In recent days, about 30 Madison Metro buses have broken down on the road, as the company struggles to deal with a waxing problem in its fuel lines.
"It started about a week ago," says Metro maintenance manager Jeff Butler. "Buses were stalling out and losing power on the road."
Waxing is common in diesel engines, especially in cold weather. The problem is especially noticeable in newer buses, whose fuel systems filter out finer particles and are thus more likely to clog, Butler says.
Metro is dealing with the problem by treating its fuel tanks with an additive, replacing fuel filters and having maintenance crews ready to deliver fresh filters to stalled vehicles.
"The buses aren't down for a long time," Butler says. "You're looking at maybe an hour."
He's hopeful the fuel additives will prevent future breakdowns. "It takes about three weeks for that process to work," he says. "I think we've got the problems under control."