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APRIL | 2015



boosts rural Ventura County p 22

Low-floor buses ease access p15 The pre-trip inspection p17 Preventing slips and falls p19


Heavy-duty reliability Happy operators

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Heavy-duty power trains

Exceptional fuel economy

Incredible comfort

Outstanding stability

Unmatched maneuverability Excellent stopping power

Unmatched 24/7 factory support

| Extensive parts availability | Nationwide service network | Exceptional warranties


LET’S START BY GIVING YOU ALL OF THEM. Compromising on your needs is never a good place to start. So we don’t make you. Product quality, numerous options, and uncompromising factory and service support. You get everything you need from your chassis and your manufacturer. That’s the peace of mind that comes with owning a Freightliner. | Find out more at


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All rights reserved.Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company.

BUSRide turns 50

Maintenance veteran Edmond Bennett recalls three decades in the shop As BUSRide celebrates its first 50 years, maintenance veteran Edmond Bennett retraces his steps over his own 30 years and discusses the changes that show how far the bus and coach industry has come. Bennett serves as maintenance manager with Transdev transit management for the City of Phoenix and Valley Metro at the agency’s north facility. I began my maintenance career in the early 1980s, 18 years old and fresh out of UTI. I took my first job with Continental Trailways and never looked back. When Greyhound moved its headquarters to Phoenix, AZ, buying out the Trailways operations and closing the garage, I moved to the Los Angeles area and went to work for Hausman Bus in LA County. We sold bus parts and refurbished a lot of old Greyhound buses, many of which we shipped overseas (mainly to Guam). From Hausman’s, I went to Orange County Transit District where I connected with Veolia Transportation, now Transdev, and eventually moved back to Phoenix to work the maintenance contract for the City of Phoenix transit buses. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to quality control manager before accepting my current position as maintenance manager five years ago. During my time in bus maintenance, I have seen plenty of changes. In the early days with the power supply predominately from Detroit Diesel, engines were totally a mechanical function. A maintenance inspection consisted of physically checking the working parts and mechanisms. Maintenance was, to a large degree, a matter of hit or miss. We would just keeping throwing parts at the problem. If not this, then that, until something worked. Trial and error. No one was particularly aware of the costs of such over usage of parts and labor. Then came computers. At the time, most maintenance people knew everything about the bus. The older ones were dinosaurs when it came to the new technology and electronic diagnostics. What I saw were young technicians grown up in the computer age doing most of the diagnostics because they were computer-savvy. It seemed like essential information passed up the chain from them instead of down.

Today, when I do hiring, I find that the person with a strong background and training in electrical issues will generally make the best technician. Computers and multiplex sensors cover every system and they are all communicating through the computer ladder logic. As for intercity transit, the biggest change I have seen over the last 10 years has been the move to low-floor buses. They have essentially eliminated the traditional wheelchair lift which, any way you look at it, has always been a safety issue. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has changed everything. When I started in the industry, there were no such requirements to make life easier for these passengers. It has taken some time for ADA to affect public transportation. From a maintenance standpoint, the low floor changed the approach to road service. For the most part, rather than going out to make a roadside repair, maintenance is a matter of swapping out the bus or sending a tow truck. It is nearly impossible to fix a problem underneath the bus from the roadside. It is not as if a new bus with all new features comes out every other year. In my time in the industry, with the federal regulations determining the life cycle of the bus, I have been through several new bus builds. We have a total fleet of 331 buses of which we maintain 131. 60 buses are new as of 2014. We have come from diesel-only to LNG to CNG. As fuel delivery has evolved, maintenance training races to keep up with the changes. It will never end, as new systems develop and older ones are refined. Every system requires its own preventative maintenance troubleshooting. | BUSRIDE




COVER STORY Valley Express: Transit in rural Ventura County enters a new age 22 Executive director of VCTC showcases the first fixed-route transit bus service in its area By Darren Kettle

FEATURES BUSRide turns 50


Maintenance veteran Edmond Bennett recalls three decades in the shop

Concentric mounting is worth a thought


The way a tire is mounted can affect both tire wear and ride disturbance By Kevin Rohlwing

SunLine goes LoNo


Roll the buses; lights, camera, action!


The California transit system received $9.8 million from the FTA for zero-emission buses



The Motorcoach Marketing Council offers tips on photography to help operators capture more bookings




11 TransIT


By Mary Sue O’Melia


By Ken Becker


By Prevost Prep


By Todd Carrier


By Lori Jetha


By Doug Jack


Mike, for over 10 years your software has been a key component to our successfully growing operations. I can’t say enough about your people and the product you have fine-tuned over the years. I’m looking


forward to where you take us in the next 10 years with the new busHive brand!

Eric Faust, Owner, Philly Trans, Philadelphia, PA

EasyBus is now


where all your operations come together In 1997 Easybus™ began as a program with three screens that a mechanic with no computer experience could navigate. Both the company and the product were branded to convey this simplicity. Little did we dream that this simple system would blossom into a sophisticated software platform for tracking virtually all aspects of transportation for both school bus and motorcoach operations. In fact, our training today rarely is limited to just one mechanic as it was in 1997; since the software touches nearly all aspects of a transportation department, we provide a 30 day trial to allow the entire staff to put our platform to the test. We are proud of the reputation that not only our software but also our people have earned in these last 18 years, but we believe it is time to update the brand so that it captures the scaled elegance that we offer bus operators of all kinds in 2015. In this spirit, effective July 1, 2015 we are renaming our company and our single flagship software that replaces all former Easy-programs to busHive™. We believe this name conveys the elegance of a single software platform that can effectively organize the workflows of an entire transportation operation. To learn more, visit our website at 518.877.2500

Michael Hinckley President and CEO


One smooth operator remembered Paul Hughes was the smoothest operator on the road, at least according to what Ralph Moore told me some years back. He called to let me in on the secrets to the Paul Hughes method of graceful coach driving, where coach drivers should regard their profession as an art. As a disciple, Moore was just out with his down-to-earth, self-published booklet of critical lessons learned from his mentor, “Valuable driving tips for motorcoach operators and all common carriers.” Hughes drove for Greyhound before trying his hand at country music. Even after several hit songs and regular performances with the Grand Ole Opry, he was back driving for the Highway Post Office — a common sight in the ‘50s and ‘60s as the Railway Mail Service declined. Moore says the drivers aimed for the smoothest ride possible to allow postal workers to stand and sort mail the entire trip. As he bored from the run, gospel group the LeFevres called Hughes to say that out 16 drivers, none could handle a motorcoach to suit them. Mae LeFevre told Hughes it was easier to find a singer or musician than a good, qualified coach operator. Opting to try out as driver number 17, somewhere within the first mile Hughes got the job. Moore met Hughes three years later when he was hired on as the second driver. “I would sleep while Paul was at the wheel and wake up when I felt the bus pull into a truck stop,” Moore says. “One morning, I jumped up, got dressed and was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I looked out the window to see us passing trucks on the Florida Turnpike.” Hughes coached Moore to “operate a coach from the back seat,” walking the aisle of the moving coach to feel the corrections to make at the wheel — back in the day of manual transmissions and constant gear shifting. Moore came out of retirement in the 1980s because he couldn’t resist the modern coaches with all their conveniences. His experiences at this time also inspired his book. He contends that riding today’s “modern and magnificent” motorcoaches, no passenger should ever endure a rough ride. To read he rest of Moore’s story and peek into the Paul Hughes method of smooth operating visit CEO Judi Victor Publisher Steve Kane Associate Publisher David Hubbard Editor in Chief Richard Tackett Art Director Stephen Gamble Account Executive Jeanette Long Accountant Fred Valdez

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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 Judi Victor at (602) 265-7600, ext. 125. ©2015 Power Trade Media




Patricia Ziska (center left) presented the 2015 Green Highway Award to Bryan O’Connell (center right) of Compass Transportation. UMA Chairman Brian Annett (left) and a costumed “southern belle” look on.

Compass Transportation honored with 2015 Green Highway Award from UMA and MCI Recognized for its environmental stewardship, Compass Transportation, San Jose, CA, received the 2015 Green Highway Award from the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) and Motor Coach Industries (MCI). Patricia Ziska, MCI vice president of new coach sales, presented the award to Bryan O’Connell, senior vice president of the bus division of Transdev on Demand, parent of Compass, at a Jan. 20 banquet during UMA EXPO, the industry trade show in New Orleans. Voted on by industry peers, the award honors Compass for its 30-year history of easing congestion in Northern California and its parent’s standing as the first private transportation company to

join the California Climate Action Registry. Today, with 168 coaches, Compass is highly committed to practicing the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The company annually collects statistics for vehicle usage; vehicle efficiency; consumption of fuel, electricity and water; and the amount of solid waste generated, quantifying its emissions and carbon footprint at each location. It also has a workforce culture that uses a “green filter” in its daily practices and a no-idling policy. Compass also works closely with corporate customers to integrate varied train and transit mode schedules to reduce passenger wait times on its corporate commuter express services. It communicates the environmental benefits of motorcoach transportation, using exterior decals that declare how many miles its coaches save by being green. “All of us in the industry are part of the solution to cleaner air every time a coach departs for its destination full of passengers,” O’Connell said when accepting the award. “Every car that is parked instead of driven is a small victory for our planet. Compass is honored to receive this award, and we pledge a continued commitment to improving the environment.”

Lightning Hybrids secures substantial order from Kiessling Transit for hydraulic hybrid systems Lightning Hybrids, developer and manufacturer of hydraulic hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty buses and trucks, announced an agreement with Kiessling Transit, Norfolk, MA, to supply 35 hydraulic hybrid systems. The sale marks Lightning Hybrids’ largest order to date. The company’s system demonstrated improvements of 30 percent in fuel efficiency and significantly

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reduced NOx emissions during a year-long pilot program with the Massachusetts-based transportation company. Kiessling Transit’s vehicles, featuring new 2015 and 2016 model year Ford E450 chassis and Elkhart Coach bodies, will have the Lightning Hybrids patented parallel hybrid system installed prior to delivery this summer. The technology, which has no electric batteries, applies a hydraulic system to the driveline of a vehicle to regenerate braking energy. Hydraulic pumps and a lightweight accumulator store braking energy and use the stored energy to power the wheels. The application of this technology will result in improved emissions, less fuel use, longer brake life, better low-end torque, and lower maintenance and operational costs. When put in service, Lightning Hybrids says the buses will provide an immediate positive impact on the environment due to the reduced emissions of the system. In addition, the company says the Kiessling fleet will see decreased fuel use, longer brake life, better low-end torque, and lower maintenance and operational costs.

LMS works with smartphones and tablets as well as PCs and Macs, allowing technicians to access modules at their work stations.

MCI introduces LMS web-based learning, ramps up 2015 training schedule Motor Coach Industries has increased access to its awardwinning training for 2015, debuting its new Learning Management System (LMS), a comprehensive, web-based training program for technicians. MCI will also give technicians hands-on time through its Tech Tune-Ups, and it will roll out several new MCI LEARN webinars. Offering online, anytime training, LMS has been in pilot operation with several customers, and MCI is now offering the program to all MCI and Setra operators who request it. Made up of more than 150 modules, with more being added, LMS allows customers to customize their own training — and conduct it in the familiar environment of their own shop. In addition, it includes a sophisticated tracking component, allowing managers or owners to set goals, monitor technician progress and run reports. Technicians earn credits and certificates for successfully completing modules. The MCI LMS is currently offered free of charge to customers. “Operators have asked us for a way to bring more training directly to their technicians” said Patrick Scully, MCI executive vice president. “The LMS program offers the kind of convenience, instruction and measurement guaranteed to raise a technician’s skill, aptitude and knowledge. By this move, MCI has responded to a genuine marketplace need.” LMS works with smartphones and tablets as well as PCs and Macs, allowing technicians to access the modules at their work stations. More than 100 modules have been uploaded to the system, covering most MCI and Setra systems, and new modules are being added at a rapid pace. To register for LMS training, email 8


Ventura County’s “Valley Express” launches The Heritage Valley’s new local transit system kicked off its new service on March 2 by offering free rides all day. All fixed-route rides on the locally based Valley Express bus service were free on Monday, March 2. The new fixed-route service and supporting Dial-A-Ride service comprise the Heritage Valley’s own local transit program, replacing the long-time VISTA Dial-A-Ride service sponsored by VCTC. The service name was selected from the more than 30 entries submitted as part of a Name the Bus contest open to residents of Fillmore, Piru and Santa Paula, CA. The winning entry was submitted by Sara M., a student at Santa Paula High School.

AC Transit deploys double-decker bus AC Transit, Oakland, CA, unveiled a 42-foot, double-decker bus in regular daily service in late February as part of a three-week pilot program. The 80-seat coach, offering its riders comfy excursions with spectacular views – particularly to and from San Francisco – made its first cruise on the Line U, from Fremont to Stanford University, before being deployed on other daily routes. It was the first public look at the sleek, high-capacity vehicle as it began its trial trek, crisscrossing the Bay and along city streets. The idea is for AC Transit to gauge customer reaction, assess how well the bus functions and ultimately determine whether the bus will be permanently added to its fleet. “We have been operating Transbay service for more than 50 years, and we want to look at what is the best vehicle that best fits us now, given our current needs,” said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo. “We’ve tried a lot of different kinds of coaches. But, until now, we haven’t tried this one.” The bus offers panoramic views, foot rests, soft reclining seats on its upper deck and an upgraded surveillance system to assist the driver. There were free fares for all who boarded during its threeweek odyssey. There were also ambassadors aboard each run, answering questions, ensuring passenger safety and distributing written surveys for riders’ feedback.

Valley Metro introduces trip planning app Valley Metro’s new mobile app is designed to get riders where they want to go easily and efficiently. By launching the free app, which pulls real-time schedule data, riders can plan a trip and get up-tothe-minute arrival times on bus or light rail. Riders can view available public transit options based on current location, plan a future trip and bookmark their favorite routes. Ridekick™ by Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ, features include: • An interactive map that displays bus, rail stops and park-andride locations • GPS and filters to find the best public transit options based on rider needs and current location • List of fare and fare retailers • Ability to bookmark favorite routes and email your itinerary Valley Metro and its ad agency partnered with Portlandbased GlobeSherpa to design, build, test and deploy the Ridekick™ application.


A pedestrian safety event at Proctor Judicial Park included representatives from the RTC, NDOT and multiple community partners.

RTC, NDOT and partners announce community safety efforts totaling more than $90 million Local jurisdictions, law enforcement, safety advocates, the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) last month announced community safety efforts totaling more than $90 million. In a collaborative effort, the community partners launched a focused campaign today to raise awareness for pedestrian safety in the wake of an alarming rate of pedestrian fatalities in the first two months of 2015. In a show of solidarity, the event at Proctor Judicial Park included representatives from the Clark County Commission, Nevada Department of Transportation, cities of Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada Highway Patrol, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Clark County School District Police Department, the UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project and the RTC. Representatives detailed their efforts to make Clark County streets safer for pedestrians, including initiatives addressing roadway design and engineering, public education and law enforcement. NDOT Director Rudy Malfabon said that the state of Nevada recently announced that it will designate approximately $7 million in state highway funds for pedestrian safety improvements in Clark County. The funds are over and above the approximately $21 million in federal funds which NDOT dedicates each year to traffic safety projects and programs. “This funding will support pedestrian activated traffic signals and specific roadway redesign to improve pedestrian safety,” he said. Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen also issued a “Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets” which includes year-long efforts for pedestrians and bicyclists. The challenge originated from U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s call for nation-wide improvements.

Motor Coach Tire Sales and UMA offer exclusive member program Motor Coach Tires Sales, Columbus, GA, is a relatively new and innovative company with the goal to change the way motorcoach operators purchase tires. Through its partnership with Toyo Tires, the company says it can offer a quality product, aggressive pricing and quick, direct delivery. As of November 2014, Motor Coach Tire Sales LLC and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA),

Alexandria, VA, have been partnering to offer UMA members an exclusive discounted pricing on the Toyo M144 coach tire designed specifically for the motorcoach industry. The Toyo M144 coach tire carry a higher load rating than industry standard and other proprietary features to ensure long wear and a smooth ride. The Toyo M144 coach tire is available in sizes 31580R22.5, 30570R22.5 and 29580R22.5. “We are pleased to be able to offer our members another money-savings benefit and this is a great addition to our member programs,” said Victor Parra, UMA president & CEO. “With Motor Coach Tires Sales’ unique and streamlined distribution model, not to mention Toyo Tires’ excellent performance reviews, this program will no doubt be beneficial to our operators’ bottom-lines.” Motor Coach Tire Sales offers direct shipping from Toyo distribution centers to operators. Motor Coach Tire Sales President Bill Kaiser says this unique model streamlines the tire purchasing process and enables his company to provide aggressive pricing for UMA members. This program requires a 14-tire minimum order. However, Kaiser says smaller orders may be available through participating member operators. The Toyo M144 coach tire carries a higher load rating, 7 percent more tread than the industry standard, as well as better retread capability and low-cost mileage performance, according to Motor Coach Tire Sales. UMA members interested in learning more about the program can contact Motor Coach Tire Sales, LLC at 678.463.4110 or visit the members-only section of

3A Composites invests into foam core extrusion line 3A Composites Core Materials reported that it will further expand the production capacities of their AIREX PET core materials. In addition to the ongoing expansion of the extrusion capacities in Switzerland, the company is now installing a new extrusion line at its US production location, which is to be operational in Q4 2015. Consistent high demand and the planned growth of their current customers as well as new markets and applications are behind the growth plans, which are further fueled by the introduction of their new product AIREX T10, which is expected to accelerate the growth of extruded PET-based core materials versus other polymer cores. Growth for extruded AIREX core materials is identified in the marine, aerospace and wind energy and markets as well as in the transportation and automotive industry where composites are increasingly used. The material is produced in a continuous extrusion process, which assures a consistent, high quality while offering a very high level of automation.

On Your Mark group offers solutions for essential business areas Necessary as marketing, strategic and financial planning, human resources, the internet and social media are to a successful business, bus and coach operators working to keep the fleet on the road are often not as versed in these functions as they are with dispatch, safety and maintenance. On Your Mark Transportation understands their quandary and provides a wide array of services to perform, consult and train in | BUSRIDE



the daunting essentials in business today. Company President and CEO Mark Szyperski, a 35-year veteran in passenger transportation, formed On Your Mark Transportation as a network of highly qualified associates to guide and assist. “On Your Mark draws on the collective experience and expertise of a carefully assembled group of transportation professionals,” Szyperski said. “Where finances, resources and manpower may be limited in unfamiliar areas, our teams are available to provide plans and solutions, and resolve issues as they arise with ongoing service or as short term projects.” Service and consulting available through On Your Mark Transportation include but not limited to: Marketing research Ridership surveys Safety and risk management studies Grant writing Benchmarking and metrics analysis Financial audits and studies Fleet management Sales management and training Graphic design Driver and customer service training Safety and maintenance training Internet website and social media development Online marketing strategies Sales representation Trade show representation Media relations

Other recent legislative wins for ABA members include the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (H.R. 749), which the House has passed. H.R. 749 includes several provisions helpful to the motorcoach industry. The bill will add pricing transparency language, which should enable operators to better substantiate predatory pricing practices and potentially open new markets. In addition, the bill requires Amtrak to study how to better develop its station infrastructure, specifically including integrations with intercity buses. ABA is actively helping bus operators in Mississippi, New York and Tennessee with issues ranging from taxation to church vehicle CDL requirements. The Mississippi legislature was considering exempting church bus drivers from CDL requirements. ABA’s intervention with the relevant state senate subcommittee led to the proposed legislation dying. For questions or comments, contact Director of Government Affairs and Policy Daniel Hoff at or (202) 218-7214.

Mechanical Rubber Products acquires Prestige Rubber

In a continuing commitment to satisfy customer requirements in a variety of industries, Mechanical Rubber, Warwick, NY, acquired Prestige Rubber Manufacturing Company of Fairfield, NJ, in January 2015. The asset purchase included extrusion dies, mandrels, compounds, expansion joint forms and customer order records. A “one stop shop” for all custom rubber elastomeric needs, Mechanical Rubber will be 100% operational with all of Prestige’s manufacturing capabilities.

Most recently, Szyperski and his group have assisted companies with their 5311(f) grants and the implementation of scheduled service routes, which he said is proving successful.

New York City Transit ABA claims victory on The Hill The American Bus Association (ABA) claimed a compelling victory in early March when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives, averting a DHS shutdown and funding the department through September. After months of work, ABA’s government affairs team secured a $3 million security grant fund to help protect motorcoach group tourists. Members of the Appropriations Committee, which authored the legislation, recognized that enhanced security for the more than 600 million annual passenger trips motorcoaches provide warrants DHS support. In particular, the industry was championed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter of Texas, Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania and Rep. David Price of North Carolina. ABA says restoring security funding is a victory for the association and the entire group tourism industry, noting that motorcoach tourism is the lifeblood of so many towns, cities, hotels and destinations. ABA adds that an attack on group tourism could not only cost lives, it could also threaten 1.4 million American motorcoach travel and tourism jobs and the $175 billion in economic impact created by the industry. ABA is asking for industry support at this time to engage senators and representatives to fight for motorcoach operators with regard to 2016 appropriations, regulatory restraint and transportation reauthorization. 10


CONTRACT SOLICITATIONS RFQ#: 101749 DUE DATE: 5/1/15 TITLE: B40660 Furnish and Deliver 231 Low Floor 60-ft Articulated Diesel Buses with an Option of up to an Additional 300 Buses. Proposers shall furnish proposals w/ supporting documentation to be evaluated on the following criteria: 1) Overall project Cost 2) New York State Content 3) Overall Quality of Proposer & Product 4) Other Relevant Matter For additional information, please visit our website at


Are customer comments being used to improve service quality? By Mary Sue O’Melia

Many transit agencies have Customer Service Departments responsible for the public website, telephone information, transit centers and customer comments and complaints. Customer comments provide significant information about customer perceptions of their public transit experience. This information can be a valuable tool to help direct training, public information and messaging, and service quality and safety improvements. What to measure For agency-wide KPI reporting, complaints per 100,000 passengers is the most commonly used indicator. Commendations per 100,000 passengers is the other part of the story that needs to be told as well. Declining customer complaints is not enough for agencies that want to provide the best possible service. The best agencies want their customers to have an outstanding public transportation experience. If the agencies are achieving this goal, then commendations will increase. The team needs to have its eye on both sets of statistics. Data definitions Many transit agencies distinguish between “valid” and “invalid” complaints. It’s funny how there is never a distinction between valid and invalid commendations – they are all just valid. Some agencies consider a complaint valid only if the customer provides contact information. Others investigate the complaint and if it can be verified as true, then it is valid. Complaints and commendations are not required data items for the National Transit Database (NTD) report so there is no industry definition. Applying common sense says that if customers are upset enough about service to complain, or so impressed with service that they provide a commendation, then it is probably worth agency attention. There are no valid and invalid complaints or commendations, just customer comments. We all know that perceptions are not necessarily reality and when they do not match up, that is part of the story too. For example, schedule adherence complaints may increase after a major schedule shake-up. Upon investigation it is shown that the buses were running on time according to the new schedules. Customers simply did not know the new schedules. This is an opportunity for improved communication with customers for future schedule changes. The issue is communications rather than schedules. Analyses A sample system analysis is shown to the right. The top three complaints are: Rude Driver, Schedule Adherence, and Pass-Ups. Valid and Invalid complaints were reviewed but these add very little to the usefulness of information – Rude Driver, Schedules, and Pass Ups are still the top three types of complaint. Suburban Bus and Commuter Services have the most complaints

per 100,000 passengers. Drilling down by program shows the following: Pass-Ups are the number one complaint for Suburban Bus; Schedule Adherence is the number one complaint for Commuter Services and Route Deviation; and Rude Driver for Metro City Bus. Improving our customers’ experience with public transportation requires involvement by the full team in multiple departments (e.g., drivers, supervisors, vehicle maintenance, facilities maintenance, equipment maintenance, public relations and marketing, planning, service development and scheduling, customer service, and finance). Every department and function should be asking: “How can I help make public transit the mode of choice? What actions can I take to help improve the safety and quality of the public transit service that we provide? What are our customers telling us about their experience? Can I use this information to help focus improvement strategies?” Involvement starts with posting KPIs and performance results. An agency cannot win if the team does not know the score. Collection of information, investigation, and getting back to customers is all just background for the team to come up with strategies and actions to improve the customer experience. Mary Sue O’Melia is president of TransTrack Systems®, Inc., a business intelligence solution that transforms volumes of data into meaningful information for transportation managers and executives to use in planning, strategizing and ensuring optimal performance. Visit TransTrack Systems® at: . | BUSRIDE







Des Moines Regional Transit Authority

Indianapolis Public Transportation Corp.

Des Moines, IA

Indianapolis, IN

Complete Coach Works (CCW) announced it was awarded a contract from Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) to completely rebuild six low floor buses to help provide exceptional service to DART’s customers. The 60-foot low floor articulated buses will replace high floor buses and include newly installed ramps, remanufactured power trains, transmissions, engines, brakes and will be equipped with two ADA-compliant wheelchair positions. DART is the transportation provider for Polk County operating fixed route, paratransit and RideShare vanpool service. In FY 2014, DART provided over 4.7 million rides with a fleet of 150 buses and 94 RideShare vanpool vans.

Complete Coach Works (CCW) announced it has begun the delivery of 21 rehabilitated Zero Emission Propulsion System (ZEPS) powered electric buses to Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation (IndyGo). As the world’s first and only of its kind, the remanufactured ZEPS buses are rebuilt with lightweight flooring, lightweight seats, low-resistance tires, energy-efficient heating and cooling to ensure a range of 130 miles on a single battery charge. Each 40-foot electric bus carries 36 seated passengers plus standees and is equipped with air operated doors, brakes, suspension, hydraulic power-steering, stainless steel bike racks and LED lighting.

Photo courtesy DART Facebook






Arrow Trailways

Atlantic Limousine & Transportation

Killeen, TX

Atlanta, GA

Arrow Trailways has recently added TEMSA to their fleet with the TS 45 full-size coach. Arrow’s TS 45 coach is seated for 56 passengers and includes quality features such as 110V plugs with USB ports, Alcoa Durabright wheels, REI monitors and side / driver shades. The TS 45 is constructed from stainless steel for extra durability and strength. Equipped with the Cummins ISX engine and Allison B500 transmission, this coach provides raw power and optimum serviceability. Top safety features come standard such as an engine fire suppression system, lane departure warning system, tire pressure monitoring system, and laminated / tempered windows.

Atlantic Limousine has taken delivery of six TEMSA coaches: four TS 45 full-size and two TS 35 mid-size coaches. Atlantic Limousine’s TS 35 mid-size coaches seat 40 passengers and are equipped with leather seats, hardwood floor, a REI A/V system, flat screen TVs, satellite TV, Wi-Fi, 110V / USB power outlets and a restroom. The executive look on the interior of this coach was a smart move and Atlantic Limo believes the bus is going to play a big part in helping the company cater to both sources of revenue (full-size coaches and mid-size coaches). The TS 45 full-size coaches are seated for 56 passengers and are equipped with some of the same favorite features such as Wi-Fi, 110V / USB power outlets, a REI A/V system, flat screen TVs, satellite TV and a restroom.




By Kevin Rohlwing






N U T O I N M G IC ORTH A TH W In terms of tire mounting, concentric simply means the the center of the tire and the wheel or rim it is mounted on are in precisely the same place. Depending on how non-concentric the assembly is, drivers may or may not feel disturbances in the ride. However, if the mounting is bad enough, the ride disturbance will be evident immediately. A subtle mismount may not be noticeable at first, but can initiate irregular tire wear and lead to ride disturbance as the irregular wear progresses. Though non-concentric mounting may not cause vibration immediately, it may occur eventually through the irregular wear it causes. Improper mounting procedures, including poor cleaning and inadequate lubrication, are the biggest culprits. Unless the tire bead is not seated properly on the rim flange, the tire and wheel will end up non-concentric. The typical mounting process does not automatically make tires and wheels concentric.

Non-concentric tires and wheels In some cases, the entire assembly responds as if it were out-of-round, resulting in bouncing or thumping much like a tire with a flat spot from brake lock. Left untreated, this condition can worsen and lead to severe irregular wear. If the tire is crooked on the rim, the tire may wobble and vibrate, and feel similar to a bent axle or wheel; again leading to rapid wear or irregular wear, or both. Get it right in four-steps — Think CLAC A non-concentric mount does not fix itself. Only with a tire properly mounted, with the proper air pressure maintained, will it and the wheel stay concentrically mounted. To ensure tires are concentrically mounted, get it right with this four-step process: Clean – Both the tire and wheel must be clean and properly lubricated. Otherwise, the tire bead can get stuck in the wrong position on the rim flange before it’s fully and concentrically seated. Always clean and inspect wheels and tires carefully. On wheels, bent or dented flanges, rust build-up, dirt or damage can make it impossible for the tire’s bead to seat properly. If the bead can’t seat properly on the flange, the mount will probably be non-concentric. Bead damage or dirt can cause the same problem. Be sure to check the tire as well. | BUSRIDE


Lube – Lubricate both the wheel and tire bead. Proper lubrication can reduce bead damage, makes mounting easier, and helps the tire’s bead fit easily into the proper place on the rim flange. Avoid both water-based and petroleum-based lubricants. Water-based lubricants can cause both wheels and steel tire cord to rust, while petroleum-based lubricants can destroy rubber over time. Use only a high-quality, vegetable oil-based lubricant for heavy duty tire mounting. A mounting supplies dealer should be able to provide an appropriate lubricant. Align – Align the dots correctly to help minimize radial runout and aid in initial static balance. Seat the beads following all OSHA, RMA, tire manufacturer and shop procedures. Check – Check the assembly for concentricity. Use the tiny ring molded into the tire near the bead and check its distance from the edge of the bead flange. Check it in at least four locations 90 degrees apart. Do this on both sides of the tire. The molded ring must be the same distance from the flange in all locations. If there is a noticeable difference, the tire is not concentrically mounted. If a mount is not concentric Break down the assembly and try again. Check tires and wheels again for cleanliness. Re-lubricate both if needed. Align the dots appropriately and reseat the beads. If this doesn’t get it, try rotating the tire 180 degrees with respect to the wheel, remount and check concentricity again, or try another tire or another wheel. Kevin Rohlwing serves as director of training at the International Tire

and Rubber Association (ITRA).

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Low-floor vehicles improve access By Ken Becker

On July 26th this year, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed into law. This piece of civil rights legislation prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life. When asked to write on the subject of equal access, I began with asking the question, “Does our industry really provide passengers of all abilities with an equal level of access and accessibility?” This, of course, can only really be answered by someone who lives with a disability, but from a small bus manufacturer’s standpoint, I can say that there have been several evolutionary developments in ju st the last few years toward bridging the gap. Equal access in transportation today is something far more reaching, and not limited to only riders with disabilities. People are simply living longer these days and leading more active lifestyles later in life than ever before. According to, there are currently 48 million people in the U.S. over the age of 65. This number is expected to steadily increase every year to almost 80 million by 2050. Now consider the increase in the overall demand and popularity for public transportation, and the need for equal access becomes more important than ever. As a result of the increasing demand for public transportation, agencies have taken a closer look at the services they provide for both their fixed-route and paratransit services. A few things quickly became apparent. Their larger fixed-route buses were almost all equipped with ramp accessibility while their smaller paratransit buses were still equipped with traditional wheelchair lifts that only allow for one passenger to be loaded at a time. Ask anyone who requires the use of a wheelchair, power scooter or walking aid and they will unanimously say that they much prefer the use of a ramp. ADA guidelines say that ramp slope must be a minimum of 1:4. Now ask someone in a wheelchair if 1:4 is a suitable and safe ramp slope and most would say that it can be quite a steep challenge for both entry and egress. Certain low-floor bus manufacturers have risen to this challenge and exceed many of ADA’s current guidelines, including ramp entry with lesser degree slopes of 1:5 and 1:6. According to the Mid-Size Bus Manufacturers Association (MSBMA) statistics for 2014 , there is a strong upward trend showing that transit properties are incorporating additional smaller buses and vehicles into their fleet in efforts to better manage rising costs of operation. Agencies are looking more closely at their passenger capacity needs. Simply stated, if a bus is not filled to near capacity, it might not be the correct bus for that route. Larger buses typically use more fuel, require special driver’s certification testing and licensing and ultimately involve a higher cost of ownership. So being able to accomplish the job for a particular route with a smaller and less expensive vehicle has become common practice. In some instances, agencies will run their larger heavy-duty rear engine buses for peak rush hour transportation and then completely switch over to their cutaway fleet for non-peak

Low-floor bus manufacturers like ARBOC Specialty Vehicles exceed many of ADA’s current guidelines, including ramp entry with lesser degree slopes of 1:5 and 1:6.

hours on the same routes. Instead of looking at a low-floor cutaway as being more expensive than a traditional high-floor, some larger transit angencies consider the cost of the low-floor cutaways in their fleet as being 40 percent of the cost of their full-sized buses since they are used on some of the routes in some of the same ways. With the introduction of the low-floor cutaway bus in 2009, the opportunity to provide equal access across an entire fleet is now a reality and well beyond just a concept. So how much is a low-floor cutaway bus worth? I have broken this answer down to three good reasons agencies are steadily replacing their high floor cutaway lift buses with low floor cutaway buses with ramps: 1. Speed of Operation: We have all heard the saying ‘time is money’. This is especially true in the world of public transportation. Being able to load multiple wheelchair and power scooter passengers can be accomplished with a just single ramp deploy. Agencies are finding that certain routes that used to require two buses can now be done in the same time or even less with one low-floor cutaway bus! 2. Safety: The traditional high floor cutaway bus has multiple steps in the passenger entryway. Nearly every driver has witnessed a passenger slipping or tripping on steps during entry or egress. Then there is simply the increased risk of utilizing a traditional wheelchair lift. We have all heard the horror stories. Ramp accessibility virtually eliminates this liability risk. 3. Passenger Dignity: This third point is all too often overlooked and its importance underestimated. When a mobility-challenged rider is forced to use a different entrance to board a bus and then secured down in the rear of the bus, their public transportation experience can sometimes make them feel less than equal. A bus that has a single entrance to accommodate riders of all abilities is simply nondiscriminatory and provides equal access for all passengers. Ken Becker is national sales manager for ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, Middlebury, IN, and a veteran with 14 years in the bus industry. Visit the ARBOC website at . | BUSRIDE


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By Prevost Prep

The pre-trip

INSPECTION While getting behind the wheel and maneuvering through city traffic and open highways may be the primary objective of the professional motorcoach driver, the job entails myriad responsibilities beyond getting the passengers where they need to go. Safe, professional driving begins with a comprehensive pre-trip inspection of the equipment and components to ensure the vehicle is issue-free and ready to roll. The pre-trip inspection requires far more than just “kicking the tires.” The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates the pre-trip inspection. The checklist is lengthy. Nothing must go unchecked or overlooked. The pre-trip inspection involves a walk around the coach, looking for both obvious and hidden dangers only an experienced driver can spot. Ignoring this first step only invites disastrous consequences should something fail or go awry. More than a few companies and drivers have faced serious charges and litigation where failure to carry out a pre-trip was an aggravating factor. In addition to the customary walk-around, of equal importance is the driver’s review of the inspection book from the previous trip. Anything can happen between one trip and the next. The average pre-trip is a 20-minute procedure, but a driver should allow enough lead time to conduct a proper and thorough pre-trip inspection. Here are a few of the more critical inspection areas: The walk around may begin by checking for adequate tire pressure. Whether or not the coach is equipped with a tire pressure management system (TPMS), a professional driver carries a personal tire gauge just to be sure. Test the light headlamps, backup lights, flashers, turn signals and horn. The driver properly sets the mirrors before embarking. To set the right rearview mirror, adjust it so that the driver’s light appears in the same position as when standing by the right front wheel. A mirror properly set shows the area two to three feet away from the bus. The entire left side of the bus should show along the left mirror edge. The rear position of the coach at ground level should show near the bottom edge of the mirror, and the driver should find the horizon line about three-quarters of the way up the mirror. Check baggage and all other exterior compartment doors for damage; that they operate properly and latch securely. From inside the coach, do the same for the entry doors. Ensure that the entry steps are clear with the treads not loose or worn and ensure the step lights are working. Make certain that the handrails are secure.

If equipped, inspect the wheelchair lift fully retracted and latched securely for leaking, damaged or missing parts. All emergency exits should be undamaged, operate smoothly and close securely from the inside. The exit warning sign should be working, as well. Check passenger seating for broken seat frames. Make sure frames are firmly attached to the floor. With the coach sitting level, check for audible air leaks from the suspension system. See that fuel tanks and lines do not leak and the fuel cap is tightly secured. Check that the battery box cover or door is undamaged and closed. The batteries should be secure, connections tight with cell caps present. The connections should show no sign of excessive corrosion. Test the brakes before departure to ensure they do not pull left or right and that they are able to stop the bus sufficiently. With the parking brake on, put the bus in gear and apply slight accelerator pedal to be sure “Park” holds. Though the pre-trip inspection is often taken for granted, drivers need thorough training and testing on this safe driving basic. Ultimately, a proper pre-trip inspection can help avoid costly towing bills, major repairs and injuries. More information on Prevost Prep can be found at . | BUSRIDE



Capital Metro’s board of directors is getting a new look with the appointment of a new chairman and vice chair of the board as well as a new member. Wade Cooper, who joined the board in 2014, has been elected chair following a unanimous vote by his fellow board members. Cooper becomes the board’s first new chairman since 2010 and succeeds Mike Martinez. Councilmember Delia Garza joins the board as the elected official appointee Wade Cooper of the Austin City Council. Councilmember Garza replaces Chris Riley, who had served on the board since 2007. Joining Cooper in a new leadership role is Beverly Silas, who will serve as vice-chair. Ann Stafford will continue to serve as the board’s secretary. Cooper is currently the firmwide managing partner of Jackson Walker L.L.P. and is also the former chairman of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA), where he is currently a member of the DAA’s Advisory Board. Councilmember Garza Councilmember Delia Garza was elected to the Austin City Council as the District 2 representative in November 2014, becoming the first Hispanic woman elected to the City Council. She is a former firefighter turned attorney who served as assistant attorney general where she advocated for Texas families in the Child Support Division. Cooper will begin serving in the chairman’s role and Councilmember Garza will be sworn in at the March 23 board meeting. Capital Metro board members serve a three-year term.

Transdev announced that Carrie Butler has joined the Transdev team as general manager of the Lextran (the transit authority of Lexington, KY) contract. The Lextran Board of Directors approved Butler’s appointment at the December 17 Board of Directors’ Meeting. Butler is a seasoned professional in public transit and served in planning, project management and senior operational management roles in various organizations. Prior to joining Transdev, Butler spent eight years at the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, KY, where she served as director of planning and oversaw service planning, on-street infrastructure, long range planning and other capital projects for the authority, including preliminary plans for a New Starts light rail project. Butler’s experience broadly ranges from operations management, to service planning and technology, to integrated regional planning processes. 18


In addition, Butler founded Civic+Connect in 2014, an organization offering consulting services dedicated to connecting communities with transportation innovations. Lextran is Lexington’s public transportation system and operates a fleet of 73 buses, including a University of Kentucky campus shuttle service, and contracts a door-to door paratransit service through Red Cross WHEELS.

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) has named Steve Batho as vice president of technical support. In this new position, he will lead advances in MCI’s field support, technical training and roadside assistance. He reports to Wolfgang Winzer, MCI vice president and general manager of aftermarket, and will be based in Ontario, Canada. Batho joins MCI with a 17-year career at Daimler Buses North America, most recently as vice president of product support. He also served as director of plant and equipment at London Transit Commission, the London, Ontario, Canada, Steve Batho public transit system.

Maintenance Design Group (MDG) has added Ryan Swanson as a senior mechanical engineer in the firm’s Denver office. Swanson is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) with more than 10 years of mechanical engineering experience specializing in HVAC, plumbing and energy analysis projects for industrial, government, healthcare, education and commercial clients. He will be providing mechanical design and engineering Ryan Swanson on MDG’s transit, public works, and other operations and maintenance facility projects throughout the United States and Canada. Maintenance Design Group specializes in planning and functional design for transportation maintenance facilities across the U.S. The firm has offices in Denver, Houston, Baltimore and Los Angeles. For more information, visit


Preventing slip and fall injuries By Todd Carrier

Does your organization understand the risks associated with slips and falls? Can you properly identify hazards and implement a plan to prevent these injuries? They may seem like minor incidents, but slips and falls can escalate into very serious injuries that keep drivers off the road, workers off the job and cost companies a significant amount of money. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the U.S., almost 9 million people are injured each year from “unintentional falls.” The actual claim trends are difficult to quantify as many of these incidents are either not reported or are improperly categorized. Aside from motor vehicle-related injuries, slips and falls are one of the most common injuries in the transportation industry. According to Protective Insurance Company’s data, the average three-year value of a slip and fall workers’ compensation claim is over $18,000 per incident. The majority of slip and fall incidents occur in parking lots, on sidewalks, at building entrances and in lobby areas. Injuries sustained are typically sprains, strains, contusions, and fractures to the wrist, elbow and shoulders. More severe injuries can also occur to the back, neck and head. It’s important to understand the exposures and contributing factors, which can be categorized into the following four groups: The walking surface The most significant issue that contributes to slips and falls is the surface itself. Most natural rough surfaces like dirt, stone, asphalt and concrete have a high coefficient of friction. Hard smooth surfaces such as tile, laminate or marble usually have a lower coefficient of friction. Another issue is a change from one type of surface to another, such as from carpet to vinyl, asphalt to tile, or from wet to dry. This is difficult to control, particularly when drivers are out on the road transporting passengers. At company locations however, operators and agencies have more control and should implement a robust weather maintenance program with regular documented inspections. Changes in level and elevation A change in level usually includes steps, ramps, uneven walking surfaces or condition that even insignificantly changes surface height. This would include sidewalk edges, curbs, potholes and loose carpeting or tile. Stairs, elevators, and escalators can be extremely dangerous and are more likely to cause serious injury. Handrails should be used at all times. Some older buildings have improperly designed tread width and riser height with awkward levels. It’s also important to ensure that any change in level is properly distinguished with signage or yellow paint and with adequate lighting for visibility. Substances and obstructions Foreign substances such as ice, liquids, grease, powders, granules or even painted surfaces can create unsafe situations. It’s also possible that a surface can be treated with cleaners or waxes that completely change the slip-resistant factor. Sometimes obstructions such as

leaves, a garden hose, extension cord or debris are in the walking path. Visibility can also be considered a type of obstruction. For example, poor or dim lighting can cause shadows or changes in color which affects our ability to process what we see. Finally, be sure that those responsible for interior housekeeping immediately clean up any spill or obstruction and report any feature that is in need of repair. Footwear Besides the surface itself, footwear has the single largest impact on slip-resistance on any walking surface. Slip-resistant shoes have special soles that provide more traction and grip on slippery surfaces. Many people are under the impression that tennis shoes are slip-resistant because of their design and rubber soles. This is a myth and there is a significant difference. If you’ve been wearing the same pair of shoes for a while, check the condition of the soles and replace them if they are visibly worn. Wearing any type of shoe, even slip-resistant shoes, with soles that are worn or inappropriate for the job is an accident waiting to happen. In summary, slip and fall incidents can escalate into very serious injuries that keep drivers off the road and cost companies money. While more common in adverse weather conditions, they can happen any time of the year, indoors or outdoors. It’s important to understand the contributing factors and make all reasonable efforts to prevent these injuries. Todd Carrier serves as director of risk management for Protective Insurance Company, Carmel, IN. Watch Protective’s “Safety Solutions: Preventing slips and falls” video online at . For more information or to request a copy of their “Slip and Fall Assessment Guide,” please email: . | BUSRIDE


SunLine goes

LoNo Ballard Power Systems, BAE Systems and ElDorado National will team up to build new zero-emission buses for SunLine.

The California transit system received $9.8 million from the FTA for zero-emission buses SunLine Transit Agency, Thousand Palms, CA, in partnership with the Southern California Association of Governments, has been awarded $9.8 million in federal funding to purchase and deploy five zero-emission buses. Ballard Power Systems, BAE Systems and ElDorado National will team up to build the new zero-emission buses. These additional buses will increase SunLine’s current fleet of hydrogen fuel cell buses to ten and allow the agency to expand its service in the Coachella Valley. FTA received 50 project proposals. Priority was given to proposals that funded the incremental difference between a standard bus and a Low or No (LoNo) Emission Vehicle Deployment Program vehicle as a way to stretch procurement dollars. Other key considerations were proposals which incorporated the highest level of U.S. made content and demonstrated a long-term commitment to expanding green energy bus fleets. “SunLine continues to lead the way in the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell bus technology,” says SunLine Transit Agency CEO/ General Manager Lauren Skiver. “SunLine maintains its focus on becoming a Center for Excellence for hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and this much needed funding will certainly move SunLine closer to its goal.” SunLine Transit Agency is a joint powers authority formed in 1977 to operate the Coachella Valley’s public transportation system. Its 20


SunLine received $9.8 million in federal funding to purchase five zero-emission buses.

fixed route and par transit vehicles travel more than 4 million miles per year, covering over 619 bus stops located throughout a 1,120 mileservice area, carrying approximately 4.7 million riders. SunLine offers fixed route bus service and curb-to-curb paratransit for the mobility impaired. SunLine Transit Agency says it is an industry leader in the use of zero-emission public transit in the United States and has earned international recognition for its cutting edge alternative fuel program. In keeping with the agency’s commitment to hydrogen technology and sharing its knowledge through experience, SunLine says it was proud to be selected as host to the 2015 International Fuel Cell Bus Workshop at the end of February. The Workshop is a key collaboration furthering national and international partnerships between global transit operators, zero-emission bus manufacturers, component suppliers, hydrogen infrastructure providers, regulators and planners. SunLine Transit Agency can be found online at

Security & Surveillance Technology is a key part of a proactive approach to safety.

The importance of a proactive approach to transit safety By Lori Jetha

A transit operator once told me: “When people board our buses they come with different expectations for the quality of our service, but everyone expects their ride to be safe.” So how do agencies make sure they are delivering on that most basic of expectations? The answer: a proactive approach to transit safety. Anticipate, assess, and prioritize Being proactive means first dedicating the time and resources to anticipate common safety issues and to accurately assess needs and risks. Although this may seem time-consuming, a little up-front planning can identify areas of concern and help minimize, or even avoid, future risk. On the flip side, being reactive and waiting for an incident to occur may mean that agencies don’t actually have the tools or resources to efficiently resolve or address it. This can lead to longer resolution times, customer and employee dissatisfaction, and greater long-term costs. Make a list of all foreseeable safety risks and then determine their frequency and cost to the organization. Costs might include labor involved in investigating an issue, repair costs, legal costs or lost work hours. This will help an agency assign a relative priority to determine where to focus its efforts. Agencies may list vandalism, on-board crime and operator assaults as top issues, but the frequency of operator attacks may have risen recently and resulted in union grievances, lawsuits and lost work hours. The increase in frequency and cost makes it the highest priority. The recipe for a proactive approach to transit safety The perfect recipe for a proactive approach to transit safety requires three essential ingredients: policies, education and technology. Blended together, they result in a comprehensive security plan. It’s essential to not miss any key ingredient for the best possible result. Agencies may not always be able to prevent security situations, but by preparing for these issues in advance (using these three key ingredients), they can respond to them more quickly and avoid a prolonged and expensive investigation. Developing the right policies Policies might include a code of conduct to address safety issues and guide passenger-driver interactions, or a fare collection policy

that minimizes the risk of operator assault. Doug Mosher, Halifax Metro’s manager of transit security, recommends operators act as Fare Informers, instead of Fare Enforcers, as a way to ensure that conflicts over fare payment don’t lead to operator assaults. Training staff Operator training is important in the prevention of operator assaults. Conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques can be especially useful to defuse emotionally charged situations so that assaults are prevented. Bill Parsons, personal safety expert at Roadworthy Communications, recommends a comprehensive communication, safety and customer service program rolled into one. This type of program gives operators an effective set of tools to mitigate and manage conflict by influencing the decisions that riders make in subtle but noticeable ways. Using technology Technology also plays an important part in preventing, responding to, and investigating operator assaults. Having operators point to the surveillance cameras and remind unruly passengers that they are being recorded, can actually help prevent an operator attack. When an assault is happening, a driver-triggered panic alarm in conjunction with live vehicle tracking can alert security staff, help them quickly locate the vehicle, and dispatch emergency services and engage law enforcement. Security staff can even tap into installed bus cameras to monitor the situation using live video streaming. By proactively installing the right on-board technologies, agencies can also significantly reduce the cost of assault investigations by reducing the labor involved in the investigation and mitigating any legal repercussions. Recorded video of an assault can provide clear, indisputable evidence of the events leading up to the attack and can help apprehend and prosecute the perpetrator. Operator assault is just one important transit safety issue that can be addressed with a proactive approach. Take a moment to consider your pressing safety issues, whether you are being proactive or reactive, and what blend of policy, education and technology will ensure you meet customer expectations. Lori Jetha serves as marketing manager for Seon, a video surveillance and fleet management company based in Coquitlam, BC, Canada. | BUSRIDE



in rural Valley Express: Transit Ventura County

enters a new age

By Darren Kettle Executive Director Ventura County Transit Commission (VCTC) Ventura, CA

The Valley Express provides allnew intra-community mobility to the Heritage Valley.

In a moment of change for several longstanding communities in the Heritage Valley region, Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) launched Valley Express in March. As the first fixed-route transit bus service in this area, Valley Express combines with the local Dial-a-Ride for what is clearly a new era in mobility for residents of Fillmore, Piru and Santa Paula, CA. The new fleet of 15 Glaval and ARBOC low-floor buses operates on four routes every 30 minutes throughout the service day, with ondemand paratransit service available during all service hours. VCTC continues its popular Highway 126 service that connects the Heritage Valley with colleges, schools and social services in nearby Ventura. While the Valley Express provides all-new intra-community mobility, its connectivity with the Highway 126 service is especially important in ensuring residents have ready access to the education, healthcare and employment opportunities within Ventura, Oxnard and beyond.




Ribbon-cutting ceremonies took place at VCTC offices.

It is important to note the changes taking place in these rural communities over the last 10 years, as the middle-income population serving agriculture gradually ebbed to a socioeconomic climate of near poverty. As a consequence, the old tried-and-true way of demand response with advance reservations for transport in small vehicles has simply not kept up with changing transit and paratransit needs. As we became more aware of this crisis, VCTC and many governing officials elected to explore a longer-term approach for how to move away from “business as usual.” With the growing demand for public transportation, calls to the Dial-A-Ride service increased with many going unanswered, simply because of the lack of manpower and capacity during peak times.



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In many instances, the shifting demographics found multigenerational households sharing only one automobile — if they had an automobile at all — as best they could for all transportation needs. With limited vehicles operating in a limited system, our capacity became stretched to the limit at every level. As riders became frustrated to the point of giving up trying, it all begged the question of what we needed to do differently. VCTC entered into discussions with local governments to address what a new and updated transit service would entail. We heard from a great number of transit leaders and elected officials that any new service should do all it can to address the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in rural areas, where the requirements for compliance are not as stringent as in urban communities. Responding to their concerns, we have taken it one step further to provide transit services even in the unincorporated areas, where we found high school students relying on Dial-A-Ride buses to get to school 10 miles away. As expensive as it was to operate, it was always there. Now for the first time, residents of Fillmore, Piru and Santa Paula can walk to a street corner and catch a bus every half hour. To launch Valley Express, VCTC arranged for the purchase of an entirely new bus fleet for this service, using fully discretionary state bond money to ensure its successful launch and continued operation. The fleet consists of five 14-passenger and five 16-passenger Glaval buses, and five 26-passenger ARBOC buses. Our immediate challenges in the early going are to get the word that Valley Express is available to them, and help new passengers learn to use the new service. Barely a month old, Valley Express is hardly perfect. Nonetheless, as it continues to get up and running, VCTC will remain committed to working through the rough spots and ironing out the wrinkles. Over the next year, it will certainly mean adjusting and tweaking the routes and schedules.

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The London Bus Summit By Doug Jack

A UK Bus Summit took place in London on February 12 with the Secretary of State for Transport giving the introductory speech. It is hard to believe the last such conference was held back in 1999.

The new generation Alexander Dennis Enviro200 midibus.

A New Routemaster passing the Houses of Parliament in London.



The summit is not just for the United Kingdom. A number of other European countries participated where the lobbies for aviation and rail are much more powerful than those for buses. One reason may well be that politicians and legislators use trains and planes regularly, but ignore buses, even though they carry many times more passengers per year. Much has happened since the previous summit. At that time very few transit buses were accessible, but legislation has been introduced to make them mandatory, allowing up to 15 years to replace nonaccessible vehicles. As a result, a very high percentage of buses in the United Kingdom are now low entry or low floor. The structure of the bus industry is unusual, in that there are only around a dozen public sector companies that own and run their own buses — approximately 7 percent of those in circulation. The main examples are Translink of Northern Ireland, Lothian, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Nottingham, Reading and a few other English towns. Many of the services are in the hands of five major groups, i.e. Stagecoach, FirstGroup, National Express, Go Ahead and Arriva. The latter is now a wholly owned subsidiary of DB, the German state railways. There are around 50,000 transit buses in circulation. The two most popular types are midibuses, like the Alexander Dennis model now being marketed by New Flyer as its MiDi, and double-decker buses. There are small numbers of articulated buses, but none remain in London. Diesel is by far the most popular fuel, with only a handful of gas buses. There are more hybrid buses running in the UK than in any other European country. Bus services are regulated in London and Northern Ireland, and deregulated in all other parts of the country. More than 8,200 buses serve London and its suburbs. It is reckoned that the fleet needs a further 500 vehicles. Investment in heavy underground rail systems is extremely expensive and takes quite a number of years. A few years ago, when a previous mayor introduced congestion charging for cars in central London, Transport for London put an additional 1,000 buses into circulation, even though they benefitted from lower levels of traffic congestion. On many key routes in London, buses are so frequent that a timetable is unnecessary. If you miss one, you can see the next one coming. For historical and political reasons, buses are regulated in Northern Ireland. There is a city network in Belfast and other routes throughout the country, often in quite deeply rural areas.


Outside London and Northern Ireland, services are deregulated. journeys that people wanted to make with other journeys that people Many of them operate commercially, earning sufficient revenue wanted to make?” Daniels asked. It was only one more step away and, if it were to catch on, as it might, through fares to cover costs, but a relatively small number of services have to be subsidised for social and economic reasons )often in remote it would completely redefine taxis, private hire and numerous different forms of transport that all tended to use small buses. There could be a parts of the country). There is no mandatory level of collaboration between local revolution, with major impact for the bus industry. In some parts of the country, local authorities make decisions which government and bus companies. In some areas, there is little cooperation, or for that matter, interference. In other parts of the are not in the interests of bus companies and their passengers. They are country, there is good voluntary collaboration, with local authorities over-influenced by car-owning voters. David Martin, chief executive of Arriva, said that bus companies and providing measures like bus priority lanes to make services more efficient and attractive to passengers. Some of these have evolved into local authorities had to work as partnerships, with each playing to its quality partnerships on a voluntary basis. More recently, at least one strengths and contributing where they are strongest. In Liverpool, a major regional authority wants to enforce quality contracts, where new mayor had removed almost all the bus priority lanes. As a result, they will take over management of the network, setting fares and Arriva had to run additional buses just to maintain timetables. Several delegates gave examples of quality partnerships that are schedules, with operators providing buses on a London-style contract working well in major cities. In Birmingham, National Express, the basis at a fixed revenue per mile. The summit opened with Patrick McLoughlin, secretary of state for major bus provider, and Centro, the regional transport authority, transport, saying that buses were key to helping people get on and get had worked closely to provide facilities that improved services for around, but the country needed buses that are modern, clean, reliable, passengers. They were even planning to share the same offices. Manchester had ambitions to become a world class city and had easy to use and that meet the needs of passengers. That seemed an odd statement because there has been regular been promised powers by the government to elect its own mayor investment in new vehicles. Because they are right-hand drive, they with responsibilities including a transport budget and, subject to consultation, franchised bus tend to stay in service for up to 20 services. It would therefore years, but the oldest vehicles run move more toward a Londonlow mileages on contract services style operation. Another large and are not really part of the city, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the mainstream transport system. In northeast of England, wanted to London, because of the tendering impose quality contracts where it system, many buses serve for only would take control of routes, fares seven or eight years before being and frequencies. resold for further service in other David Brown, chief executive parts of the country. of the Go Ahead Group, one of McLoughlin referred to a the three main bus companies number of projects which had running services in that area, said some financial support from that Newcastle had not recovered central government, including economically, with central the concessionary fare scheme government funding largely whereby people of pensionable making up the difference between age can travel on buses (but not A Mercedes-Benz Citaro on an interurban service in the west of Scotland. the cost of providing services and intercity coaches) free of charge. the revenue taken from them. The Bus companies reclaim their fares from local authorities, but that has been a very contentious issue. very real risk of quality contracts is higher fares for customers, or With pressure on local government spending, they have tried to cut greater levels of subsidy from central government that simply cannot be afforded. payments to the bus companies. As one would expect, there were calls for clean vehicles, hybrids “Cities must play their part,” he said. “Buses are the most local form of transport, so it is right that decisions are taken locally. Bus operators and all-electric. Mark Nodder, chairman and chief executive of the were innovative because they are commercial businesses competing Wrights Group, said that his company and other manufacturers had against other forms of transport. Future success will depend on how been taking weight out of buses because that was a key driver of fuel reduction. well local authorities and local operators adapt to local conditions.” “Where is all this electricity going to come from?” Nodder asked. He also stressed the importance of technology. Outside London, the industry had been slow to adopt smart ticketing. Politicians want one “If all the 8,000 plus buses in London were pure electric battery ticket that will work not only on the buses of all operators in a city, buses, and they all took the same five minute rapid charge at the same but also trains and, where they exist, trams. The bus companies have time, they would require 3,200MW of electricity. That was more than to take care that they do not infringe competition regulations with twice the capability of the entire generating capacity of London’s five any form of collusion, but the major groups are working on a national power stations! If only 1,000 buses were recharged at one time, it would take more power than London’s second largest power station scheme which will replace a number of local schemes already in place. Leon Daniels, managing director of Surface Transport, Transport for could generate.” Everyone agreed that the conference had been a great success and London, said that the capital’s highly successful Oyster smart card was being replaced by a new system. He warned the audience about the many important topics were fully discussed. The next Bus Summit is very rapid growth of Uber, saying that it was not a taxi company but planned to be held in London on February 11, 2016. an app. “What if everyone in this country who was about to make a journey Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom. was being monitored by a global computer that was matching all the | BUSRIDE


Roll the buses; lights, camera,


The Motorcoach Marketing Council offers tips on photography to help operators capture more bookings When it comes to running a motorcoach company, photography hardly registers in the minds of operators. Nonetheless, for charter and tour consumers, a striking photograph can prove to be the deciding factor when choosing one company over another. Taking a decent picture seems easy enough – just point and shoot. Unfortunately, without giving thought to how take the photo, the coach sometimes doesn’t come across as luxurious. Instead, the image may then require a thousand words. A good photograph begins with good equipment. This is not to say that the company needs to run out and spend thousands of dollars on a professional digital camera. However, if striking images of the fleet are part of the marketing plan, it would be best to keep a smartphone in pocket. These days, a quality digital camera is as inexpensive as it easy to use. With these pointers, taking a decent photo is almost point and shoot. A good photo is all about lighting; a tough subject for novice photographers to get their heads around. The best advice is simple: wait for bright sunny days to photograph the fleet. The flash in the camera is typically good for only up to 15 feet. It certainly won’t light up the inside of the coach, front to back. Framing and composition is next. The best shot often requires the assistance of the driver to help position the coach. The biggest surprise to novice photographers on a coach assignment is finding what they may have caught on film by accident. In framing the shot, be aware of what is outside and around the vehicle, such as street poles and electrical wires. Position the bus in an enticing setting with an interesting background, a local landmark or a favorite destination. A rule of thumb is to take the 26


photo from anywhere but in the yard or a parking lot. Curbside or on the street is best. Shooting inside the cabin, be aware of the scene outside the window and be sure it belongs in the photo. Don’t be surprised or disappointed afterward if it makes the photo unusable. In any setting, make the coach the focus. One more point: whether the coach is parked or appears to be moving, make sure there is a driver behind the wheel showing through the windshield. This is subtle, but for marketing purposes, the driver offers more impact than an image of an empty coach.



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BUSRide April 2015  

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