Issuu on Google+

London buses in Phoenix Page 16

Champion Bus readies for production Page 22

Special Section: Paratransit Management & ADA Compliance Page 24

Europe turns to electric Page 32

™

MAY 2013

www.busride.com • $5.00

ARBOC rolls out the Spirit of Liberty Page 18

BUSRide Roundtable: Page 22 Revenue Management Page 28

™

MAY 2013 cover story

Major changes liberate passengers ARBOC Specialty Vehicles readies the Spirit of Liberty for 2014 deliveries By David Hubbard page 18

Special Section:

Paratransit Management & ADA Compliance

16 A London bus in Phoenix — really?

Vintage double-deckers from Real London Bus liven up the party By David Hubbard

22 Champion Bus seals the deal and gets to work

The company wastes no time in bringing the new Federal bus to production By David Hubbard

28 BUSRide Roundtable: Revenue Management

Industry leaders from INIT, SPX Genfare, Accenture and Crane Payment Solutions offer their thoughts on the future of fare collection

24 Comfort is a paratransit concern

Kelderman air suspensions lend a smoother ride By Lanny Lammers

26 Hearing loops keep people tuned in

Accommodations for an aging America are good business By David Hubbard

8 Mailbox 10 Update 14 Deliveries 15 People in the News 36 Marketplace

6 David Hubbard 32 The International Report 4

May 2013

By Doug Jack

BUSRide

Friends remember Frank Hines Frank Hines has died. On word of his death in March at his home in Dallas, TX, industry veterans Dave Millhauser and Tom Champion contributed their remembrances. They wrote of a friend, a teacher and a key player in this industry for many years who inspired others to do good work. Millhauser says Hines gave him his first chance at selling buses. Among others Hines helped along were John Oakman, Noel Patterson, Bob Buchwalter and Skip Neff. Frank went to Brownsville, TX, in 1979, sent by the banks to close the Eagle facility and soften their loss. “According to lore, he took a hard look at the operation and told his boss Fred Curry, then president of Trailways, that he thought he could save the company — and he Frank Hines did,” writes Millhauser. “Some of us think that Fred knew all along that Frank would do so.” He made changes to the operation that turned Eagle into a profitable business — to the point where they built another plant in Harlingen, TX. The Eagle bus soon became one of the best built coaches in the industry. “Frank was responsible for making Eagle the most fuel efficient, aerodynamic, reliable operating coach in the industry,” writes Champion. “During

BUSRide

david hubbard

that era, Eagle produced more coaches and employed more people than any other time in its history.” Eagle survived and grew, acquiring and training a boatload of talent that’s spread through the industry to this day. “Like his nemesis, Gerry Hausman, he never did anything during his tenure that damaged the industry as a whole,” writes Millhauser. “Unlike some modern folk, those guys remembered that no one benefited when you befouled the industry.” His friends say it was no coincidence that when Hines was forced out, Eagle began the long, politically charged downward spiral that ended in bankruptcy. There were multiple factors leading to the company’s demise, but Frank was a critical driver of Eagle’s success. His absence made failure an option. The industr y remembers Hines as hard working, hands-on and eccentric. He got the best out of everyone and many loved him. They will say the man was honest, sometimes to a fault. According to Millhauser and Champion, one of his greatest gifts was a willingness to listen to customers. “Most of the time he got it right,” says Millhauser. “Occasionally some kooks got his ear, which always led to some fun.” BR

Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane steve@busride.com Associate Publisher Sali Williams swilliams@busride.com Editor David Hubbard david@busride.com Managing Editor Richard Tackett rtackett@busride.com Account Executives Maria Galioto mgalioto@busride.com Andy Pieri apieri@busride.com Production Director Valerie Valtierra valerie@busride.com Art Director Dominic Salerno dsalerno@busride.com

Accountant Fred Valdez fvaldez@powertrademedia.com Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone

BUS industry SAFETY council

A publication of:

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: BUSRide Magazine 4742 North 24th Street, Suite 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 Fax: (602) 277-7588 Web site: www.busride.com

Vol. 49 No. 5

Subscription Rates: United States: $39 for 1 year, $64 for 2 years, $89 for 3 years. United States via periodicals mail: $42 for 1 year, $69 for 2 years, $98 for 3 years. Canada. Canadian tax (GST) is included. Rest of the world, via air mail: $75 for 1 year, $125 for 2 years, $175 for 3 years. Single copies: $5 for the United States, $6 for Canada and the rest of the world. All prices are in United States Dollars (U.S.D.). Reprints: All articles in BUSRide are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Valerie Valtierra at (602) 265-7600, ext. 203.

6

May 2013

BUSRide

mailbox

GPS: A good thing‌or not? As a veteran of this industry with over 30 years with various companies in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, it hurts to see some of what is happening these days. I am writing with a growing concern over the use of GPS devices as standard equipment. Unfortunately, they have been the cause of some of the more recent fatal motorcoach crashes. Motorcoach operators and owners should show greater concern over their drivers who rely too much on GPS devices. The most recent accident involving a motorcoach and a GPS device happened in Boston when a Philadelphia-based bus was trying to make its way out of the city. According to company officials, the driver was trying to navigate Boston’s confus-

8

May 2013

ing maze of roads and rotaries when he looked down at his GPS. He looked back up and only then saw the bridge that he was too late to avoid hitting. The Megabus incident in September 2011 outside of Syracuse, NY was a result of operator error. In this case, the driver’s use of a GPS device placed his 13-foot high motorcoach on a road with a bridge clearance of only 10 feet. The use of GPS devices do save time. However, purchasing from a local retailer will continue to produce the types of accidents like Boston and Syracuse. Devices normally for sale in retail stores do not differentiate automobiles from motorcoaches, which turned out to be at the root of both of these accidents. There are commercial grade GPS devices that can be ordered directly from several GPS manufacturers that provide the information necessary for coach operators. Secondly, it should still be the responsibility for company leaders to ensure that operators have a sense of direction and an ability to read road maps and atlases. If this misuse continues, more incidences of operators driving on restricted roads and highways will continue to lead to further fatal crashes. These crashes will continue tarnishing the rising reputation of motorcoach travel. Thank you for allowing me to submit this to the industry. Kevin R. Richardson

BUSRide

Doug Jack on the Real London Bus

[EDITOR’S NOTE: see Tour Business, page 16, “A London Bus in Phoenix…Really?”] Thank you for sending me this interesting article. It is amazing how people can make money out of students’ drinking habits. It often amazes me that the U.S. permits vehicles that are more than 25 years old to be imported free of duty. These buses were built before there were any emissions regulations in Europe and have large normally aspirated engines. Admittedly, low sulphur diesel makes them a little bit cleaner. The body structures made of aluminum will not corrode, although I guess that is not an issue in Arizona. They might

BUSRide

need a tropical cooling kit, but that is only a radiator fan with more blades. Leyland fitted them as standard in doubledecker buses for Baghdad and Tehran. While they came out of service in London many years ago, there are still quite a large number in use in the UK. As you know, we do not have special school buses, but many of the oldest double-decker buses are used on school contract services. I wish the owners of Real London Bus well with their business. Best Regards Doug Jack

May 2013

9

update

BRief

The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Southern Nevada awarded Keolis Transit America (KTA) the five-year southern fixed-route bus contract for Las Vegas. The Nevada contract includes service along the resort corridor of Las Vegas Boulevard as well as the Deuce on the Strip and the Strip and Downtown Express (SDX) routes. It’s one of two management contracts for the Southern Nevada transit system. has localized BRief Siemens production of its ELFA

hybrid traction electric drive systems to its manufacturing plant in Alpharetta, GA. The company says the move allows quicker response to the production and service needs of North American customers as well as meeting “Buy America” compliance.

Seimens has begun production of inverters, inductors and voltage protection modules this month, as well as the assembly of its electric drive systems within roof rack configurations for transit buses.

BRief System, Fairfax, VA, announced the Trailways Charter Sales

Trailways Transportation

Program during its annual meeting in March in San Diego. The program offers easy and convenient one-stop shopping at point of contact. Trailways President and CEO Gail Elsworth says the purpose of the program is to provide customized, direct customer support. Trailways will now assist customers directly from its headquarters in planning group charter or transport moves, which include includes price quoting, trip scheduling with the nearest Trailways affiliate, as well as centralized billing. A year-long pre-launch test period generated $1.1 million gross revenue in group charter and transport business for Trailwaysaffiliated companies.

BRief Passenger Transportation Association (NEPTA) conference, the At the recent NorthEast

Federal Transit Administration (FTA) honored eight First Transit customers for their work in creating and implementing “green” initiatives to operate with environmentally sensitivity. The top three award winners were: Greater Hartford Transit District – Operational Initiative Award; Pioneer Valley RTA – Bus Maintenance Initiative Award; and Franklin RTA – Net Zero Energy Award.

10

May 2013

New York City commuters now have options in Suffolk County.

Bolt Bus expands Long Island service Bolt Bus, a division of Greyhound Bus Lines, Dallas, TX, announced three new locations throughout Suffolk County, NY. The company says stops at the Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead, the Courtyard Marriott in Ronkonkoma and the Park & Ride lot at Exit 49 on the Long Island Expressway in Melville are the result of a private partnership between the hotels and Bolt Bus that launched in Suffolk County in December. “We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the Long Island rail service (LIRR) by offering east-side access,” said Mike Schoolman, president of Bolt Bus Long Island. “A lot of folks work on the east side and want a direct connection to meetings and locations on the east side.” New York City commuters are now catching one of the 44-seat Prevost X3-45s equipped with leather seats, electric outlets and free Wi-Fi access. Schoolman says arrival times are averaging between 60 and 90 minutes, which closely mirrors the rail schedule. Schoolman says the coach amenities mark a major difference between Bolt Bus and the Long Island Rail service. He also notes the differences in price. Prices on the Bolt start at $7 and increase based on demand — but never more than the $17.50 one-way —the same as LIRR. The earlier the booking, the cheaper the seat. The website also grants a $1 charge to one customer at random for each bus trip. Customers can also use their company-

issued TransitChek to make ticket purchases. Customers receive a code for their smartphone or a printed ticket, which they show to the driver. In the frequent rider promotion, commuters who register through the website receive a free ride after every eight ticket purchases. For a regular commuter, Schoolman says the frequent rider discount and the $1 lucky ticket translates into significant savings in monthly commuter costs. According to Schoolman, LIRR currently charges $35 round-trip peak from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station, and $363 for the monthly pass. Bolt Bus Marketing and PR Director Rich Kruse says the company is doing some advertising, but mostly promoting itself through social media, guerrilla marketing and word-of-mouth. Schoolman said Bolt Bus is looking to push into Nassau County with pickup locations but is looking to find spots with adequate parking. He said that at some point the bus service will likely look to make intra-island routes between hot locations, such as Melville to Riverhead or Nassau to Ronkonkoma. For now, the young franchise is focused on building up its New York City commuter market by presenting itself as a better alternative to public transportation. “Once they try us, they keep taking it,” Kruse said. “It’s just about getting them to try it.”

BUSRide

US DOT and FMCSA meet with motorcoach safety representatives U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adm i ni st r ato r Anne S. Ferro met with a broadbased group of motorcoach representatives in April as part of the department’s continuing and unprecedented efforts to improve the safety and oversight of the motorcoach industry and inform the public about safe motorcoach travel. The meeting included representatives from law enforcement, tourism and travel groups and state and local government, building on the announcement of FMCSA deploying more than 50 specially trained safety investigators throughout the country to begin targeted and in-depth inspections of higher risk motorcoach companies. This spring FMCSA has shut down 15 passenger carriers. The administration declared seven carriers as imminent haz-

BUSRide

ards and rated as unsatisfactory following safety compliance reviews. During the same time period, FMCSA and its state enforcement partners conducted more than 13,500 roadside inspections, resulting in nearly 1,500 driver and vehicle outof-service violations being issued. Administrator Ferro contacted thousands of motorcoach executives across the country to inform them of the FMCSA’s intensified safety enforcement and to seek their active support of this passenger safety initiative. FMCSA says it has also reached out to the International Association of Chiefs of Police to engage its state and local members in increasing traffic enforcement of motorcoaches to strengthen safety on roadways. “Through our stepped-up oversight of motorcoach companies and expanding outreach to consumers, the department will continue to raise the bar on motorcoach safety,” said Ferro. “Our work with the law enforcement community and our diverse stakeholders is to make passenger safety everyone’s number one priority

and to prevent needless tragedies.” As part of FMCSA’s work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company’s safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus. Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think about safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA’s multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www. fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index. aspx. FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOTSAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA’s consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb. fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.

May 2013

11

Prevost luxury motorcoaches are fixtures at NASCAR events.

Prevost and NASCAR partnership a natural fit Prevost motorcoach conversions are fixtures at all NASCAR events, earning Prevost, Sainte-Claire, QC, Canada, further distinction as the Official Luxury Motorcoach of NASCAR. The two companies announced a new multi-year partnership in March that simply reinforces their nearly 30-year association and increases visibility of Prevost from an influential crosssection of American business. “This partnership between Prevost and NASCAR is a natural fit for two thriving brands that share an unrelenting commitment to innovation,” says Prevost President and CEO Gaetan Bolduc. “Prevost motorcoaches are fixtures at NASCAR events, populating driver, team owner and spectator parking lots. Also Prevost hospitality, executive and technical support coaches serve as mobile work stations for manufacturers and sponsors.” Prevost’s involvement with NASCAR began in the 1980s with Featherlite Coaches

and Marathon Coach. “Prevost’s state-of-the-art motorcoaches provide a home-away-from-home for our drivers, team owners, partners and fans throughout the course of our demanding season,” says NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O’Connell. “Our three national series provide a grand stage for Prevost to showcase its luxury motorcoaches to a substantial number of brands and consumers at the track who may consider purchasing or leasing a product or vehicle.” NASCAR will utilize Prevost’s state-ofthe-art luxury motorcoaches this year for attrack hospitality through the NASCAR Fuel for Hospitality® program in which Official NASCAR Partners host employees and customers at the track with a VIP race-day experience. Prevost will also be joining the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council® to buy and sell directly with top Fortune 500 companies.

Indian Trails leader William P. Himburg passes William P. Himburg, a recognized and admired leader in the motorcoach industry, passed away at age 92 in Naples, FL. Himburg was the nephew of Wayne and Cora Taylor, founders of Indian

Trails, Inc., Owosso, MI. His career with Indian Trails began more

12

May 2013

the 50 years ago as operation manager. He went on to serve as vice president and retired as board chairman and president in 1997. Widely recognized for his leadership skills, good humor and business acumen, Himburg served as councilman and mayor of the City of Owosso. He also served on the boards of many local and national associations that included the American Bus Association, National Bus Traffic Association, Michigan Motor Bus Association and East Michigan Tourist Association.

BUSRide

AC Transit unveils a new fleet

With the launch of a new fleet of 40-foot lowfloor 1300 Series transit buses from the Gillig Corporation, Hayward, CA, and the kickoff of its A Better Ride campaign, AC Transit, Oakland, CA, says it is embarking on a new era of public transportation in the Bay Area. Embracing the “Buy America” policy, the agency unveiled the first 65 new buses in a step toward as many as 300 American-made buses over the next two years to replace aging vehicles.

update The Better Ride initiatives are aimed at improving on-time bus performance, internal efficiencies and overall service reliability, as well as implementing quality assurance program to maintain cleaner buses. The environmentally-friendly low-floor Gillig buses offer a smooth ride with lowmaintenance and passenger comfort. They’re unlike any buses that East Bay bus travelers have seen, according to the agency. AC Transit says its contract with Gillig provides dozens of local jobs, spurs local business and stimulates the regional economy. The 1300 series Gillig buses were manufactured in nearby Hayward, CA.

BUSRide

FMCSA to mandate GPS training In coming months, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will release its entry-level CDL operator rule that will require mandatory training in the operation of global positioning systems. U.S. Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY) pushed for the required training after a study done in New York showed a sharp rise in the number of low-bridge strikes caused by trucks and buses using navigation systems not designed for large commercial vehicles. GPS devices made for passenger cars may not show low bridges, hazmat routes and other items noteworthy to commercial carriers. The study that Shumer cited reported that GPS units were to blame in 80 percent of low-bridge strikes in the state and accounted for $4.1 million in repairs on the Long Island Expressway alone.

May 2013

13

deliveries

ABC COMPANIES

add

4

Indian Trails Owosso, MI

Indian Trails evaluated its passenger needs and concluded that smaller capacity vehicles are ideal for certain business segments. Thus it’s taken delivery of four more 2013 M1235s manufactured exclusively for ABC Companies by General Coach America, Imlay, MI. The fleet stands at 12. The 30-passenger buses feature the Cummins ISB engine and Allison 2100 PTS transmission, as well as rear luggage compartments, 110 volt outlets, Saucon GPS tracking, aluminum wheels and uniquely colorful and luxurious interiors.

TEMSA

PRevost

add

90

Greyhound Dallax, TX

The relationship between Greyhound and Prevost, which began in 2007, continues with the signing of a new order for 90 Prevost X3-45 motorcoaches. The X3-45 coaches are equipped with Prevost AWARE, a safety feature which includes Adaptive Cruise Braking, Following Distance Alert and Stationary Object Alert. Other Prevost safety features include the Prevost Electronic Stability Program, the Beru Tire Pressure Monitoring System and the Automatic Fire Suppression System.

add

1

Village Tours and Travel Wichita, KS

Village Tours and Travel owners Jeff and Norman Arensdorf added a mid-size TS35 to their fleet of 47 coaches, with plans for more in the near future. The stainless steel coach comes equipped with a Cummins ISL 345 engine, Allison B500 transmission and three-point seat belts. Village Tours and Travel also requested R.E.I. audio andvideo, Alcoa Rims, an auxiliary heater and 110-volt plug outlets.

MOTOR COACH INDUSTRIES

add

51

Coach USA

New York, NY

Coach USA is adding 20 MCI J4500 and 31 D4505 coaches across the fleets of three subsidiaries for service in a variety of group transportation applications such as private tour and charter to Megabus.com. Lakefront Lines, Cleveland, OH, and Van Galder Bus Company, Janesville, WI, each take 10 J4500s. The 31 D4505s go to Short Line, Mahwah, NJ. All these MCI models come equipped with three-point passenger seatbelts, wheelchair lifts, Wi-Fi, 110-volt and power outlets, GPS and Saucon Asset Tracking systems.

14

May 2013

add

54

Denver RTD Denver, CO

Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the number one city for public transportation, Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) upholds its ranking by upgrading its bus fleet of over 1,000 vehicles with 54 additional MCI Commuter Coaches. Each bus is equipped with a wheelchair lift, ACTIA multiplex system with an ergonomic driver dash and clean-diesel engine technology. These coaches replace an equivalent number of 1998 MCI D-models. Denver RTD serves the eightcounty metro area on more than 140 local, express and regional bus routes.

add

130

Greyhound Lines Dallas, TX

Motor Coach Industries will deliver 130 MCI D4505 coaches to Greyhound Lines as part of a two-year contract. Greyhound’s new D4505 coaches come equipped with wheelchair lifts and digital amenities now available on all of its newer Greyhound coaches, including Wi-Fi and power outlets at all passenger seats. The new coaches also come with three-point passenger seatbelts and leatherette seating for 50. The new MCI D4505s are powered by clean-diesel Cummins engines paired with Allison B500 transmissions.

BUSRide

people in the news In a move to expand the presence of the MCI and Setra brands through a newly created position, MCI recently named Brent Maitland as vice Brent Maitland president, marketing and product planning. Working with MCI since 2004, Maitland is now responsible for promoting and communicating the MCI Reliability Driven and Setra corporate brand strategies in both the private and public sectors. ABC Companies appointed Mike Richardson as parts territory sales manager for the Southern region that includes Mike Richardson Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico. Richardson brings with him 33 years of experience in the coach industry, which began

BUSRide

with Carrollton Bus Company as a driver and mechanic. He most recently managed driver training and maintenance for the Tornado Bus Company. Jeremy Brown First Transit, Cincinnati, OH, appointed Jeremy Brown as director of Business Development. A First Transit employee since 2002, in his new position Brown will focus on expanding First Transit shuttle services, including university and airport services. Cummins recently tapped Dave Crompton to lead the newly formed Heavy Duty, MidRange and Light Duty (HMLD) Engine Business. Cummins also appointed Jeff Jones to lead the newly formed North America Engine Business. Crompton and Jones will report to Rich Freeland, president, Engine Business, and vice president, Cummins. Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) welcomed its new Chief Operating Officer

Richard Paprcka in March, who arrives at DTC after a long career with New Jersey Transit where he served most recently as director of maintenance for Richard Paprcka Northern Division Bus Operations. Paprcka has worked in the transit industry since 1981. Aesys recently announced the appointment of Oliver Wels as the sales and marketing director for worldwide operations. He will be responsible for accelerating the company’s growth and report directly to Aesys founder and Oliver Wels CEO Marcello Biava. Wels joins Aesys after seven years at DRI and later Luminator Technology Group.

May 2013

15

tour business

A London bus in Phoenix — really? Vintage double-deckers from Real London Bus liven up the party

By David Hubbard The big, red double-decker coaches rolling through the streets of metropolitan Phoenix, AZ, are authentic London buses belonging to the Real London Bus Company. This enterprise is the brainchild of Jonathan Pring, a self-described “bloke” born and raised in England as a dual national. He came to Arizona in 2008 to attend Arizona State University (ASU). With seating for 70 passengers, the buses carry group charters of every sort. These include fraternity and sorority parties, weddings, business outings, birthday gatherings, corporate events and sightseeing tours in the greater Phoenix area. Catering heavily to ASU students, the company of party buses routinely offer group pub crawls to and from local bars in Tempe and Scottsdale. Proprietors are generally appreciative of the service that brings in chartered groups, knowing they are in safe hands while traveling from one establishment to another. Noting the emphasis that Americans place on customer service, Pring says he makes an extra effort to remain flexible to accommodate a varied range of customers and provide plenty of personal touches. Pring says he and his business partner got their inspiration the same way many collegiate entrepreneurs do — hanging out in bars near campus. From their vantage point, they observed in almost every case that the local bars were full of imbibing patrons with cars

A Real London Bus seats 70 for almost any occasion including pub crawls, school trips, corporate outings and sightseeing.

16

May 2013

The Real London Bus Company puts vintage Leyland Titans and Olympians on the streets of Phoenix, AZ — an original concept by Jonathan Pring.

awaiting them in the parking lot. Assuming 90 percent of the partying crowd would have to try driving home at some point in the evening, they saw it becoming a numbers game as to who could avoid arrest. A bus service for these revelers was an obvious solution. Their decision to purchase a vintage London double-decker for the job was more ingenious. “I was keen on bringing an original concept to the Phoenix area,” says Pring. “Sitting in the pub one evening, the idea to ship a double-decker bus just sprang to mind. Back in my school days in England, I rode a red double-decker to school every morning.” Pring says the idea was basically a no-brainer, as U.S. laws only allow the importation of new vehicles or those 25 years and older. “A new model coach would cost upwards of $1 million,” he says. “An older model bus was my only choice.” He says buying a vintage English double-decker is not as difficult as it may seem. The hassle is in shipping. Pring and his business partner purchased the bus in London and drove it to Liverpool, where it shipped to Los Angeles by way of the Panama Canal. The total cost of the initial vehicle tipped out at approximately $30,000, which did not include extensive repairs once the bus arrived stateside. It took eight months before Pring could put his first real London bus in service. “The economy was nose diving and a summer in Arizona lay ahead,” he says. “It was like being kicked while we were down.” The decision was to either launch in March of 2008 and gain exposure or wait until October to avoid the slow hot summer month. They opted for the March launch. “Summer went as expected, but we survived,” says Pring. “We did well to just cover our costs, but at least we were promoting our brand.” He says the first two years were extremely difficult, compounded by a series of mechanical disasters. All appears well in 2013. Today the Real London Bus fleet stands at five Leyland Titans and Olympians. The oldest bus is a 1977 model, the newest a 1985 model. Pring says that although he can cross-match some components such as belts, hoses, fluids and filters, operating these older vehicles with all-British components requires a very long and intricate supply chain. BR

BUSRide

With prototypes complete, the rear engine Spirit of Liberty is well into the production proveout phase of the program.

Major changes liberate passengers ARBOC Specialty Vehicles readies the Spirit of Liberty for 2014 deliveries By David Hubbard The long awaited rear engine Spirit of Liberty bus from ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, Middlebury, IN, is well into the production prove-out phase of its program. With prototypes complete, a full cadre of testing is progressing to assure a robust and reliable product for all customers. Compliance to not only FMVSS, FTA (Altoona), but criteria established by industry partners Freightliner Custom Chassis (FCCC), Modine, Cummins and others assure that the final product will fully meet customer expectations. With its bent for innovative engineering and manufacturing, the company has continued to refine this concept since its preproduction showings at a number of expos and trade shows since 2012. Beginning where minimum American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements leave off, ARBOC debuted

18

May 2013

its basic multi-patented low-floor concept in 2008 with its Spirit of Mobility cutaway to provide Random Access — easy and equal access for all passengers including those requiring walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. “With the Spirit of Liberty, we have successfully met our own challenge to develop a rear-wheel drive, low-floor pusher bus,” says ARBOC co-founder James Bartel. “The Liberty bus features the same easy entry ramp and has a continuous flat floor from front to rear.” “We designed the Liberty model with the future in mind,” he adds. “The open low-floor passenger area with no steps, the oversize wheelchair positions and the incorporation of weight reducing technology address key operator concerns and will continue to be requirements for at least the next decade.” Achieving the proprietary low floor throughout the Liberty

BUSRide

required the development and manufacture of a unique chassis that would not separate the passengers from the driver in a split-level configuration. Bartel says that any standard chassis would not work, nor would conventional construction and manufacturing methods. The solution in this case features a one-piece structural composite floor with molded in-seat attachments and chassis mounting that weighs in at 800 pounds, which reduces the overall GVW by more than 2,000 pounds. This structural floor is bonded and bolted to the Freightliner chassis built expressly to the ARBOC design and specifications. “This is an ARBOC product with an exclusive Freightliner chassis build that does not extend to other OEMs,” says Don Roberts, ARBOC president and CEO. “This is an absolute first for Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation.” “This has been an ideal partnership to date, as we work closely together to provide ARBOC a dedicated, uniquely designed and purpose-built low-floor chassis for its customers,” says Tony Sippel, director of sales and marketing for FCCC. “Instead of a modified existing chassis with limited options and capabilities, ARBOC and its customers get a custom chassis for their unique applications, one that offers streamlined service and warranty coverage. It will offer a wealth of very exciting features for their customers.” ARBOC selected Freightliner to give Liberty operators access to warranted aftermarket service and parts through the expansive network of Freightliner service facilities. “We would not be able to provide this service benefit on our own,” says Roberts. “As a labeled Freightliner chassis, maintenance and warranty will be much easier for our customers throughout North America.” With a curb weight of 16,500 pounds or less and a GVW of 25,900 pounds, the Liberty is roughly 10,000 pounds lighter than competitive models. As such, ARBOC expects the bus to comply with 2016 federal fuel economy standards using a Cummins 240 HP ISB diesel engine coupled with the Allison B220 six-speed transmission. Federal studies have shown that every 1000 pounds GVW saves equals a 2.5 to 3 percent gain in fuel economy. “This indicates a plus-20 percent fuel economy gain for

Open low-floor passenger area with no steps, oversize wheelchair positions and weight-reducing technology address key operator concerns.

the Liberty,” Bartel says. “This number is significant when compared to the 12- to 18-percent fuel economy gain versus current hybrid buses.” The body will utilize the proven manufacturing processes and techniques developed on the current Spirit of Mobility product line, providing a basis for cost-effectiveness. Roberts says the Liberty will accommodate up to 37 passengers, 14 standees and the driver with significant margin for added options and content. All passengers enter on a 34-inch wide, 1:6 ramp by either Ricon or Braun. The low floor slopes two degrees front to back with theater seating with no step over the rear axle and a clear 39-inch pass between the wheel wells. With wheelchairs and scooters becoming larger and heavier, ARBOC says the ADA standard wheelchair space of 48 inches is not adequate. Therefore the Liberty provides standard 54- to 60-inch spaces and up to six positions with the latest Q’Straint securement devices without intruding on the next row of passengers. Roberts says theater seating is a trademark feature in all configurations of every ARBOC vehicle. “Every passenger enjoys a forward view through the

The open low-floor passenger area with no steps and oversize wheelchair positions will accommodate up to 37 passengers, 14 standees and the driver with significant margin for added options and content.

BUSRide

May 2013

19

ARBOC

continued

windshield, but perimeter seating is available if desired,” he says. The rear doors to the engine compartment are butterfly-style for safe access. The right-hand door opens curbside to expose all the routine service and maintenance points. The front doors open in the same manner to allow easy access for routine maintenance. The left-hand streetside door remains shut except for specific inspections and repairs. The engine shuts off automatically anytime the compartment opens. In addition to the tight turning radius within the overall bus dimensions, drivers of the Spirit of Liberty can also enjoy a broad open view through the front-wedge, asymmetric windshield. Together, the overhead Velvac mirrors and the shaped windshield minimize blindspot issues and blockage from the pillar on the driver’s side. The company believes the Spirit of Liberty gives the market, for the first time, a cost-effective, fuel-efficient low-floor rear diesel bus. ARBOC says it will take the Spirit of Liberty on a demo tour starting in June, visiting its major dealers and transit agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada. ARBOC expects deliveries to begin in the first quarter of 2014. BR The asymmetric windshield minimizes blindspot and blockage from the column from the driver’s seat.

20

May 2013

BUSRide

Champion Bus seals the deal and gets to work

The company wastes no time in bringing the new Federal bus to production By David Hubbard

Progress has been swift since the recent acquisition of Federal Coach by Champion Bus, Inc., Imlay City, MI. “We signed the agreement with Forest River on December 20, 2012,” says John Resnik, president of Champion Bus, Inc. “The trucks started loading the next day” Federal Coach team leader Alex Nikora says his crew had already begun setting up the production line as the first trucks and chassis arrived at the new home of Federal Coach. Within days, they began assembling the first unit. “Federal Coach has a reputation for quality products,” says Resnik. “We knew a smooth transition would be important in

creating our new Federal buses.” Champion is offering the Federal Spirit model on E350 and E450 chassis in various lengths. The Federal Premier model features either a Freightliner or International chassis. “We spent several weeks studying the Federal product,” says Nikora. “We studied the line and the buses in all phases of production. We visited with Federal employees and studied the documentation to learn how to assemble. We took hundreds of pictures.” According to Theresa Smith, a Champion vice president heading up the new Federal Coach, customer feedback

Champion is offering the Federal Spirit model on E350 and E450 chassis in various lengths.

22

May 2013

was an integral part of the process. “We have been communicating constantly with customers as their units proceed through production,” she says. “We are striving to make every gap a little smaller, every bus a little tighter, every ride a little quieter.” She says the results thus far have been impressive. “We were impressed with what we saw at our predecessor, but we knew we could build it better,” say interior finish specialist Phyllis Howse. “We have high standards at Champion and we knew we could integrate them quickly.” Chris Norlin, a Federal Coach dealer and sales manager for Nationwide Bus Sales, a division of Midwest Transit, had several Federal Coaches on order at the time of the sale. “One customer insisted on a plant tour three weeks into the start of production,” he says. “He came away extremely impressed by our professionalism, attention to detail and quality of product.” Norlin test drove one of the new Federals at a nearby Altoona-style track designed to shakedown the bus prior to water test and electrical tests. He says he found the new Federal incredibly quiet on the demanding test track. His customer concurred by ordering two more Federals shortly after the tour. “The Federal acquisition just made a lot of sense to us,” says Resnik. “We have a core group of talented profes-

BUSRide

The Federal Premier model features either a Freightliner or International chassis.

sionals who were ready for a new challenge. We have state of the art facilities that house our engineering and material systems. We have a competitive spirit and a desire to build great products. All of this will help us succeed in the luxury bus market.” John MacKinney, sales manager, Luxury Products, represents both Federal Coach and the newly acquired Krystal Koach manufactured by ElDorado Kansas. “These two new brands for Thor Industries represent a terrific opportunity for a select group of luxury bus dealers,” he says. “I’ve been extremely impressed by the team atmosphere at the new Federal. To exceed the quality level on the first units is truly amazing.” In addition to improvements in structure, fit and finish and ride quality, McKinney says product documentation and aftermarket support will improve as well. “Since starting, I’ve been everywhere in Champion — on the plant floor, preparing product service documentation and customer service,” says Mikal Schenkel, who joined Champion last year as an intern and is now on the Federal team. “One of our goals over the next 90 days is to provide as-built, customized parts and electrical manuals for every new Federal coach.” According to Smith, key vendors have been essential to this prompt integration.

BUSRide

“We have independent design and installation resources for electrical, air conditioning and audio-visual systems,” she says. “As a result, our HVAC systems go through testing in a climate-controlled environment. We test electrical systems after the shakedown.” Kevin Searer of ACC Climate Control, Elkhart, IN, sees it as a great partnership. “We install and certify all air conditioning systems to exacting standards,” he says. “It’s a pleasure being a part of the new Federal team.” Champion is excited about the future. “We believe we offer the perfect solu-

tion for the luxury market,” says Smith. “First, the bus has to be beautiful — precise fit and finish, impeccable paint and a quiet ride. Just as important, the organization itself must be well-financed, secure and committed to quality.” An obvious question: What’s next? “Well, without divulging any secrets, I’ll just say everyone with an interest in this sector of the bus industry will see some great new products, as well as our relentless commitment to quality,” says Resnik. “Our clientele is luxury travelers and we’re proud to be their preferred mode of transportation.” BR

Within days after the move to the new home of Federal Coach, Champion workers were on the production line.

May 2013

23

SPECIAL SECTION

P ara t ra n s i t

Comfort

M a n a g

is a paratransit

concern

Kelderman air suspensions lend a smoother ride

By Lanny Lammers Ron Biss, an advocate for accessible transportation, is a member of the Minnesota DOT and the Twin Cities MPO advisory committees, which advise on management policies in various areas of public transportation. Biss, a wheelchair user himself, says one frequent complaint he hears is the rough ride passengers experience on small paratransit buses. “This is a major issue and concern to many of the people who ride paratransit,” he says, “It can be particularly rough on passengers with pain issues including injuries or disease. Riders suffering from pressure sores suffer even worse on a rough bus ride.” He says some riders are simply not capable of repositioning themselves when bumps and vibrations jar them out of a comfortable position.

Biss recently took a test ride down a very rough street on a new paratransit bus equipped with the Kelderman air suspension system. “I realized I was subconsciously prepared to tolerate an uncomfortable, tortuous ride,” he says. “It didn’t happen. Instead, I felt no jarring and very little vibration. I am convinced the community of paratransit riders would really welcome a Kelderman add-on air suspension system.” With 25 years in suspension innovation, Kelderman air suspension systems have become the preferred choice of ambulance manufacturers nationwide. Realizing the need for a better ride on smaller paratransit and shuttle vehicles, the company has developed a cost-effective solution to reduce the shock and vibration to the bus body. Kelderman says its systems can lower maintenance expenses and prolong the life of the bus, and can be equipped for around $3,000.

Comfort, stability and maintenance

The two-stage suspension attaches to the back of the rear leaf springs, allowing the rear springs to stay in place and maintain the stability they provide. This is not an independent suspension. The driver side and passengers’ side frame rails act as one, due to a series of cross members connecting the two sides. This feature helps maintain roll resistance and stable handling during high-speed turns. Both frame rails remain level with one another, even with the added weight of a wheelchair lift.

The two-stage suspension attaches to the back of the rear leaf springs shown on this Ford E450. The rear springs stay in place and maintain stability.

24

May 2013

BUSRide

e m e n t

&

A D A

C o mp l i a n c e

Ron Biss, an advocate for accessible transportation and a wheelchair user, says the ride on paratransit can sometimes be rough.

Kelderman’s two-stage suspension should not be confused with an air bag added between the axle and the frame. These types of systems merely help the springs carry additional weight and actually degrade the quality of the ride. The two-stage system has only two wear points. Kelderman says suspensions that completely replace the springs have several more wear points, making them more expensive to maintain. The Kelderman air suspension kit comes with a sealed compressor/dryer, sensor and a relay, which the company says has fewer components than competing air kits and costs less to maintain. “This simple and common sense engineering is what transportation providers have been looking for,” says Biss.“It is an effective way to improve the ride without spending a lot of money for the suspension, as well as the repairs.” BRM ____________________________________ Lanny Lammers serves as OEM sales manager, Kelderman Air Suspension, Inc., Oskaloosa, IA.

BUSRide

May 2013

25

SPECIAL SECTION

P ara t ra n s i t

M a n a g

Hearing loops keep people tuned in

Accommodations for an aging America are good business

By David Hubbard

With the aging process, as many Americans over 50 can attest, typically come issues associated with hearing. Aging is an unavoidable fact of life for the otherwise indomitable baby boomers, but the majority of them are not nearly as accepting of their fate as previous generations. Striving to continue to live healthy and active lifestyles, this older generation is insisting on accommodations that help them never feel excluded. According to Todd Billin, president of Hearing Loop Systems, Holland, MI, hearing loss is the issue over any other that causes aging Americans to withdraw from society. For that reason, Billin encourages passenger carriers that cater to charter tour and travel not to overlook or dismiss this critical special needs area. “As people begin experiencing difficulty communicating with others or understanding spoken messages in public places, their tendency will most likely be to withdraw and quit traveling,” he says. “Demographics alone suggest any sudden lack of business from this group would be a devastating blow to the travel and tourism industry — especially for companies not keeping up with the technology to cater to this group.”

26

May 2013

Billin further suggests that in a competitive business environment, a company with the savvy to accommodate this group will actually gain an edge over their competition. He says they’ll receive a great deal of gratitude for thinking to provide hearing loop technology.

What is a hearing loop? A person using a hearing aid with a hearing loop can switch to T-mode to receive from telecoil rather than normal microphone mode. This simple, venerable technology is essentially a wire attached to the sound source that extends around a space such as a bus interior or transportation terminal. The wiring enables hearing aids equipped with tiny telecoils of copper wire, or T-coils, to receive and amplify a single source of sound transmitted electromagnetically to a hearing aid from a telephone, television or PA system. Last year, Indian Trails, Inc., Owosso, MI, received grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) fleet to provide hearing loops on 17 motorcoaches that operate on scheduled routes throughout the Michigan peninsulas, as well as systems in the Bay City and Saginaw terminals. Hearing Loop Systems worked with Indian Trails on the installation. The company brings over 30 years of experience into installing audio/video systems for all types of commercial establishments. It’s the leading provider of loop systems. Hearing Loop Systems is developing systems for all types of facilities across the U.S. such as the Breslin Center Arena at Michigan State University and all the passenger terminals at Grand Rapids’ Gerald R. Ford International Airport. “Hearing loops are an enormous improvement to the onboard experience of many of our passengers who are hard of hearing,” says Indian Trails President Gordon Mackay. “The cost of about $800 per bus is relatively low and we hope to eventually install hearing loops on all our motorcoaches and in all our bus stations.” Chad Cushman, Indian Trails vice president, business and administration, says that while he hasn’t received a lot of feedback, he has heard from customers who appreciate the accommodation. They’re pleased they can take advantage of the technology while they are riding the coaches, he says. “As people are in transit and rarely report in, I suppose no news is good news,” he says. “We promoted our hearing loops heavily at the install. We posted the icons to alert those with hearing aids of the availability of hearing loops. People are just using them as we intended.” Cushman says a coming customer survey on all the coach

BUSRide

e m e n t

&

A D A

C o mp l i a n c e

systems provided for route service will invite further comment from those taking advantage of the hearing loops. “MDOT was very excited about this opportunity to provide funding to Indian Trails,” says Cushman. “The department is pleased to be able offer yet another amenity that ADA passengers can use for a more comfortable transit experience.”

Advocates speak

David G. Myers, a professor of psychology at Hope College, Holland, MI, has hearing loss and is one of the nation’s foremost advocates for hearing loops. He runs the website www.hearingloop.org. “The Indian Trails/MDOT installation on inter-city buses is a model of transportation accessibility for the entire country,” says Myers. “Hearing loops are not being installed in the U.S. because our federal disability laws require most public facilities with 50 or more seats to provide unspecified assistive listening devices, such as earphones and pocket– size receivers — which most people with hearing loss won’t bother with.” The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Bethesda, MD, is the country’s leading advocacy organization for people with hearing loss, providing resources for individuals and families to learn how to adjust to living with hearing loss. HLAA Executive Director Brenda Battat says the organization fully supports hearing loop technology for the independence it invites. “Emphasis over the last three years has been on assisted technology such as FM frequency and infrared, which require hand-held receivers and other apparatuses,” she says. “Hearing loops are not as obtrusive and offer seamless access to facilities and services that would normally cause a hearing-impaired person a lot of frustration. Pushing a button on a hearing aid is a lot easier.” “We give Indian Trails high praise for responding to the needs of our members, and essentially stepping up as the leader in their industry,” adds Battat. “Hopefully others will follow.” BR

BUSRide

This illustration from AMPETRONIC details the hearing loop system, including the installed loop and the T-coil. Illustration courtesy of AMPETRONIC, Nottinghamshire, UK.

May 2013

27

BUSRide Roundtable: Revenue Management

Industry leaders from INIT, SPX Genfare, Accenture and Crane Payment Solutions offer their thoughts on the future of fare collection

Paul Doukas of Crane Payment Solutions holds a dollar bill to emphasize that cash payments are unlikely to disappear.

During the APTA 2013 Fare Collection Workshop & TransITech Conference, held March 18-20 in Phoenix, AZ, leaders from the fare payment industry met with BUSRide in an informal setting to respond to questions, share perspectives on transit fare collection and speculate on future technologies. Our guests were representatives from INIT, SPX Genfare, Accenture and Crane Payment Solutions. Tell us about your company and its most recent contract. Roland Staib, CEO, INIT: INIT is a provider of ITS systems and has as a long tradition in fare collection systems. We have enjoyed a U.S. presence since 1999 with our most recent contract for a multi-agency smartcard system in Sacramento. Our most recent contract in Europe is in Luxembourg. We like to mention that because if you deliver to Luxembourg, you’re equipping not only a city but a whole country. Willy Dommen, Public Transportation, Accenture: Accenture equips back office systems and high-capacity transaction processing systems, such as the PRESTO system operating in Toronto which continues to expand. Ottawa has now adapted the PRESTO card as its payment media. Our other contracts are expanding the PRESTO system to some of the other agencies in the Toronto region.

28

May 2013

Tara Farnsworth, Marketing Manager, SPX Genfare: People know us as GFI, but we’re making a major transition to our new company name with SPX Genfare. We’ve been working really hard to change our brand. Our business was founded in fare collection, but now we’re really working to expand well beyond that and into systems, service and other solutions. A project I like to highlight is Winnipeg Transit. Some of the innovations we’ve created include a new farebox with the capability to scan and print two-dimensional high definition barcodes. We’ll be implementing a web-based fare collection system with them soon. Bassam Estaitieh, MBA, Product Manager, Crane Payment Solutions: Crane Payment Solutions is a vendor of cash payment devices. We sell coin acceptors, coin validators, coin recyclers, bill acceptors and bill recyclers. We work everything from the low-end to the high-end, from farebox applications for SPX Genfare to the OEM’s ticket vending machines as well. A recent contract in the U.S. is with ACS/Xerox for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) project. The agency awarded ACS/Xerox, which in turn became our partner in integrating the device. It will be deployed later this year. Our biggest project by far came last year in Europe. We were awarded the tender for Swiss Federal Rail for about 1,000 ticket vending machines. Scheidt and Bachmann won the contract

BUSRide

Willy Dommen of Accenture speaks to the advantages of mobile payments.

and the operator specifically requested our bank note recycler in the machine. These are two wins we’re proud of. Smartcards seem to be replacing paper tickets. What’s the next big step forward for fare collection? Farnsworth: With Dallas jumping right to mobile ticketing, I think a lot of agencies will start to go that way. Staib: We agree. Mobile ticketing is a big game-changer. Dommen: It will alleviate a lot of the infrastructure needed for smart cards and even for tickets. That’s a huge cost advantage to the agencies. It’s not just mobile ticketing. Ticketing is just one type of service an agency can deliver to the customer using the phone as a delivery platform, such as ride information, schedule information and vehicle delays. Clearly the mobile phone is becoming a delivery channel for all kinds of services related to operations.

a 2011 FDIC survey) and don’t necessarily have the funds to store on prepaid cards. They also don’t have access to credit. Additionally, operations like SEPTA want to accept everything in their customers’ wallets, and cash is one of those elements of payment. Even advanced transit authorities in Europe and Japan still accept cash in their fare payment devices. We don’t think it’s going away. We think cash has already taken as much damage as it’s going to take. Usage might decrease a few percentages from year to year, but if only 10 percent of the ridership needs to use cash then an agency must give those customers the option. Staib: If an agency can’t get rid of cash entirely, it may be able to switch to retail as the point of sale. A customer may go to a 7-Eleven, put down cash on the card and use that card. But

Where do cash payments stand in all of this? Dommen: If you look at tolling, the Golden Gate Bridge has eliminated toll collectors and cash. If you’re going to use cash, you can go to an outlet like a 7-Eleven and recharge an account with cash. Open payments alone will never get rid of cash in a transit system as long as the agency continues to make the decision to accept it. There are people who are not going to go through the bother of even getting a reloadable card. It’s more convenient if they’re operating in a cash-based environment. Farnsworth: There’s no question cash is diminishing. In my research and talking to our clients, what we see are most large agencies collecting 10 percent cash. Remove rail and it gets as high as 20 percent. A midsized agency collects around 50 percent cash and it skyrockets in smaller agencies. I think it’ll go down every year. Until someone makes the leap from smartcards to NFC or something else, I don’t think you’ll see real change. Bill McFarland, Director of Technical Services, INIT: The Jacksonville Transit Authority (JTA) put in a closed-loop card, which has showed something like a 40 percent drop in cash. Farnsworth: A huge number of unbanked people will not stop using cash. It’s going to be a challenging proposition to get rid of it entirely. Estaitieh: I’d like to comment on that, because we’ve been hearing that cash is going away for so long. Obviously, we’re a cash payment vendor and we have a position on that. In the U.S. over 26 percent of households are unbanked or underbanked (per

BUSRide

May 2013

29

Roundtable continued

does the operator still have to accept cash on the bus? I guess that’s a big problem. Farnsworth: Everybody talks about the cost of cash collection, but never the cost of implementing a smartcard. You’re not saving money, you’re just shifting it to a new area. Estaitieh: There’s a misconception that cash collection is the most expensive thing, but it’s not necessarily the case. No one, for example, tracks the cost of accepting credit cards, which is critical for bus farebox applications because the fixed portion of the credit card transaction fee structure will yield a large percentage cost of accepting credit cards for bus rides. Is what you’re doing leading to a better perception of transit? Dommen: Fare media is not going to drive ridership. I call it the pain factor: The cost of gas is rising and it’s too painful to drive the car, so I’m looking for other alternatives. Paul Doukas, Director, Business Development - Parking/ Transportation, Crane Payment Solutions: What we always have to remember is that public transit is funded by federal dollars. [NOTE: Doukas shows U.S. dollar bill to the group.] This clearly states that this is legal tender. I don’t see that stated anywhere else. As long as government is funding public transit, the agency has to accept cash. As soon as the government stops printing this, we can move into different forms of payment. McFarland: I think the CTA will be the poster boy of that. They want to get rid of cash. Dommen: But they are not going to eliminate it entirely. They’re either going to shift it to a third-party merchant or some kind of machine that will reload a card with cash. You’re still accepting cash, just on a different channel. BR

30

May 2013

BUSRide

the international report

Europe turns to electric By Doug Jack A growing view of city transport in Europe sees all-electric vehicles as the future. On a relatively small scale, a number of projects are in various stages of development with some already complete and others in the planning stage. All-electric traction has been around for many years in the form of trolleybuses such as VBZ, Zurich, Switzerland, that draw electric current from overhead wiring, which is unsightly and expensive to maintain. However, some of the latest models can be fitted with batteries or super capacitors batteries giving them the capability to run short distances off-wire. The electrification lobby received a major boost in March when Scania and Siemens entered into a partnership to electrify powertrains in Scania trucks and buses. Headquartered in Sweden, Scania is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of premium buses and coaches. Based in Germany, Siemens is one of the world’s most prominent and diverse producers of electric equipment, including drive motors. The partnership makes Sweden the world’s first country with all-electric powered trucks and buses and electrified roads for commercial use. At the time of the announcement, the two companies unveiled a truck equipped with a pantograph on the roof that receives power from overhead wires. “Full-scale electrified road sections can quickly become a reality through this partnership,” says Henrik Henriksson, Scania executive vice president, sales and marketing. “Fuel savings made possible by electrification are huge and this project is the foundation for fossil-free road transport.”

32

May 2013

An all-electric microbus by BredaMenarinibus of Italy.

Strictly speaking, fossil-free is only true if the electricity is hydro or nuclear generated. Scania sees the development of electric vehicles as an important part of the transition to more sustainable transport systems. Scania says an electrical transmission through a conduction line in the air or powered through the road surface can supplement a hybrid powertrain, making a vehicle completely electrically powered on electrified roads. Buses and local distribution trucks can share the same electrical circuits in urban centers. Hybrid buses are running in most European countries, with Volvo in the leading position in terms of deliveries and orders with its ISAM parallel drive system. Alexander Dennis and BAE Systems offer a similar facility called Arrive and Go in their series hybrid system. Volvo hybrid buses are achieving savings in fuel consumption of up to 40

percent compared with standard diesel equivalents. The company will raise that barrier in a project later this year in Gothenburg, in which buses will receive a fast boost of electricity while stopped at each end of a route. This will enable them to run longer in an all-electric mode and be programmed to run only electrically in busy central areas. Volvo is confident of achieving savings exceeding 60 percent in fuel consumption. Regular boosting of the batteries during daytime can reduce the number of batteries, saving weight and allowing more passengers onboard. The use of inductive charging to boost battery power has been available in Europe for at least 10 years, but only a few systems have been installed. One of the first was in the Italian port city of Genoa. A metal plate was sunk into the road surface at each end of the route. When the bus parked over the plate, a

BUSRide

A trolleybus in Zurich showing the extensive overhead wiring.

contact on the underside of the vehicle connected with the plate, taking a fast boost charge. The plate is harmless to others on the road when not in use. More recently, Bombardier, well known in Europe for trains and trams, has introduced its Primove induction charging system of wiring laid beneath the road surface at busy bus stops and at each end of the route. Vehicles can take a fast charge whenever they are stationary for a minute or more. The Primove system can be used in any other vehicles equipped to take a fast charge. It works rather like road tolling, with users charged for the amount of energy consumed at the end of each month. Wrightbus, the innovative bus manufacturer based in Northern Ireland, is leading a consortium that will deliver eight all-electric midibuses to Milton Keynes in England later this year. The buses will use inductive charging by Conductix-Wampfler, a U.S. company that supplies automated guidance systems for vehicles in factories. William Wright, still leading the company’s projects on alternative fuels at the age of 85, has some very interesting views on batteries. His company is currently using lithium-ion, which is in short supply. As demand increases and prices rise, he believes the solution may well be sodium-ion. Sodium-ion is readily available and works better at lower temperatures.

BUSRide

At $300,000, the all-electric midibus is nearly twice the price of its diesel equivalent. However, electricity is much less expensive than the European price of diesel. Wright predicts net fuel cost savings of up to $18,000 per year. Buses operating solely on batteries have been running in Europe for several years, recharging only at a depot at the end of the day. They tend to be small vehicles used on precinct work in historic town centers with narrow streets. Their problem has always been limited range, especially if the batteries also have to power the HVAC. With that said, battery technology is improving and we are starting to see

larger vehicles with greater range capabilities. Greater range requires a greater number of batteries, however, which can restrict the number of passengers so as not to exceed maximum legal axle weight limits. A small number of trial contracts have been signed for full-size transit buses, principally with Chinese manufacturers like BYD, and with Foton which has an assembly plant in Spain. The British bus builder Optare has been offering all-electric versions of its Solo and Versa midibuses for four or five years. Deputy CEO Glenn Saint has been closely involved in the development. He believes that plug-in recharging is much less expensive and easier to install than either conductive or inductive systems. Saint is not an advocate of compressed natural gas as a fuel for buses. He believes it is much more efficient to convert gas to electricity. EMT, the principal operator in Madrid, Spain, has a number of hybrid buses which use a CNG-fueled thermal engine. These give very clean emissions but are quite complicated, with all the hybrid equipment plus gas storage tanks. In the medium to longer term, electricity may well be the answer. Further developments are inevitable, and it will take time to refine systems so that they become thoroughly reliable and achieve the required operating range. BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.

Alexander Dennis hybrid double-deck buses in Reading, England. They are color branded for different routes.

May 2013

33

H0513BR

BUSES FOR SALE

MARKETPL ACE

PARTS

36

May 2013

BUSRide

• M A RK E T PL ACE • M A RK E T PL ACE • M A RK E T PL ACE •

37

May 2013

BUSRide

SHELTERS BUSES FOR SALE

• M A RK E T PL ACE • M A RK E T PL ACE • M A RK E T PL ACE •

SAFETY

38 PARTS

May 2013 EQUIPMENT

TIRE EQUIPMENT

BUSRide

We at Pace Suburban Bus, Arlington Heights, IL, have worked hard to size our fleet to the levels of demand and the operating environment of the areas we serve. Our success is due to diligence at identifying rider needs and allocating the proper resources to fulfill those needs. Pace was extremely pleased for the Mid-Size Bus Manufacturers Association (MSBMA) to have recognized our transit agency during BusCon 2012 for operating the nation’s largest fleet of small buses under 40 feet. Pace began operations in 1984 after the Illinois State Legislature called for the conglomeration of several independent, disparate bus agencies operating throughout the Chicago suburbs. The prevailing logic at that time was to apply urban transit methodology, which meant the exclusive use of 40-foot buses. These served us very well for many years. However in a service area comprising urban, suburban, exurban and even rural environments, we needed to develop innovative solutions that involved smaller vehicles. We began Pace dial-a-ride operations before they were required by the Americans with Disabilities Act

Peter Carmine Picknelly founded a small transit operation in East Orange, NJ in 1920. His successive ventures led to the creation of Peter Pan Bus Lines in 1933, launched with four 1933 Buick jitney vehicles. No guessing about the name, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie was the favorite bedtime story of the Picknelly children, who grew — and are growing — to keep the dream and the family business growing successfully through four generations for 80 years. The founder passed away in 1964 leaving the company’s helm to his 33-year old son, Peter L. Picknelly, who opened

BUSRide

the Springfield Bus Terminal, current headquarters of Peter Pan Bus Lines. Today, his son, Peter A. Picknelly serves as Chairman and CEO. President and CFO Brian Stefano began his career with Peter Pan Bus Lines as a controller 23 years ago and served as chief financial officer. Last year the company promoted him to president and CEO, the first time in the 80-year history that someone from outside the Picknelly family has served as president. BUSRide spoke with the principals, who also include Joe Picknally, director, inventory control and fleet main-

May 2013

39


BUSRide May 2013