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New STO's Centre d'entretien et d'exploitation

The Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) decided to build a new facility once it became clear that its garage at the Antoine-Grégoire Administration Centre could no longer meet its requirements. The new facility, located in the east end, was needed to maintain performance, provide quality day-to-day service, and support growth.
The new Centre d'entretien et d'exploitation (maintenance and operations centre) is open since January 2017, but it is only accessible to authorized staff. As its name indicates, it is a maintenance and operations centre, not a service point for passengers.

Facts and figures

  • 25,618 square metre two-storey building;
  • 10,000 square metres of indoor parking able to accommodate 192 regular buses (12 metres or 40 feet) or 128 articulated buses (18 metres or 60 feet;
  • More efficient repairs, maintenance and management for the buses given that they are parked indoors;
  • The garage is intended to meet demand for the next 20 years. The building design allows for expansion to accommodate another 50 buses, which would enable the Centre to meet demand for the next 60 years.

The location was selected for the following reasons:

  • More efficient movement of vehicles throughout the territory covered by the STO;
  • Improved public transit services in the east end of Gatineau;
  • Close to the Rapibus corridor to optimize operations and management in terms of the use of articulated buses;
  • Efficiency gains from reduced unproductive distances travelled.

Direct benefits to passengers

The new Maintenance and Operations Centre will optimize client service, which will directly benefit passengers through the following everyday improvements:

  • More service bays means faster turnaround of buses after a breakdown or accident;
  • Indoor parking in cold weather means considerably less risk of delays caused by breakdowns or the inability to start vehicles;
  • Better response time on the roads due to shorter distances needing to be covered;
  • Less unproductive distances, that is to say distances covered by empty buses returning to the garage after their shift;
  • Increased supply of public transit.

Benefits to the environment

  • Significant reduction in GHG from shorter drives back to the garage after each shift;
  • A valid and competitive alternative to cars;
  • Site selected to avoid any impact on natural habitats and to make use of brownfields.

Why build a second garage?

Over the past 15 years, the STO has seen a significant increase in its ridership, from 10.8 million passengers in 1994 to more than 20 million in 2015. That increased demand for public transit led to an increase in its fleet, from 186 vehicles to more than 305 currently, including the 61 articulated 60 foot-long buses, which require more space than the conventional 40 foot-long buses. The garage at 111 rue Jean-Proulx was built in 1977 and long ago reached full capacity, as a result of which more than 80 buses have had to park outdoors.

As well, the areas designated for the different work bays for vehicle repair and maintenance no longer meet requirements, resulting in numerous complications.

Everyday complications

  • Impossible to wash and restock buses every day (gas, window-washer fluid, oil check, etc.);
  • Shortage of space for regular maintenance;
  • Parts warehouse used to full capacity;
  • Difficulty finding space for the larger capacity newly acquired articulated buses;
  • Difficulty finding space for the STO's new articulated buses;
  • Rotation of buses (in-out-in) to access mechanical and specialized maintenance services;
  • Insufficiently long work bays for the articulated buses.

Complications associated with very cold weather

  • Outdoor parking of vehicles in very cold weather or ice storms carries its share of complications. In addition to buses that refuse to start, there is more risk of mechanical failure, frozen fuel lines and delays on the routes. These situations also mean a shorter life for the buses and reduce the chances of being able to get them back on the road;
  • Less energy efficiency and higher heating costs due to repeated openings of the garage doors;
  • Higher costs associated with clearing snow from bus roofs, required for safe handling on the road;
  • More difficulty and time involved in clearing snow from the yard because of all the parked buses;
  • Because the buses use up all the outdoor space, the STO has had to rent an adjacent lot to dump snow in the winter, which generated additional costs;
  • In winter, when the buses are washed and parked outside, the layer of ice that forms can prevent doors from opening properly;
  • When a bus is moved inside, the windows immediately fog up due to condensation. The windows then have to be ventilated, which takes time, before the bus can safely proceed.

Complications associated with very hot weather

  • In the summer, in very hot weather, it takes longer to cool the passenger cabin, which requires burning more fuel.

Studies indicate a shortage of 4,000 square metres in the garage on rue Jean-Proulx. In order to adequately meet current and future requirements, the construction of a new facility was deemed to be the optimal solution.

Opening the new Centre will make it possible to limit activities at the Centre administratif Antoine-Grégoire garage to its optimal management and operational capacity, which is 160 buses, 15 of which are articulated.

In addition to all of the operational difficulties identified above, there are a number of other justifications for building the new Centre.

  • To provide the amount of indoor space needed for the entire fleet based on current and future needs;
  • To provide the necessary facilities and equipment for maintenance operations by setting up enough functional work bays large enough for articulated buses;
  • To improve and properly manage effective STO activities and services;
  • To provide facilities able to accommodate innovative technological solutions;
  • To improve the movement of buses to the Rapibus throughout the territory, which will result in savings from moving vehicles to their route starting point.

Location of the new Maintenance and Operations Centre

The new Maintenance and Operations Centre is located in the Gatineau sector at 708 boulevard des Affaires, north of highway 50, midway between boulevard Labrosse and montée Paiement (near the Zellers).

The new Maintenance and Operations Centre will open in January 2017, but will only be accessible to authorized staff. As its name indicates, it will be a maintenance and operations centre, not a service point for passengers.

Construction timeline and budget

Construction on the Centre started in mid-May 2015, and was completed in November 2016. It is scheduled to open in January 2017.

A $75 million budget envelope was earmarked for the construction. Quebec's department of Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l'Électrification covered 75% of the costs through the government assistance program for the public transport of people (PAGTCP).

The $51,140,880 (taxes included) contract for this building project was awarded to Gatineau's Boless Inc. through public tender.


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