Metro’s wreckers: always at the ready

Regional TransitDay or night, King County Metro Transit’s wreckers respond to trouble calls and emergencies. They push, pull, lift, or tow, whatever it takes to get buses and traffic moving and Metro’s riders to their destinations.

Metro has single wreckers stationed at each of its outlying bus bases (North, East, and South), but Atlantic Base has two—referred to as Atlantic 1 and Atlantic 2—to support the three Seattle core bases (Ryerson, Central, and Atlantic) and the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. These downtown Seattle wreckers and their crews have their work cut out for them, including responding to the needs of a “mature” trolley fleet, diesel buses from two bases, and the unique demands of the tunnel.

Atlantic Base mechanic Dave Bankson, left, uses the wrecker to lift a disabled bus while Central Base mechanic Walter Olson removes a damaged tire.

Atlantic Base mechanic Dave Bankson, left, uses the wrecker to lift a disabled bus while Central Base mechanic Walter Olson removes a damaged tire.

The transit tunnel, which accommodates light rail and buses at the same time, presents unique challenges. A disabled bus in the tunnel can cause significant delays unless it’s recovered quickly. That’s why, while Atlantic 1 may be out on the road, Atlantic 2 is always available to retrieve a disabled bus from the tunnel so both rail and other buses can keep going.

It takes patience and skill to tow a 60-foot bus through crowded streets during rush hour. Metro’s wrecker mechanics are up to the challenge and take pride in their work. They also take pride in their trucks, making sure they are clean, well-maintained, and stocked with recovery equipment and parts for on-the-road bus repairs.

All of Metro’s wrecker crews have received numerous and well-deserved commendations for their outstanding work and dedication to safety. Whether it means spending long hours in freezing temperatures on icy hills or changing a tire on the side of a busy freeway, they get the job done.

(Article originally appeared in Metro Transit’s In Transit newsletter, Nov/Dec. 2014).