Page 1

MTN-TV is for the industry Page 14

Make garages fuel flexible Page 18

Five trends in paratransit Page 28

Two new small buses Page 32


The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry May 2012 • $5.00

What Turtle Top is made of Page 21


May 2012 cover story

Turtle Top shows what it’s made of An inside look at construction and component testing By David Hubbard 21

features MTN-TV gives airtime to the industry

ABA and Terrapin Blue partner in a breakout program By David Hubbard 14

Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy opens doors this month Prevost hosts the Class of 2012 in Nashville By Alan Dvoskin 16

Motorcoach Update 8

Five key points ease the struggle with increasing demand, rising costs and declining revenues By Ron Brooks 28

Deliveries 12

Emerging trends in paratransit pose new challenges

Small Bus Showcase

Mauck2 opens new horizons for Sprinter conversions DATTCO leads nationwide sales as national distributor 32

Going Green

Make garages fuel flexible Design considerations for new transit bus construction By Robert R. Adams 18


May 2012


BR Transit

Balance-Plus electrifies shuttle bus market

The fuel-efficient hybrid frm Azure Dynamics comes with plug-in option 34

People in the News 13 Transit Update 26 The Transit Authority 30 Tours & Travel 31 Marketplace 40


David Hubbard 6 Letter from Europe By Doug Jack 36 BUSRide

Prevost coaches do more than transport your passengers in style and safety. They move your business forward by giving you the best in dependability, fuel efficiency and support. Our high-deck H-Series Coach offers state-of-the-art amenities that elevate every passenger’s experience. Our longer-wheelbase X3-45 Coach combines the smoothest possible ride with a wider entry and 80"-high interior passenger space. All Prevost coaches deliver exceptional performance with lower operating costs. Which means they’re as perfect for your business as they are for your passengers.

Please contact your Prevost Regional Sales Manager for more information. USA USA 1-877-773-8678 1-877-773-8678 CANADA CANADA 418-883-3391 418-883-3391

T h e u l t i m a t e c l a s s.

david hubbard

Two drivers take their jobs above and beyond the call From any corner of the bus industry everyone seems to agree that in its purest sense this is more than just a job, and the awards two individuals recently received certainly drive the point home. MTA Deputy Director of Media Relations Charles Seaton says New York City Transit bus operators hold down jobs that are iconic of The Big Apple. He must be right. Operator Jefrick Dean has been maneuvering the streets with pride, dedication, dignity and an unswerving concern for his customers and fellow workers for more than 20 years, according to the 132 unsolicited commendations phoned or mailed in by appreciative transit regulars. “Few NYC bus operators receive more than a dozen such kudos in their career,” says Seaton. “Sending even one means the customer was moved enough to take the time and effort to relate a positive experience about an employee.” Taking it up another notch, the Fund for the City of New York further honored Dean with its Sloan Public Service Award, presented each year to six worthy New Yorkers. “Jefrick Dean embodies the true spirit of what it means to serve the public,” says MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “I would like to congratulate him for the outstanding effort he has demonstrated over the years. His receipt of the Sloan Award acknowledges what we have known all along. Mr. Dean has selflessly gone above and beyond the call of duty to put the needs of his customers first.” MTA NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast says the Sloan Public Service Award is a tremendous honor for both Dean and for NYC Transit, and recognizes the consistency with which Dean has shown courtesy, patience and good cheer while piloting a 40-foot vehicle through one of the most congested cities in the world. Darryl Irick, MTA Bus Company president and senior vice president, NYC Transit Department of Buses, says in addition to everything else the job often requires a bus operator to even be an amateur psychologist. Dean joined NYC Transit in 1990 and works out of the East New York Depot, just a short bus ride from his home in Brooklyn.


May 2012

“I remember my first day on the job looking in the rearview mirror at all those people,” he says. “I was saying to myself I don’t think I can do this.” According to Dean, not only did he prove that he could perform the job he grew to thrive on his daily duties. Following the December 2008 murder of fellow bus operator Edwin Thomas, killed by a farebeating passenger, Dean stepped up as a much-needed pillar of emotional strength and support. According to Department of Buses Vice President Stephen Vidal, also a Sloan Award winner, Dean, now an ordained minister ,was the person everybody migrated to from his first day on the job. Meanwhile, during its annual meeting in Miami, FL, Team Trailways recognized Jonathan Wilson of Kobussen Trailways, Kaukauna, WI, as the 2011 recipient of its Trailways Driver of the Year Award. A native of Madison, WI, Jonathan began driving school buses during college in 1999, stayed with it and became a motorcoach driver in 2004. Kobussen Trailways President Joe Kobussen says Wilson has become the standard by which his company measures safety awareness, customer service and general motorcoach goodwill. “He is the face of company for thousands of customers annually,” says Kobussen. “Jonathan’s commitment to driver safety and customer service supports our company’s mission to provide the safest and best passenger travel. He and all of our employees are deeply valued.” Demonstrating his commitment to service and adherence to the Kobussen motto of “Family pride in every ride” on a recent chartered excursion to a national high school cheerleading competition, a snowstorm closed the local airport. Wilson personally arranged to have his customers driven from Wisconsin all the way to their destination in Florida. The team made it on time and even won the competition. “In an age in which service appears to be slipping in all areas of business,” says Kobussen. “Jonathan has never lost sight of what makes our company successful, customer service.”


Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane Editor David Hubbard Assistant Editor Glenn Swain Director of Sales Jennifer Owens Account Executives Maria Galioto Sali Williams Production Director Valerie Valtierra Art Director Dominic Salerno Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher

BUS industry SAFETY council

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POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: BUSRide • 4742 North 24th Street • Suite 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 • F: (602) 277-7588 Web site: Vice President Operations Valerie Valtierra

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DNCC names transportation management team The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and the Committee for Charlotte 2012 named Event Transportation Associates, Vectour Group and Charlotte Destination Group as its transportation management team. These companies will be responsible for designing and executing an elaborate, secure and reliable shuttle bus system of 250plus buses and motorcoaches to service 150 hotels and dozens of routes to transport thousands of delegates and convention guests. DNCC CEO Steve Kerrigan says the shuttle system will reduce the number of vehicles on the road during convention week. “With this announcement of the design of our transportation system, we begin to tackle a major element in convention planning,” he says. “After engaging in an inclusive open bidding process as part of our efforts to have the most open and accessible convention in history, we’re thrilled that we have a team of three firms who combine experience from past conventions and other large events with local resources and experience.” The three firms bid as a team after connecting in January at a DNCC business outreach meeting on transportation contracting opportunities. As the team, the companies will now share responsibility for providing full-sized motorcoaches and transportation management services that conform to DNCC guidelines, as well as the on-site operation support and staff to create maps and diagrams, develop and submit

routings for approval and track vehicle movement. DNCC says numerous transportation subcontracting opportunities will become available in the upcoming months. It is the DNCC’s goal to use local firms to provide the buses for the convention to the fullest extent possible, and the DNCC will conduct extensive outreach to local businesses as the process moves forward. Event Transportation Associates (ETA) Event Transportation Associates, Inc, ETA, has worked on major events such as the Summer and Winter Olympics, the Daytona 500, and the Democratic National Conventions in 1992, 2000 and 2008. Vectour Group Vectour Group (formally International Trailways) is a trusted provider of integrated bus transportation management and shuttle contracting solutions. This minority-owned transportation management company founded by Reggie Haslam, Sr. and Alan Thrasher has more than 100 years of combined bus operations and transportation planning experience. Charlotte Destination Group The Charlotte Destination Group is a full-service destination management company that provides personalized and professional services for meetings, special events and motorsports related events.

Allison Transmission prices initial public offering Allison Transmission, Indianapolis, IN, announced in March its opening price on its initial public offering of 26,100,000 shares of common stock at $23 per share, which began trading March 15, on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “ALSN.” The selling stockholders in the offering granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to 3,915,000 additional shares at the initial offering price, less the underwriting discounts and commissions, to cover any overallotments. All of the shares of common stock offered are being sold by selling stockholders. Allison Transmission Holdings, Inc. will not receive any proceeds from the sale of shares by the selling stockholders in this offering, including from any exercise by the underwriters of their overallotment option. For the offering, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Goldman, Sachs & Co. served as

8 May 2012

joint book-running managers; Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank Securities served as lead managers; Baird served as senior comanager; and KeyBanc Capital Markets and SMBC Nikko served as co-managers. A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with and declared effective on March 14, 2012 by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The offering of these securities is being made only by means of a written prospectus forming part of the effective registration statement. A copy of the final prospectus related to the offering will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which may be obtained, when available, from BofA Merrill Lynch, 4 World Financial Center, New York, NY 10080, attention: Prospectus Department, or e-mail dg.prospectus_requests@baml. com; Citigroup, Brooklyn Army Terminal, 140 58th Street, 8th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11220 (Tel: 800 831-9146 or e-mail:; and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Attention: Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY 11717, telephone: 866-803-9204.


update The Federal Transit AdBRief ministration has awarded

$8.8 million to 97 motorcoach companies across the U.S. to retrofit buses with wheelchair lifts or to help offset the cost of lifts on new coaches.

Clyde Hart, American Bus BRief Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy, has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights District of Columbia Advisory Committee for a two-year term.

Beginning in 2013, UMA BRief Motorcoach EXPO will partner with NTA’s annual convention at Travel Exchange, an event created to bring together the best of both organizations in one location to benefit all members. Green Bay, WI-based BRief Lamers Bus Lines became

TSX-approved as a safer motor carrier, having successfully completed the Transportation Safety Exchange Comprehensive Review (TSX-CR). Transportation Safety Exchange (TSX) is an independent rating organization in the ground transportation industry that inspects, monitors and reports the safety performance of motor carriers.

BRief alert warning that another

The FMCSA sent out an

round of fraudulent U.S. DOT letters dated March 16, 2012 have been detected. The letters are attempting to obtain banking information from the targeted companies.

FMCSA unveils new SaferBus app In March the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) unveiled its SaferBus iPhone/iPad application – a first-of-its-kind app that 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, designed for the Apple iPhone and iPad, can be downloaded for free by visiting the Apple iTunes App Store or going to FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage at www. A screenshot of the app is also available at this site. SaferBus provides access to safety records on nearly 6,000 interstate

commercial passenger carriers operating in the U.S. today, which includes privately operated motorcoach, school bus and tour bus companies.

MV Transportation moves to Dallas

Fairfield, CA-based MV Transportation, Inc., a privately-owned passenger transportation contracting firm, will relocate its global headquarters to Dallas. MV’s new headquarters will occupy 21,000 square feet of office space. “Moving our headquarters will centrally position the company geographically, allowing us to better serve our customers

and optimize efficiencies,” said Carter Pate, CEO of MV Transportation. “We are proud of our long history in the San Francisco Bay Area and will continue to enhance our relationships there.” Overall, MV plans to bring more than 200 jobs to the Dallas area in 2012. The company was founded in the San Francisco Bay area in 1975 and has been headquartered in Fairfield, CA since 1996. The company also operates a support center in Iowa, which will remain the base for the company’s risk management, accounting and finance functions.

NTSB meeting on deadly motorcoach crash set for June The National Transportation Safety Board is in the final stages of its investigation of a motorcoach crash that killed 15 in New York last year. The NTSB will meet on June 5 to determine the probable cause of the crash. On March 12, 2011, at about 5:45 a.m. EST, a 1999 Prevost motorcoach, operated by World Wide Travel of Greater


May 2012

New York LTD, collided with a roadside barrier adjacent to the southbound lanes of Interstate 95 in the vicinity of mile marker 3.2. The crash killed 15 of the 32 passengers on board; 17 passengers and the driver suffered minor to serious injuries. The motorcoach was returning to New York City from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT.



ABA’s Marketplace worth $78.7 million in booked business According to a new study, the American Bus Association’s (ABA) Marketplace 2012 in Grapevine, TX generated a total of $78,790,000 worth of booked business for show participants. The study was conducted by John Dunham & Associates (JDA). JDA arrived at the results by surveying more than 2,500 Marketplace attendees, representing all six delegate types (Receptive Operator, Lodging, Direct Marketing Organizations (DMOs), Buyer, Attraction and Associate.) Respondents were asked to list the amount of business they booked in three categories: business booked at Marketplace 2012, business booked immediately following

Marketplace 2012, and the total amount of business that the respondents’ expected to generate due to their Marketplace 2012 contacts. Those companies that booked business made a substantial return on their investment, with many respondents reporting that the income they expected to

generate from Marketplace 2012 would be thirty times what they spent on the show. The results of the survey showed that attendees across all member types had an enormous amount of sales successes at Marketplace 2012. Some members earned from $500,000 to $5 million in booked business as a result of the show. The study results also revealed that many companies expected to book a large amount of business after Marketplace thanks to the contacts they made at the show. Respondents reported that they anticipated generating an average of $58,065 worth of business after they left Grapevine.

MTA NYC honors first African American military airmen 100th Street Depot Becomes Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot

Attending the rededication of the 100th Street Depot to honor the Tuskegee Airmen were left to right: Reginald T. Brewster, Esq., Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast, NYC Transit Senior Vice President Department of Buses Darryl Irick and MTA Boardmember Fernando Ferrer. Photo courtesy of MTA.

MTA New York City Transit has renamed its 100th Street Bus Depot The Tuskegee Airmen Bus Depot in honor of the World War II African-American military pilots and support personnel who made up the famed flight-training program at Tuskegee Army Air Field. Over the years, the New York City Transit system has employed 12 former Tuskegee Airmen and created an unbreakable link between the two organizations. A bronze commemorative plaque newly


installed in the depot’s entryway lists their names and will serve as a living reminder of their bravery and dedication to duty. The plaque features a logo bearing an artistic rendering of three Tuskegee Airmen and the red-tail P-40 Mustangs they flew is incorporated in the plaque, while depot signage has been installed and decals affixed to each bus assigned to the depot. Former members of the illustrious 332nd Fighter Group attended the rededication ceremony in April at the depot along with

MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota, NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast and Darryl Irick, President of MTA Bus and Senior Vice President NYC Transit’s Department of Buses. “The Tuskegee Airmen overcame so much to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of the war, thanks to the numerous civil rights organizations that convinced the Army to create this iconic all African-American pursuit squadron,” said Chairman Lhota. “These heroes included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff. We see a very similar dynamic at the bus depot; bus operators, mechanics and other personnel all working together toward one common goal. That is what makes today’s dedication ceremony that much more special.”

May 2012


deliveries PREVOST

MOTOR Coach Industries



Classic Bus Lines Coral Spring, FL

Classic Bus Lines recently took delivery of three 2012 MCI J4500 models to replace three older coaches in the all-MCI fleet of five J4500s and two E4500s, acquired since 2002. Owners Robert and Joyce LaPointe purchased their coaches expecting them to last as long as necessary. The 2012 model J4500s includes clean-diesel technology, wide-ride suspension and electronic stability control and 110-volt outlets. Classic Bus provides charter service to the South Florida area and across the U.S. and Canada, and operates a full service garage.



Regent Coach Line San Antonio, TX

Six is better than one, according to Regent Coach Line general manager Geoff Dupree, who recently took delivery of six MCI J4500 coaches to replace six others in the 21-coach fleet. The new additions sport Wi-Fi and 110-volt outlets in addition to standard features that include electronic stability control, wide-ride suspension with Koni FSD shocks, as well as 2010-EPAstandard Cummins ISX engines and Allison transmissions. Dupree’s father, Richard, started Regent Coach Line in 1999 with partners Russ Tottle and Glenn Robinson. Nicole Wilson, is also involved the business.



Indian Trails –Michigan Flyer Owosso, MI

Six Prevost H3-45s meld into the fleets of Indian Trails, with four going to Michigan Flyer, the carrier Indian Trails jointly owns with Okemos Travel. The companies offer transportation between East Lansing, Jackson, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metropolitan Airport for more than 90,000 passengers per year. President Gordon McKay says the acquisition represents a more than $2.1 million infrastructure upgrade for Michigan Flyer. The 2012 Prevosts make the Indian Trails fleet one of the first in Michigan with near-zero emission Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.




TUI Bus Services Dallas, TX

TUI Bus Services, Inc., recently purchased one 2012 Temsa TS35 coach from CH Bus Sales, Faribault, MN. TUI was looking for a mid-size coach with plenty of luggage space. The Temsa TS35 constructed from stainless steel is a fully integral mid-size coach appropriate for smaller groups. It comes equipped standard with a Cummins engine, Allison B500 transmission and three-point seat belts. The TUI Bus Services coach is also equipped with Alcoa Rims, REI Audio-Video system, 110-volt outlets and Wi-Fi.


May 2012



Lone Star Coaches Grand Prairie, TX

Lone Star Coaches added a 2012 TS35 to its fleet of 19 coaches after viewing the vehicle and talking with peers during UMA EXPO 2012 in Long Beach, CA. Lone Star Coaches President Mark Steelman says he had been in the market for a midsize coach for three years. Lone Star took immediate deliver,y and the Temsa TS35 with three-point seat belts hit the road running a Cummins engine and Allison B500 transmission. It’s also equipped with an REI Audio/Video system and Alcoa rims.



Fast Deer Bus Charter Montebello, CA

Fast Deer Charter took delivery of one Temsa TS35 coach from CH Bus Sales, adding to its mixed fleet of 22 buses and coaches. Fast Deer President Eddie Wong says the Temsa coach is a perfect vehicle to accommodate a shrinking market of European groups. The 35-ft TS35 features stainless steel monocoque construction and a powerful 345 HP Cummins engine, combined with an Allison transmission and the three-point seat belts as standard equipment.


people in the news

Paul J. Ballard

Wolfgang Winzer


The Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board passed a resolution at its February 2012 board meeting recognizing CEO Paul J. Ballard for exceptional leadership and achievements during his 10 years with the agency. Prevost recently awarded their Sales Team Leader award for 2011. Prevost Regional Sales Managers Tony Febbo and Ward Hicken were recipients of the Sales Team Leader award. Joseph J. Smith has been named interim CEO of DesignLine Corporation. Smith currently serves as a consultant to Cyan Partners, LP, the sole arranger of DesignLine’s November 2011 debt and equity capital raises. Morgantown, WV-based Mountain Line recognized Jim Huffman as Driver of the Month for February. Mountain Line also recognized Dave Stump, Anne Cramer, Mike Fisher and Ray St. Clair for their top performances in February.

From left, Regional Sales Manager Tony Febbo, Vice President of Seated Coach Sales, Robert Goodnight and Regional Sales Manager Ward Hicken.

Proterra has appointed Ian Shackleton as its new vice president of sales and marketing. Shackleton joins Proterra with over 20 years of experience in the bus and trucking industry. Prior to joining Proterra Shackleton spent 22 years at Navistar. Wolfgang Winzer has joined the Motor Coach Industries as vice president and general manager, Aftermarket Business. In this new position Winzer will lead MCI Service Parts, MCI Service Centers and in-field technical support. He will be based at MCI’s Louisville, KY facility.

May 2012 13

MTN-TV gives airtime to the industry ABA and Terrapin Blue partner in this breakout program

erators are solid compliant companies. We pointed out that only a few non-compliant carriers are pulling the public view of the motorcoach industry down with them.

What are some of your other topics?

By David Hubbard

Motorcoach Network News is the brainchild of American Bus Association Senior Director of Communications Dan Ronan, ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso and Ryan Kelly, president of Terrapin Blue. BUSRide talked with the principals during ABA Marketplace. Here are Dan Ronan’s comments.

How did MTN-TV come about? In early summer 2011, I met with Ryan Kelly of Terrapin Blue to discuss the possibility of a closed-circuit video newscast to address the current issues and highlights of the motorcoach travel and tourism industries. We roughed out a 10 minute pilot and had about 10 days to get it produced in time to present at the next ABA board of directors meeting. The board liked what they saw and we were off and running. We plan to be the video news source of record for this industry.

Where do motorcoach and tour operators go to view MTN-TV?

MTN-TV comes out once a month around the 15th on the ABA website, www.buses. org, as well as YouTube. ABA members also receive a link to the site by e-mail when it comes out.

Is there a marketing revenue component to this venture? Absolutely. We do sell online advertising. Terrapin Blue handles the ad sales as well as sponsorships. Typically viewers can expect to see about two-and-one-half to three minutes of paid commercial spots per 15 minute show. We think that is a good 80/20 ratio.

Talk about the stories you present, as well as your range of content? For our first show we took an in-depth look at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) news conference on curbside operators. We presented the ABA comments that countered a few pertinent points, such as the fact that the majority of curbside op-

We are covering the hours of service issue as it develops, and the regulatory processes in the House and Senate to improve vehicle and passenger safety. We also are expanding on the challenges motorcoach drivers face coming into Washington, D.C., reported on the ABA Top Destinations and inviting holiday attractions.

Are you inviting motorcoach charter and tour operators to come forward with news and story ideas? We have talked about a segment that would profile operators in all parts of the country that are doing particularly good work. We have one coming up that we are very proud of on the contributions motorcoach companies are making in the effort to move military troops. They are doing a tremendous job and but have not received much publicity for their significant and generous effort.

How else might you involve motorcoach owners and operators? We are thinking of the occasional segment on companies that do something noteworthy in their communities as a corporate citizen giving back. These are stories we like to tell. The question is the number and frequency with which we can fit them into the schedule.

Do you feel that MTN-TV is a critical component in the ABA mission and service to the motorcoach charter and tour industry? Absolutely. I worked as a news correspondent for much my adult life, so I know how to tell stories in a visual way. We live in a very fast moving society, and most of us rely on faster sensory information sources other than print. If we are not watching we are listening. Regardless, it is always about good writing and storytelling. We are going to present interesting stories and speak straightforward on the news from our position, especially in regard to industry safety. The NTSB feature was a perfect example.


May 2012


Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy opens doors this month Prevost hosts the Class of 2012 in Nashville By Alan Dvoskin The Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy, a program Prevost, Sainte-Claire, QC, Canada, supports, again takes place May 16 in Nashville, TN, the epicenter of entertainment transportation. Steve Zeigler, director of Prevost conversion coach business development, sees the academy as a valuable initiative that professionalizes this industry niche and offers aspiring drivers an opportunity to get on the inside track in this specialized industry. According to co-founders and industry veterans Chip Huffman and Tandy Rice, the academy has graduated approximately 40 students in its first two years of operation. “Our support of this academy helps educate drivers at a critical time in their careers,” he says. “Becoming more familiar with our brand will better prepare them to work in the entertainment and VIP transportation industry in which Prevost coaches are widely used.” Prevost conducts the academy in its 58,000-square-foot Goodlettsville parts and service center. Chip Huffman says class sizes will again be intentionally small, accepting between 10 and 20 students. Instructors and presenters will include Prevost technician trainers, coach conversion industry technicians, veteran drivers, leasing agents, bus company owners, safety directors, insurance professionals and security experts, all sharing their collected wisdom about how to break into the industry and best secure a coveted position. Using a Prevost converted entertainer coach and a pre-conversion coach, students gain hands-on familiarity with the types of vehicles they may eventually drive. As the former owner and founder of Nitetrain Coach, Huffman knows firsthand


May 2012

Aspiring drivers are trained in the many facets of handling celebrity coaches.

the need for competent professional drivers and dreamed of putting together a training school. “I was constantly fielding calls at Nitetrain from people who hoped to drive for the stars,” says Huffman. “The interest in this market is overwhelming and the need for training is huge, considering the

many veteran drivers retiring and leaving the business.” The Celebrity Drivers Academy operates in conjunction with the Top Billing Driver Placement Agency to qualify participants for elite, highly sought after positions. “Our students have secured full or part time placements with almost every major

Chip Huffman, left, and Tandy Rice are co-founders of the Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy.


company in the business,” says Huffman. “Several of our drivers are driving full time on major tours.” One is Mike Riley, who has driven full time for All Access Coach Leasing of Nashville since March 2011. Despite his 20 years of trucking experience, Riley says he spent over 10 years trying to break into the entertainment field. “Attending the Academy was the critical step,” he says. “The program helped me gain a foothold in the industry and into one of its top companies.” He credits the in-depth information presented in the academy, which includes how drivers must deal with the daily logistics and complexities of entertainment touring. Neville Shende, lead operations manager for Pioneer Coach, Madison, TN, is another veteran driver who participated in the school and has written about how to break into the business. “This occupation is all about service,” he says. “It is about being a hotel on wheels for the people I am transporting. Professionalism, driving skills and a safety orientation are paramount, and not every driver can do this kind of work day in and day out.”

an insider’s look, as well as the tools they need to break in and succeed.” Al Schiltz is an industry veteran with 15 years of road manager experience who is now a partner in The Consortium, a fullservice artist management, entertainment and marketing company in Nashville. “There’s a lot more to working in this capacity than just getting on the bus and sitting in the seat,” he says. “Entertainment drivers really have an awesome

responsibility. They are basically driving the homes of entertainers for long stretches at a time, as a tour can last anywhere from 30 days to a full year. With today’s vehicles and complex electronics, drivers need to be very well-rounded individuals.” For details on the Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy, visit BR Alan Dvoskin is the marketing and communications director for Prevost.

Praised by industry veterans Company owners are as enthusiastic about the program as the students, says Mike Slarve, president and owner of Four Seasons Coach Leasing, Lebanon, TN. He has served as a guest lecturer at the academy and employed several Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy graduates. “This is an excellent school that teaches people who aren’t familiar with the realities with this area of the industry,” he says. “Owners like myself have the in-depth knowledge to speak to what it’s like to drive for these special customers.” Eric Blankenship, co-owner of All Access Leasing, has served on various Academy panels to provide the bus owner’s perspective and also hired two graduates. “This is a great program and something the industry has needed for a long time,” he says. “CDL drivers will come away with considerable insight into a completely different type of driving experience from what they’re used to. Attendees really get


May 2012


going green

Make the garage fuel flexible

Metro Atlanta Regional Transit Authority is fuel flexible. Shown is the Perry CNG refueling station.

By Robert R. Adams Edited by David Hubbard [NOTE: This is a condensed overview of only a few considerations addressed in a white paper by Robert R. Adams, executive vice president, Marathon Technical Services, Heidelberg, OT, Canada, at the request of the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation, Acworth, GA. His white paper in its entirety is available at] Over the past 10 years approximately 25 to 35 percent of transit and shuttle bus orders have been for CNG, LNG and hydrogen powered vehicles. One of the most significant costs in implementing gaseousfueled vehicles can be the cost to retrofit maintenance garages initially designed for diesel and gasoline vehicles. The extra cost to design and construct fuel-flexible facilities at the outset are relatively small and incremental, and give owners the freedom and flexibility to operate a fleet with varying fuel sources. Many features of a fuel-flexible facility do not repre-

18 May 2012

sent additional cost items; they are simply rather adaptations of existing equipment or systems. Marathon Technical Services offers this brief overview of the special considerations required to make bus garages safe for use with lighter-than-air, gaseous-fueled vehicles. Many of these recommendations also provide additional benefits including improved indoor air quality and enhanced personnel comfort and safety. Conversely, several transit agencies have discovered that retrofitting a facility designed as diesel-only can be extremely expensive. In more than a few cases some determined beforehand a diesel garage retrofit to be cost prohibitive. Some older systems are not acceptable for gaseous fuels, such as a conventional ventilation system. A retrofit may require the complete replacement of the system including all ventilation units and ducting, which would be both costly and disruptive to normal operations. A fuel-flexible garage offers a number of personnel safety and comfort advantages including improved air quality and heating capability.

The prudent approach for the long term for facilities expected to last up to 50 years would be to follow the example set by one large transit agency that operated two functioning CNG garages. Unsure of its future CNG strategy, this agency hedged its bets by designing and constructing its next maintenance facility with fuel-flexible heating, ventilation and electrical systems, while deferring the actual CNG station and indoor fueling component for later construction until they were needed. By keeping its fuel options open the agency paid a small premium up front that would save time and money at a later date. Another client of Marathon Technical Services recently completed a similar fuelflexible design. This agency recently took delivery on an order for hybrid buses while protecting its CNG option from a future cost prohibitive retrofit and operational delays. Marathon Technical Services strongly encourages any design consultant for a transit agency to work with someone with experience with gaseous-bus maintenance facilities to ensure that the plant and equipment are consistent with established precedents.


Design considerations that allow for gaseousfueled buses

Before discussing the recommended building design features for CNG, LPG and GH2 buses, it is important to understand what makes these fuels different from gasoline or diesel. CNG, LPG and hydrogen are lighter than air and quickly rise and disperse on escape. Although lighter-than-air fuels have safety advantages, roofs and ceilings facilities must be designed without any unventilated pockets in the ceiling space that could trap gas. Gasoline and diesel form a pool of liquid with a vapor layer above, and remain flammable or explosive until the leak is manually contained and cleaned up. Natural Gas has a very selective and narrow range of flammability. The mixture of gas in air that will support combustion between 5 and 15 percent natural gas in air by volume. Ratios outside of this range will not support combustion. Flexible fuel garages must be able to quickly and automatically remove the risk using ventilation to dilute then exhaust any leaked gas. CNG and GH2 both have an ignition temperature of around 900 to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Where gasoline is approximately 500 to 800 degrees and diesel is less than


May 2012 19

going green continued 500 degrees, the relatively high ignition temperature for CNG and GH2 is an additional safety feature. To ensure a safe environment in the maintenance garage, the surface temperature of equipment that could contact a gas leak is usually limited to 750 degrees.

Structural considerations

Maintenance garages constructed in the 1970s featured T-shaped or waffleshaped pre-cast concrete roof structures. In either case, this type construction is problematic since it creates pockets where a gas release could collect. Most single story maintenance garages constructed today use a flat roof with open web steel joists in combination with I-beams to support the roof. any accidental gas release can move freely to exhaust fans without pocketing. Gable roof structures are very cost effective and are ideal for gaseous fuel buses. The tendency is for any leak to natu-

20 May 2012

rally channel toward the roof peak where it can be quickly and safely exhausted. An example of this type of structure would be Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) Garage on Perry Boulevard, built for CNG vehicles in 1996. In the case of either the flat roof using open web steel joists or the gable roof structure, the only structural cost to make the structure CNG compatible would be to allow for additional ventilation units depending on the type of heating and ventilating equipment. High ceilings are desirable in any transit garage to assist in ventilation. In gaseous fuel garages, high ceilings provide more space for any escaped gas to rise above potential ignition sources and move unobstructed toward the exhaust fans. While there is no code requirement, Marathon Technical Services recommends the use of rubber roll-up doors equipped with breakaway rails, which are typically more reliable and energy efficient than sectional doors since they open and close more quickly than conventional sec-

tional doors. Roll-up doors also should be equipped to automatically open quickly in the event of a gas leak. Marathon Technical Services recommend deferring any installation of gas detection equipment until gaseous-fueled buses are in fact in service. There is no economy in installing this system ahead of time. It is not acceptable to use any heater with a surface temperature greater than 750 degrees. The use of open-flame or high temperature radiant electric or gas heaters in a gaseous fuel bus garage is prohibited. Marathon Technical Services recommends indirect heating units equipped with heat exchangers to allow heat recapture while providing 100 percent fresh air (no recirculation). The exhaust and intake would be physically separated and in opposite orientation to ensure no exhaust air is reintroduced into the building. This heated makeup air system is required whether the garage is fuel flexible or just diesel. BR


Turtle Top shows what it’s made of An inside look at construction and component testing By David Hubbard

Turtle Top stakes its claim on its buses standing the test of time by sticking to its roots and building products as solid as the company’s foundation. From the standpoint of design, construction and product testing, Turtle Top buses are renowned for their full, primed roll cage and exceptionally strong load-bearing floor. Throughout the process the vehicles and components undergo rigorous and extensive testing to ensure FMVSS compliance and years of continual use.

Inside the Turtle Top construction process Photo 1

Construction of a Turtle Top vehicle begins at the floor starting with G-channel cross members that stretch from wall to wall (photo 1) followed by a full perimeter frame (photo 2). Most of the weight Photo 3

Center aisle stiffeners built of reverse cap steel C-channel (photo 3) prevents the aisle from sagging after years of operation. The seat tracks also mounted on reverse cap steel C-channels have been tested and certified to exceed DOT Standards. The contoured walls add strength, aerodynamic wind advantages


Photo 2

from the construction of the cage ends up on the exterior perimeter frame where the walls meet and seats are installed.

Photo 4

and aesthetics that complement the quality and style. Steel corner window gussets (photo 4) add perimeter sidewall strength and create a solid built frame for the windows that prevents window sags and water leaks. All welds are made with a continuous bead as opposed to spot welding.

May 2012



May 2012


Turtle Top


Before construction begins the frame is painted in primer black.

Turtle Top technicians secure the Advantech速 floor with adhesive and mechanical fasteners, which ensure there will be no squeaks or movement.

All wiring, air conditioning and heating fluids are channeled for easy access and protection from the elements.

The sidewalls and ceilings are insulated by a closed-cell stiff foam that will not sag or allow moisture to penetrate for long-life protection from the weather and sound deadening.

The lower thermal properties and higher tensile strength of the new exterior C-Tec wall makes the body dent and scratch resistance with a lower coefficient of expansion. Turtle Top also says in the event of a needed body shop repair, the serviceability of C-TEC should be less expensive and less time consuming.

Given the growing concern over communicable diseases, Turtle top is a pioneer in clean bus practices that include Nanocide technology. Dimensions vinyl or NPF fabric contain the Nanocide silver particles that kill the likes of super bugs, staph infection and mildew. The process also includes Altro antimicrobial flooring and antimicrobial foam cushions, rails and handles.

One test at a time Turtle Top says its proprietary testing and compliance program ensures product safety and durability. Rather than rely solely on vendor test results, the company works with an independent agency. One test simulates vehicle usage and confirms its vehicles are among the safest in the industry. The goal is to meet and exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). In addition to the required testing in its own research and development facility, independent labs for FMVSS safety testing include the Federal Testing Center and MGA Research Component Body Strength Testing Federal Bus Testing.


May 2012

Here are a few examples of the tests Turtle Top conducts during the design and construction stages and on the finished product prior to shipping. FMVSS 207 requires seating systems to meet standard of safety regulations

Turtle Top undergoes federal bus testing at Altoona

involving strength of the assembly and installation. Turtle Top tests all seating assemblies in the vehicle to ensure normal operating data as compared to a crash. Forces required in these tests vary from 3,000 to 12,000 pounds

Component body strength testing


Seat belt assemblies are tested and mounted to seat in a vehicle body.

Testing OEM seat belt assemblies in a modified cab.

Entrance door cycle testing.

HVAC testing in independent test labs and generally in accordance with SAE specifications verifies passenger comfort from an affective heating and cooling system.

Turtle Top installs three-point safety belt systems that meet FMVSS 208 Occupant Crash Protection standards for occupant protection devices and assemblies. Turtle Top is active with vendors/chassis manufacturers in the required testing for installation with respect to FMVSS 209-210 Seat Belt Assemblies. FMVSS 105 requires vehicle brake systems to adequately support the weight and center of gravity of the vehicle. Turtle Top conducts tests for this at Bosch Proving Grounds and Progressive Engineering. Additional weight and CG calculations are done on each vehicle before Braking center of gravity testing. shipment. Other FMVSS testing addresses the flammability of interior materials (FMVSS 305); lamps and reflective devices (FMVSS 108); and emergency exit and window retention (FMVSS 217).


Cycle tests conducted to improve design and installation prove the durability of a product through rigorous repetitive motion. Advantech cycle tests also serve to hold vendors accountable prior to the release of a product.

Heater testing to -10 degrees in cold chamber.

Turtle Top conducts continuous water testing during design and prior to shipping in a booth designed for testing at a steady 200 gallons per minute. For every bus that rolls off the line Turtle Top offers Greenshield Protection, a robust comprehensive warranty plan that the company says stands as its pledge to safety and customer satisfaction.

May 2012


update Kanawha Valley Regional BRief The Transit Authority in Charleston, WV and the Tri-State Transit Authority in Huntington have secured state funds to keep the metro bus route between both cities going.

COTA ridership: Biggest increase among large bus transit agencies

Capital District TransporBRief The tation Authority in Albany, NY

is looking to slash 50 jobs and reduce routes due to budget woes. Bay TransBRief Massachusetts portation Authority unveiled a

plan that would raise commuter rail fares an average of 29 percent, depending on travel zone, while bus and subway fares would rise an average percent with some service reductions. released an update in BRief Google March for its Google Maps for

Android app that offers new public transportation options, such as the bus or subway. over $30 million with BRief Being its current budget and facing

projected deficits of $53.2 million over the next two years, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency laid off a dozen executive staffers in March.

BRief Roadeo is scheduled for May The 2012 International Bus

4-8 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center in Long Beach, CA.

In 2011, COTA provided 18.7 million passenger trips, the agency’s highest ridership since 1999.

Ridership increases on Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) buses led the nation in 2011 according to figures released in March by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). COTA’s ridership grew nearly 10.2 percent over 2010, the highest percentage increase among large bus agencies in the U.S. “This is a significant achievement,” said COTA President/CEO W. Curtis Stitt. “COTA has been focused on growing our service and improving the quality of our product. The community has responded by getting aboard.” In 2011 COTA provided 18.7 million passenger trips, COTA’s highest ridership since 1999. Nationally, transit ridership grew to 10.4 billion trips, an increase of 2.3 percent. 2011 saw the second highest annual ridership on public transit nationally since 1957. COTA posted strong ridership growth in each quarter throughout 2011 and, as gas prices increase, ridership is up in the first two months of 2012. COTA’s January 2012 ridership was up 6.1 percent over January 2011.

MARTA awards contract for Vehicle Security Camera System Apollo Video Technology will outfit MARTA’s entire fleet of revenue vehicles. In March the agency’s board of directors approved the award of a contract to Apollo Video Technology to install security cameras on the entire MARTA revenue fleet, including all bus, Mobility and rail vehicles. The Vehicle Security Camera System (VSCS) is designed

to enhance safety and security for customers and employees throughout the transit system. These cameras will assist in deterring criminal activity and will serve as an invaluable investigative tool for the MARTA Police Department (MPD). The new cameras will be strategically placed throughout vehicles, and the equipment will be standardized across all fleets. These capabilities will assist MARTA Police and authorities with identifying perpetrators and investigating incidents.

Iowa’s CyRide, INIT partner for MOBILE-PLAN CyRide, the city transit system for Ames, IA has partnered with INIT to implement a scheduling, block building and runcutting system, as well as a bid dispatch system for their agency’s scheduling, staff and fleet operational needs. The new scheduling software, MOBILE-PLAN, will streamline operations and consolidate time-intensive tasks which were previously manually performed by Ames administrative staff. The

26 May 2012

software is a modular system that completely integrates with other INIT products to ensure data consistency between scheduling, CAD/AVL and fare collection systems. CyRide is a partnership between the ISU Government of the Student Body, Iowa State University administration, and the City of Ames, IA, and provides public transportation to the community in the city of Ames.



May 2012


In the past paratransit services utilized large vans and minibuses, but currently more agencies are turning to smaller vehicles such as taxicabs, sedans and minivans.

Emerging trends in paratransit pose new challenges Five key points ease the struggle with increasing demand, rising costs and declining revenues I recently attended the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Legislative Seminar in Washington, D.C. During the APTA Access Committee meeting I had the opportunity to participate in a very thought-provoking discussion on the challenges facing paratransit and how the transit industry will need to respond to ensure paratransit continues to be available. Specifically, a U.S. Department of Transportation proposed rule would change the requirements to serve By Ron Brooks customers with non-standard mobility devices and passengers needing additional assistance to use paratransit. Our discussion primarily focused on how the industry will need to respond to the realities of an aging population, everincreasing demand for paratransit and the increasing cost for the service — all of which is forcing the transit industry to rethink its entire approach for delivering paratransit service. Five trends have recently surfaced that are having an impact on the efficient and effective delivery of paratransit service. These


May 2012

trends will likely continue and sharpen as we struggle with the clashing trends of increasing demand, rising costs and declining revenues.

Stricter eligibility standards Whether an agency delivers paratransit service in a sedan, van, dedicated vehicle or taxi, it is more costly than general bus or rail service. This fact, coupled with the increasing level of accessibility within most transit systems, means most seniors and people with disabilities can expect to use conventional transit services whenever possible. In the past people with disabilities could apply for and receive paratransit services based on a paper application. Today most paratransit systems are requiring some form of written application with an in-person assessment if the paper form is inconclusive. In addition, many transit agencies are beginning to offer training to seniors and people with disabilities on how to use conventional bus and rail systems effectively.

Smaller vehicles In the past paratransit services utilized large vans and minibuses, but currently more agencies are turning to smaller vehicles such


as taxicabs, sedans and minivans, while using larger vans and minibuses only as trip demand for specific locations warrants. Evidence of this trend is the increasing emphasis on taxicabs and the launch of the MV-1—a smaller accessible vehicle designed to operate in either taxi or paratransit fleets.

Increased use of technologies Not surprisingly technology is playing an even greater role in the delivery of paratransit. Larger transit systems are beginning to implement online trip reservations, IVR systems to notify riders of scheduled pick-up times and vehicle locations, smart card technology for payment of fares and a range of new software products for scheduling, dispatching and monitoring service. These tools are not solely about customer service, nor are they only available for larger systems. Rather, they are robust enough to improve system productivity, reduce travel times, reduce the number of staff required to deliver the same amount of service, and bottom line: decrease the cost of service.

Service cost increases The challenging economy is already causing transit agencies to increase their focus on the cost of service. With the increasing demand for paratransit services primarily coming from the aging population, the cost effectiveness grows ever more important. The result of this emphasis on cost is that publicly operated systems are exploring the potential of privatizing service, while privately operated systems are seeking contractors who can do


more for less. This is not necessarily a race to the bottom. In fact the downward price pressure is actually creating an environment in which agencies and firms are being more innovative with their approach to delivering service. This is a very positive development as more agencies and firms are willing to deploy alternative service models and technology firms to reduce cost.

Increased focus on integration The pressure to manage paratransit cost and improve the level of accessibility within conventional bus and rail services is prompting transit agencies to use paratransit services to feed riders into rail and bus networks. This trend will allow both systems to serve more people, which will lead to further service improvements for seniors, people with disabilities and perhaps other riders who need or want public transportation to complete the first or last miles of their trips. While I believe these trends are posing significant challenges to our current approaches for operating paratransit service, I believe the net impacts of better integration with conventional fixed-route service, more technology, smaller vehicles, and more stringent eligibility requirements will be positive. I’m looking forward to the shape this new insight within the paratransit industry takes in the near future. BR Ron Brooks serves as Vice President, Paratransit & IntelliRide Development, Veolia Transportation, Lombard, IL.

May 2012


the transit authority

Mid-size transit agencies share and compare Imperial College facilitates the American Bus Benchmarking Group By Bill Carpenter Now firmly established after one year, the American Bus Benchmarking Group (ABBG) is a first-of-its-kind consortium of mid-size transit agencies with international representation. The premise is to provide its members a confidential member forum to exchange ideas, compare performance, share information and experiences to identify and implement best practices in their respective organizations. Launched in May 2011 at Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA), Rochester, NY, the consortium currently represents 12 mid-sized transit agencies. ABBG provides an outstanding opportunity for like-sized member organizations to compare best practices and gain valuable information from one another. ABBG members benefit from learning from one another as well as from Imperial College, which shares its depth of experience from facilitating the world’s largest benchmark transit groups that include CoMET, NOVA and IBBG. ABBG is firmly rooted in the time-tested benchmarking principles of the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College Centre for Transport Studies, London, UK, which administers and facilitates this new organization. The methods and infrastructure Imperial College has developed in its years of experience managing CoMET, NOVA and IBBG provide a proven formula for success that will ensure positive outcomes for members of the newly formed benchmarking group. This is a tremendous learning opportunity for member agencies to share and compare with peers in the industry. Imperial College defines benchmarking as a systematic process of continuously measuring, comparing and understanding the processes and performance against comparable peers to gain information that will help the participating organizations to improve. Using a concise, well-balanced key performance indicator system (KPI), ABBG members are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses and understand the reasons for particular performance levels and trends. The group says its benchmarking process takes in consideration the financial and labor resources available to participating mid-sized agencies. ABBG reconvened in February in Fort Worth, TX to review its KPIs created to begin the benchmarking process. The group will meet again in September, and then convene on an annual basis.


May 2012

The 12-member agencies in ABBG include Utah Transit Authority (UTA).

ABBG member agencies currently include: • Capital District Transportation Authority CDTA), Albany, NY • Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin, TX • Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area (CTRAN), Vancouver, WA • Greater Dayton Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Dayton, OH • Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART), Des Moines, IA • Lane Transit District (LTD), Eugene, OR • The T Fort Worth Transportation Authority, Ft. Worth, TX • Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL • Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Providence, RI • Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA), Rochester, NY • San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD), Stockton, CA • Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake City, UT For more information on ABBG, including membership, please contact Bill Carpenter, RGRTA, Rochester, NY, or the RTSC at Imperial College London, BR Bill Carpenter, president and CEO, Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority, serves as president, American Bus Benchmarking Group (ABBG).


BVT American showcases Branson

tours & travel

Motorcoach tours on the upswing By Glenn Swain

Branson, MO has become one of the largest entertainment cites in the U.S. with more than eight million people a year traveling to the city to see more than 100 ongoing entertainment shows. In 2011 Branson was one of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Great Places for Families to Discover in the U.S. Motorcoach charter company BVT America specializes in Branson tours. “We are a fully escorted tour and sell pre-packaged tours through a distribution network of just under 1,000 travel agents,” says BVT America President Rob Jones. Sandy Curtis has been BVT America’s lead tour guide for 112 BVT America tours of Branson, Charleston/Savannah, SC and Pigeon “Our motto is we do everything except kiss Forge and Nashville, TN. She works with her husband, Geoff, who is a driver for Sunset Tours. them on the ear and tuck them in bed at they had 30 people joining them.” business could be reversed. night. We currently pick folks up in Kansas Jones uses Raytown, MO-based Sunset “The wild card is air prices,” Jones City, which is four hours away, Springfield, Tours for all of his motorcoach rentals. says. “If they start up that could impact which is an hour away and we pick up at Although Jones books tours to Tennessee, business.” the new Branson airport. The people who Colorado, South Carolina and elsewhere, Jones says BVT had a strong year in come to Kansas City typically come from the majority of business comes from people 2008, but in 2009 sales dipped. long distances, where Springfield and flying in to visit the Branson’s various “We bottomed out in 2010,” he says. Branson can sometimes be harder to entertainment venues. “At that time we were down almost 40 get into because of the limited number of The key to steady business, Jones says, percent. We always have a pretty good feel flights.” is recruiting good travel agents and having a for what’s going on if we go to a Branson Jones says because of word-of-mouth good relationship with travel professionals. theater. The Shoji Tabuchi Show is always referrals, he does a great deal of business “What people have come to expect from sold out, and when the theater is sitting with people living in Hawaii. us is a deluxe package tour,” he says. there at 60 percent capacity, you know it’s “Our company has a great reputation Like many motorcoach tour company the industry as a whole. In 2010 we saw a in Hawaii,” Jones says. “Not long ago we owners, Jones is watching the upsurge in lot of the same thing.” had two sisters scheduled for a tour. They gas prices with great interest. He is hoping Jones says his tours saw a rebound in happened to mention the Branson trip to gas prices stabilize and fall, knowing numbers in 2011, and he expects an even others at their church, and all of a sudden that the recent uptick in motorcoach tour better year this year.


May 2012 31

Small Bus Showcase

Mauck2 opens new horizons for Sprinter conversions DATTCO leads nationwide sales as national distributor Mauck2, Columbus, OH, is the manufacturer of the innovative Mauck2, a stylish and sophisticated multi-purpose commercial transportation vehicle built on the Mercedes-Benz Freightliner Sprinter chassis. Fitted to the 70-inch-wide 3500-series Sprinter cab-chassis, the vehicle is technically a cut-away with an additional 10 inches of interior width with greater window views and more dramatic styling than the standard Sprinter. The body is slightly more than 16 feet, with 85 inches of rear overhang. The custom windows with vented lower sections and multitude of interior options allow the Mauck2 to serve various applications such as a luxury limo, sports and tailgate vehicle, shuttle, small tour bus or conversion shell. Mauck2 LLC, Columbus, OH, named DATTCO, Inc., New Britain, CT, as its exclusive national distributor for the Mauck2. The diverse 85-year bus transportation company will select dealers and service professionals from across the country to sell and service the Mauck2, which is currently in use by private companies, municipalities, and individuals nationwide. The DATTCO sales team has shown the Mauck2 across New

England and is rolling out national demonstrations through the company’s associate dealer network and select trade shows. The Mauck2 frame structure constructed of steel tubes also supports the standard composite flooring. The body panels are of gel-coated fiberglass bonded to the frame with optional wall and ceiling insulation treatments available. As the Sprinter GVWR is 11,000 pounds with a 4,700-pound chassis, more than 4,000 pounds are available for interior appointments and payload. Rocker compartments, automatic entry step and automated rear hatch are options, as well as auxiliary air conditioning and wheel/suspension upgrades. Mauck2 builds each vehicle on order. Mauck2 delivered its first guest transport vehicle to the Hyatt Place Grandview Yard, Columbus, OH. The company plans to market this new shuttle version to the hospitality corporate and tour segments of the small bus market. The Mauck2 is also available from Creative Mobile Interiors with a small motor home interior to provide more personally customized transportation.

The versatile Mauck2, a stylish and sophisticated multi-purpose commercial transportation vehicle, evolves from the Mercedes-Benz-Freightliner Sprinter chassis.


May 2012


Small Bus Showcase

Balance-Plus electrifies shuttle bus market The fuel-efficient hybrid from Azure Dynamics comes with plug-in option Azure Dynamics Corporation, Detroit, MI, a producer of hybrid electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles, developed its Balance™ Hybrid Electric drive system for Ford E450 as the Balance-Plus. It features a commercial stripped or cutaway chassis with a modified drivetrain and modified electronic controls system. The Balance™ Hybrid Electric drive system manages the conventional 5.4-litre Triton gasoline engine and the five-speed automatic TorqShift transmission, which Azure Dynamics says produces a cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicle for business needs. The hybrid features electric-launch assist, engine-off at idle and regenerative braking which combine to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The traction motor propels the vehicle in parallel with the conventional engine and automatic transmission, assisting acceleration and capturing energy during regenerative braking. Energy is stored in the energy storage system (ESS) that features liquid cooled high voltage Li-Ion battery pack and the internal sensors and a controller.

Speed and torque outputs depend on accelerator input as well as vehicle operating conditions. When the vehicle comes to a stop the engine will typically shut off to save fuel while maintaining the power assist function, A/C compressor, interior heat and 12-volt charging systems. The drive system also features an integrated starter generator (ISG) mounted to the front of the engine that provides quick engine re-starts when the vehicle accelerates from a stop. It also generates power to charge the ESS and operates the front engine Accessory Drive (FEAD) when de-clutched from the engine. Azure Dynamcis says it is not necessary to plug the selfcontained high voltage system into an external power source to recharge. However, the Balance hybrid architecture can charge from the electrical grid through a charging port capable of 120-volt (level 1) or 208/240 (level 2) AC charging. Azure Dynamics says it is strategically targeting the commercial delivery vehicle and shuttle bus markets to provide its customers and partners with innovative, cost efficient and environmentally friendly energy management vehicles.

Azure Dynamics is targeting the commercial delivery vehicle and shuttle bus markets with its cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly Balance-Plus hybrid vehicle.

34 May 2012


letter from europe By Doug Jack

An overview of alternative fuels in Europe

An articulated biogas bus built by MAN for the Swedish market.

As I visit manufacturers the subject of alternative fuels and drive systems is always on the agenda. Heavy taxes on diesel in Europe make the fuel considerably higher priced than in North America. Still, operators acutely aware of fuel economy generally prefer to stay with diesel because of its ready availability. With stark warnings from green lobbies about fossil fuels running out, it is simply not acceptable to say that fuel will not run out in one’s own generation, a problem for

future generations. This is why manufacturers are trying to think ahead. They do not want to wake up one day and find their investments in diesel engines rendered obsolete by electric motors. Currently, diesel engines in the European Union must have emission limits that comply with the Euro 5 standard. Euro 6 goes into effect January 2014, which is broadly similar to EPA 2010. Several manufacturers have announced Euro 6 engines already.

The only LNG bus in Europe shows the fuel tank above the transverse Cummins engine.

36 May 2012

Hybrid sales low Sales of hybrid buses in Europe are still relatively low, but with the higher price of diesel in Europe, the payback period for hybrid buses is becoming more realistic. Normally government funding makes up the difference between a standard diesel vehicle and the hybrid unit. Volvo has sold its in-house ISAM hybrid system in more than a dozen European countries. However, the leader, in volume terms, is Alexander Dennis with BAE Systems, almost wholly in the United Kingdom, but with some units soon to enter service in Spain. With Allison, Eaton, Siemens and Vossloh Kiepe also offering hybrid systems there is plenty of competition in the European market. BAE Systems also is working on stop-start technology. Buses fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) have been around in Europe for many years. At one time they held a very significant advantage over diesel buses because of their lower emissions.


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letter from europe continued

CNG buses popular That gap has almost closed but CNG buses remain popular in some countries, usually for political reasons. There are drawbacks, not least the weight of the gas tanks on the roof of the vehicle. They increase its unladed weight, and therefore can restrict the total number of passengers. On the other hand while enforcement authorities in some coun-

tries frequently check coaches and their gross weight, they have probably never taken a loaded city bus to the nearest weighbridge. Although the consumption of gas is about 1.6 times that of diesel per mile, its normal tax rate is much lower. Sometimes, the gas utilities will pay for the installation of refuelling facilities at a depot, recovering that cost in the price of the gas supplied. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) buses are less common in Europe, mainly

because LPG is a bi-product of refinery processes. MAN was the last European manufacturer to offer an LPG engine large enough to power a bus, but ceased production due to the cost to build.

LNG a no go Solbus, a small Polish manufacturer, showed a full-floor city bus powered by liquefied natural gas at Hanover in 2008. The gas tank was little larger than the fuel tanks on a diesel bus, and sat neatly above the Cummins ISLG engine at the rear of the vehicle. It did not catch on probably because the only LNG refuelling facility in Poland was at the Solbus factory.

Biogas a win-win Demand is on the rise for buses that run on biogas, principally from Sweden and Norway. The Swedes describe it as a “win-win� fuel because they can produce it from renewable resources such as sewage, slaughterhouse waste and surplus food and more easily dispose of the residue from the process. For more than 20 years Scania in Sweden has developed engines that can run on ethanol, another fuel produced from renewable resources such as sugar cane, beets, sellulose and other feedstocks. Sweden produces from the unwanted sap in trees felled by the forestry industry. Ethanol fuel tanks are half again as large


May 2012


An 80-foot bi-articulated Hess trolleybus in Zurich.

as diesel tanks to provide the same range. Ethanol requires an additive to improve ignition, as well as special lubricants because engines run hotter. Napier University in Edinburgh has developed butanol made from two bi-products of the distillation of whis-


key. It blends with petrol, diesel or ethanol. Although not yet in volume production, the raw materials are readily available.

Hydrogen progresses Prototype liquid hydrogen buses by

MAN entered service at Munich Airport and a small fleet later when on trial in Berlin, but stopped any further development in 2009 after difficulties modifying a supercharged 12-litre engine to produce sufficient power and torque, and problems

May 2012


letter from europe continued

with backfiring and an overheating exhaust manifold. The technology for fuel cell hybrid buses is making steady progress. Mercedes-Benz has developed the third generation now on extended trial in Hamburg. Others are in service in Switzerland and Italy. With fuel cell stacks becoming more efficient, the number of hydrogen storage tanks has dropped from the previous nine to seven on the latest generation. The price of fuel cells has probably fallen by half in the last two years, and there are confident predictions of a similar fall over the next two years. Even so, there is a long way to go before they can become commercially viable.

All-electric buses still popular All-electric trolleybuses have operated in Europe for years and have recently enjoyed a revival in Italy. These modern, conventionally styled buses draw current from overhead wires. In Switzerland, the electricity from hydropower makes the trolleys truly zeroemission vehicles. Most models have a small diesel engine to power the generators so they can run off-wire off their normal route and circulate within depots. In the Swiss city of Zurich trams and trolleybuses tend to operate almost all services. In its last order for bi-articulated vehicles with Hess, VBZ, the Zurich operator, specified super capacitors instead of diesel generators. These have sufficient energy to power the vehicle for up to one mile off wire. Until now the only vehicles powered solely by batteries have been small buses. The problem has always been the limited range of the batteries. New techniques allow vehicles a fast charge at each end of their route. Usually a charging station built into the surface of the road activates only when the bus parks above it. As these technologies become more refined it may well be possible to build larger battery-powered buses with sufficient range for a full day’s service. The IAA in September in Hanover, Germany is the next major commercial vehicle exhibition in Europe. The latest examples of at least some of these technologies are bound to be on display. BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.

40 May 2012


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BUSRide May 2012  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry. May cover story: What Turtle Top is made of.

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