Eleven days and counting of sustained temperatures far below freezing have taken a toll on Toledo’s transit bus fleet.
Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority officials said Thursday morning that road breakdowns have skyrocketed during the nonstop frigid weather, mainly because of moisture freezing up in the air lines that control buses’ brakes.
TARTA mechanic Rorric Russell works on replacing a set of disc brakes on a bus.
Conditions contributing to that problem were only getting worse, as Thursday marked the 11th straight day of temperatures no warmer than 20 degrees, and forecasters expected highs only in the single digits Friday and Saturday.
Thursday’s official high at Toledo Express Airport was 17 degrees, but that was recorded at 12:55 a.m. The afternoon high was just 13.
With such frigid weather, General Manager James Gee told the TARTA board of trustees Thursday morning, even a fully functional bus heater has a hard time keeping up with the cold air rushing inside every time the bus picks people up or drops them off.
Tim Rowe, the transit authority’s director of maintenance, said after the board meeting that during the two weeks before Christmas, the agency had about 40 bus breakdowns -- a bit fewer than three per day. Since then, mechanics had responded to 56 road calls as of Thursday morning -- about double the rate.
And with air-line freeze-ups, Mr. Rowe said, “The only way to fix it is to get it home and put inside where it can warm up.
“It’s just been nonstop since Christmas, since this cold spell came in,” he said. “We’re out on the road all day long.”
Mr. Gee told the transit board that a weather warmup forecast for Sunday and Monday should “help us get started on the backlog of vehicles.”
As of Thursday, Toledo’s only record low during this deep freeze has been a -8 reading Dec. 28 that was a tie for that date with 1950. But several days have had record “low highs,” meaning that the daily high temperature was the lowest ever logged in Toledo for that day of the year.
TARTA mechanic Rorric Russell works on replacing a set of disc brakes on a bus Thursday, at the main garage in west Toledo. The recent cold snap has made operating tricky for TARTA, and Mr. Russell said they were tackling a number of maintenance issues as a result of the cold.
Toledo’s record low for Friday is -10, set on Jan. 5, 1884. As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service office in Cleveland predicted a -5 low for Toledo Friday morning.
Jay Berschback, chief meteorologist for WTVG-TV Channel 13, said Friday’s record low “is in range, but I think we’ll be just shy of the record.”
While subzero cold also is forecast for Saturday morning and possible Sunday morning, those dates’ records would be tougher to break. Both are from an even deeper cold spell four years ago that followed a major Toledo snowstorm: -15 on Jan. 6 and -14 on Jan. 7.
So far, Toledo has avoided heavy snow this season. While the 14.2 inches of snow reported at Toledo Express Airport — Toledo’s official weather reporting station — so far is slightly above normal, it has fallen in fairly small doses, with the 3.4 inches on Christmas Eve as the largest daily accumulation.
The weather warmup Sunday and Monday is forecast to be accompanied by snow, but Mr. Berschback said that’s likely to amount to only an inch or two.
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