facility, according to a July 2012 city news release. The facility includes space for the private firm that operates the city buses under a contract with the city, as well as office, conference and locker rooms.

Fischio said having fleet services’ 40 employees under one roof will result in greater efficiencies, such as cross-training mechanics to work on different types of vehicles. He said the consolidation eliminates the need for three phone and computer systems.

Fischio said he hopes the consolidation will reduce fleet service’s $5.2 million annual operating budget by 10 percent. About 40 percent of operating budget is for gasoline and diesel fuel. He does not expect any layoffs or downsizing but said the department could lose employees through attrition.

He expects the consolidation will provide better service for the city’s other departments. He expects fleet services will operate 24/7 when under one roof.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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