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APRIL | 2014

BUSRide Road Test: Meridian Sprinter exceeds standards p18 $5.00

Rand McNally means more than maps p15 Check before travel p16 SPECIAL SECTION Tires p22


Meridian would like to welcome our newest bus dealer/partners. Central States Bus Sales Colonial Equipment Company Creative Bus Sales Lewis Bus Group Nations Bus Schetky Northwest Sales

Featured in the photo is the NEW “Tourismo�, our Sprinter-based mid-sized, luxury motorcoach bus.

To learn more call 888.582.1406 or visit



Cover Story Fit and finish worthy of the star


Meridian Specialty Vehicles puts its touches to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the European platform By David Hubbard

Features Prevost preps drivers


More than a map from Rand McNally


The 75-year old company broadens its mobile fleet management solutions; TransCor America signs on as flagship account

Check before you travel


Grech Motors LLC offers a comprehensive checklist for bus owners and drivers

All aboard the Fresh Express 17


Valley Metro and partners repurpose bus as mobile market

ABC Companies links with New Flyer



Voith wins Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence 24 The award from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry recognizes Voith’s commitment to workplace safety

VTA connects and enriches 25 Santa Clara VTA links with Allied Telesis, cosponsors transportation summit and closes trail system gap

Ready Bus Lines exits according to plan

By David Hubbard

Stay compliant


The new FMCSA Compliance Manual from J.J. Keller & Associates aims to simplify overthe-road compliance with federal regulations

SPECIAL SECTION - Tires Double Coin develops the supply chain


Double Coin Tires and CMA launch a new distribution center and mobile app 4




Minnesota Coaches acquires the 62-year old company for purposes of location and expanded services


By Doug Jack

DEPARTMENTS 8 UPDATE 13 Deliveries 13 People in the News 26 Transit Authority 34 Marketplace

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Specifications are subject to change without notice. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is registered to ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004. Copyright © 2014 Daimler Trucks North America LLC. All rights reserved. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company. Learn more about our products and services on our YouTube channel.


Don’t leave your box; stretch its boundaries The relatively cool maxim “think outside the box” is the recipe for a unique solution. But I bet I am not the only person wondering what that really entails. This expression leaves most people believing that they have to let fly with something absurdly wild and crazy. Maybe these two authors can provide a little clarity to innovative decision making. In his book “How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate,” technology management guru Andrew Hargadon says it sounds cool, but pushing people to think out of their own box just doesn’t work. The true innovator is the person who “thinks in others’ boxes,” remixing existing ideas into markets that have not seen such combinations. Hargadon’s view is apropos for the operators whose roots in the business stretch back three and four generations, and may not regard themselves as creative but somehow get the job done their own way. Hargadon says drawing on continuity has everything to do with creativity. He asserts people are most creative when they are absorbed in the process of solving problems by applying familiar ideas to another purpose. For those with the urge to differentiate, management consultant and business professor Oren Harari offers “Break From The Pack: How To Compete In A Copycat Economy.” He warns of the perils of a company coming across as an undistinguishable commodity. In every industry it is always the smaller number of fit and healthy companies running ahead that generate the excitement. No one goes to the races to just watch the peloton go round and round. Harari provides a blueprint for businesses mired in complacency. He points out the fallacies of common practices such as price-cutting, or the compulsion to give customers what they want. Harari’s lesson is to “lead customers to an ‘impossible place’ they would never know to ask for and never knew existed.” “An impossible place” requires stretching the boundaries but not reinventing the wheel. Reapply what’s in your box in a new way, such as providing the same exceptional service in unsuspecting markets and destinations.

David Hubbard Executive Editor BUSRide Magazine



Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane Group Publisher Sali T. Williams Executive Editor David Hubbard Editor Richard Tackett Art Director Stephen Gamble Production Director Kevin Dixon Accountant Fred Valdez Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone

BUS industry SAFETY council

A publication of:

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: BUSRide Magazine 4742 North 24th Street, Suite 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 Fax: (602) 277-7588 Vol. 50 • No. 4 Subscription Rates: United States: $39 for 1 year, $64 for 2 years, $89 for 3 years. United States via periodicals mail: $42 for 1 year, $69 for 2 years, $98 for 3 years. Canada. Canadian tax (GST) is included. Rest of the world, via air mail: $75 for 1 year, $125 for 2 years, $175 for 3 years. Single copies: $5 for the United States, $6 for Canada and the rest of the world. All prices are in United States Dollars (U.S.D.). Reprints: All articles in BUSRide are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Sali T. Williams at (602) 265-7600, ext. 209.


If there’s one thing that doesn’t sit right with a motorcoach owner, it’s having more bus than you need. That’s why Temsa motorcoaches are such a smart choice. Coach sizes in 30, 35 and 45 feet mean more full buses more often—just what your business needs to turn a comfortable profit. Best-in-class ride and powerful, efficient engines come standard, too. Call CH Bus Sales today and reserve the Temsa motorcoach that’s just the right size for your business.

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UPDATE “Very little is known about the effectiveness of these pedestrian warning systems and this lack of knowledge prompted the FTA to sponsor TriMet’s demonstration project,” said TriMet Executive Director of Safety and Security Harry Saporta. “Our experience will prove important for the future of this technology as those of us in the transit industry try to increase the level of safety around buses.” The pedestrian warning systems have been installed on 45 buses that will run on five bus lines. The lines were selected based on such factors as frequency of turns and high pedestrian traffic areas on the routes as well as ridership volumes.

MCI and Setra team up for 2014 Technical Tune-Up and webinar schedule Setra owners, operators and technicians can now join longtime MCI customers enjoying MCI’s specialized training and service. In 2014, MCI is adding Setra-specific Technical Tune-Up sessions at MCI’s Louisville facility, customized instruction at customer facilities and special webinars scheduled throughout the year. This coming year, Setra operators can expect to have their technicians specifically trained on Setra S 417 and Setra S 407 systems. “We’ve made great strides in the last several years in operator and technical training, and we’re honored to extend MCI’s facilities and expertise to the Setra brand in North America,” said Scott Crawford, manager of training at MCI. “More than 1,300 technicians have attended MCI Technical Tune-up sessions at MCI’s Technical Training Institute in Louisville, and this year we will offer plenty of new learning opportunities for owners of both MCI and Setra coaches.” Setra Technical Tune-Up instruction, led by Jeff Elliott, MCI technical trainer for Setra, is scheduled to coincide with MCIspecific Technical Tune-Up sessions held October 14 through October 17. MCI or Setra Advanced Technical Tune-Up sessions will take place May 13 through May 15; and September 16 through September 18.

Portland buses to try pedestrian-alert technology TriMet and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) say they want to increase pedestrian safety around buses by testing the effectiveness of pedestrian warning systems. The FTA awarded TriMet a $400,000 grant to conduct a comprehensive analysis of devices that alert people when a bus is turning. So called “talking buses” and other pedestrian warning systems are not being widely used in the transit industry, but with “distracted walking” on the rise as the popularity of smartphones and other electronic devices soars, more agencies are considering adding them to their fleet. 8


New Flyer adds MiDi to Canadian distributor agreement with Girardin New Flyer Industries Inc. amended its agreement with A. Girardin Inc. to include the New Flyer MiDi, in addition to the Xcelsior heavy-duty transit bus. Girardin will serve as the exclusive distributor of New Flyer’s MiDi and Xcelsior transit bus models for all public and private customers in Quebec and private operators in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. Under the terms of the agreement, Girardin will market, sell and provide after sales service for the MiDi and Xcelsior transit buses through its established service locations. All New Flyer products purchased through Girardin will be fully supported by New Flyer’s industry leading warranty, genuine New Flyer spare parts, and lifetime customer care programs. “This agreement offers both companies the advantage of offering operators a product that has not been available to the market” said Paul Smith, New Flyer executive vice president, Sales & Marketing. “Not only does it expand Girardin’s product offering to their customers, it allows for the successful penetration of New Flyer products into the market by a partner with great experience, a solid reputation, extensive market knowledge and a long list of customers.” New Flyer and Girardin first entered into a distributor’s agreement in April 2011, to distribute the Xcelsior heavy duty transit bus. “We’re excited and proud to partner with New Flyer on this dealer agreement to offer the Xcelsior and MiDi,” said Dave Girardin, president of Girardin. “These industry leading New Flyer products complement our current product line by creating a more robust portfolio; adding to our lineup of school buses and light duty cutaway buses. New Flyer’s reputation and high level of quality of buses and aftermarket service and support makes this a winning decision to join into this partnership.”


FMCSA proposes national drug and alcohol testing clearinghouse for drivers U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a proposed rule in February to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse for all national commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. “Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to embrace new tools and opportunities that protect the travelers on our nation’s roads,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s proposal will help ensure dangerous drivers stay off the road, while encouraging the employment of the many safe drivers who follow our drug and alcohol requirements.” Current federal regulations require employers to conduct mandatory pre-employment screening of a CDL driver’s qualifications based upon his or her driving record. However, there has not been a single federal repository recording positive drug and alcohol tests by CDL holders that employers would be able to search to ensure that the driver is able to perform safetysensitive duties. The proposed rule would create such a repository and require employers to conduct pre-employment searches for all new CDL drivers and annual searches on current drivers. Under the proposed rule, FMCSA-regulated truck and bus companies, Medical Review Officers, Substance Abuse Professionals, and private, third party USDOT drug and alcohol testing laboratories would be required to record information about a driver who:

• Fails a drug and/or alcohol test • Refuses to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test • Successfully completes a substance abuse program and is legally qualified to return to duty

The OEM Business Unit of Webb Wheel has launched a quarterly newsletter containing useful information about wheel end specifying and maintenance practices. The inaugural issue published in February 2014 gives guidelines for brake drum replacement. Stertil-Koni announced that it has boosted its manufacturing capacity and simultaneously implemented key enhancements in its overall production processes to further speed delivery times. This development is the most recent in a series of capital and workforce investment initiatives by Stertil-Koni to increase both productivity and efficiency.

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Proterra names former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to board of directors Former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined the board of directors of Proterra Inc., an electric bus company whose business is tightly woven with government policy. LaHood served as secretary of transportation from 2009 until July of last year. Prior to that, he was a U.S. congressman representing the 18th District of Illinois. Greenville, S.C.-based Proterra has secured numerous orders with municipalities to deliver electric buses. Last year the company shipped 23 all-electric buses, up from eight the previous year. Part of the funding that some of its municipal customers used to buy the buses came from the federal government. LaHood was at the helm of the department when the Federal Transit Administration issued funds that went for the purchase of Proterra buses via the Clean Fuels Program. “The government has a role to play in encouraging and offering incentives by way of grants or loans to encourage these companies to think outside the box about clean-burning vehicles,” LaHood said. LaHood said that he thinks Proterra must stay close to the Department of Energy and Department of Transportation.

Supreme sells shuttle-bus business to Forest River, Inc. Supreme Industries, Inc., a leading manufacturer of specialized commercial vehicles including truck bodies and specialty vehicles, announced a definitive agreement has been reached to sell the company’s shuttle-bus assets to Forest River, Inc. In December 2013, management announced Supreme would exit the shuttle-bus business and divest the associated assets. This action is consistent with the company’s previously disclosed long-term strategy of focusing on its core work truck and specialty vehicle markets. Net proceeds from the sale of assets are estimated to be approximately $7 million dependent upon sales of buses prior to close. The transaction is expected to close within thirty days. “We are pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial agreement for the sale of our shuttle-bus assets to Forest River,” said Mark D. Weber, Supreme’s president and chief executive officer. “The bus market has become increasingly competitive and this business has been unable to achieve our profitable growth objectives. This divestiture allows us to concentrate our resources on growing our work truck, specialty vehicle and trolley businesses.” Forest River, Inc., an Indiana-based Berkshire Hathaway Company, manufactures a full line of transit buses, shuttle buses and tour coaches.



More than 500 public transit leaders convene at APTA’s 39th Annual Legislative Conference More than 500 public transportation leaders convened in Washington, D.C., at the 2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Legislative Conference at the JW Marriott Hotel in March, to address the need for funding and policies that support the needs of the nation’s public transportation and passenger rail systems. A variety of topics were be discussed, including: priorities for the next transportation authorization bill; the Administration’s views on rail and transit legislation pending before Congress; and rating projects under the new MAP-21 evaluation process. The public transit leaders spent two days on Capitol Hill lobbying their congressional representatives. As part of this year’s Legislative Conference, APTA members heard from Anthony Foxx, secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C.; Therese McMillan, deputy administrator, Federal Transit Administration, Washington, D.C.; Joseph C. Szabo, administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, Washington, D.C.; Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.; and Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Q’Straint unveils new QRT-360 retractor at TSD Conference Well in advance of the December 2015 compliance date, Q’Straint remains ahead of the curve in the development and launch of new products that meet increased WC18 safety standards. Q’Straint recently debuted the new QRT-360, a revolutionary wheelchair retractor tie-down system on display during the 2014 Transporting Students with Disabilities Conference (TSD). The new QRT-360 is the first retractor to meet the Rehabilitation Engineering Assistive Technology Society of North America’s (RESNA) higher strength requirements of WC18 standards. Beginning in December 2015, compliance with WC18 standards will require wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint systems (WTORS) to be stronger and capable of withstanding loads up to 60 percent higher. QRT-360 is the first four-point, heavy-duty, fully automatic retractable tie-down system designed, engineered and built to perform successfully in a 30-mph frontal crash with a crash test wheelchair featuring an integrated lap belt, such as with the popular WC19 chairs. QRT-360 is part of the QRT-3 Series and is compatible with most vehicles and chairs for the following transportation applications: personal mobility, paratransit, school/pupil transportation, transit, motor coach, rail and taxi.


The impressive New Flyer plant is brightly lit, orderly and full of new buses being built for the cities of Calgary, Baltimore and Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of the author.

Blogger finds New Flyer warms her Minnesota chill Rachele Huennekens serves LAANE, a national leader in the effort to address the challenges of working poverty, inadequate healthcare and polluted communities, as a communications specialist on the Jobs to Move America campaign. She provided BUSRide her recent blog on a visit to the New Flyer Industries assembly plant in St. Cloud, MN. Minnesota was cold when I visited in early February. The subzero temperatures weren’t the only reason for this impression. Actually, the sight of 122 acres of mangled metal above the Mississippi River chilled me to the bone. The former Ford factory in St. Paul, which operated for more than 80 years and employed thousands of workers manufacturing cars, is being demolished. Seeing firsthand the historic Twin Cities Assembly Plant’s demise and the loss of so many quality, unionized American manufacturing jobs gave me a keen sense of grief. Ironically, I had come to Minnesota to encourage the creation of U.S. manufacturing jobs by advocating that the Twin Cities regional planning Metropolitan Council leverage its purchases of buses and trains. I represented the Jobs to Move America coalition, which unites

more than 30 community, labor, faith, civil rights, philanthropic, academic and environmental groups to help make U.S. transit dollars go the distance. Jobs to Move America aims to help U.S. public transit agencies spend $5.4 billion taxpayer dollars annually to improve and clean our transit systems, create and retain good American jobs, and generate opportunities for such unemployed Americans as veterans, single parents and residents of low-income neighborhoods. I presented Jobs to Move America’s procurement policy to the transportation committee in February, explaining how requiring jobs disclosures and using a system of voluntary price credits could drive competition upward between large global manufacturing companies. Further, the proposed system rewards companies for building American factories, hiring disadvantaged workers and training workers for long-term careers. But I kept picturing that Ford factory as a symbol of outsourcing, corporate greed and the abject destruction of American dreams. It left me feeling so cold. Thankfully, my other experience in Minnesota warmed me. I had the privilege to visit the New Flyer Industries bus plant in St. Cloud, one of the few factories in the U.S. where good transportation manufacturing jobs exist. The impressive factory was brightly lit, orderly and full of new buses being built for the cities of Calgary, Baltimore and Los | BUSRIDE



Angeles. I also spoke with Local 7304 members about their jobs and their impact on their lives. One young woman named Khantaly talked about her sense of pride when visiting Las Vegas and seeing a bus that she had painted. A man named Farah told me how his job at New Flyer allowed him to support his wife and four young children with a good life in Minnesota after he had fled war-torn Somalia and spent years in a refugee camp in Yemen. A married couple, Brenda and Jeff, compared their experiences at New Flyer with previous nonunion jobs to “heaven and hell.” Flying home to Los Angeles, I felt hot and cold about Minnesota manufacturing jobs. On the one hand, witnessing the demolition of the huge St. Paul Ford plant and learning about Minnesota’s dire racial inequalities underscored the desperate need for the Metropolitan Council to act to revitalize the local manufacturing industry, create good jobs and make them available to disadvantaged people. On the other hand, visiting the New Flyer plant gave me hope that we can someday make Minnesota’s public transportation dollars go the distance to create more good U.S. manufacturing jobs. I guess that belief can keep me warm.

TAPTCO unveils new Safety Leadership training course The Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO) announced that they have just completed a new training course – Safety Leadership. “The Safety Leadership Course closes the loop on providing all the required materials to create the safest, most efficient NORMS in any agency,” said Jeff Cassell, president of TAPTCO. “Every leader already thinks they know how to create safe norms, but if that were true, why are there so many accidents,” said Cassell. The new course consists of seven interactive CD’s: (1) Opening Preview (2) Accidents and Why People Have Them (3) Understanding Human Behavior (4) Leadership Principles (5) Leadership Techniques (6) Behavior-Based Safety (7) Final Exam It takes around 4.5 hours to complete all seven CD’s.

Daktronics awarded $1.2 million contract from BART

Doran Manufacturing celebrates 60 years in business Doran Manufacturing is celebrating its first 60 years in business. Doran has been creating customized solutions to solve problems since 1953, including providing reliable transportation safety products since the early 1970s. In addition to providing tire pressure monitoring systems for bus fleets, truck fleets, mining/off-road vehicles, RVs & motorcycles, Doran produces LED/incandescent exterior light monitors and Sleeping Child Check monitors for the school bus market and continues to manufacture customized terminals & terminal boards in their original factory. “Our owners’ core values of creating a great place to work and have a career as well as treating customer’s problems as if they are our own are long-term, embedded values lived by every individual in the company through decades of practice and good results,” said Jim Samocki, general manager.



Daktronics Inc. has been chosen to provide $1.2 million worth of high resolution, full-color 6mm pitch LED displays for San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in California. The fifth-largest transit station in America, BART serves eight million travelers a year, providing transportation between the East and West Bay. BART’s initial purchase of high resolution, full-color displays will be installed as part of the passenger information system along the new Warm Springs, San Jose Berryessa and East Contra Costa (eBART) extensions. The Warm Springs extension is set to open to the public in December of 2015. Daktronics first delivered LED displays to BART nearly 15 years ago. Over the last year, Daktronics and BART support worked together to develop the 6mm pitch LED product specifically for the mass transit market. Dale Storhaug, Daktronics Mass Transit Manager, explained that the signs will be used for line color designation, color text, graphics and symbols display, wayfinding purposes and train status information.

DELIVERIES CH Bus Sales / Temsa added


Motor Coach Industries (MCI)





Premier Coaches Northwest Seattle, WA

Royal Excursion Mishawaka, IN

Royal Star Hawaii Honolulu, HI

Premier Coaches Northwest, located just south of Seattle, WA, offers charter services to Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue’s Eastside areas of Washington. Operating a fleet of primarily smaller coaches and 24 passenger mini-buses, Premier found a perfect fit with the 40-passenger TEMSA TS 35 motorcoach. Premier’s TS 35 coaches are equipped with Alcoa wheels, REI A/V monitors, and side and driver shades. The most recent 2014 model also includes leather seats, wood grain floors, cordless microphone and 110V plug outlets.

Royal Excursion recently took delivery of two Temsa TS 35 motorcoaches. The company, located near South Bend, IN, was named among the 2013 Indiana Companies to Watch and has been operating as a locally owned and operated transportation company since 1998. Royal Excursion offers a variety of transportation services including wedding parties, sports events travel, school field trips, and corporate events. With a growing fleet of full-size motorcoaches, mini-coaches, town cars, and limousines, Royal Excursion found an excellent fit with the Temsa TS 35 mid-size motorcoach.

As part of a rebranding effort that will differentiate its premium “gold” fleet from its standard “silver” category coaches, Royal Star Hawaii has taken delivery of the first two of six 2014 MCI J4500 coaches meant to represent the company’s top-of-the-line offerings. When complete, the company’s gold fleet will reach 22 coaches, all 2009-ornewer MCI J4500s. The two new J4500s, which feature wheelchair lifts, lavatories, and A/V systems will be used primarily for island tours and transfers. The rest of the six-coach J4500 order will arrive later this year.

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS In a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors appointed Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim as the new executive director of NJ TRANSIT during a special meeting. Prior to Hakim’s appointment, she led the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) for nearly four years. Previously, Hakim also served in leadership roles throughout a 23-year career with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City. Diane Caldera is the new director of operations at Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA after serving eight months as “interim” director. Caldera joined Omnitrans in 2005 as a coach operator. Within six months she took a position in Human Resources then later returned to Operations to work as a field supervisor. Caldera was quickly promoted to assistant transportation manager where she spent seven years managing and mentoring others. The Board of Trustees for VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio, TX, elected new officers at their February 25 meeting, and they selected Alex Briseño to lead the agency’s governing body. Briseño is perhaps best known for his tenure as San Antonio City Manager, where he handled the day-to-day activities of all the city’s departments for almost 11 years. Meritor, Inc., Troy, MI, announced that Sandra Quick has joined the company as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. Quick will have responsibility for

the legal affairs of the entire corporation and will manage the corporate legal department. She will also direct legal activities related to corporate governance, acquisitions and divestitures, litigation, business standards compliance, regulatory compliance and intellectual property. ABC Companies announced the appointment of Jonathan Robbins as account manager in ABC’s Northeastern Region. Robbins will be responsible for coach sales in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Robbins is an experienced relationship manager with six years of sales and client management experience in the retail banking and investment industry. A graduate of Lynn University in Florida with a degree in business administration, he has a solid background in finance and management. Robbins will report to Mike Laffan, general manager of the Northeast Region. ebm-papst Inc., Farmington, CT, is pleased to announce that Joe Giacona has recently joined the company as market manager – transportation. His responsibilities include market development, forecasting, field sales coordination and customer relations for the ebm-papst fans, motors and blowers that heat, cool and ventilate buses, trains, trucks and other transportation vehicles across North America. Joe Giacona | BUSRIDE


Prevost preps drivers Prevost partners with UMA to expand the Bus and Motorcoach Academy

Prevost and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) have joined forces to update and expand the Bus and Motorcoach Academy, creating a new program called Prevost Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers, or “Prevost Prep”. Presented by Prevost, UMA and the College of Southern Maryland, Prevost Prep is designed specifically for drivers to meet the driver training needs of the motorcoach industry. Prevost recognizes that motorcoach operators are greatly challenged in recruiting, training and retaining qualified drivers. “Drivers are one of the industry’s cornerstone resources and we must do what we can to encourage skilled drivers to enter the industry,” says Gaetan Bolduc, Prevost CEO. “Training is an important part of that attraction and retention.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that bus and motorcoach operators ensure their drivers are knowledgeable and comply with FMCSA rules and regulations. Prevost Prep prepares the driver to pass the CDL written exam or, for those who already have a CDL, gives a thorough review of applicable industry rules and regulations. Through this program driver training can be quantified and proven for insurance purposes. Participants that have completed the program satisfactorily will receive a letter of completion that can be submitted to an insurance company for insurance renewals. Prevost has committed to supporting this driving program over the next 10 years in order to expand the curriculum, update existing courses, and provide scholarships for drivers. The scholarships will be awarded by UMA. The Prevost Prep program will begin with newly updated 2014 courses. These will include new course materials to correspond with the updated courses. Applications for scholarships are being accepted by UMA and will be awarded by the association on Prevost’s behalf. These scholarships are open to the entire industry, not only Prevost customers and not only UMA members. Scholarships are for partial tuition on the complete course package based on the criteria set by UMA. See the UMA website for further info and tuition rates at To inaugurate the Prevost Prep program, Prevost has pledged $10,000 in scholarships of $200 towards tuition to the first 50 companies that sign up for the Spring 2014 semester of the Prevost Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers. No further scholarship application process is necessary for this spring semester only. Scholarships for future semesters will go through a normal application process through the UMA. 14


More than a map from Rand McNally The 75-year old company broadens its mobile fleet management solutions; TransCor America signs on as flagship account Rand McNally has served as one the country’s most trusted source for maps, navigation, and travel content. Continuing with its extension into commercial transportation, Rand McNally recently expanded on its mobile fleet management tools and solutions to now include E-Logs compliant with Hours of Service regulations specific to the passenger-carrier market. This is according to the press announcement from Los Angeles, CA, during the UMA Motorcoach EXPO in February. The company says the Motorcoach HOS is available on the Rand McNally TPC 7600, a full featured in-cab mobile computing device, as well as the TND™ 760, a revolutionary one-box, one-cable mobile fleet management device and the HD 100, a small black box that pairs with tablets, phones and the Rand McNally IntelliRoute® TND™ 720 GPS device. “The bus and motorcoach transportation industry faces regulatory and operational challenges similar to over-the-road commercial transportation fleets,” says Rand McNally CEO Steve Fletcher. “It was a natural extension to develop a solution that meets the specific requirements for passenger-carrying drivers as well.” He says the time-honored company now offers motorcoach companies access to the compliance and safety benefits of mobile fleet management, cost reduction due to automation of tasks, navigation specific to larger vehicles, and monitoring of vehicle and driver behavior for maintenance and training. Rand McNally also announced that TransCor America, LLC (TCA), the most experienced detainee/prisoner transportation company in the country, is in the process of installing the TND™ 760 throughout its organization. TCA, a subsidiary of Corrections Corporation of America, has transported more than 1.2 million detainees/prisoners at all security levels over the past 23 years throughout the United States. The company says its previous provider of mobile fleet management was unable to support the new HOS regulations and the anticipated E-log mandate with multi-seat functionality, which is a necessity for long- haul prison transport. The automation of HOS for TCA will provide a simpler and more efficient way to manage reporting. “We reviewed a variety of solutions for 18 months before selecting Rand McNally as our partner for mobile fleet management,” says David Spence, managing director, Fleet Management and DOT Compliance for Transcor. “We wanted to be ahead of the game with E-Logs and

TransCor America is in the process of installing the TND™ 760 throughout its organization.

HOS specifically related to our industry. Rand McNally’s unique feature for multi-seat recording supports our reality.” TCA says it is one of the first detainee/ prisoner transportation companies to run in full compliance with the TransCor operates, among other vehicles, 34-passenger Motor Coach Industry ISTV Federal Transportation of secure prisoner motorcoaches. Dangerous Criminals Act of 2000, known as Jeanna’s Act, establishes specific regulations for private entities that transport prisoners across state lines. The company anticipates reducing the seven to 10 days typically spent compiling and auditing paper logs to nearly all automatic reports. In addition, the all-in-one TND™ 760 device provides bus locations visible via the Rand McNally Connect web portal, allowing the TCA operations group to manage its entire fleet and anticipate necessary adjustments to the routing plan for each vehicle. Spence says an added benefit of the TND™ 760 device is the driver experience. The ease-of-use reduces the stress on drivers to keep track of and calculate hours, allowing them to focus on driving. “Another great thing is that the device allows us to review driver behavior,” he says. “We reward our drivers for their commitment to safe driving, as evidenced through benchmarks provided by the TND™.” Spence reported that drivers currently using the device also appreciate the advance warnings for steep grades, sharp curves and speed limit changes provided by the TND™ 760 devices. TCA says it has already installed the TND™ 760 across its fleet of passenger motorcoaches and intends to install them in prisoner vans as well. | BUSRIDE


Check before you travel Grech Motors LLC offers a comprehensive checklist for bus owners and drivers


rech Motors LLC, Riverside, CA, says that because passenger safety is the primary goal for a bus company, safe customers do not need a bad experience and the company cannot afford such a detriment. For that reason, Grech offers this basic checklist for routine interior and exterior maintenance as a reminder of how important the basics are to receiving a great customer review and avoiding an operator’s worst nightmares. Grech says disastrous situations due to poor functionality are easily avoided by carefully checking the vehicle before and after each trip. It may sound familiar, but it’s always worth repeating. Here is the Check Before You Travel list of items that Grech suggests: With the engine off: • Check the oil level. It should be above the refill mark. • Check the coolant level after removing the radiator cap when the engine is cool. • Check the power steering fluid; examine the condition of each hose and check for leaks beneath the vehicle. • Check belts for damage, frays, and tightness. • Check all components: HVAC compressor, alternator, power steering and water pump. • Inspect the battery All cell caps are attached No corrosion present on connections Tight battery connections • Examine the gas tank, gas lines and gas cap for leaks


• Examine wiper arms and blades • Check washer fluid level • Test wipers and washer fluid function • Ensure turn indicator is working • Check all lights: four-way emergency signal, beam headlights high and low, brake lights, tail lights, and clearance lights. • Test horn volume • Test steering play not to exceed 10 degrees • Check that defroster heater Exterior • Check entry for accessibility and damage • Operating lift fully retracted and securely latched • Doors open and close properly • All baggage compartment doors are functional Interior • Ensure handrails are secure • Check all aisle and overhead lighting • Check emergency exit warning devices • Check for all emergency and first aid equipment on hand; fire extinguisher, extra l fuse, and reflective triangles Seating inspection

With the engine on:

• Check seating area for cleanliness • Ensure seat frames are securely attached to t floor • Check for broken seat frames and other damage • Ensure all cushions are attached to seat frames • Check all safety belts and latches

• Ensure all gauges are working properly; oil pressure, voltmeter, temperature, and air • Ensure no warning lights are on • Check mirrors and windshield for cleanliness.

With the bus inspected to satisfaction, have the responsible person fill out the U.S. DOT pre- and post-trip inspection form each time the vehicle is in service.


All aboard the Fresh Express Valley Metro and partners repurpose bus as mobile market

Valley Metro Chair and Mesa Councilmember Scott Somers (left) with “passengers” aboard the Fresh Express bus.


alley Metro, Phoenix, AZ, is pleased to partner with the Discovery Triangle Development Corporation to launch a fresh food initiative that will bring a mobile produce market to underserved neighborhoods. The “Fresh Express by Discovery Triangle” will sell fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables out of a retired Valley Metro bus. “We understand the value of healthy communities to enhance the quality of life for our riders,” says Valley Metro Board Chair and Mesa, AZ, Councilmember Scott Somers. “The Fresh Express bus will provide easier access to affordable, nutritious food that will help nurture the community’s youth.” Discovery Triangle is a redevelopment initiative that focuses on a 25-square-mile region in the urban cores of Phoenix and Tempe, AZ. This area is considered a “food desert” because of limited access to grocery stores. The retrofitted Valley Metro bus will travel to schools, senior centers, parks, churches and other community gathering places located in the Discovery Triangle to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Valley Metro would also like to thank several of its industry service providers for helping to make this partnership possible:

The Fresh Express bus unveiled at Brunson Lee Elementary School in Phoenix will sell fresh, affordable and high-quality fruits and vegetables to underserved neighborhoods.

• First Transit (operator/vehicle maintenance) • Bluemedia (full train wrap) • Thermoguard (glass upgrade) • Creative Bus Sales Arizona (canopy) • Custom Made Gas Tanks (vehicle painting) | BUSRIDE


Since it arrived on the scene in 2002, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has grown steadily in popularity.

Fit and finish worthy of the star Meridian Specialty Vehicles puts its touches to the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the European platform By David Hubbard




eridian Specialty Vehicles is a 19-year-old company that got its start building fire trucks. Since 2007, the company has been heavily involved in the specialty vehicles market, building mobile command centers, mobile health clinics, bookmobiles and other such special-use conversions. According to Meridian President and CEO David Ronsen, while the specialty vehicle business is profitable, the downside stems from its lack of an “over the horizon” visibility that makes it difficult to predict sales. “In addition to that, it is beholden to grant funding and government budgets, areas where we had absolutely no control over,” he says. “It was business one order at a time, doing 100 percent custom work in an industry segment where there are no standards.” All which pressed Meridian to seek out more of a productionline product — obviously at lower profit margins, Ronsen says. The company needed a high-volume vehicle that could insulate the company from economic issues beyond its control. “No matter where we’ve been with any product we have ever built,” he says. ”Our fundamental principle seems to be to somehow disrupt the status quo with value-added products.” Meridian says that while the existing small and midsize bus market introduces a wide range of quality, another cutaway bus body attached to a separate chassis was not its choice. “Much of the reason our vehicles are higher end and nicer looking is due to increased demand from the limousine operators who have realized the stretch limo is done,” Ronsen says. “Shuttle buses with

The Meridian Sprinter product features 12 standard floor plans, which the company can outfit with up to 140 legal seating configurations and 110 optioncontent selections.

higher passenger are replacing the standard limousine.” In recent years, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has grown steadily in popularity. According to Ronsen, seven Sprinters were on the floor of the LTC show two years ago. Last year there were 13 Sprinters, and 23 this year. “The limousine industry is pushing quality and aesthetics,” he says. “As a result, charter and tour operators are now competing with limo operators.” Though a number of design attributes are unique to Meridian, the company is not the first to introduce this version of the Sprinter. But Meridian believes it separates from the pack by introducing alternatives to small bus operators. “We worked very closely with Mercedes-Benz for over a year, going through its engineering approval process,” Ronsen says. “Mercedes-Benz is by far the most stringent manufacturer in terms of certification. Of the only two certified shuttle bus outfitters, Meridian is one, Mercedes-Benz is the other.” Ronsen says the Meridian product focuses on two client types: the high-end client looking for the Mercedes Star, and the fleet operator who understands how 18 miles per gallon (mpg) will save the company a lot of money over the course of a year, regardless of the cost of the vehicle. “Our focus is not strictly on Mercedes-Benz, but rather, how we can maximize what the Europeans have been doing for the last 30 years,” Ronsen says. The European platform With that, the focus of Meridian Specialty Vehicles is not limited

to Mercedes-Benz, but rather the scope of the European van and small bus platform which includes new products by Chrysler-Fiat and Ford. “In Europe, moving around economically in comfort is most important,” Ronsen says. “Newcomers to the European platform are generally surprised by the spaciousness and headroom it affords. The interior is typically over 70 inches wide with ample room to stand.” He says Europeans simply can’t afford to travel along at 6-9 mpg, and that Americans are beginning to realize the same. His view is that until the markets crashed, operators and fleet managers viewed the cost of fuel as simply the cost of doing business. It was out of their control due mostly to the lack of options. “Meridian offers an alternative that can generally cut the fuel bill in half from day one,” he says. “The range for all three of these OEM models ranges from 18 to 24 mpg.” He notes where passenger miles per gallon is a term generally reserved for motorcoach operators, not many small bus operators and owners really think about this metric. “Miles per gallon multiplied by the number of passengers equals passenger miles per gallon,” Ronsen says. “For example, Greyhound cites 200 passenger miles per gallon. Our 20-passenger Sprinter models are achieving around 360 passenger miles per gallon. These figures have major implications to an operator’s bottom line.” Have Sprinter; will customize Meridian Specialty Vehicles stakes its reputation on its willingness to customize. The Meridian Sprinter product | BUSRIDE


rattles,” Ronsen says. “One of our most stringent benchmarks is that nothing rattles.” He says that whether a fleet owner is buying a reasonably priced scaled-down product with little option content, or a limousine operator loading it up and decking it out for sheer luxury with leather seats and side panels, both treatments receive the same quality construction and attention to detail.

features 12 standard floor plans, which the company can outfit with up to over 1,400 legal seating configurations and 110 optioncontent selections. One trademark feature of a Meridian conversion is the proprietary plug-style front door that replaces the sliding or passenger door in the typical shuttle. “Bus operators have become accustomed to choosing whatever they want in their vehicles,” Ronsen says. “That makes it imperative that we are able to accommodate as many variations on the theme as possible.”

The Meridian dealer network

A BUSRide Road Test

The company says it has been extremely selective with the dealers it chooses to work with. “We insist our dealers clearly understand the difference between the product that we are building and that of our competition,” Ronsen says. “Meridian is not the end-all product for everyone, nor are we trying to be, but we believe we offer a vehicle that differs from other small bus manufacturers.”

BUSRide invited Jospeph Wesolowski, general manager, Creative Bus, Las Vegas, NV, to drive the Meridian Sprinter through the streets of Las Vegas, and offer his comments on the vehicle and the company. “Creative Bus recently partnered with Meridian Specialty Vehicles” he says. “We see other upfitters who work with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter adhering to only the minimum requirement. In our view, everyone meets FMVSS for this class of vehicle, but we think Meridian exceeds all normal standards, such as stringent pull testing on seats.” Creative Bus is introducing the Sprinter to resorts running VIP shuttles to the Strip and airport, as well as short-distance charter operators in the Los Angeles area. While Mercedes-Benz offers a standard fit for a shuttle bus application, he noted the Meridian conversion includes the upgraded HVAC, strengthened substructure and flooring. Wesolowski says the Meridian fit and finish is second to none. The ride is nice and tight, no rattles anywhere. “The plug-style front door is a perfect example,” he says. “It opens and closes smoothly. It is completely sealed and very quiet. In fact, the vehicle runs extremely quiet in every respect, and that is important.” A look inside reveals no fasteners of any kind. “Fasteners spoil the look of the interior and they can lead to

Ram and Ford conversions on the way Later this year, Meridian Specialty Vehicles will introduce its conversions of both the Chrysler-Fiat Ram ProMaster and the Ford Transit that will replace the Econoline. “Ram introduced this product vehicle as a cargo van only,” Ronsen says. “So we are certainly going to produce a passenger version on the platform with some sort of driver-controlled door.” He says the prototype is built and the company is about to begin seat pull-testing. Now that order banks are closed, the Ford Econoline is being replaced with a vehicle that looks much like the Sprinter on the fullsize, high roof European platform. In cubic volume it is nearly identical to the Sprinter and twice the interior room as the Ford Econoline. This means that by the end of this year, Meridian Specialty Vehicles will offer a product in three separate price tiers based on the European platform.

We have been with Protective Insurance Company since 2008. In that time, we have always felt

like everyone at Protective really

cares about the safety and success of our company and the motorcoach industry. Gregg Isherwood President Custom Coach and Limousine



New Flyer’s MiDi is a mid-sized, low-floor, clean diesel powered bus that is ideal for use in community, airport, university and hotel shuttle services.

ABC Companies links with New Flyer New Flyer appoints ABC as U.S. distributor of MiDi and Xcelsior buses New Flyer Industries Inc., a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses in the United States and Canada, signed an agreement in February with ABC Companies, Inc. to serve as the exclusive distributor of New Flyer’s MiDi and Xcelsior transit bus models to United States private bus and shuttle operators. Under the terms of the agreement, ABC will market, sell and provide after sales service for New Flyer’s MiDi and Xcelsior transit buses through its established service locations and select independent dealerships. All New Flyer products purchased through ABC will be fully supported by New Flyer’s industry leading warranty, genuine New Flyer spare parts, and lifetime customer care programs. “This is a great opportunity for New Flyer to respond to private customer demand and expand our market reach in the United States,” said Paul Smith, New Flyer executive vice president Sales and Marketing, in a statement. “The addition of New Flyer’s bestselling transit buses to ABC’s current portfolio of highway coaches, light-duty cutaway buses, and refurbishment services provides a comprehensive solution for private bus operators.” The New Flyer MiDi is a mid-sized, low-floor, clean diesel powered bus that is ideal for use in community, airport, university and hotel shuttle services. Available in 30’ and 35’ lengths, the streamlined design of the MiDi provides greater maneuverability while maintaining excellent accessibility for passengers with one or two doors and a 1:6 slope wheelchair ramp. Substantially lighter than vehicles in its class, MiDi was developed through a joint venture with Alexander Dennis, and is based on its proven E200 design with over 16,000 vehicles deployed worldwide. The New Flyer Xcelsior is a heavy-duty; low floor bus that is ideal for use in rigorous duty cycles and provides higher passenger

capacities. Available in 35’, 40’ and 60’ lengths, the Xcelsior is offered with clean diesel, compressed natural gas, and diesel electric hybrid propulsion systems. “ABC is excited to partner with New Flyer to offer the Xcelsior and MiDi to the US private bus market,” said Dane Cornell, ABC Chairman and CEO, in a statement. “New Flyer’s reputation for quality, reliability and innovation, aligns with our mission of providing market leading solutions to our customers.” ABC will offer New Flyer models through their Specialty Vehicles Division, headed by Roman Cornell, senior vice president, ABC Companies. As a third generation participant in the family-owned business, Cornell brings over 20 years of industry experience to the company’s sales and marketing efforts. “ABC is committed to offering our customer base an expansive selection of transport solutions to support their fleet’s unique requirements,” Roman Cornell said in a statement. “The ABC/New Flyer alliance complements our overall strategy to offer a diverse range of equipment solutions, and we’re pleased to offer New Flyer’s wide range of vehicle options to our customers, along with the industry leading after sales support for which ABC is known.” The MiDi and Xcelsior models have been designed to deliver life-cycle savings, offering industry leading reliability, better fuel economy, and lower maintenance costs, by incorporating features such as weight optimized structures, disc brakes and long lasting LED headlights. New Flyer vehicles meet or exceed all applicable US regulations, including FMVSS, ADA, Buy America requirements, and the Federal Transit Administration’s new model bus testing program in Altoona, PA. The New Flyer MiDi and Xcelsior bus models will both be available for sale at all ABC’s North American sales locations. | BUSRIDE














Double Coin develops the supply chain Double Coin Tires and CMA launch a new distribution center and mobile app


As an added feature, Double Coin’s mobile application also serves as a tire inflation guide.



ouble Coin Tires and CMA, a leading tire manufacturer and marketer, have announced the grand opening of their new west coast distribution center in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. The new distribution center recently completed its final phase of construction located at the intersection of 8th Street and Vineyard Avenue in the city of Rancho Cucamonga. The center will support the dealer and end-user supply chain with shipments of the Double Coin brand and other CMA products. This is CMA’s second distribution center in North America, joining their Memphis, TN, facility. Double Coin Tires are supplied by China Manufacturers Alliance, LLC (CMA), which is based in Monrovia, CA, and is a subsidiary of Double Coin Holdings, Ltd. Double Coin products include bus and truck radial and radial off-the-road tires that enjoy OEM fitments at major North American transportation and construction equipment manufacturers. In addition, Double Coin Tires are tested at some of the most progressive transportation fleets in North America. “We’ve invested in the latest building innovations to construct an energy-efficient and technologically advanced distribution center,” said Aaron C. Murphy, vice president of CMA. “The new energy efficient facility utilizes more natural light, and is constructed with other energy-saving sources, including motiondetecting lighting technology.” Built from the ground-up for tire distribution optimization, Double Coin says the distribution center utilizes customized













and portable racking systems that provide multiple tire storage combinations at full capacity. The state-of-the-art building includes a wireless mobile security monitoring system as well as dock-high and grade level bay doors with stalls for trailer parking with additional spacious areas available for expedited shipping. CMA has appointed Brian Rainwater as Rancho Cucamonga’s Distribution Center manager. CMA is currently hiring additional warehouse and office staff for the new location. Mobile app launched Double Coin Tires and CMA also recently announced the launch of a new Double Coin Tires mobile application available for Apple iPhone and Android smartphones. The free Double Coin Tires mobile application uses GPS and offers multiple capabilities, including the ability to search for Double Coin dealership locations within a user’s geographic location as well as a specified radius search or map route. Users have the ability to call, share, email or get directions to a dealership at a click of a button. “With over 1,000 authorized Double Coin dealer locations, the application will serve as a quick way to find one nearest to the individual wherever and whenever they are in North America,” Murphy said. As an added feature, the application also serves as a tire inflation guide. “Proper tire inflation is one of the most important aspects of proper tire maintenance – it can significantly increase the life of the tire and its performance,” Murphy said. “Users are able to obtain 24/7 mobile access to recommended tire inflation pressures for all Double Coin tires.” Double Coin says the app’s design allows users to calculate tire load limits for dual and single axle applications based on tire size and pressure. The Double Coin Tires mobile application is available for free download by visiting the iTunes App Store and the Android Google Play Store by searching “Double Coin Tires”.

TRANSPORTATION SOFTWARE For more than 16 years EasyBus® Software has been helping hundreds of school bus and motorcoach operators across North America achieve greater efficiency and safety compliance.


Walk through our features and functionality with one of our product specialists



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“You owe your support staff a steak dinner, they are fantastic!” Mike Forbord, Schmitty and Sons, Lakeville, MN 518.877.2500 | BUSRIDE


Voith wins Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence The award from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry recognizes Voith’s commitment to workplace safety

Pictured at the award presentation are left to right: Darrin Boeckel, Safety Team chairman for Voith Turbo; Tom Houtz, health and safety manager for Voith Turbo; Stephen Fireoved, director of Worker’s Compensation for the PA Deptartment of Labor (DOL); Eugene Connell, deputy secretary of Compensation & Insurance at PA DOL; Norm Boisvert, CAO and regional director of Voith Turbo Americas; Matthias Lindemann, executive vice president and CFO for Voith Turbo GmbH; and Scott Weiant, chief of Health and Safety at PA DOL. 24


Voith Turbo’s York facility has received the 2013 Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The award was presented to Voith Turbo’s Chief Administrative Officer and Regional Director of Voith Turbo Americas Norm Boisvert in February at the York facility. The ceremony featured representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry and Matthias Lindemann, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Voith Turbo GmbH. The award recognizes successful employer-employee safety programs that produce tangible safety improvements. Out of more than 9,200 eligible companies in Pennsylvania, 56 submitted applications and only 10 received awards this year. Voith Turbo, a division of Voith GmbH, is a specialist for intelligent drive solutions. Customers from highly diverse industries such bus, rail, commercial vehicles, oil and gas, energy, mining and metal processing, and ship technology rely on advanced technologies from Voith Turbo. Founded in 1867, Voith employs more than 43,000 people, generates EUR 5.7 billion in sales, operates in about 50 countries around the world and is today one of the biggest family-owned companies in Europe. “Winning the Governor’s Award for Safety Excellence is a great honor for Voith Turbo and its employees,” said Boisvert in a statement. “The award is without a doubt a product of the companywide commitment Voith makes for safety at its facilities. We thank the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry for recognizing our safety achievements.” Voith Turbo stood out in the application process for several reasons: • The safety team is certified by the State of Pennsylvania. • Voith has a persistent drive for and attention to safety programs and tools • Employee buy-in on safety programs. • The company’s effective response to safety challenges Aiding Voith Turbo’s application was its continued growth over the last several years, which has doubled its size in York and includes the construction of a 6,000 foot addition to its facility. During the site visit for the award, inspectors from the Department of Labor and Industry noted the pride of Voith employees and the safety that Voith products bring to the industries and communities in which Voith operates.

VTA connects and enriches Santa Clara VTA links with Allied Telesis, cosponsors a transportation summit and closes trail system gap

BUSRide rounds up the latest news at Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), San Jose, CA.

Let’s Get Moving The second annual “Let’s Get Moving: Transportation Choices and Healthy Communities” Summit, held in Palo Alto on Feb. 22, was sponsored by more than 30 groups, from the Santa Clara VTA and local universities to chambers of commerce and health agencies. Sessions at the summit, consisting of community members, elected officials and experts, all gathered to exchange ideas, give feedback and learn more about projects planned and under way. The summit included a panel of speakers featuring VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez, SamTrans/Caltrain General Manager Michael Scanlon, and BART Assistant General Manager, Planning and Development Robert Powers. Allied Telesis links VTA Allied Telesis, a global provider of secure IP/Ethernet switching solutions and an industry leader in the deployment of IP Triple Play networks, today announced that the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has deployed an Allied Telesis network to upgrade connectivity to VTA Ticket Vending Machines and Clipper® card readers, throughout its 42-mile light-rail transit system. With a reliable and scalable network backing up Clipper card readers, VTA’s 42 million annual riders can pay for transit fares and reload Clipper cards as necessary with a convenient tapand-go system at VTA’s 62 light-rail stations. “Our system was clunky at best before Allied Telesis stepped in,” says Richard Bertalan, spokesperson for VTA. “For operation maintenance, we were in a reactive mode instead of a proactive mode. The network was pulled together over many years using different vendors’ equipment and not always using the best of breed. This is out in the weather and my predecessors didn’t always understand the rigorous conditions that existed in a com-cabinet in the field. It was really difficult for us because any time something broke down, we had to do a super costly truck-roll and go out there even if it was something relatively simple to fix. There was no way we could have handled this contactless bus and train fare system on the old network with any reliability.” With Allied Telesis’ help, VTA undertook a major overhaul of their network. “VTA came to us looking at a mechanism to improve the reliability and manageability of network components out on their fare platforms,” says Joe Gallo, senior solutions architect, Global Strategy and Research, for Allied Telesis. “They didn’t really have any mechanism to proactively monitor equipment health or determine where the actual problem was when something broke. It was a big issue.” “We looked at what they were doing and made a couple of proposals as to potential architectures that would alleviate that unmanaged component,” he adds. “At the same time it enables them to do a technology ‘refresh’ because their equipment was ten years old or older, and provides network environment to establish a platform so that they could introduce other future services as well.”

Santa Clara VTA sponsored the second annual “Let’s Get Moving” Summit in February.

Berryessa BART Station Area Regional Trail

VTA closes gap in trail system VTA has begun design and environmental work with the City of San Jose to provide alternative access to commuter bus and rail service at VTA’s Berryessa Station and to complete an important link in the regional trail system in Santa Clara County. The Upper Penitencia Creek Trail Connector will only be 1/8 of a mile long when it’s done, but it’s an important 1/8 mile. This trail will provide an alternative route for cyclists and pedestrians and fill a critical gap between the existing Penitencia Creek Trail, the future multimodal station and other planned trails in the area. Project completion is expected around the same time as BART service to Silicon Valley, in late 2017.

VTA’s design will complete an important link in the regional trail system in Santa Clara County. | BUSRIDE



sbX brings BRT to the Inland Empire By David Rutherford

With the construction phase substantially complete, Omnitrans, the transit provider in San Bernardino County, CA, began testing its new sbX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) operations in early February. Omnitrans expects the system to be fully operational and underway later this month. The Omnitrans sbX is the first-of-its-kind express service in southern California’s Inland Empire, connecting California State University at San Bernardino (CSUSB), downtown San Bernardino, the City of Loma Linda, the Loma Linda University Medical Center and the VA Hospital where the system terminates. The system runs along E Street in San Bernardino as a dedicated bus lane through the center third of the corridor. 5.2 of the 15.7 miles are identified by white dots in the red line. The other 10.5 miles is in mixedflow traffic with curbside service. Using 14 New Flyer XN60 60-foot articulated transit buses to travel the 15.7-mile corridor between northern San Bernardino and Loma Linda, the sbX improves travel time for existing transit riders in San Bernardino and serves as the centerpiece for economic development efforts in this region. With the launch of sbX comes a number of historic firsts associated with BRT in this country. • The first BRT application to receive a Project Construction Grant Agreement in the history of FTA’s Region IX. • The first to receive the maximum funding allowable ($75M for projects with capital cost below $250M) for a BRT Small Starts project in Region IX. • The first BRT system completed in 10 years from conceptual design to revenue operation. • The New Flyer XN60 is the first five-door, 60-foot articulated coach to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). Omnitrans was one of the first fleets to run entirely on CNG among agencies in southern California, the region with some of the highest air pollution levels in the country. Omnitrans sbX will operate 10-minute headways during weekday peak periods and 15 minute off-peak headways. The ridership projection for the first year of service is approximately 5,600 passengers per day, who will include people who live and work in the corridor, high school and college students, veterans, seniors and persons with disabilities. The sbX service has created and approved an additional 23 employees are as part of Omnitrans annual budget, which include 16 coach operators, a field supervisor of operations, two equipment mechanics, one facility mechanic, one utility maintenance service worker, one maintenance worker for stops and stations, and one systems engineer for information. While 25 coach operators are dedicated to the sbX system, the net increase of 16 is due to the subsequent reduction of service on Omnitrans Route 2. Planning and funding

Service on sbX Bus Rapid Transit begins in April 2014. 26


Omnitrans began an alternatives analysis in early 2004 to evaluate transportation options in a corridor served by Omnitrans Route 2, the highest performing bus route in the Omnitrans system. In December 2005, local stakeholders selected BRT as the locally preferred alternative. The next two years, the transit agency worked with local stakeholders to identify funding sources and station locations. FTA approved the project for development in December 2007, issued a Finding of No Significant Impact in September 2009, with Omnitrans receiving a Project

THE TRANSIT Authority Construction Grant Agreement in 2011. Ninety-six percent of the $191.7 million for this construction project came from federal, state and county funding used only for designated transit projects. The cities of Loma Linda and San Bernardino provided in-kind contributions such as permit fee waivers and facility use. The breakdown: Federal, 763.9 percent; State, 15.7 percent; County, 6.2 percent; and 4.2 percent from Loma Linda and San Bernardino in-kind contributions. The total cost for corridor construction includes the traffic signal priority system, the purchase of the New Flyer 60-foot vehicles and modifications to the Omnitrans vehicle maintenance facility to accommodate these larger vehicles.

The California State University, San Bernardino sbX station serves as a model for other locations.

David Rutherford serves with Omnitrans, San Bernadino, CA, as Public Relations Specialist, sbX Integrated Project Management Office.

Transit-oriented development During the E Street Corridor planning process, Omnitrans worked closely with the cities and corridor stakeholders to locate the stations at major existing activity centers or in areas with potential for transit- supportive uses. San Bernardino adopted a new general plan in 2005 to include transit-supportive principles for mixed-use development and incentives for pedestrian amenities and shared parking — with the highest densities of development targeted towards the sbX corridor. Loma Linda also drafted a general plan with transitsupportive principles. Both cities are developing revised zoning regulations consistent with their general plan updates. The City of San Bernardino has incentives in its general plan such as density bonuses to promote transit supportive uses and design. Most of the stations are in areas where tax increment financing and other development incentives are available. While there are several recent examples of transit-supportive development in the Southern California region, none fell within the E Street Corridor. A major mixed-use redevelopment project is planned for the site of an aging mall in downtown San Bernardino and a proposed intermodal transit center will include joint development opportunities. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties expect to gain more than one million residents over the next 20 years, the greatest percentage of growth in population for period 2000 to 2025 in the Southern California region. A 4,000-acre portion of the proposed station areas lies within designated redevelopment areas. Commercial or institutional build out of these areas could result in nearly 30 million square feet and over 45,000 housing units of new development, best served by express transit systems such as sbX. | BUSRIDE


Ready Bus Lines exits according to plan Minnesota Coaches acquires the 62-year old company for purposes of location and expanded services By David Hubbard


hen Tom Ready took over his father’s Ready Bus Lines, La Crescent, MN, in 1975, which Joe Ready established in 1952 with one school bus, he knew he would eventually have to work on an exit plan. Maybe not in full detail, but something to remind him early on that he wasn’t going to be at this forever. It was always Ready’s plan to make a transition of some kind once he turned 60, which came around in March. He says he started thinking seriously about this move five years ago. “I wanted to make sure the company would go out on top,” Ready says. “I never wanted this to be a case of having to sell or liquidate due to financial pressures at the time.”

At this point, Ready says he launched a campaign to double the size of his company over the next five years. “If I could accomplish that, I felt the business would be profitable and more attractive,” he says. “Then I could see if anyone in the industry was interested.” That person turned out to be Pat Regan, owner of Minnesota Coaches, Hastings, MN, his family’s 60-year old business with facilities in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Faribault, Farmington and Fergus Falls. However, before Ready and his wife Kathy made any decision, they first discussed the proposition over with their son Dayton, in the event he wished to continue in the family business. Dayton’s interests, like his father’s, also lie in finance and accounting, though he had worked

Ready Bus Lines sold the hard assets of the school bus and motorcoach operations, which totaled 100 vehicles and an assortment of shop and office equipment, to Minnesota Coaches. 28


at Ready Bus off and on for years, mostly in the maintenance department. “Dayton was at the age he was thinking about his future career, and it was not in motorcoaches,” Ready says. “But we did want to have his wishes and choices involved in our decision to sell the business.” Ready says while he and Regan had met and talked on and off in the past, their conversations turned serious last summer. “Pat was looking for other strategic locations in which to add a new dimension to his business,” Ready says. “Our specialty has always been long distance extend coach tours, while Pat has typically run shorter one-to-two day jaunts. He saw this as a way to grow into new locations and add another service to his company.” In the transaction, the company keeps its name and Ready stays on as general manager. He did not divest every division of the former entity. He sold only the hard assets of the school bus and motorcoach operations, which totaled 100 vehicles and an assortment of shop and office equipment. He retained the Ready Driver Academy and Ready Travel and Logistics, continuing to educate drivers and handle the arrangements for convention and student groups. “In our decision to sell the company, we weren’t looking for who would offer the highest price,” he says. “We wanted that special person who would make this fit and work for everyone involved.” The critical provision was that the new owner also retain the Ready employees on board. He says it was especially important that his longtime employees feel secure in this transaction and able to carry on in their work and their lives. Now it is a matter of helping to coordinate this effort with Minnesota Coaches. “We are certainly learning from one another,” Ready says. “We are interacting in every area of the operation, such as trading buses back and forth for more efficiency, as well as creating more work for our drivers.” As for the daily grind, Ready says he is now giving a little more attention to his duck hunting. “Working for a big company is a new twist for me,” he says. “My greatest feeling of relief is to not have to cater to the accounting side — the notes, debt payment, account payables. They’re now all handled in the home office. It is a good feeling to collaborate with Pat and his team. It used to get kind of lonely, working all hours to keep it all together.”

Minnesota Coaches owner Pat Regan recently acquired the Ready Bus Lines business.




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Cummins grows in Europe By Doug Jack

Above: Alexander Dennis supplies hundreds of these buses to Hong Kong with Cummins engines. 30


It has become apparent for some years that Cummins is a growing force in the European bus and coach industry. This view was reinforced at Busworld Kortrijk in Belgium last October where a number of manufacturers were offering Cummins engines standard or as an option — for a number of reasons in addition to the capability to offer a wider range of engines than any other diesel OEM. It must be 50 years since Cummins started selling bus engines in Europe, initially in the United Kingdom. I think even the company would admit those earliest engines were not ideally suited to European conditions. Nonetheless, Cummins stuck at it, learned its lessons and established good sales and service support. They were helped along the way by the policies of the major European truck and bus builders, who were and largely still vertically integrated, building their own diesel engines. With one or two exceptions, MercedesBenz has typically not supplied diesel engines to smaller manufacturers that compete directly with its own products. Merecedes-Benz is willing to supply engines for vehicles not in its own range, such as midibuses, and more recently the new integral double-decker bus that Wrightbus intends to launch later this year. MAN has always been in a conflict between those responsible for selling complete buses and coaches and the component sales division. The vehicle sales team often complained of lost orders for complete vehicles, because customers had elected to buy a competitive product with a MAN engine. This came to a head a few months ago when MAN was preparing to launch its Euro 6 engines, which became mandatory for new vehicles January 1 this year (although there were some limited derogations for Euro 5 engines in the first few months). The upshot was that MAN will no longer supply engines to Van Hool in Belgium or Solaris in Poland.

While MAN might have hoped to sell complete vehicles, customers have remained loyal to Solaris and Van Hool, and in some cases specified Cummins engines in place of the MAN units. Volvo has never supplied its engines to competitive bus and coach manufacturers in Europe. Scania had the same policy, though the smallest engine in its new CityWide range of city buses was a 9.0 liter unit. As it is larger than some customers require, Scania announced the option of the 6.7 liter Cummins ISB engine last October, saying the decision was logical because it already had a close working relationship with Cummins for extra high-pressure injection systems. Iveco, Fiat Power Train and Case New Holland are all in the same group. A few years ago they formed the European Engine Alliance with Cummins to develop a new generation of 3.9 to 6.7 liter engines. Most of the second tier European bus and coach builders have given up making their own engines due to high unit costs. Cummins can supply a very comprehensive range in terms of size and power from factories in Darlington in the United Kingdom; Jamestown, NY; and Rocky Mount, NC, and more recently from joint ventures in Beijing, China. The latest level of Euro 6 emission standards applies in the European Union. The Turkish market is currently on Euro 5 and will move to Euro 6 in 2016. Turkish and Russian builders have customers in countries that still operate to previous Euro limits, partly because oil companies have been unable or unwilling to refine ultra-low sulfur diesel. Cummins can therefore supply most engines with emission standards from Euro 2 right through to Euro 6. They can also provide EPA certified engines for exports to North America. I recently caught up with Ashley Watton, general manager, Cummins European Bus Business. I asked him if there were any challenges in complying with both European and EPA emission standards. “No, one actually helps the other,” he said. “The experience we gain in one market or region helps the development of products in other areas. For instance, we introduced SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology in Europe before using it in North America. It was the opposite for EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) and DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) technologies that were used first in North America.” Cummins engines start with small units built in China and include a full range up to the ISL and ISX engines, some with CNG options. Alexander Dennis is the largest volume customer building around 2,000


buses per annum — all with Cummins engines. Customers also include Wrightbus and Optare in the United Kingdom. VDL in the Netherlands offers Cummins in its midibuses and as an option in fullsize transit buses. Scania recently started offering the option of the Cummins 6.7 liter engine. Solaris offers that unit and has also bought many Cummins CNG engines. The company has also built many hybrid buses, all powered by Cummins. Van Hool fits Cummins not just for the North American market, but also in some city buses for Europe. Russian members of the GAZ Group, like the Likino, Pavlovo and Kurgan plants, also offer the option of Cummins, including CNG engines. Cummins diesel engines have also been offered by Neftekamsk, the bus building subsidiary of KamAZ. In Turkey, Temsa, Isuzu and Otokar all offer Cummins as standard or optional, depending on the model and size. Buses and coaches imported to Europe from builders like Ankai, King Long and Yutong of China use Cummins engines to comply with our emissions regulations. With so many vehicle builders taking its products, Cummins has to be sure that installations meet its requirements and do not run the risk of damaging its reputation. The company has a process called Installation Quality Assessment which ensures that all its application engineering requirements are achieved and approved prior to production launch. Its engineers work with counterparts in the various manufacturers to ensure that the complete system meets their mutual requirements. This is a major task, particularly with Euro 6 engines which require practically total encapsulation and heavy duty cooling systems. As part of the collaboration with manufacturers, Cummins offers a range of certification programs coordinated by customer support managers at a dedicated training school in Daventry in the center of England. Cummins has its main European parts distribution center in Rumst, Belgium, close to the pan-European highway network near Brussels airport. It serves a major network of service locations throughout Europe. Furthermore, Cummins offers dealer certification for manufacturer customers who can manage the local support where it is most suitable for customers. Coming down to hard numbers, Cummins sells around 6,000 engines per annum to its European bus and coach customers. The 6.7 liter ISB engine has developed an excellent reputation in city bus applications. Alexander Dennis and Wrightbus used the fourcylinder ISB4.5 liter unit in their hybrid vehicles, including the New Routemaster in London. Alexander Dennis also uses the larger ISL engines in its high volume exports of double-decker buses to Hong Kong and North America. It is a sobering thought that, without all the support from Cummins and its extensive range of engines, the smaller European manufacturers would have found it much harder to compete against the major players. Their main focus has to be on the much larger truck volumes, so buses and coaches can unfortunately play second fiddle. The smaller and leaner manufacturers can take faster decisions on product development, including building for niche segments that would not be of interest to the major manufacturers. That is why they and Cummins will continue to prosper in Europe.






Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom. 1. A Cummins ISB4.5 powers the hybrid New Routemaster in London. 2. Solaris uses Cummins engines in its hybrid buses. 3. Van Hool fits Cummins engines in megabus vehicles for North America. 4. This Temsa school bus has a rear mounted Cummins ISB6.7 engine. 5. Ankai sightseeing buses in Europe use Cummins engines. | BUSRIDE


Stay compliant The new FMCSA Compliance Manual from J.J. Keller & Associates aims to simplify over-theroad compliance with federal regulations

J.J. Keller’s FMCSA Compliance Manual is available on smartphones, tablets, laptops and printed editions.



Understanding and complying with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) is challenging for many fleet managers and owneroperators. Recognizing this, J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. has developed the FMCSA Compliance Manual. For 35 years, J. J. Keller says its Fleet Safety Compliance Manual helped make DOT compliance less taxing for transportation professionals. Now, the company has re-launched the manual as the FMCSA Compliance Manual, with a completely redesigned and reorganized format to make compliance even easier. In the new manual, each of the tab-divided sections puts the applicable word-for-word regulations, how-to-comply explanations, and DOT’s official interpretations for a specific safety topic all in one spot. “With the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement program, fleets are realizing the benefits of making sure their drivers are in compliance,” said Betty Weiland, senior editorial manager of transportation content at J. J. Keller, in a statement. “The FMCSA Compliance Manual provides how-to-comply explanations of the regulations to help transport professionals understand what they need to do to maintain compliance and operate safely.” Key topics covered in the manual include hours of service (HOS), driver qualification, vehicle inspection and maintenance, and commercial driver’s license requirements. The manual is intended for

anyone managing or operating one or more commercial motor vehicles — which can be anything from a large pickup truck to a motorcoach to a tractor-trailer. Going digital J. J. Keller’s online-access publications offer the same content as their print editions, but with these additional features: • Full search capabilities for easy navigation and fast research • Bookmarks to quickly access frequently used areas • Continuous updates to ensure the most current information • Direct access to subject-matter experts via the Personal Assistant tool • Portable content that can be accessed anytime from any computer or mobile device “Accessing compliance information can be difficult while on the factory floor, traveling or in other situations where a print edition might be cumbersome or impossible to tote around,” said Jennifer Jung, senior product development manager – publications, in a statement. “With the introduction of online access to our publications, we can provide convenience and workflow efficiencies that save busy business professionals valuable time.” The FMCSA Compliance Manual and all of the new online editions are available with a one-year subscription and online access, along with a copy of the print edition, for just $249. For more information, visit E-Logs with Verizon Fleets now have an easier way to transition to E-Logs as J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. recently introduced the J. J. Keller Compliance Tablet™ powered by Verizon. “This collaboration of the leader in compliance with the leader in communication gives our tablet users an all-inclusive E-Log solution supported by a 4G network,” said Rustin Keller, J. J. Keller’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a statement.

CSA compliance has put, among other things, bus maintenance in the spotlight.

The J. J. Keller Compliance Tablet™ comes pre-loaded with their J. J. Keller Mobile app, offering drivers a user-friendly system to record HOS and vehicle inspection data. Through the Verizon network, this data is sent to J. J. Keller’s web-based Encompass fleet compliance system, which provides capabilities from stand-alone E-Logs to full compliance and performance management. “We selected Verizon specifically for the reliability of its network and the broad coverage in rural areas,” Keller said. “The result of this joint effort is bundled data and hardware plans that eliminate the hassle of finding compatible plans and devices. Plus, it provides customers with dependable coverage throughout the country, which has been a key customer concern we wanted to address.”

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J. J. Keller & Associates recently introduced the J. J. Keller Compliance Tablet™ powered by Verizon.

In addition to the J. J. Keller Compliance Tablet™, Encompass also works with drivers’ existing iPad, iPhone and Android™ devices by downloading the J. J. Keller Mobile app. Since its beginning as a one-man consulting firm in 1953, J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. has grown to become one of the most respected name in safety and regulatory compliance. Now over 1,300 associates strong, J. J. Keller serves over 420,000 customers — including over 90 percent of the Fortune 1000. The company’s subject matter expertise spans nearly 1,500 topics, and its solutions include E-logs and mobile technology; training via online courses, streaming video or DVD; online management tools; managed services; advisory services; publications; forms and supplies. Transportation professionals rely on J. J. Keller’s inhouse expertise and wide selection of products and services to reduce risk and improve regulatory compliance, performance management and operational efficiency. For more information, visit, and






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BUSRide April 2014  
BUSRide April 2014  

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