The engines on Metro's buses must be started and run during these long cold winter nights so they will be available for morning rush hours service, Thomas Trimmer, director of Metrobus service, told the Metro board yesterday.
"When it gets below 25 degrees, we run the buses about 15 minutes every hour through the night," Trimmer said in response to a question from board member Jerry Moore. Moore, a member of the D.C. City Council, has recieved numerous complaints over the years from people living near Metro's bus storage lots when the engines are fired up at night.
About 1,200 of Metro's 2,000 buses are kept outside. Those stored inside are not subject to the problem, Trimmer said. The problem, confirmed by bus manufacturers contacted yesterday, is that diesel engines will not start if they get too cold. All Metro's busses use of diesel fuel.
"I'm very concerned about the use of energy here," Moore said. Trimmer promised to compile some statistics on fuel used and the number of time this winter Metro has had to start the fleet over night.
Robert E. LaShomb, public information director for the Metropolitan Transit Commission in Minneapolis St. Paul, where it is cold, said yesterday "as a standing policy we don't believe vehicles are to be left outside. All of ours are in garages. It is very difficult to start a diesel engine in cold weather."
Cleatus Barnett, Metro board member from Montgomery County, told Trimmer, "There's got to be a better way."