Dallas Garbage Truck Shortage

New trucks are on the way but not as fast as old ones break down.

Dallas is facing a garbage truck shortage as old trucks break down faster than new ones can be put on the road.

Resident Tony Navarro said his collection has been delayed.

“What I’ve noticed recently, the last couple of weeks is that’s it’s been delayed a day or so. Normally they pick up on Friday and they’ve been picking up a day later on Saturday,” Navarro said.

The Dallas Sanitation Department has around 500 pieces of heavy equipment. Around 170 are trucks for daily trash and recycling collection. Workers need 130 trash collection trucks in service each day. As few as 120 or less have been available some recent days.

“You would think they’d have a maintenance schedule and keep the trucks up to par, keep them going in good condition, to provide a good service for citizens here,” Navarro said.

Dallas Sanitation Director Kelly High said the problem is not a surprise to city officials. He has been expecting the problem because too many old trucks have been kept in service too long.

“You can’t replace a lot of that aging equipment overnight,” High said. “You left the economic downturn and there were kind of lean times on buying equipment. So part of this is that. And we’ve been trying to play catch up for the last 4 or 5 years.”

Further complicating temporary replacement in Dallas is that several kinds of trucks are used for routine trash and recycling collection. Some routes use automated side arm collection trucks that reduce manpower but have complicated hydraulic equipment that fails more often in summer heat. Others routes use traditional rear loading trucks.

“Unlike most large Texas cities where they’re mostly curbside, almost 45% of our routes are in the alleys,” High said.

Some alleys are too small for standard trucks so smaller trucks are needed there. Not every route can take every piece of equipment for replacement service.

Over the next few months, 22 new trash collection trucks will hit the street, but they may not arrive as fast as the old ones keep breaking down.

“We just want people to know this may occur and we want them to know why it occurs. We just want to make sure we communicate to folks,” said Dallas Sanitation Director Kelly High.

A truck broke down on Friday afternoon, one house away from Tony Navarro.

He hopes the truck returns before trash piles up.

“Trash going all over the place and then the smell, the stench, right,” he said.

Officials said Dallas residents should call 3-1-1 to report missed collection in case sanitation workers were not aware it had been left behind.

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