DECEMBER | 2014
O F F I C I A L
BUSRide Road Test:
rolls out S-Series p 16
Small & Midsize Bus Roundtable p14 Bus Rapid Transit Roundtable p20 Fleet Management Systems Roundtable p26
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DECEMBER 2014 CONTENTS
COVER STORY Official BUSRide Road Test: CAIO S3645
Alliance Bus Group brings European flair to North American market By David Hubbard
FEATURES BUSRide turns 50 next year 12 BUSRide founder William “Bill” A. Luke recalls events that changed and grew the industry By David Hubbard
Small & Midsize Bus Roundtable: Part II
By Richard Tackett
Bus Rapid Transit Roundtable: Part I
By David Hubbard
Fleet Management Systems Roundtable: Part I
By Richard Tackett
DEPARTMENTS 7 UPDATE 9 DELIVERIES 10 PEOPLE IN THE NEWS 24 TRANSIT AUTHORITY
By Mary Sue O’Melia & David Brandauer
29 THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
By Doug Jack
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
R | 2014
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FROM THE EDITOR
Get ready to know Brandon Buchanan Tracing his 11 years with the American Bus Association (ABA), Brandon Buchanan, a graduate of Brown University, has made his way from his entry position in 2003 as an intern to director of Regulatory Affairs assisting the Board of Directors and the Policy and Government Affairs Department. Now comes word that he is stepping up to oversee the Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) following his appointment in October as part of a leadership transition. In his message to the industry, Buchanan paid homage to his predecessor, the late Norm Littler who passed away last year, and put an end to the uncertainty with BISC that followed. While it is perfectly natural for Buchanan to feel somewhat humbled to carry on the legacy Littler left to the industry, I am writing this to assure him that no one is expecting another Norm Littler. For a fellow maybe half Littler’s age, Buchanan comes to the table experienced and very wellversed in the areas of safety, security, grants, operator compliance and government affairs. He already has been working closely with the transitioning BISC Executive Committee, ramping up activities of all of the committees; encouraging even more of a working group Brandon Buchanan format and collaborative environment. As he settles in to his new position, Buchanan will undoubtedly amaze himself by all he has soaked up in his first decade with ABA. To get the ball rolling for 2015 and the winter BISC meetings in St. Louis, MO, in January, Buchanan launched a series of committee meetings via fast-tracked conference calls and webinars, and is overseeing the build out of committee web pages at www.buses.org to create a library of the committees’ work products and meeting takeaways. “It is our hope that following every BISC session, we can provide a clear takeaway that any participant or attendee can take back to their business for implementation,” he says. “We also hope through these conference calls, webinars between meetings and at the upcoming winter meetings we can better identify those wishing to belong to specific committees and engage them more frequently in ABA’s regulatory comment process.” BISC looks to be in good hands.
busride.com Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Editor David Hubbard email@example.com Editor Richard Tackett firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Stephen Gamble email@example.com Accountant Fred Valdez firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone
BUS industry SAFETY council
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VOL. 50 • NO. 12
David Hubbard Executive Editor BUSRide Magazine
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BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
UPDATE RapidBus service was expanded on August 31, 2014, now running from UBCO through to Westbank Centre (Photo courtesy of BC Transit).
INIT partners with BC Transit for Kelowna RapidBus implementation In March 2014, BC Transit, Victoria, BC, Canada, partnered with INIT, Innovations in Transportation, Chesapeake, VA, for an advanced automatic vehicle location and real-time passenger information system for the Kelowna RapidBus line. The project was designed to service a nearly 19 mile (30 kilometer) stretch on Highway 97 in Kelowna, BC, Canada, running from West Kelowna in the South to the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) in the North. The strategy comprised the implementation of INIT’s onboard computers, interactive driver terminals, emergency alarms, digital signage and audio announcements on the buses. At the stops, external passenger information displays were installed at the 12 newly constructed bus shelters along the Highway 97 route. The project had an aggressive timeline with a firm launch date scheduled for September 2014. INIT’s ability to execute the technology for BC Transit allowed the RapidBus service to launch on schedule, just six months after the contract was signed. “The expansion of RapidBus service will make transit more efficient and effective and help our customers travel quickly through the Kelowna Regional System,“ said Erinn Pinkerton, executive director of
BC Transit’s Business Development. “We have been pleased to work closely with our partners to grow this popular service.“ The buses run weekdays every 15 minutes and on weekends every 30 minutes. The Kelowna RapidBus project is the backbone of a sustainable, efficient transportation network for the region.
MCI is expanding its parts, service and repair capacity by moving its Montreal Sales and Service Center.
Montreal MCI Sales and Service Center moves to expanded location Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Des Plaines, IL, moved its Montreal MCI Sales and Service Center to an expanded location at 3500 St. Patrick Street on Nov. 1. The new downtown location, a few miles from the former site, is easily accessible from the expressway and allows MCI to expand its parts, service and repair capacity. The new location also features new MCI and Setra coaches; pre-owned coach inventory; parts for MCI, Setra and other-make coaches and buses; and an MCI Mobile Maintenance unit. The new Montreal Service Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The telephone number remains 1-800-663-3328. MCI plans to retain and add to its present staff to accommodate recent sales growth.
busride.com | BUSRIDE
Proterra CEO addresses the future of transportation Proterra Chief Executive Officer Ryan Popple spoke at the “America Answers” event in Washington, D.C., on October 21. The event brought together a diverse panel of government leaders and industry experts to tackle critical national issues surrounding the future of transportation. “America Answers” is designed as a recurring series of events addressing some of the top challenges facing the United States. Popple was featured in the inaugural session, titled “Fix My Commute,” which showcased innovative cities and companies that have implemented proactive solutions for curbing congestion, improving fuel economy, reducing the cost of commuting, protecting the environment, improving traffic safety and completing infrastructure projects.
MCI showcases Commuter Coaches at APTA EXPO Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Des Plaines, IL, brought its latest generation of Commuter Coaches to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) EXPO and Annual meeting in Houston, offering transit agencies what it calls the greenest, safest and most reliable coach model on the market. MCI showcased three versions of its Commuter Coach model. MCI’s booth included Houston Metro’s newest clean-diesel; a 40-foot CNG model; and a coach equipped with the next-generation Bendix braking and ZF axle and suspension system. Only MCI currently manufacturers a commuter coach which is Buy America-compliant, Altoona-tested and available in cleandiesel, hybrid and CNG options. Designed for the highway, the MCI Commuter Coach offers a high-floor design and rugged semimonocoque structure that elevates passengers and drivers well above traffic.
MCI honors Houston transit authorities during APTA EXPO
Patrick Scully with Metro Staff MCI showcased Houston Metro’s newest MCI Commuter Coach during APTA EXPO in October, as well as its CNG version in tribute to this year’s delivery of 147 CNG Commuter Coaches to New Jersey Transit. MCI Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Patrick Scully (third from left) presented Tom Lambert, CEO, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County and Gilbert Garcia, chairman, Houston METRO, with a canvas photo portrait of their newest MCI Commuter Coach. The MCI booth events included a press briefing with MCI CEO and President Rick Heller, who gave an overview of how MCI’s Quality8
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
at-the-Source initiatives are leading to higher-quality coaches and a safer workplace. A record-breaking 800 exhibitors attended APTA EXPO, which drew more than 12,000 attendees from 65 countries.
Nation’s first 60-foot battery/fuel cell zero-emission bus will roll soon CALSTART, Pasadena, CA, one of the nation’s leading clean transportation consortium, announced that it has received approval from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to develop North America’s first-ever fuel cell/battery combination zero emission 60foot electric bus. New Flyer Industries will build the bus that will enable it to operate in daily urban service using a unique combination of a fuel cell and batteries. “This is a major milestone in the zero emission bus sector,” said John Boesel, president and CEO at CALSTART. “60-foot buses serve the most densely populated corridors where air quality is very important. It is only through technology advancement that we are now able to envision buses of this size operating without emissions.” The propulsion system will include a combination of batteries, a fuel cell and hydrogen storage. The electric drive bus will allow the fuel cell to operate at a relative steady-state, while the batteries will both be able to capture braking energy and provide power for acceleration. Ballard will supply a next-generation fuel cell power plant that is lower in cost, smaller and lighter than existing models. The project aims to improve durability and lower costs. The bus, which is expected to be completed in the middle of next year, will meet the FTA’s Buy-America requirements.
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DELIVERIES ABC COMPANIES / VAN HOOL added
MOTOR COACH INDUSTRIES (MCI) added
Arrow Stage Lines
Fort Worth, TX
Using a hybrid strategy of acquiring established carriers and starting from scratch in promising markets, Echo Transportation has grown into a 150-vehicle fleet operating out of seven facilities in Texas, Colorado and Wyoming. Echo currently operates four types of service (motorcoach, mini-bus, shuttle and “Select Series”) and is experiencing exponential growth. As part of the growth strategy, Echo has added four new Van Hool coaches to their fleet. The acquisition of two TXs and two CXs is an indication of their willingness to adapt their fleet to specific customer needs.
Arrow Stage Lines has taken delivery of two new MCI J4500s, including the 7,000th model to roll off the E/J line at the MCI’s Winnipeg facility. With this delivery, the charter coach company is the first to own MCI J4500s with the new ZF axle system with independent front- and tag-axle suspension and a Bendix braking system that complements the model’s recently added MCI Dynamic Suspension System (MDSS). Arrow’s newest J4500s also come equipped with the latest Detroit Diesel engines offering better fuel economy and standard safety features including Electronic Stability Control, tire pressure monitoring and Amerex fire suppression.
NEW FLYER INDUSTRIES added
NOVA BUS added
Chicago Transit Authority
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
New Flyer Industries Inc. announced that the Xcelsior® XE40 battery-electric heavy-duty transit bus has entered into regular transit service with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). CTA’s two (2) battery electric buses were delivered earlier this year as part of a contract awarded to New Flyer in June 2012. CTA will operate these battery-electric buses on six routes throughout Chicago, offering their passengers a cleaner, quieter ride and enjoying fuel and maintenance savings. While CTA’s electric buses are the first New Flyer XE40 heavy-duty transit buses to enter into regular transit service, an earlier prototype bus has undergone all-weather service testing in Winnipeg and has been operating in shuttle service since March 2014.
Nova Bus has confirmed an $11 million contract with Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) for 20 LFS Natural Gas buses, with options for up to 166 buses over the following five years. Buses will run in the streets of the Buffalo Niagara region starting in early 2016. NFTA plans to use the new Nova LFS Natural Gas to replace vehicles that were purchased between 1996 and 2000 and have exceeded their useful lives. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority oversees public transportation in Erie and Niagara counties in New York State and contributes to quality of life improvements in the Buffalo Niagara region, such as smart mobility.
busride.com | BUSRIDE
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Brian Pinckney (left) and Claude Payne
ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, announced the promotion of Brian Pinckney to sales manager for ABC’s Southeast Region and the return of Claude Payne to the ABC sales team. Both Pinckney and Payne have extensive experience in the sales and service of motorcoach equipment – offering a combined 40+ years of indepth sales and customer service to motorcoach operations throughout North America.
In his new role as sales manager for ABC’s Southeast Region, Pinckney’s key responsibilities include day-to-day management of sales operations, inventory management and optimization of customer relationships within his territory. Payne will join forces with Ryhan Cornell, account manager, to provide team support that will focus on serving customers throughout the Southeast region where Payne previously supported sales efforts both as an account executive and sales manager.
ABC Companies also announced the new hire of Mike Whittaker to direct marketing activities for their Parts and Service business operations. As such, Whittaker is responsible for developing and executing all marketing strategies and tactics to support ABC’s Part and Service brands. Whittaker will oversee day-to-day marketing activities from ABC’s Florida location.
Corporate Coaches, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL, announced the appointment of Robert Finke as its chief operating officer. Finke has more than thirty years of experience in the transportation industry, including both private and public sectors of the transit, bus and motorcoach industries. Corporate Coaches’ overall fleet size of 70 commercial vehicles includes full-size motorcoaches, 81-passenger double-decker motorcoaches, Robert Finke mini-buses, limousines, luxury sedans and vans, as well as wheelchair accessible vehicles for small and large groups. 10
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced its newly elected and appointed officers and directors. The new APTA chair is Phillip A. Washington, general manager of the Regional Transportation District, Denver, CO. Valarie J. McCall, a member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board of Trustees, is the new vice chair, and Doran J. Barnes, executive director of Foothill Transit in West Covina, CA, continues as secretary-treasurer. The Trailways Transportation System, Inc. (Trailways) announced the appointment of Terri Marin as the organization’s new senior vice president of Marketing & Communications. She will apply her extensive strategic marketing and sales experience along with her in-depth knowledge of the motorcoach industry to further the network’s footprint, broaden its group-charter and tour consumer base and help increase stockholder value in the Trailways brand.
Crosspoint Kinetics, Indianapolis, IN, maker of the Kinetics Hybrid, announced the appointment of Amy Dobrikova as director of Strategy and Business Development. She joins a sales and product team devoted to increasing market awareness and adoption of the Kinetics Hybrid, a bolt-on, electric hybrid kit for class 3-7 buses and trucks. Dobrikova brings years of sales and marketing experience to Crosspoint Kinetics. Her previous experience with major corporations and large fleets focused on international business and green transportation technologies. New Flyer Industries Inc. announced the appointment of Joe Drapeau to the position of New Flyer regional field sales manager for the central United States. Drapeau is a respected individual who brings extensive bus sales experience in the US heavy-duty urban bus industry. Over his transit career, Drapeau has developed relationships built on trust with his customers throughout the midwest. In his role, Joe will focus his efforts on the various solutions offered by New Flyer including the Xcelsior® and MiDi® family of bus product lines. Allied Specialty Vehicles, Inc. (ASV) announced that Marcus Berto has been appointed chief commercial officer for all product lines worldwide. Berto will be based in the company’s corporate headquarters in Orlando, FL, and work directly with each business unit president and head of sales to solidify various pricing strategies in domestic and international markets. Berto arrives from Prumo Global Logistics SA in Brazil where he served as chief executive officer and member of the company’s executive board.
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OCTOBER | 2014
O F F I C I A L
BUSRide Road Test:
Winnebago Metro Link
MCI: Commuter coaches in Houston p26 San Diego transit expands p34 Open architecture offers flexibility p38
Beginning with reflections from founder Bill Luke, the celebration through 2015 will trace then, now and what’s to come. BUSRide turns 50 next year. From its initial focus on the big buses for charter and over the road services, BUSRide has evolved to include all modes and applications from private operators to public transit agencies; expanding its coverage to include public transit bus operations and recent advances in the realm of small and midsize buses. The magazine has grown to include bus transportation solutions regardless of vehicle type. In 50 years, its goals have not changed: to go further down the road to provide solid industry information readers need to keep their businesses and operations safe, efficient and profitable. With that said, BUSRide recently called on founder William “Bill” A. Luke to help kick off this milestone anniversary with a few of his reflections and remembrances of the early magazine. Now retired and residing in Spokane, WA, but still very active in preserving the history of the bus industry through his many articles and books, Bill and his team produced and published BUSRide for the first 31 years of its existence. When you launched BUSRide, what in the bus and coach industry had everyone’s attention? Bill Luke: We published the first issue of BUSRide in 1965, but that was actually one year after a couple of very important developments in U.S. transportation — mostly the Urban Transportation Act of 1964, which brought about the formation of the United Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA). With the development of the Interstate Highway system as well as the work of UMTA through policy decisions and grants funding, the nation’s transit industry grew steadily, made improvements and has been making the news ever since — and much of that news, of course, appeared in BUSRide. In 1991 the UMTA became the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA). Along the same line, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requiring lifts and ramps on buses and coaches has made travel much easier for people using wheelchairs.
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
In the past five decades, what event changed the private bus industry most significantly? Luke: Looking back over the past 50 years, I would say the most important event for the intercity and charter bus operations was the deregulation that occurred in 1982. That legislation brought many changes to the private bus industry, which then became the motorcoach industry, particularly for charter and tour operators as well as over-the-road route services like Greyhound Lines. In our collective 50 years, what do you see as other significant developments that have moved the bus and coach industry along? Luke: The continual introduction of new buses and coach models with so many advanced designs, improved safety and performance features is ongoing, exemplified by the articulated buses and low-floor city buses. In addition, during the 1980s and 1990s the North American bus industry became global with a number of European manufacturers establishing finishing plants in the U.S. to comply with the UMTA and FTA Buy America provisions for transit buses. In addition to covering these foreign manufacturers, BUSRide reviewed the products and operations of bus services in more than 40 different countries. As he still does, Doug Jack contributed his monthly “Letter from Europe” reporting on developments in the European bus industry. Both public agencies and private companies across the country have relied on federal funding and grants to purchase new vehicles, establish service, and build new maintenance and operational facilities. Universities and colleges have established new campus bus services. More recently, cities have been establishing exclusive busways for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that are flexible and fit a variety of lanes and roadways.
We also cannot overlook all the advancements and applications for computerized technology in all areas of bus and motorcoach operations. The safety and maintenance forums you organized and sponsored played an important role in the industry, as well. Luke: Actually, I began the first Bus Maintenance Forum a year before BUSRide and after several years decided to include the Forums with the business. We conducted 168 Bus Maintenance Forums, sometimes 10 or more in one year. We held 12 Bus Safety Forums, 10 Bus Garage Forums and four Bus Computer and Electronics Forums in 85 different cities in the United States and Canada including Honolulu, HI, and Anchorage, AK. Our Forums were an important part of the business and generated valuable friendships. Looking ahead Continuing to grow from Bill’s good work, The BUSRide editorial schedule for 2015 is ambitious and touches on five decades of history, including the shifts that have helped sustain the family-oriented culture that is unique to the motorcoach business. It will also trace changes in ridership then and now — with special attention to the efforts within the industry to make bus transportation more accessible for more people. Furthermore, BUSRide will outline 50 years of a changing transit landscape: the rise of multimodal systems, an increase in system complexity, and services that now include commuter routes and BRT. BUSRide’s 50th Anniversary will expand on these topics and more, including advances in bus and coach construction, accessibility issues, propulsion, regulatory issues, small and midsize buses, and bus maintenance. BUSRide at 50 celebrates the bus and motorcoach industry as well as the people who keep it rolling and growing. Let the party begin.
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Small & Midsize Bus Roundtable: Part
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter from Meridian Specialty Vehicles
The TS 30 from TEMSA
In September, BUSRide convened with a select group of manufacturers and dealers in the small and midsize bus industry during BusCon 2014 in Indianapolis, IN. Our roundtable discussion centered on the issues, trends and practices that affect the manufacturers, dealers and operators that utilize these workhorse vehicles. Part Two of the conversation focuses on emerging markets and accessibility issues.
The Metro Link from Winnebago Industries
The panelists included: Vern Kauffman - Chief Operations Officer, Meridian Specialty Vehicles Ken Becker - Sales Manager, ARBOC Specialty Vehicles Randy Angell - Account Executive â€“ Midwest Region, CH Bus Sales K. Cihan Yaycioglu - Regional Coordinator, TEMSA USA Mehmet Dikce â€“ Account Manager, TEMSA Global Doug Dunn - Chairman & CEO, Alliance Bus Group Troy Snyder - General Manager, Ameritrans Bus Gary Rivers - Sales Manager, Ameritrans Bus Jamie Sorenson - Director of Specialty Vehicles, Winnebago Industries
The Spirit of Liberty from ARBOC Specialty Vehicles
Alliance Bus Group represents all of the major small and midsize bus OEMs. The M2 Vista from Ameritrans 14
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
What new markets are emerging for small and midsize buses? What motivates these customers to buy a small bus over a large one? Doug Dunn: The most interesting market that we’ve been involved with this past year has been with the MV-1. It’s been interesting because it’s not something that I thought would be readily accepted in the marketplace - but it has been. I believe we are fortunate enough to be the largest dealer of the MV-1 right now and we’ve been very successful getting it to some pretty large agencies. It’s directly replacing the small cutaways. It goes along the same lines of what people are doing to downsize their fleet. As far as in the regular commercial market, I don’t see that many new opportunities. We’re all still fighting for the same type of customers that we have in the past. I’ve said for years that I don’t know who my boss is but I always thought he lived in Detroit. We lived through the chassis shortage this year and we’re going to continue to see shortages. The Mercedes and Daimler-type companies are going to do new things with their Sprinters and the Ford Transit will take over. The way the chassis shake out over the next two to three years is going to change the small bus industry. Some new products will come out of that. Vern Kauffman: Our platform is still relatively new to the market. The tour operators, whether short distance or long distance, seem to be gravitating toward smaller travel groups. Does that mean the industry is shrinking? I don’t think so. I think it’s incremental business for the tour operators, in that it’s in addition to the large tours that they have. Whether it’s wine tours, touring the west rim of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone tours, there are so many different applications. Ultimately, if marketed properly, the small and midsize bus can pick up some significant market share in those arenas. When you look at a tour in wine country, it’s easier logistically to load a smaller group than a larger one. It’s also easier to sell a smaller group than a larger one. But, as I heard here earlier, luggage space and weight capacity for luggage seems to be a top-of-mind issue for these operators. Dunn: This business isn’t getting bigger. I know, from a sales perspective, we’re not adding new customers to this industry. As a matter of fact, the bigger companies are buying up some of these small to midsized companies. It is what it is, but it’s been a trend for us. Ken Becker: I don’t see them so much as new markets but rather growing markets. There are some good things happening right now in the world of public transportation. One is that the population is growing. Another is that the demographics right now are showing that public transportation is no longer un-cool. The importance of owning a car today has changed dramatically. We see that as helping to keep us strong. In terms of market growth, if there’s going to be growth it will hopefully be small and incremental. Jamie Sorenson: We’re seeing an increase in retirement communities and care facilities. There seems to be a little bit more cash available in regards to the perception of the facility. You can’t call it a “nursing home” anymore. They are “care facilities” and with that the expectations have been raised. They want to portray a higher status to their customers and residents, so we’re starting to see them purchase more cutaway transit buses. Accessibility is the key in small bus transportation – in what ways should operators or manufacturers to go above and beyond in this aspect? Becker: We keep talking about the assisted living market and it’s finally starting to take hold. We’re seeing success with the small cutaway in the market that encompasses senior care, assisted living, retirement villages and the like. It’s not that they even want to own buses, they have to. We’ve been seeing the effects of people going from having to get in the lift-enabled “doctor’s” van to “let’s all get together to go out as a group function” on a small bus. It’s really a marvelous thing. We’ve
got some customers that send us pictures of riders on the bus who before would never leave the facility. Because they can get on a stepless bus like ARBOC’s, they’re boarding with safety and dignity. To hear that they’re now going out, participating in activities and rejoining society makes us happy. We’re passionate people at ARBOC and our commitment is to accessibility. Randy Angell: I was recently working with an assisted living/ retirement group that had a 45-foot bus but was looking to shrink it, so I brought our TS 35 in there. We’ve redesigned our steps with a wider pad to kneel lower and we also put safety rails on both sides. Everywhere in the bus, there’s accessibility to grab and hold on to something. To watch these people get onboard and to see their faces light up was unbelievable. Mehmet Dikce: We’ve just added a new lift, something very important for riders with wheelchairs. I know that here in the United States, everyone has an opinion about the second door on buses. It’s not generally accepted by the market here, but the second door is a pretty good accessibility option for vehicles. I’m not sure about the near future, but in the long run the market will accept it and we will have a second door on most coaches and most likely cutaways. Gary Rivers: We offer wheelchair lifts on all of our vehicles, along with everything that’s associated with ADA compliance. We believe that we exceed and go beyond those requirements. So much of what we build, particularly with ADA-type vehicles, is dependent on the end-user’s request. Some may want a walker storage space in addition to a wheelchair lift, for example. A lot of it is specificationdriven. All of our vehicles have that option. Dunn: Once you go with ramps, it’s very hard to go back to a wheelchair lift. The drivers don’t like it, so they fight for ramps. Customers don’t like it, because loading onto a coach with a lift is quite an ordeal. I think anything we can continue to do to make traveling easier is better for business. This concludes our printed Small & Midsize Bus Roundtable. Check back in the coming months for an uncut BUSRide Small & Midsize Bus Roundtable eBook on www.busride.com.
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O F F I C I A L
BUSRide Road Test: The highly maneuverable S3645 with ZF ITag steering tag axle reduces the turning radius of the previous model by 5 percent.
Alliance Bus Group brings European flair to North American operators By David Hubbard Throughout its 65-year history of bus building from its base in Sao Paulo, Brazil, CAIO has staked its claim as the largest single producer of commercial buses in the western hemisphere. The company manufactures between 7,000-9,000 buses a year for South American markets, Africa, Central America, Asia and the United States. CAIO made its North American debut in 2008 and in 2012 began its partnership with Alliance Bus Group, Atlanta, GA. With locations in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, New Jersey and New Hampshire, Alliance is now the exclusive U.S. distributor of CAIO coaches built specifically for the North American market. CAIO is a unique OEM in that it also operates buses, running nearly 4,600 buses throughout Sao Paulo, which also allows the company to field-test the coaches it builds. For 2015, CAIO is introducing its new S-Series product offering for the North American market — the S3645 Model and the S3436 Model which is a midsize 38-passenger coach. The new S Series is best described as a quantum leap from its predecessor in styling, comfort and performance. With a host of improvements based on operator feedback and additional features, the new look of the S3645 is built on the same reliable structure and powertrain North American coach operators know and appreciate, but is now available with a stainless steel structure. 16
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The CAIO body is a sled-integral monocoque construction that incorporates Freightliner power modules. “The body structure is the strength of CAIO coaches,” says Eugene Hotard, executive vice president, Alliance Bus Group. “We send the Freightliner component compete with drivetrain, engine, transmission and axles to Sao Paulo, where they remove the rails. The entire cage structure fits to the assemblies as complete front and rear components to create a truly integral coach.” busride.com
He says with the rear and tag axles, engine and transmission pre-installed as a complete assembly, the CAIO is then able to share Freightliner’s engineering and volume production of 25,000 to 35,000 units per year. “We are continually putting as many North American parts and components on the coach as possible,” Hotard says. “This additional content bodes well for both service and maintenance, as we supply the items from North America that are most likely to wear or need replacing. Of all the coaches imported to North America, CAIO has the highest number of domestic components resulting in lower operating cost.” The growing list also includes Mobile Climate Control HVAC system, Webasto heaters, Amaya seating and REI audio and video. Also new for the S Series are American-made passenger windows available in single and double pane featuring a quick-change replacement process that the maintenance staff will appreciate. “This is why the CAIO comes in at such a significant saving,” Hotard says. “We are working with two major global manufacturing companies that do enough production volume to bring CAIO coaches to market at a much better price.” Buckhead Coach reviews the CAIO On a recent visit to Alliance Bus Group in Atlanta, BUSRide invited the team from nearby Buckhead Coach. On hand were Karin Amatriain, company president; Donald Anderson, maintenance and quality supervisor; and transit and coach industry veteran Roger Steward, who test drove the S3645 model and offered his observations and comments. Now driving part time for Buckhead Coach as he has for the last 20 years, Steward began his 35-year transit career in maintenance with Metropolitan Atlanta Region Transit Authority (MARTA), Atlanta, GA. Buckhead Coach launched in 1986 as a party-bus company in the community of the greater-Atlanta area that once enjoyed a reputation as a party town. The company eventually moved to motorcoaches in 1990 to do more work with corporate shuttles. “Over the years, we have expanded our coach charters and contracts to further serve college athletics and popular fishing trips,” Amatriain says. “The bulk of our coach travel is now out of state, primarily in the Southeast, with a few sojourns to Chicago and Washington, D.C.” She says her company has no immediate plans to grow its fleet of coaches, but will upgrade as necessary. Before stepping aboard, Donald Anderson had a question. “We operate coaches by other OEMs, and I understand Freightliner and how the chassis sets up on CAIO coaches,” Anderson said. “My question is, excluding cost, what are we supposed to look for in this bus? What I want to know is how this coach is going to be better than the coaches we are currently operating?” Hotard cited added curb appeal and ride quality of the new CAIO. “From a customer’s perspective, I believe we have a coach with distinctive European flair, which I believe can easily set an operator apart from the competition,” he said. “The S3645 has a very tight turning radius and is highly maneuverable. The ZF ITag steering tag axle reduces the turning radius of the previous model by 5 percent.
Alliance Bus Group says of all the coaches imported to North America, CAIO has the highest number of domestic components.
The independent 14K axle features passive steering, which together improves maneuverability and reduces the risk of tire scrub.” Hotard also notes the dependability of the Detroit DD13 engine coupled to Allison transmission. According to Alliance Bus Group, the Detroit five years/500,000-miles warranty is two-and-a-half times better than the warranty offered previously on the drivetrain system. Additionally, the GPS-based Virtual Technician exclusive only to Detroit is available on all full-size CAIO coaches, which he says helps drivers monitor the engine in real-time and better maintain the equipment. “From a maintenance perspective, our coach is not difficult to work on,” Hotard says. “The wear items are very accessible.” The pre-trip review Before slipping behind the wheel, Steward took time to look the CAIO over inside and out from both a driver’s and passenger’s perspective. He commented on what is easily the most noticeable difference of the S Series — the distinctive European body styling. “At my first look at this bus in the parking lot, I was struck by the very up-to-date modern design,” he says. “It is almost a sign of the future; how buses will look as time goes on.” In addition to the stylized front and rear caps and the roofline, improvements to the passenger side windows are significant. The 80-percent tinted glass panels lend a much cleaner exterior appearance and heighten the coach’s curb appeal. “On my quick tour through the cabin, I found the interior very impressive and comfortable,” Steward says. “I took the time to check out the passenger seating, particularly the legroom. Very satisfactory.” Steward says that if he would change anything, it would be the plastic footrests. “I see lot of ‘foot heavy’ passengers applying pressure to the footrests,” he says. “I would say stock up on replacements.” Alliance Bus Group did note that a more durable aluminum footrest is available as an option. “In fact, many of the interior components on this coach can be customized to operator preference,” Hotard says. “We can easily spec it to any order and fit a variety of needs. For example, available options include cup holders, 110v outlets, tray tables, foot rests busride.com | BUSRIDE
“I like the way the door swings up closer to the side of the coach,” Steward says. “It lessens the chance of anybody bumping their heads, which I have seen many times, especially after the bus has kneeled. All of this is easier on the driver.” The entry door features a BMP mechanism with a parabolic lift and seal that CAIO says eliminates wind and road noise. The integrated single door also features an open and close button that allows the driver to lock the door from the inside. The driver-viewing window at the bottom of the door allows for better coach parking and reduced tire curb damage. On the road The new S Series is best described as a quantum leap from its predecessor in styling, comfort and performance.
that automatically stow as well as passenger curtains or shades and satellite TV.” “I would consider the dashboard very driver-friendly,” Steward says. “The gauges are easy to read and the switches are within easy reach. I like the standard fuel gauges that show oil pressure and water temperature, so that I can always know what’s going on. I also like the careful placement of the mirrors.” The upgraded onboard restroom now flushes with fresh water on every use. The waste tank, sealed off from the restroom compartment to eliminate lavatory odors, is three times larger than previously used with ample capacity on the long charters. A warning light on the driver’s dash signals a full tank. “From a driver’s perspective, I am very impressed with CAIO for thinking to build in more luggage space,” Steward says. “It seems like that’s where other borrow from to make room for something else; but instead CAIO seems to have expanded the luggage compartment.” The luggage door latches also moved from the bottom to the center of the panel.
In a large parking lot adjacent to the Alliance Bus Group offices, Steward found a wide open space to put the S3645 through several tight turning and controlled braking maneuvers not typically encountered in normal operation; and to test the tighter turning radius of the new steer axle — a surprise to Steward. “I wasn’t expecting the coach to turn so sharp, so quick,” he says. “None of the coaches I have driven have a turning radius as sharp as this. This makes it very easy to get in and out of tight places. I am familiar with tag axle wheels turning, but I could really get used to this.” In the empty lot, Steward was able to accelerate and apply three braking scenarios to get a feel for the antilock brakes and traction control. “I know how to control my distance,” Steward says. “I tried braking to a stop in three ways - from a stiff stop, to a little less and then to a smooth stop. The braking is firm and I never had the feeling the bus was slipping out from under me.” From the parking lot, Steward headed the coach onto the interstate to let it run. “Like a dream,” he says. “The acceleration is terrific. Everything is working together. The ride is smooth and very quiet, and I can tell the Detroit DD13 has more than enough power.”
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What’s next? Part I
By David Hubbard
BUSRide convenes with BRT thought leaders in a roundtable discussion. In October during the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) EXPO in Houston, TX, BUSRide invited a robust group of transportation specialists, transit leaders and OEM representatives to a roundtable discussion to address the current state of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in North America. The panelists included: Alan Brick-Turin – Program Manager, East Bay BRT Project, Gannett-Fleming, Inc. Deborah Dagang – Principal Project Manager, CH2M HILL Dennis Hinebaugh – Director, National BRT Institute, Center for Urban Transit Research, University of South Florida Cliff Henke – Assistant Vice President, Senior Analyst, Transit & Rail Systems, Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. Graham Carey – Principal, careyBRT Michael Myers – Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation John Birtwistle – Projects Director, UK Bus Division, First Transit P. Christopher Zegras – Associate Professor, Transportation & Urban Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Tom Waldron – Vice President, Global Director, HDR Engineering, Inc. Paul Smith – Executive Vice President, New Flyer Industries René Allen – Vice President, Product Management and Strategy, Nova Bus Hunter Harvath – Assistant General Manager - Finance & Administration, Monterey-Salinas Transit Michael Allegra – President / CEO, Utah Transit Authority David Miller – Principal Systems Engineer, R&D, Siemens Mobility Bill McFarland – Director of Sales Engineering, INIT 20
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Our company touches on all modes and considers transportation as the “oil that keeps the economic engine from seizing.” While BRT is an affordable public transportation solution, I think Alan Brick-Turin: Gannett-Fleming’s involvement in BRT the stakeholders involved in analyzing alternatives need to consider incorporates planning, design, implementation and evaluation. I most BRT in the context of the ultimate goal of a transit system. For instance, recently finished my tenure as program manager for the East Bay BRT BRT is an interim step to a longer-term agenda that could evolve into project in San Leandro, CA, which will go into construction in 2015. light rail transit (LRT). A good example is the Silver Line in Boston, Going back 10 to 15 years, BRT was always something to consider in which is currently BRT, but designed to allow conversion to LRT at a an alternatives analysis when the agency really wanted a rail system — future date should market demand and passenger volume warrant it. while the FTA was saying the agencies really needed to consider BRT Paul Smith: I, of course, speak to BRT from the perspective of as an alternative that would serve the purpose as well. As more people a transit bus OEM. New Flyer has been involved with various BRT realize a need for public transportation, communities and agencies are projects over the years. I think what we continually try to do is to looking to BRT as the next phase in transit for its flexibility and fast understand and clarify our role in providing bus products for the implementation it allows each city. different types of bus transit services. As we continue to move down On some of the studies I did, the agencies concluded that BRT this path, the point extremely clear to us is that we still do not have really seems to be able to do what they need and the project would consensus on what the BRT-specific product should be. advance to the next level of study and design. I think APTA has certainly made a significant effort in trying to get Deborah Dagang: us that clarity. But, we CH2M HILL is still have a lot of work currently managing ahead of us. Some of the Santa Clara-Alamo us, I know, are working BRT project in San on projects that we can Jose, CA, the first fullhopefully deploy once fledged BRT system in we get that consensus. the Bay Area. As I see it, Hunter Harvath: a public transit agency Over the last two seriously looking to and one-half years, move forward needs Mo n t e r e y-S a l i n a s to recognize how Transit (MST) built a $7 many people BRT million mixed-flow BRT can move, and make system we named JAZZ a firm commitment in partnership with the to this mode. Among Monterey Jazz Festival the struggles transit that is now operational. agencies face in So far it is very planning and launching successful with a lot of a BRT system is how community support. to deliver the service As to where BRT is adequately on existing heading in the near city and county streets future, I am beginning network in terms of to see a sea change from right of way, mix of A robust group of BRT specialists convened for BUSRide’s roundtable at the APTA EXPO, including our elected officials— traffic and peak travel (left to right) Michael Allegra of UTA, René Allen of Nova Bus and Cliff Henke of Parsons Brinckerhoff. our policy makers are times. Therefore, realizing not every transit solution has to be light rail. For the last making the commitment requires much more than just bringing in 10 years we have been telling them about the significant cost savings transit professionals. The local city officials must realize that for the associated with BRT and they are finally starting to get it. In fact, our transit agency to move a growing number of people in the future, it is elected officials have now turned over a rail right of way to MST for going to need to that right of way. the development of a fixed BRT guideway. They finally saw we could Dennis Hinebaugh: The federal government formed the National design, build and deliver, and are now willing to embrace BRT — even Bus Rapid Transit Institute (NBRTI) 14 years ago to offer research and though BRT is not quite as sexy as rail projects appear. expertise in all areas of BRT and help bring it along. With the help Michael Allegra: I have been essentially involved with the of the Federal Transit Association (FTA), we have come a long way. development of Utah Transit Authority since its inception for more While we are very proud of that, we still see a long history ahead. We than 35 years. Over that time, we have seen tremendous growth would like to see more attention and work given to the land use issues and we expect this will continue. We have developed a unified associated with BRT. We still hear that argument out there when it statewide transportation plan in which about 35 percent of regional comes to rail trains vs. BRT buses — even though a sound, permanent resources are allocated to transit. When I first came to Utah, that BRT system can operate as well as a light rail system. We have research number was 5 percent. and examples, such as Cleveland Health, that show this. We need to do It really doesn’t matter to us if it is steel wheel or rubber tire. At the all we can get that word out there. end of the day, it is less about the mode and more about meeting the Tom Waldron: HDR is currently involved with the environmental, needs of the community. preliminary and final design aspects of the Cleveland Avenue BRT In what is about an $11 billion plan, we see 200 miles of BRT as our project for COTA in Columbus, OH, and has helped other agencies future. We have consumed all the railroad rights of way that we and cities in North America assess their BRT options relative to their overall transit needs.
Please address the theme of this roundtable. What’s next for BRT in America?
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bought and built them in record-breaking time. We expect the same from our BRT program. We have a couple of systems in play right now and see BRT as a high growth mode. René Allen: Volvo, our parent company, is very much involved everywhere in the world and provides us very good internal information, insights and know-how. I have been working in BRT with Nova Bus for some time, providing buses for different programs including York, Ontario. We think some very important progress has taken place in North America as more cities have urged BRT projects to transport people faster — from full-fledged systems to mixed use. Some BRT systems such as York customize heavily, while others keep their vehicles and design very simple. Our role as the bus manufacturer is to offer flexibility for the customer to customize as needed and still ensure high capacity on the system they choose to design and operate. Cliff Henke: With projects going on worldwide and in the U.S., Parsons Brinkerhoff most recently worked on the build-out of a division in the City of Los Angeles BRT network. METRO Rapid is looking at an additional eight corridors for further development. To say what is next for BRT in America, it may help to step back a bit. I think BRT follows the history of light rail, which started with an initial definitional phase and was then followed by skepticism of its range of applications; and followed now by acceptance as an option on par with other modes. I see BRT continuing to grow with a gamut of options similar to light rail. Of course, rapid growth does not come without challenges. However, I think BRT is in a better position than the other modes to cope with the fiscal pressures Michael mentioned, as well as demand for transit in the future. David Miller: Siemens Mobility, Austin, TX, manufactures the traffic control and signal priority systems required for BRT. Our products currently control over 150,000 intersections across the globe for all types of vehicles, from automobiles to emergency and service vehicles including transit buses. From Siemens’ standpoint, BRT is no longer a technical problem. The necessary equipment is available off the shelf. As for the future, with the newest technology readily available, the challenge is funding; not so much lack of funding, but the sharing of funding. Having the buses run in the streets involves funds from city agencies, federal highway funds and transit research funding, which can become political where everyone has to work together to figure out what they want, what is necessary and what they must do to achieve it, measure it and work toward that goal. Sharing funding and resources all leads to benefits. Graham Carey: I am currently working on CTfastrak in Connecticut. While, I think there are some very good BRT projects out there, my sense at the moment is that we are stuck in a rut. We basically have allowed BRT to be defined as an inexpensive alternative to light rail. It has become this formulated product almost like a cooking recipe. Take one tablespoon of signal priority and add shelters, plus a dollop of branding. Stir well and we have a BRT product. Everybody is following this formula, which I think is getting in the way of BRT actually achieving its true potential, and being able to adapt to the larger urban problems we see out there. I don’t mean to be negative, but I think it is just turning into an alternative to LRT rather that coming into something of its own. John Birtwistle: I am involved with BRT in the UK, but also in the states; particularly in Austin, TX, which has started operating its second BRT line. I take a slightly different view. I see BRT as a solution in itself and not an alternative. It is a menu, as we have mentioned, but not something an agency takes off the shelf to apply as is. As for BRT in North America moving forward, it requires what I call the Four Ps. 22
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Policy has to promote public transportation as an important component in sustainable development; and BRT is an ideal means of achieving that. A BRT system must have priority to operate efficiently without delay in heavy traffic. Its success lies in achieving consistent journey times. BRT must exemplify permanence equal to a train system. I would say if BRT is designed and influenced in the right way, it is as permanent as light rail. It takes the public and private sectors working together in partnerships to deliver affordable BRT projects. The risk and reward in a partnership to make BRT a viable solution is the same for both parties. The BRT concept needs promotion to the public, which, rather than just another bus line, must be something much different than for the local bus service. We are trying to attract new users to public transport, and in many cases these are people who wouldn’t even contemplate using the bus service. Michael Myers: As with transportation overall, the Rockefeller Foundation views BRT as important to economic vitality and inclusive economic growth. It connects people to opportunities, such as jobs, schools and services of every kind. BRT is a real game changer for transportation in American cities. In many respects, the United States is already behind the many cities worldwide that have implemented BRT systems. As the era of massive systems such as subways may have passed for many U.S. cities, BRT becomes an affordable, efficient and flexible way of providing many of the benefits of subways at a much lower cost. This is why the Rockefeller Foundation is pushing ahead and promoting BRT as an important option for city transit systems in the United States for the future. Bill McFarland: As BRT gains attention with more upscale urban commuters, the appeal of onboard wireless and real-time passenger information become imperative. What we see for the future of public transportation systems is far more automation, with the systems becoming even more complex — to help with decisions by alerting changes and potential problems to both the passengers and the controllers who ensure the systems all run smoothly and on time. The easier we can make the controllers’ job when situations get out of hand, the better. That includes everything from automating detour and service changes to route messaging; all to keep the rider informed. P. Christopher Zegras: On a global scale, I would say BRT is still relatively nascent in North America. There has definitely been a rhetorical explosion in recent years and North America has some long-standing precedents in BRT; quite pioneering in fact, considering earlier experiences in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., but those are mostly piecemeal from a generation ago. I would say, looking at the number of BRT projects in North America and the relative quality of those projects, BRT in this part of the world is still in its infancy. We have a long way to go. I do not believe BRT is the panacea to our urban mobility challenges, but it has an important role to play. That said, I think we have a great opportunity. The characteristics of our cities allow us to relatively easily implement BRT, drawing from a plethora of experiences from around the world. The U.S. is a little behind, but the benefit to playing catch-up to what other countries have done is that we have a great number of successes and failures we can learn from. Check back next month for more of this in-depth discussion.
When is a passenger a passenger? – It depends By Mary Sue O’Melia and David Brandauer Why is it so difficult to get an accurate number of passengers in a given transit system? Have you ever sought the total number of passengers and received more than one answer? Such responses do not instill confidence. This month, we delve into passenger statistics – sources and uses of data from manual counts, automated fare collection systems (AFC) and automated passenger counters (APC). Random sampling and manual counts A number of transit agencies continue to use a random sampling process whereby data on passenger boardings by trip are manually collected, tabulated and statistically weighted to report monthly and annual passengers. The total number of one-way trips or farebox revenues may be used to expand passenger sample data to an annual total. Manual counts are generally most accurate on a trip-level and may in fact be used to validate information from driver manifests as well as AFC and APC systems. The downsides of this method of collecting data are that it is labor intensive, accuracy decreases with the length of shift and, depending on the random sample size, may only be valid at the mode/service type level on an annual basis. While this level of reporting is good for NTD reporting, it is not much use to transit planners and managers who are responsible for agency performance. Automated fare collection system passenger data AFC provides detailed information about fare payment and passengers. Information is available by date, time, route/trip, fare type and transaction type. Transactions may include items other than passenger boardings (e.g., wheelchairs, bicycles). Fare systems typically require driver interaction to correctly record non-cash transactions (e.g., student passes). Consistent driver participation and passenger fare evasion are two of the challenges in getting accurate passenger boarding information from fare systems. Monitoring of “Unclassified Revenues” is useful in identifying driver training and implementation issues. AFC pre-sets and the use of smart cards have helped to reduce the need for driver interaction. This in turn increases reliability of passenger data, assuming that automated equipment is maintained. Transit agencies typically place fare collection equipment in locations that are clearly visible to drivers. In a well-maintained AFC system, missing data due to equipment failure is not really an issue and most data sets from AFC and smart cards are complete. AFC equipment, however, does not help with the passenger mile reporting required for NTD annual reporting. Automated passenger counter (APC) Automated passenger counters provide the basis for collecting not only passenger boardings, but passenger mile data as well. APCs can work on service where the driver is not responsible for fare collection
(e.g., free shuttles and trolleys, articulated buses with rear-door entry, rail) and where the passenger loads are such that the driver cannot accurately interact with fare collection equipment on all transactions. APC data is highly valued by planners as it provides detailed data on boardings and alightings. APC data may be the official agency source for reporting passengers, especially if the entire fleet is equipped and the agency has received FTA approval for the initial benchmarking and long-term maintenance processes. Information by route, stop and time are all available if the equipment is calibrated, maintained, and fully functional. In-service equipment failure is not readily apparent so a method for identifying faulty equipment and of estimating missing passenger data due to equipment failure is required. If APCs are only available on a portion of the fleet, then the agency must implement a sampling plan that collects information to meet NTD reporting requirements as well as agency internal reporting needs. The potential for bias in the plan, plan implementation by operations, and weighting of sample can impact reported passenger counts. One thing is clear: manual counts and APC data should be different at the trip level because of end-of-line activity (e.g., drivers getting on and off at layover locations). This causes APC passenger counts to be higher than manual counts. If passenger loads are high, APC passenger counts may be understated. This is why the benchmarking and annual maintenance sample calibration factors are so important. Conclusion Agencies may compare the annual or monthly passenger figures from random sampling to AFC and/or APC data. These figures are never the same. The variances may be inconsistent and quite large. While passenger data from individual trips may be compared, monthly and annual comparison of passenger data from manual counts to AFC and APC data will always be different because of expansion factors in random sampling and APC data sets. Driver error, fare evasion and equipment failure may impact manual passenger counts compared to AFC passenger counts. The FTA recommends that data from a minimum of 100 trips collected with manual counts be compared to APC data on an annual basis as part of the ongoing process to ensure accurate data and equipment calibration. We believe that using a limited sample manual process to validate automated systems is a good practice. Simple manual count random sampling, however, does not provide the level of information needed for service planning and revenue control. What is important is to select one source to be the official passenger figure for the agency and set up a process to use other measures as a check and balance. Mary Sue O’Melia is president of TransTrack Systems®, Inc., a business intelligence solution that transforms volumes of data into meaningful information. David Brandauer is the chief operating officer for BLIC North America, a transportation technology consulting firm. Visit our authors at www.transtrack.net and www.blic.us
busride.com | BUSRIDE
THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY
The Sun Metro revolution begins with Brio By Jay Banasiak
Jay Banasiak Director Sun Metro Transit El Paso, TX
The City of El Paso, TX, and Sun Metro launched their first Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT), known as Brio, in late October with local, state and federal leaders including U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) present to celebrate the beginning of a new era for public transit in El Paso. Brio, the first of four planned BRT lines, operates from Downtown El Paso to the city’s west side along the major Mesa Street corridor, setting the stage for a revolution of the Far West Texas city’s public transit system. Brio features New Flyer 60-foot articulated lowfloor buses, off-board fare collection and signal priority to speed operations. The buses operate in mixed traffic. The 8.6-mile Mesa Corridor line has 22 stations — 11 in each direction, spaced about 1 mile apart. Brio amenities include high frequency signals 10 minutes apart at peak, 15 minutes at off-peak; free Wi-Fi at the stations and on the bus; electronic realtime displays and onboard TV monitors. The Mesa Corridor cost $27.1 million, with funding in part by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT). The launch of the Brio Mesa corridor is a milestone accomplishment for our transit system, which in 2005 was in a state of crisis — bus and equipment failures and late or missed service became the norm. Since then Sun Metro, which is under the management of First Transit,
has made a complete turnaround with the support of city leaders who made public transit a priority. Our agency is the winner of the 2011 American Public Transportation Association’s Outstanding System of the Year award and most recently the 2014 Texas Transit Association Outstanding Metropolitan Transit System award. Turning the system around and winning awards was just the beginning. The City of El Paso is dedicated to making Sun Metro a first-class system that helps move our community in a far more efficient manner. To do this, Sun Metro began developing Brio, an expansive Bus Rapid Transit system, in 2008. Upon completion, the Brio will consist of four lines along the city’s major corridors — Mesa, Alameda, Dyer and Montana. The four corridors, a $145 million project, are funded by a combination of FTA, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), TXDOT and City of El Paso dollars. Sun Metro is currently working to finalize plans and secure funding for the remaining corridors: Alameda launches in 2016, Dyer will be complete in 2017 and service on Montana is expected to begin in 2019. The first week During its first week of service, Brio saw an average ridership of 1,800 to 2,000 passengers per day. We received, and continue to receive an abundance of positive feedback via our social media sites as well as our customer service line. Sun Metro staffed each of the 22 stations during the
Brio is the first of four BRT lines planned for El Paso, TX.
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY
Bus spacing is essential to a rapid transit system. The Brio is set for a 10-minute frequency during peak hours and a 15-minute frequency during non-peak hours, given traffic cooperates. During the first few days we encountered our first spacing hurdle. A traffic accident along the route caused traffic backup and delayed the service. Route supervisors were able to communicate with each other and allow for buses to make up time on other portions of the route. Brio calls for passengers to purchase a bus ticket before boarding the bus in order to speed up trips. Some passengers found this process a little confusing or unnerving; not understanding they can board through any of the three doors without having to immediately present proof of payment. Even after purchasing a ticket via the ticket vending machine in the station, passengers believed they needed to board through the front door to show the driver their valid pass. With each passing day, passengers began to understand the boarding process which became popular and helped speed up trips.
Brio runs on the 8.6-mile Mesa Corridor with 22 attention-getting stations.
first week to help educate the public about the ins and outs of Brio. Staff assisted passengers with the usage of the ticket vending machines as well as handed out brochures with information about the route. Educating the public has proved to be one of the key elements in the success of Brio. As passengers begin to break the routine of riding the fixed-route system and become open to the new experience and different process of Brio, the route has gained more passengers. At the same time, the modern and sleek look of the stations and the vehicles has drawn the interest and support of El Pasoans who have never considered public transit a viable option. Hurdles
Future of Brio Currently we are working to introduce a comprehensive fare evasion policy. It is important to the success of Brio that we understand our ridership’s interaction with the new service while implementing a fare evasion policy. Sun Metro has delegated ambassadors to boarding Brio buses at random to confirm passengers have purchased a ticket. During the upcoming months fares will be monitored and a graduating fare evasion policy will begin to be enforced. Overall, the implementation of this new service is an exciting time for the City of El Paso. Teamwork and dedication from city officials as well as Sun Metro employees have started Brio off with a bang!
As with anything new, there are always going to be a few hurdles. Even with the most elaborate plans there were a few unanticipated hiccups.
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Fleet Management Systems Roundtable:
In October, BUSRide convened with a select group of fleet management specialists and software providers during the American Public Transportation Association EXPO in Houston, TX. The first installment of the conversation focuses on how recent fleet management innovations benefit the end user. The panelists included:
Kevin McKay – Vice President, Programs Development, Avail Technologies Bill McFarland – Director of Sales Engineering, Business Development, INIT Bill Collins – Vice President and COO, Quester Tangent Curtiss Routh – Vice President of Sales, Radio Engineering Industries (REI) Richard Goodrich – Marketing, Ron Turley & Associates Lori Jetha – Marketing Communications Manager, Seon Design Jordan Brock – Vice President, Global Sales, Strategic Mapping Brett Koenig – Industry Solutions Manager, EAM, Trapeze Group Dylan Saloner – CEO, Via Analytics
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
Please explain your company’s area of focus in transit operations and the issues your programs and products address.
feedback to the driver that he/she is engaging in these behaviors. This can be used for training drivers, and studies have shown that this can have an impact between 3 to 8 percent on fuel consumption. That is a significant dollar factor, so the ROI is easily realized in a year or less.
Kevin McKay: Avail Technologies is focused on fleet management systems for mass transit for small to medium-sized agencies.
Curtiss Routh: REI provides complete ITS Services to the transit community, including MVS, CAD/AVL and paratransit routing and scheduling. What makes us unique is that all of our solutions are fully integrated to the customer. In addition, with over 75 years of experience in the business, we understand the transit marketplace and help agencies build and grow business by challenging them to consider better ways to offer and enhance their services. We help transit agencies evaluate key internal and external marketplace factors to maximize the effectiveness of their organization.
Brett Koenig: Trapeze makes a number of different transit-based maintenance management technologies ranging from asset, work and materials management to fuel and yard management. We’ll get a chance to talk about the fleet management aspect today. Dylan Saloner: Via Analytics provides a number of tools to help agencies plan, operate and communicate a bit more effectively. Our core operating product is called TEMPO and it provides a synchronization system to help buses keep even space between each other. We also provide a vehicle-side application to monitor engine diagnostics in real-time to give feedback to the drivers. We also have an open-source analytics solution that provides tools to help agencies schedule and plan more efficiently.
How do the most recent innovations and upgrades in fleet management programs benefit the end users? How far have you come in five years?
Bill Collins: At Quester Tangent, we’ve been in the rail/transit business 29 years and we started with onboard systems for monitoring and diagnostics. We’re in seven of the ten major authorities, particularly New York City Transit, Boston, etc. Our systems collect onboard vehicle data from usually between 70-90 different data connections. We also control the networks on these vehicles. With current technology, the vast majority of subsystems on the vehicle are generating a tremendous amount of data. It’s our job in the coming years to manage that data and present it as information to the people that need to make decisions for their agencies.
McKay: Others touched on this, but we’re seeing these systems collect a vast amount of data. While that data is very critical to the operations, it’s not organized in a great fashion. The real innovation will be our ability to allow users to ask questions of the system and for the systems to mine that data and provide answers to those questions - as opposed to the technology today which basically provides a vast amount of data and reports, which isn’t focused on solving specific problems. “Answers not Data” is our catch phrase. There’s where this technology will be truly useful. I don’t think agencies are getting the efficiency they should expect.
Richard Goodrich: Ron Turley & Associates has a software package that keeps track of maintenance on fleets of vehicles and equipment. We span multiple industries and have a large customer base within the bus and motorcoach industry. We keep track of everything that takes place in the shop - parts inventory, mechanic productivity, repairs, maintenance, fuel and more. We branch out into numerous other areas involving the fleet as well.
Koenig: One of the things that Trapeze is seeing in the market is interconnectivity of systems. There’s so much new technology now that customers are demanding these systems share vital data. That tight coupling of systems is really vital. This benefits end users with improved efficiencies, no redundant data and the ability to automatically share vital data across the enterprise. Another thing we’re seeing is, with the passage of MAP-21, a change in the ways transit agencies have to report back to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). It’s a huge change in terms of the types of data that need to be collected, and it’s one of the things that Trapeze is really focusing on as a vendor that sells exclusively to the transit industry.
Lori Jetha: Seon Design is one of the world’s largest mobile surveillance providers on the market. We began in 1999 in the school bus market and expanded our products into the transit market in 2004. We have recently forayed into video management software as well. We can integrate our video and telemetry data into fleet management systems, from Avail and some of the other folks around the table, to add visual context to what’s happening on the bus. Jordan Brock: Strategic Mapping’s area of focus is Computer Aided Dispatching, Automatic Vehicle Location (CAD/AVL), Realtime Passenger Information Systems and related technologies which enhance overall accessibility to the public. Our products address the need for real-time operational information, performance indicators and planned versus actual reporting. Our Automatic Stop Annunciation System and Next Vehicle Arrival Systems provide transit customers with valuable information to enhance their travel experience. Bill McFarland: One of the more exciting things that happened recently with INIT is a new product called MOBILE-ECO2. It’s becoming more and more important to get the most useful life out of our systems, so MOBILE-ECO2 focuses on a combination of driver behavior and traditional vehicle health monitoring. We’ve brought traditional automotive vehicle health monitoring into the bus arena. On top of that, we have modules that monitor the driver’s performance - sudden acceleration, sudden braking, swerving, idling, etc. All of these behaviors have an impact on fuel consumption, tire wear and passenger experience. The new product allows us to give instant
Saloner: I agree with the themes that have been discussed so far about data analysis and our tools needing to be a lot more robust. Another major trend is how the data is collected. The big innovation is driven by broader technology trends, so you can now use consumer devices like smartphones to provide better functionality than customized hardware at a fraction of the price. We take a pretty expansive view of who our end-users are. For passengers, this means less wait times and less travel time. For drivers, it means more regular breaks. For agencies, it means lower costs. For the public as a whole, it means a better environment. Collins: When looking at the onboard systems and trying to set them up for success, it puts a whole new meaning to the phrase “How’s my driving?” because human interaction with the vehicle data is becoming less and less. Of course, the key decisions are being made by the individual driver. How do we manage the information? We look at it as more of a strategic approach. It’s all about vetting the information at the source as much as possible and making sure that what you’re collecting is reasonable. We’re now able to leverage faster processors and accept more information. Over the next 10 to 15 years, we’re going to see an exponential growth of the data set and there’s going to be less human involvement in managing that information. Relating that information to the decisions on the ground is a real challenge. busride.com | BUSRIDE
Goodrich: We’ve made a big push to make collected data useable by the end users. They’re so focused in different areas – for example, mechanics want to know if they need parts and how to get them. Their focus is so much different than other managers. The amount of data that’s available is so huge that they can waste a day by looking at the wrong information. We’ve implemented, in the last five years, a network of tools that different levels of managers can set up. A shop manager, a fleet manager or a shift manager can all set up different tools that examine their areas of expertise. It’s important that the end users don’t spend time looking at data that doesn’t apply to them. Jetha: Like Dylan, I see consumer devices driving software into the cloud over the last five years. There are concerns about privacy, so firewalls and user permissions are important so that only authorized people can get the information they’re supposed to have. That’s a trend that Seon’s moved toward. We’ve migrated most of our software to a web-based platform. Ten years ago we were still recording onboard activities with VCRs and tapes, so the transition to digital has allowed us to add much more context to the video as well. We have a GPS track; vehicle speed measurements; and even forward-facing cameras to capture license plates. The technology has advanced in terms of clarity of picture, but also in terms of contextual data that synchronizes with video. This greatly benefits the end users. Brock: We see vast improvements in the speed in which data is collected and presented as well as the various platforms end users can access this data. These innovations benefit the user’s interface, reporting speed, data storage and data integrity. The last five years has been very exciting for us. Our onboard hardware systems and software applications have evolved with massive improvements in performance, usability and integration capabilities. This has enabled us to expand our available feature set and grow our customer base exponentially. 28
BUSRIDE | DECEMBER.2014
Routh: Certainly “cloud-based” technology has changed the game completely in what products and services are offered, and especially how agencies can capitalize on the availability of these innovations with limited capital expenses. In the past, the idea of “process improvement,” or “enterprise resource management” were so daunting that transit operators had to either overhaul operations at great expense, or just put out fires as they came along. Now, they can consider the use of these new technologies as part of their enterprise without having to change everything. There is lower risk to innovation, so there is greater opportunity for reward. REI has realized exceptional growth and success over the past five years by listening to transit agencies and also working together with our customers to innovate. The best upgrades and innovations that we have produced have been while working hand in hand with our customers – the people on the front lines. Innovations are prevalent in the transit marketplace. Our success has resulted from innovations which have transformed our customers to be the best that they can be for their patrons.
What guidelines can you offer for a transit agency assessing its needs to fleet management programs and technology? Brock: We always suggest that agencies identify the data and information they would require from the system. These include but are not limited NTD/governmental reporting, reports and performance indicators for management and customer information requirements. Check back next month for the second installment of this stimulating conversation.
THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
Safety first at IAA Hannover By Doug Jack
The furthest traveled exhibit was this Brazilian Volksbus with Marcopolo bodywork.
The Neoplan Skyliner double-decker coach will be built in Turkey from next year.
The new lower cost Van Hool EX range for European markets.
The biennial IAA commercial vehicle exhibition, held September 25 to October 2 in the northern German city of Hannover, closed on the day before Germany’s 25th anniversary of reunification. How time flies. The vast exhibition area included several large halls and outside displays that featured every type of commercial vehicle from small vans to tankers. Two years ago, IAA was full of new products with the latest generation of Euro 6 engines. Not so much was totally new this year, but there were some very interesting vehicles. The organizers reckoned that around 250,000 visitors attended IAA. The European Union enforces very high standards in coach safety equipment. Structures must be of sufficient strength so that there is only minimal deformation of the vehicle to maximize passenger survivability in the event of a coach rolling over top. Regulations on braking systems have further tightened for new coaches entering service November 1, 2015, with a second and even more stringent level following in 2018. Mercedes-Benz and Volvo can already offer the advanced systems. Mercedes-Benz exhibited a Travego Safety Coach with its third generation of Active Brake Assist. All coach drivers are aware of sudden emergency situations, for instance: rounding a bend and finding a sudden traffic tailback, or a cyclist with no lights in the dark. These are hazards that require constant alertness and the ability to respond quickly. The new braking system instantly detects a slower moving or stationary vehicle in front of the coach and immediately applies the brakes to bring the coach to a slower and safer speed, thereby reducing the risk of fatal or serious injuries. The Mercedes-Benz system is so effective that it already complies with the November 2018 level. It certainly impressed one of the company’s customers who bought the coach straight off the stand at IAA. Volvo introduced its Forward Collision Warning and Emergency Braking System, displaying it graphically
on a large screen. It also meets the 2018 legislation. The technology uses both radar and a camera to detect vehicles or other obstructions in front of the coach. If a collision is imminent, the driver receives both a visual and an audible warning. If the driver fails to respond, a pre-brake is activated and automatically followed by full braking power. Measures like these enhance the already excellent safety record of coach travel. Going round the exhibition, it was evident that diesel is still the dominant fuel. MAN was the only manufacturer to promote compressed natural gas (CNG) with its recently awarded European “Bus of the Year 2015.” Judges from leading trade publications from 20 European countries were highly impressed by the MAN’s exceptionally low emissions and noise levels. It was one of a number of buses operating on an internal shuttle within the fairground and its relative silence was certainly commendable. Solaris of Poland launched an entirely new Urbino city bus range, both 40-foot and 60-foot articulated. Rather than facelifts from the previous range. Solaris engineers have built a completely new but lighter stainless steel structure, saving over a half-ton compared with the previous generation despite the larger cooling systems required for Euro 6 engines. The styling is attractive but practical with diagonal styling features over the wheel-boxes and again at roof level. The new Urbino has been designed from the outset for diesel, hybrid, gas, battery and total electric applications. The standard engine in the 40-foot model is a Cummins ISB6 6.7-liter unit while the articulated model uses a DAF Paccar MX-11 engine. Van Hool took the covers off the first of its EX range of lower-cost models for European markets. Built in the new factory in Macedonia, they will complement the more expensive TX range made in the parent factory in Belgium. The EX offers heights of 12 or 12.5 feet and a choice of lengths on two or three axles. With the objective to keep prices at a competitive level, Van Hool’s philosophy with this range is to offer a limited choice of seat and interior colors and a relatively modest list of optional equipment, including a wheelchair lift at the second door, chemical or water flush toilet, driver’s bunk, and a variety of onboard kitchens and fridges. CEO Filip Van Hool was clearly delighted by how the Macedonian factory is working and already producing busride.com | BUSRIDE
THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
CX coaches for North America. The workforce will rise to 600 by next spring when the full EX range comes on stream. Furthermore, the Macedonian Government has been very helpful in training employees to Van Hool’s standards on skills such as welding. Volvo has pushed harder than other Europeans on hybrid development. They believe that there is a future for all-electric city buses, but do not believe in a vehicle carrying three tons of batteries in order to have a full day’s operating range. Volvo has gradually extended the percentage of time that a hybrid vehicle can spend in all–electric mode by introducing fast boost charging at each end of a route. Due to enter service in Hamburg later this year, Volvo reckons that this vehicle can operate for up to 70 percent of its time in all-electric mode, with a small 5-liter diesel engine as a back-up and to provide some power outside urban centers. Similar vehicles should be in service in Stockholm by the time of this report. Scania launched a hybrid bus with its own 9.2-liter diesel engine and a parallel drive system. The engine is larger than those used by competitors, but happens to be the smallest in the Scania range. Most of the electrical equipment is stored under a very neat fairing above the front of the bus. The engine can run on diesel, gas, biogas or ethanol. Now that Scania has thrown its hat into the hybrid ring, it will soon be unveiling further developments. EBusco is based in the Netherlands and has developed a 40-foot full low-floor all-electric bus using high density lithium-iron phosphate batteries to achieve a full day’s operation. Its latest model had a Chinesebuilt chassis, an Alcan aluminium body structure and batteries neatly packaged around the bus with no large columns to obstruct the view of drivers or passengers. EBusco sources its batteries from China, but many of the other electrical components are European. The company seems to be adopting a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, it is interested in
selling complete vehicles, but it also sees itself as a supplier of matched electrical components to European bus builders. Bozankaya is a Turkish-German company whose wide range of products includes major steel fabrications for the MAN Group. Sometime over a year ago, they acquired a controlling interest in TCV (Turkish Commercial Vehicles), a bus-builder started by some former executives of TEMSA in Ankara, the Turkish capital. TCV has already built and delivered city buses with diesel and CNG engines, mainly MAN, to several Turkish customers. Bozankaya showed the Sileo, a full-size all-electric bus, built in Turkey and shipped to Germany for the battery installation. The company had built 10 vehicles for demonstration purposes and took its first order from the city of Vienna for 20 units. MAN is continuing to rationalize its product range. Sadly, for economic reasons, the company has decided it’s no longer economic to build its top-of-the-range Starliner single-deck coach loved so much by sports clubs and top-level charter parties. Production will cease next spring. The latest version of the Skyliner double-decker coach was at IAA. Originally planned for Germany, production will now restart next summer in the MAN factory in Turkey. This means that Neoplan coaches will no longer be built in Germany, with production of the complete range handled from the modern facility in Turkey. It was six years ago at IAA that the global financial crisis erupted. This year there was much more optimism, with Northern European bus and coach markets running at normal or even better than normal levels. Some markets in Southern Europe are still seriously down, with economic recovery taking longer. Still, they will have to invest in new vehicles, sooner or later. Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.
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