At Steel Pacific Recycling

At Steel Pacific Recycling

Last stop on a long ride

Old buses in the fleet meet a messy end at scrap yard



The antiquated B.C. Transit bus pulls into its last-ever stop on time: precisely 10 a.m. Despite a full life serving the public, today the metal workhorse carries no passengers, not even a driver, as it’s towed to the Victoria scrapyard where transit buses go to die.

The MCI Classic, purchased new in 1989 for $187,500, spent 20 years – upwards of 18 hours a day, seven days a week – on Greater Victoria’s roads. In total, it racked up some 1.5 million kilometres, although nobody knows the exact number – the odometer broke years ago.

“The engine on this vehicle has water in the sump. That’s a sign of a major failure,” says Aaron Lamb, executive director of asset management for B.C. Transit. “Could we repair it? Absolutely, you can always repair it. But from an environmental, social and financial standpoint it doesn’t make sense to do that.”

This bus is one of the oldest – if not the oldest – in B.C. Transit’s provincial fleet.

As per B.C. Transit standards, it was taken off the road in 2009, 20 years after it was purchased. But it still had some life in it, so it remained in the provincial contingency fleet for a couple years – until it was towed to the scrap yard just north of the Bay Street Bridge last month.

Amid an acreage of bald tires, crushed sedans and shredded metal, workers at Schitnzer Steel’s Steel Pacific Recycling begin taking immediate environmental precautions on the well-kept transit bus.

“Any leakage is captured,” says Jenny Farkas, spokesperson for Schnitzer Steel as she and Lamb watch employee Derek Vowles pump all the fluids out of the engine. The batteries and mercury switches are removed, and the engine is pulled out.

Eventually cleansed of liquid toxins, the bus is pushed into place across the yard and comes to a stop between an excavator and a multiple-storey-tall metal baler.

And with almost no effort at all, and no moment of silence to recognize the bus’s decades of service, the bucket of the excavator slams through the roof of the transit bus, crunching the front end and tearing it to shreds.

The windshield shatters into pebbles of glass, as the bucket rips down through the steering console. The excavator operator picks up the destroyed front end and swivels it into the adjacent baler, which packages the twisted shards of metal and aluminum into a four-foot by four-foot brick.

In a matter of minutes, Lamb, in awe as he records the destruction on his cellphone, has one less recognizable asset to manage for B.C. Transit. The once 12-metre long bus is all condensed now into a few bales of metal.

It will be loaded onto a barge and floated down to Schnitzer’s main shredder in Tacoma, Wash., where all the pieces will be sorted and the majority recycled.

“We have an amazingly high recovery rate around vehicle recycling. We can extract finer and finer pieces of all these materials,” Farkas says.

Lamb conducts lifecycle analyses on all the province’s buses on a regular basis.

“Thirteen to 20 years from now, the buses could use 70 per cent less fuel than they do now. It might make environmental, social and economic sense then to accelerate our replacement process,” he says. “There are always new determinants.”

The technology in 1989-built bus pales to what’s standard today. There was no air conditioning, no digital signage boards, no wheelchair accessibility, not to mention it guzzled 9,000 litres more fuel each year, and produced an additional 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“It really is a workhorse. … There’s a bit of nostalgia here,” Lamb says. “Think about all the people who were on it over 20 years – how many drivers, how many passengers, how many service people fuelled it.”

Never again will it be fuelled, or driven, or rode – at least in this incarnation. “Maybe it’ll be recycled into another bus,” Lamb says optimistically.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Residents of Pat Bay Highway encampment to be relocated after early morning fire, site secured for clean up

Eviction notice issued in 2020, not enforced to allow BC Housing to connect with campers

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read