NEW BEDFORD, MA – New Englanders know all about those glorious winter days when the sun breaks through the gloom and the temperatures rise high enough to lift your spirits.
As true New Englanders, many seize these opportunities to go wild – at the car wash. Because it’s understood that the chances in February to get the grit and sand of the season off the car are few and far between.
That same traffic jam you may encounter on those days at your local car wash happens at Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) facilities in New Bedford and Fall River, too. Just with buses instead of automobiles.
That’s right. You’ve heard of the Car Wash and maybe even did some disco to the Grammy-award winning tune from the movie of the same name back in the day. But, did you know there’s a Bus Wash, too?
Marty Burke knows. He’s the General Manager of SRTA and is responsible for all manner of operations involving the SRTA fleet. Including keeping it clean and shiny all winter, spring, summer and fall long.
That fleet consists of 69 fixed route buses most riders are familiar with seeing on streets and roads throughout South Coast, Massachusetts. Additionally, it also includes 31 other vehicles such as On-Demand Vans.
During the temperate summer months, all 100 go through the SRTA Bush Washes each and every day at locations in New Bedford and Fall River. In the winter, Marty Burke looks for breaks in the freeze before running through the high-pressure sprays and tough on grime brushes of the Bus Wash.
It’s but one of his many duties as General Manager, but one that holds special resonance for him. He’s been in Public Transportation since 1984, the last 10 years at SRTA, yet began his career as a teenager all those years ago…washing buses!
Marty Burke is well aware of the special allure making the fun trip-like journey through a Bus Wash holds, especially for kids.
“I remember the kids going through the wash in a bus during a ‘take your daughter to work day’,” he recalls. “They were just mesmerized by it!”
What kid wouldn’t be? Isn’t riding through a car wash a squealing delight when your kid? Now, just imagine doing that with a bus load of friends!
Of course, keeping the SRTA fleet road-worthy isn’t child’s play. Getting the dust of summer and grime of winter off the vehicles is part of the constant maintenance required to keep the buses running properly.
Yet, it has to be recognized that if going through the wash and rinse cycle is a thrill for the young – and the young-at-heart – then it’s an absolute blast in a bus!
And a fun part of the job. Just ask Marty Burke – who puts the gleam on SRTA a hundred times a day for riders. Weather permitting.