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BUSRide Road Test:


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Science Behind The Seat p12 Driver safety p17 Turn and tail-swing protection p20


BUSRide turns 50: A witness to the changing transit landscape Industry leaders and veterans point to the significant changes and the main events. BUSRide turns 50 this year. To commemorate the progress over our half-century, we are calling on the people who have seen it all and know it best as they have shaped and guided the North American public transit industry through the best of times and the worst of times. Here’s looking at 50 in their words. Tom Taylor Mount Vernon, WA Wow. 50 years of BUSRide. Congratulations to all. I subscribed starting in 1972 and have followed the industry very closely ever since. Thinking about the industry and its many changes, public ownership/funding was probably the single largest change we saw in that period. Try as they might, private operators just could not provide the service from the farebox alone, and still pay all the taxes and fees required of them. Fare collection improvements and no more handling of cash or change given were big changes for sure. An operator was killed at Third and Union in Seattle, WA, just for the coins in his changer. That was the beginning of, “Exact fares only. Driver has no change.” ADA compliance in 1990 was another huge hurdle, which changed the buses irrevocably. Now they are all low floor and most are usually uncomfortable and noisy. Visibility is largely history. It made boarding wheelchairs easier, but changed so much for the rest of the passengers. Radial tires helped with the ride, handling, braking and safety in general. But, those old hard steel belts rode so rough. LED lighting revolutionized interiors and destination signs. John Recesso Manager, Strategic Business Development Sony Electronics Security Systems Division Fifty years ago, video surveillance on board a bus would have seemed like science fiction. However, it is now one of the most significant advancements in public transit, as operators are able to secure drivers and passengers in ways that were never before possible. Giving operators and their law enforcement partners access to live video and audio streams greatly improves everyday safety and can help save lives in case of an active emergency. Jan Cornish Outreach Coordinator Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority, Livermore, CA I feel that the computer technology with tracking, reports and,

most particularly, data and GPS location capability. I see it greatly improving with modern technological advances. Bill Luke Author and BUSRide founder Spokane, WA I received the December 2014 issue of BUSRide and appreciated the 50th Anniversary section. I also liked the discussion on Bus Rapid Transit. Although the term was not coined until the 1990s, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was an exciting new bus industry trend that actually began in the early 1980s. At the time, I took a very special interest in this new type of bus service then known as “busway systems.” The Port Authority Transit in Pittsburgh was one of the first to begin busway service, followed by OC Transpo in Ottawa. BUSRide featured news and major articles about other new busway systems. I became aware of the busway system that the State Transit Authority in Adelaide, Australia, introduced in 1986 and traveled to Australia to learn more about it. It was a new type of busway known as a guided busway or O-Bahn, and I sampled several rides on the system a few days after it opened. The origin of the name was from Germany where a similar service had been tested in Essen. The guided system allowed the buses to operate in a narrow roadway with side wheels at the front and back to guide the buses, with raised sections at the edge of the narrow roadway. I interviewed people at the Authority, and wrote an article in a 1986 issue. My interest in busways and later BRT grew, and since the 1980s I have visited more than 30 BRT or busway systems in Brazil and in the U.S. Doing some consulting activity with busway projects, I was pleased to present views and advantages in BUSRide. The future of BRT continues to be one of the highlights for transit. The new busway linking New Britain and Hartford, CT, is one that is just coming online here in this country. You can see my enthusiasm about the growing importance of busways and BRT, and I have always felt good that BUSRide recognized their importance in the early days. | BUSRIDE




COVER STORY The Official BUSRide Road Test: Mobility Ventures MV-1 14 Transpo Access puts the Mobility Ventures MV-1 to the test in South Bend By David Hubbard

FEATURES BUSRide turns 50: A witness to the changing transit landscape

Industry leaders and veterans point to significant changes and main events


The Science Behind The Seat 12 BUSRide presents an exclusive forum for seating manufacturers to discuss the science of design

Building the team


Fire is an ever-present risk


Six easy lessons for a successful trip


Trailways adds new members in PA. and along America’s third coast SP Fire Research works to establish best practices that thwart bus fires By David Hubbard

An invitation to other drivers to learn from this driver’s mistakes







By Prevost Prep


By Todd Carrier


By Mary Sue O’Melia



By Doug Jack


Success depends on strong partnerships, and Burlington Trailways has a strong relationship with Protective. It’s like we’ve added a new member to our family-owned company. The staff is always there to help. They have extensive experience in the bus industry and understand our needs and concerns. — Ron Moore, President, Burlington Trailways

For coverage that revolves around you, contact stacy renz: (800) 644-5501 ext. 2570 |

Matthew Moore Executive Vice President

Ron Moore President

Mark Moore General Manager


A call for expertise: BUSRide Maintenance needs you Our BUSRide sister publication, BUSRide Maintenance, connects readers with the experts in maintenance management processes and best practices. Bus and motorcoach maintenance always commands attention in our fast-evolving industry, and BUSRide is convinced this varied and complex world requires its exclusive editorial. The goal of BUSRide Maintenance is quality coverage on every aspect the shop crew faces on a daily basis. Along with the how-to article for every system and component repair stem to stern on buses of every ilk, this magazine explores management issues, technology solutions, preventive processes, worker productivity, loss prevention, shop design, planning and scheduling, training, lubricants and fuels. With that said, this is a call to action. BUSRide Maintenance needs you, fellow safety directors, maintenance supervisors and bus and coach technicians who diagnose the problems and get them fixed. This is an invitation for mechanics and the mechanically minded to tell their story and lend their good advice. We invite contributed editorial from all qualified safety and maintenance professionals, OEMs and vendors. We rely on your knowledge and experience to make BUSRide Maintenance an informative resource. We welcome your commentary, instruction and advice on best practices for keeping the fleet up and running, and operating maintenance facilities safely and efficiently. Interested parties should consider participating in BUSRide Maintenance with contributions that include: • How To articles on critical maintenance processes and procedures • Case Studies on a specific maintenance issue, problem or concern • Profiles of an innovative or unique maintenance program • Safety and Maintenance tips that make a tech’s job easier and safer • Ask the Expert — Answer a frequently asked question (FAQ). Pose the question and give us the answer. •M  aintenance Safety — Safety guides the maintenance arena. Topics include best practices, regulatory compliance, risk management, safe maintenance training. •N  ew products and services — Showcase new products and services available from manufacturers and vendors. Feel free to contact BUSRide Maintenance editors at any time to discuss possible topics and story angles.

David Hubbard Associate Publisher BUSRide Magazine


BUSRIDE | FEBRUARY.2015 CEO Judi Victor Publisher Steve Kane Associate Publisher David Hubbard Editor in Chief Richard Tackett Art Director Stephen Gamble Account Executive Jeanette Long Accountant Fred Valdez

BUS industry SAFETY council

A publication of:

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Reprints: All articles in BUSRide are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Judi Victor at (602) 265-7600, ext. 125.


BUSRide honors a good steward and an industry leader The BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award

The BUSRide Good Stewardship Award

UMA EXPO 2015, New Orleans, LA

ABA Marketplace, St. Louis, MO

Gladys Gillis, President and CEO Starline Luxury Coaches Seattle, WA Presented by the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), the BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award honors the significant achievements of the recipient, and recognizes the commitment and persistence it takes be successful in the bus and coach business. This year in New Orleans, BUSRide awarded Gladys Gillis, president and CEO, Starline Luxury Coaches, Seattle, WA, at the Leadership Awards Dinner during UMA Motorcoach EXPO 2015, selected in large part for this person’s personal involvement in the critical issues facing the industry. Most recently, in the efforts to bring new purpose and direction to the Motorcoach Council to provide workable, specialized marketing toolkits to operators. With a degree in Industrial Technology and 13 years with the Boeing aircraft corporation, Gillis founded her company in 1998 as a paratransit service with three minibuses, and used those same vehicles for charter services on nights and weekends. Starline Luxury Coaches has since grown to a fleet of 75 operating in two locations, and is a member of the International Motorcoach Group (IMG). All the while staying “in the fray” as a UMA board member, Gillis puts her voice at the forefront in such debates as the charter rule issue and negotiated rulemaking, and she was instrumental in creating the UMA-owned brokerage She most recently contributed to the Docket FMCSA-2014-0211-0001 on raising insurance minimums, for which she says she is not a fan. Gillis, an admitted Spader 20 Groupie, and Starline Luxury Coaches have been recognized as one of Washington’s 100 fastest growing private companies, as well as the top 100 largest womenowned businesses. In her spare time, she helped her younger brother and his wife launch their own bus company in Portland, OR – Northwest Navigator Luxury Coaches.

Michael J. Colborne, President and CEO Pacific Western Transportation Group Calgary, AB, Canada During ABA Marketplace, St. Louis, MO, BUSRide presented its Good Stewardship Award to Michael J. Colborne, president and CEO, Pacific Western Transportation Group, Calgary, AB, Canada. This award tributes the person who extends experience, expertise and dynamic leadership well beyond the concerns of his own company to support and encourage the entire bus and coach industry. As a good steward, the recipient lends a nurturing mind and spirit that guide bus and coach transportation to higher levels. The late Robert B. Colborne, founder of Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), passed away in 2012, leaving a legacy of 22 independent bus and coach operations throughout Canada under the PWT group of companies that has developed into one of the largest privately held transportation companies in North America. As the torchbearer of the family bus and coach business his father founded 80 years ago, Michael Colborne has continued to grow Pacific Western Transportation into four principle divisions, from which its more than 4,100 employees provide comprehensive services to passengers, students, workforces and travelers for every purpose throughout western Canada. Colborne’s stewardship draws on a deep and unrelenting devotion to the core values his father instilled that continue to define and guide the company: Integrity, Dedication, Respect, Accountability, Teamwork and a Positive Attitude. He says keeping these core values in mind at every step in the entire operation is the only way to ensure safe and smooth operations. Over the years, his company has determined its reason for being is to see its many employees and countless customers get to work and their destinations and arrive Safely Home, where all they value is waiting. | BUSRIDE



FMCSA drug testing rates remain steady throughout 2015 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced the annual minimum random controlled substances testing rates for employees in safety sensitive positions, including bus drivers, will remain at 50 percent through 2015. The agency’s decision to maintain the current testing rate was based on data from motor carrier industry controlled substance lab test results, the 2012 drug and alcohol testing survey, and additional investigations, which showed that: • Positive test rates following an initial positive result increased by 4.1 percent from 2011 to 2012. • Reasonable suspicion positive test rates continued to rise sharply from 5.6 percent in 2010, to 15.7 percent in 2011 and 37.2 percent in 2012, marking a five-fold increase over the 3-year period. • The rate of total positive drug test results reported to DOT from independent Health and Human Services-certified laboratories increased from 95,427 positives in 2011 to 97,332 positives in 2012. FMCSA-regulated industries comprise approximately 80 percent of the reported tests. • Serious controlled substance and alcohol testing violations were identified in 24 percent of recent compliance investigations. • A two-week 2014 Strike Force focusing on the identification of drivers who tested positive resulted in 205 driver enforcement cases, and 138 enforcement cases against carriers for violations relating to drivers with positive test results operating a commercial motor vehicle. These include drivers operating passenger carrying vehicles and transporting hazardous materials. While results for FMCSA’s 2012 Drug and Alcohol Testing Survey of approximately 2,000 carriers indicate that positive random drug testing results have decreased for a second year, the agency is committed to seeking additional information related to driver test rates and will continue to monitor industry testing programs before re-evaluating the controlled substances random test rate for 2016.

Prevost expands Houston service center Prevost, Sainte-Claire, QB, Canada, announced the move of its Houston, TX, service center to a much larger facility. The company says the expansion less than five miles northeast of its previous location is part of its commitment to provide the strongest service network in the industry. Located at 11851 Cutten Road, Houston, TX, the new 21,000 square-foot facility is equipped with seven full service bays, a large parts warehouse area, training room, customer lounge and a larger parking area. The new service center location is easily accessed from Texas 249/Tomball Pkwy and Sam Houston Pkwy. This facility is one of 11 Prevost Service Centers in North America where factory-trained technicians provide a full range of maintenance services and mechanical repairs to get vehicles up and running quickly. The service center is open Monday through Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Check the Prevost Service Locator app for location information and other service needs throughout North America.



Prevost mourns for Michael Rochette Coming together as a family, Prevost extended its heartfelt condolences to the family Michael Rochette, former vice president, Marketing and Sales, who passed away in December at age 71. Rochette served with Prevost from 1983 until his retirement in 2005. Michael Rochette The company credits his work in building Prevost’s reputation as an industry leader, through successful product introductions to the development of Prevost’s entirely new conversion market. He is survived by his wife Johanne, children Barbra, Susan, Laurie; his grandchildren Daphne, Maggie; and his sisters, Mary, Leanne, and Fire Marion Mercier. Donations can be made to the Canadian Cancer Society website:

Hendrickson completes Frauenthal acquisition Following the agreement on the acquisition of the leaf spring and stabilizer segments from the Frauenthal Group in June 2014, Hendrickson, Itasca, IL, announced the completed purchase of Frauenthal’s heavy-duty leaf spring and stabilizer segment, along with a number of their subsidiaries in Europe from the Frauenthal Group. Hendrickson, a Boler company, is a global manufacturer and supplier of medium- and heavy-duty mechanical, elastomeric and air suspensions; integrated and non-integrated axle systems; auxiliary lift axle systems; parabolic and multi-leaf springs; and bumper and trim components to the global commercial transportation industry. Hendrickson has continued to meet the needs of the transportation industry after 100 years.

The Bus Center announces Atlanta location With its expansion into Atlanta, The Bus Center says it is now the exclusive dealer in Georgia for Starcraft and Startrans buses. “We are thrilled to have our presence in the Atlanta market,” said company President Bucky Law. “We’ve had great success throughout the country from our locations in Tennessee and Alabama, and we’re looking forward to continued growth in the Southeast as GM Harry Hosey (right) and President Bucky we provide new and used Law now enjoy a presence in Atlanta, GA. buses to this third location.” Harry Hosey is the general manager for the new location, bringing 20 years in bus sales experience from the Alabama location. The Bus Center has been providing new and used buses for over 40 years.


IMG announces new member

Prevost’s second mobile service truck was needed after the success of its first truck.

Prevost enlists second mobile service truck for Montreal area Prevost recently put its second mobile service truck into operation in the Montreal area, following the success of the first Prevost service truck in and around Montreal. The company says the first truck had such great success that a second one was needed as soon as possible. The second service truck allows even more mobile services for the growing customer base in Montreal, as well as those traveling in the area. Prevost operates a fleet of 33 mobile units throughout the US and Canada, which are available for emergency roadside service, scheduled maintenance or repairs at a customer’s location. Each vehicle is fully fitted for rapid response, especially in cases of emergency roadside diagnosis and repair. Prevost service technicians certified for bumper-to-bumper maintenance and repair for all Nova Bus, Prevost and Volvo vehicles, operate the service vehicles.

The International Motorcoach Group (IMG) announced that Transportation Charter Services (TCS) is the newest addition to their North American network. TCS joins IMG’s Pacific Coachways in the Los Angeles market, and brings the IMG network to 52 companies in both the United States and Canada. Transportation Charter Services (TCS) has been operating in the Los Angeles market since 1984, and was acquired by Terry Fischer in late 2011. “We are very proud to join IMG and the other great operators that form the IMG organization,” Fischer said. “IMG brings to us a certification and commitment of shared philosophy of exceptional operating foundations and customer care.” “Adding TCS to our Los Angeles presence strengthens our coverage in that market and brings to our organization another outstanding company, we look forward to working with Terry and his team,” said IMG President Bronwyn Wilson.

TCS is the latest member of IMG. | BUSRIDE


UPDATE finds success in bus marketplace The first semi-final College Football Playoff began in Pasadena at the historic Rose Bowl in January. buses were there as more than 91,000 fans packed into the AT&T Shofur’s charter buses were very busy at the Stadium to support historic Rose Bowl in January. #2 Oregon and #3 FSU. California charter buses and party buses were central to the transportation flow reducing the number of cars on the roads and minimizing parking overflow. Shofur has been busy. Across the U.S. charter buses and tour buses were lining up during one of the industry’s busiest times. Alabama charter buses from Tuscaloosa loaded up for the trek to the big game in New Orleans against Ohio State. “ enables consumers to coordinate their charter bus transportation needs 24 hours a day and directly from their computer, tablet or smart phone,” said Tony Harris, president of Shofur. “Charter buses remain an important mode of transportation that is rarely discussed, keeping pollution down and reducing wear and tear on automobiles. The American Bus Association’s Motorcoach Survey gives an average of over 161,000 passenger trips for each carrier in 2012 against an industry number of over 637 million.”

Stertil-Koni expands production Heavy duty vehicle lift manufacturer Stertil-Koni, Stevensville, MD, a brand of the Stertil Group, announced that its U.S. production facility, Stertil ALM, has purchased a 4.5 acre parcel adjacent to its current manufacturing plant in Streator, IL. The acquisition will enable Stertil ALM to remain in Streator, make an investment for future growth and further expand production of Stertil-Koni’s awardwinning heavy duty vehicle lifts. “Stertil ALM is a major employer in Streator and the anticipated expansion is positive for the community,” said Streator Mayor Jimmie Lansford. Stertil ALM intends to begin construction on the new parcel in the spring of 2015 and complete the expansion later in the year. “The increased acreage and production space allows the company to keep all the operations under one roof,” said Allan Pavlick, vice president of Stertil ALM. “The expansion will allow Stertil ALM to increase efficiency and productivity. In addition to the growth in the North American market, Stertil ALM is exporting in-ground lift products worldwide.” The additional manufacturing space will primarily be dedicated to the fabrication and assembly of the Stertil-Koni DIAMOND LIFT, a full rise telescopic piston lift setting new standards in precision heavy duty lifting, and SKYLIFT—an “open floor” concept, true vertical-rise platform lift with no crossbeams, no overhang and no base frame. Stertil ALM, already a major employer in Streator, anticipates that the expansion will further contribute to job creation in the area.

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Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV), Orlando, FL, promoted Kent Tyler to vice president, Sales and Marketing North America for all product lines. Tyler will report to Marcus Berto, chief commercial officer. Making the move from his previous role as president, ASV Bus Division, in his new role, Tyler will lead corporate sales and marketing, oversee business development and direct execution of the company’s strategic growth plan for increasing market share of all brands in ASV’s vehicle manufacturing portfolio. He will continue to oversee ASV’s bus division as he transitions into this new position. Tyler was president of E-ONE, a manufacturer of fire rescue vehicle, and served five years as president of Collins Bus Corporation.

ASV announced in December that John Resnik, president of Champion Bus and Federal Coach, was appointed president of Goshen Coach, reporting directly to ASV President and CEO Tim Sullivan. Resnik will continue to work from the Champion Bus manufacturing plant in Imlay City, MI, dividing his time between this facility and the Goshen Coach manufacturing plant in Elkhart, IN. Resnik has been president of Champion John Resnik Bus since 2004. Before he served as vice president/controller and mobility van division manager at ElDorado National-­Kansas, a sister company in ASV’s bus division.

ASV also appointed Matt Scheuler as president of Collins Bus Corporation, South Hutchinson, KS, the largest Type A school bus and multi-function school activity bus (MFSAB) manufacturer in North America. He will report directly to Tim Sullivan, ASV president and CEO. Scheuler moves from his previous position of vice president, Sales and Marketing for Collins. Matt Scheuler

Matthew Wood has joined Transdev, Lombard, IL, as senior vice president, Business Development. A seasoned professional in public transit serving in business development and leading operational management roles, in his new role Wood will focus on further developing Transdev’s transit and paratransit businesses as well as its IntelliRide services division, which offers brokered transportation for Medicaid, healthcare and ADA-certified persons passengers. He will be part of Transdev’s Business Development team reporting to Rahul Kumar, the company’s North American VP of Business Development. Prior to joining Transdev (previously Veolia Transportation), Wood most recently served as managing partner of the Transit Access Group, a national transportation and logistics consulting company.

Former California Air Resources Board Member and Los Angeles World Airports Executive Lydia Kennard joined the board of directors of Proterra Inc., Greenville, SC. She currently serves as the president and CEO of KDG Construction Consulting, and is an active board member of several other organizations and a trustee of the University of Southern California. Proterra says Kennard’s extensive background in the areas of

transportation, urban planning and sustainability initiatives are wellaligned to its mission and growth objectives.

Brandy Jones

Cincinnati Metro of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Association (SORTA) promoted Brandy Jones to public relations manager, who now serves as a Metro spokesperson responsible for media relations, public relations, social media, and community relations efforts. She most recently served as Metro’s Employee and Customer Communications coordinator, and previously worked at Kevin Wilson Public Relations Agency as an account coordinator.

Prevost, Ste. Claire, QB, Canada, has announced the promotion of Guillaume Charron to the position of Service Network manager of Canada. Guillaume has served various roles for Prevost over the past 20 years. In turn, Nicolas Gagnon, bringing 16 years of management experience, replaces Charron’s replacement at the StNicolas facility.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) named Mary Phillips to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit as a senior professional staff member. Phillips has extensive experience in surface transportation policy issues, in both the public and private sector. She is the former associate administrator for Policy and Governmental Affairs for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and served as a senior professional staff Nicolas Gagnon member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. She has worked for Legislative Affairs for the American Trucking Associations and as an analyst for the Amtrak Reform Council. Guillaume Charron

Seon, a subsidiary of Safe Fleet, Coquitlam, BC, Canada, announced in December its promotion of Chief Operating Officer Tom Gill to the position of president, replacing Seon president and co-founder Terry Akiyama, who announced his retirement and transition as chairman. Gill is a veteran in the video surveillance industry serving as COO and CFO of Silent Witness prior to their acquisition by Honeywell in 2003. Seon, a provider of mobile video surveillance equipment, joined the Safe Fleet family of brands in September.

Tom Gill | BUSRIDE



What constitutes good seat design?

With this issue, BUSRide launches The Science Behind The Seat, a cooperative forum series that addresses the critical design and manufacturing elements associated with comfortable, safe and ergonomic seating for buses and motorcoaches. In this issue, BUSRide asks – What constitutes good seat design? Talk to any of the major manufacturers of bus and coach seating and the foundation for their unique, proprietary products rings the same. Each will speak to the challenges of designing, constructing and testing seating systems that meet or surpass all established safety standards; provide comfort for drivers and passengers; incorporate sound ergonomics; protect against health threats; and last as long or even outlive the vehicle lifecycle — all at cost effective price points for operators. Focus on critical areas There are stringent regulations and procedures that seating manufacturers must adhere to, as well the standards they establish themselves that allow their products to perform satisfactorily in these critical areas: Safety Much of the focus on bus safety currently points to seatbelts. Though not mandated as yet, three-point seat belts are closer to a standard than an option in today’s motorcoach market. It should also be noted that seat vibration is a source of driver fatigue and can become a safety issue. This key fatigue factor typically requires a suspension seat mounted to an oscillating suspension that can absorb road vibrations through its own built-in air spring and shock absorber.

Durability Seating manufacturers say they see bus operators doing all they can to extend the life of their present fleets. This becomes their challenge, to build durability into a seating product that holds up for the life-cycle of the motorcoach. This challenge is no different in the transit industry. Seating manufacturers aim to make a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and vandal-resistant seat that will last well over a decade. In many respects, this can be like trying to achieve conflicting objectives. In addition, many driver seats feature pneumatic push-button adjustments to move the seat vertically, fore and aft, recline, and make adjustments in the lumbar support. Health and sanitation The seat must be capable of easy cleaning by maintenance crews, and the design has to give the impression of cleanliness to the passenger. There’s also a trend in the bus industry toward a greater use of antimicrobial fabrics, a shift back to once-shunned vinyl materials. Recent improvements have led to vinyl and plastic materials embedded with inherent properties that are antibacterial and antimicrobial. Testing Most component manufacturers conduct their own product testing in conjunction with NHSTA test labs. They will typically test to a maximum weight, follow government standards established for safety purposes, and set their own quality criteria and standards with aim of exceeding federal mandates.

Comfort and ergonomics The significant challenge in the design of driver seats is to arrive at a safe and comfortable solution that can accommodate a wide variety of body types. 12


THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE SEAT FORUM The science of comfort, innovation, and efficiency By Jürgen Mill Americans across the United States spent a combined 2.5 million hours in their seats on buses and coaches last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association. One of the great comforts passengers are looking for can and should be an island that happily takes them through time and space on a long journey, a hot spot that lets them connect and be creative when inspirations strikes on the go, or a place that gives them a few minutes of rest during a busy day. If this sounds like an impossible dream, know that Kiel is investing over $5 million each year into the research of this very notion. Today the “science behind the seat” is a sophisticated affair and an art form that combines the expectations of six billion individual passenger rides, the needs and budgets of thousands of operators and the engineering requirements of bus builders into a roughly 16 inch square platform of bliss. The science of design: The center seat of everything Probably no other part of a bus or coach has to satisfy such many different demands to be a perfect fit for a program or fleet. Before bus or coach builders will recommend a seating solution to customers, they will have made sure that the model integrates smoothly into the vehicle. Operators need to know that they are acquiring a reliable, high-quality solution that stays up to date for years to come and helps cut operational and maintenance costs. Customers, no matter where they are going or coming from, regardless of size and age, need to feel secure, comfortable, and safe. Customers are an extremely difficult and challenging audience to impress, and smart seating uses short make-it-or-break-it moments in its favor. From the first visual check to tactile judgments and even audio assessments, bus riders absolutely judge a seat by its cover. It is most important in the science on “median ergonomics” to provide a space of comfort to all segments of ridership at any point in their journey. The science of safety: Fusing form and function Safety is the omnipresent mantra in our industry. Kiel conducts about 200 dynamic crash tests per year and is constantly developing and improving the safety of its seats to offer the securest seat possible. Since the three-point seat belt became a European norm in 1995, we have been striving incessantly to create the perfect balance between a robust seating solutions that can absorb enough energy on impact and be a protective survival space while on the other hand being flexible enough so that no injuries can occur from protruding parts, for example. Once the three-point belt becomes mandatory in the U.S. for coaches in 2016, operators and manufacturers need to make sure that the seat of their choice provides a uniform restraint to avoid whiplash and is a good fit for many different sizes and shapes of riders. While seats that are easy to maintain save operating costs, riders will thank agencies and operations for seats that look as good years from now as they did on the first day.

The science of savings: Costeffectiveness through quality For many years, European countries have been investing in innovative ways to cut fuel costs. Seating manufacturers have developed sophisticated technologies and materials First impressions count. Whether for a five to cut the average seat minute trip in the city or long-distance traveling, weight about 15 to 20 percent the perfect seat invites riders with a clean and since 2005, a trend that is modern design that feels as good as it looks. likely to be a significant topic in the U.S. as well. A recent project with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, for example, showed that the use of a lightweight coach seat reduces the amount of fuel by an astonishing 4 percent, which translates into savings of over $32,000 annually for the entire fleet of 31 coaches. Surveys The perfect seat is created by combining among the ridership have innovative technologies with extensive testing as well as design and ergonomics research. exceeded the department’s Satisfying the highest standards and ex pectations. While requirements should go hand in hand with an passengers are greatly ergonomic and exciting design. enjoying the comfort and safety of the seat, the fuel saved equals 6,000 pounds of CO2-emissions per bus—a perfect fit for the ambitious GreenDOT initiative. Cost-efficiency goes beyond weight economy, of course. The best modular solutions guarantee time-saving integration into the vehicle and are also flexible enough in design to adapt easily to the special requirements of each fleet. The science of balance: The basics of seating everybody Seventy years of experience in the bus seat sector have proven again and again that the best seat is a successful amalgamation of the needs and wants of riders, operators and bus builders. Whether it is a selfsupporting shell seat for the city or a lush luxury coach model, the ideal seat is a harmonious, well-balanced combination of great design and proven safety, providing operators with a most irresistible “cost of ownership”. Jürgen Mill is senior VP of Engineering and R&D at the Global Headquarters of

the Kiel Group. | BUSRIDE



BUSRide Road Test:

Transpo Access puts the Mobility Ventures MV-1 to the test in South Bend By David Hubbard

As Evette Franklin-Ford maneuvered the MV-1 through the humps and bumps on the AM General road test track, her experience evoked a more personal response to the fully dedicated paratransit vehicle from Mobility Ventures, a wholly owned subsidiary of AM General, South Bend, IN. “The MV-1 would allow my best friend to ride up front with me,” Ford says. “She uses a wheelchair and would absolutely love being able to sit shotgun in a more dignified position. We could actually carry on a conversation.” Ford is the senior paratransit driver for Transpo Access, South Bend’s demand response service, and an employee of Transdev North America, Lombard, IL, which manages Transpo operations. BUSRide invited Ford to lend her expertise for the Official Road Test of the MV-1 DX model. The company’s intent is not lost on professionals like Ford, whose transit career spans 21 years with South Bend Transpo, with 15 years dedicated to driving for Access. Small and sedan-like by bus standards, but a proven fit in public paratransit fleets, the concept behind the design and engineering marries the MV-1 with the needs of passengers and caregivers Ford knows so well, and for whom Mobility Ventures manufactures this vehicle. “The MV-1 does not have a lowered floor like a converted mini-van,” says Ryan Zemmer, marketing manager. “However, we do consider it a ‘low floor’ vehicle because the effort to enter the vehicle is minimal. John Walsh, Mobility Ventures vice president, Sales and Marketing, sees this product as an ideal solution for paratransit. Mobility Ventures says every relevant component and accessibility aspect on the MV-1 meets or exceeds ADA vehicle requirements and guidelines. “We combed through every line item in the American Disabilities Act of 1990,” Walsh says. “In addition to delivering a fully compliant vehicle, our goals are to bring more comfort and convenience to those who rely on paratransit service.” Three MV-1 models Mobility Ventures is producing the MV-1 in three models to serve three distinct markets — taxi, transit and consumers. SE is the least expensive standard edition with a manually operated ramp. DX is the bestselling deluxe edition for all three markets, and typically the choice of transit agencies. It features an electronically powered ramp, added amenities and standard trim. 14


The AM General Chippewa Test Track, a 300-acre facility adjacent to the old Studebaker plant, features 17 miles of offroad track for military vehicles and a 2.5 mile paved durability track for the MV-1.

The MV-1 DX is the popular deluxe model featuring an electronically-powered ramp and added amenities, with trim as standard.

LX is the luxury edition launched in 2014, featuring upgraded trim and extra high-end amenities that include stitched leather, rosewood paneling and chrome accents, as well as a different exterior grill treatment. “The LX is for those customers who would choose to ride or operate the vehicle on their own, or for a private operator to deliver a luxury paratransit service,” Zemmer says. “Wheelchair users may appreciate the opportunity to get out and attend events with more style.” The back story MV-1 stands for “Mobility Vehicle Number One.” According to Mobility Ventures, it is the world’s first auto-type wheelchairaccessible vehicle available direct from the factory. “Mobility Ventures is essentially the newest American automotive OEM with state of the art manufacturing,” Zemmer says. “We build the MV-1 using robotic assembly methods in our fully automated manufacturing plant.” VPG Autos actually premiered the MV-1 in 2011, with the manufacturing then outsourced to AM General, South Bend, IN. As the manufacturer of the all-purpose Humvee for the U.S. military, the company was also the builder of the commercial H2 Hummer version for General Motors (GM). In the original arrangement, VPG distributed the MV-1 through an agreement with the transit management company MV Transportation, Dallas, TX. “For both entities to share the same initials was strictly a coincidence,” Walsh says. “Needless to say, this created a great deal of confusion. Everyone thought the transit management company owned the MV-1 car company, when nothing could have been further from the truth. Aside from the fact that MV Transportation competes with other transit management companies, such as Transdev and First Transit, for it to serve as sole distributor of the MV-1 was an unworkable business model.” In 2012, AM General assisted VPG Autos with a new team to change the distribution, turning to the small and midsize bus dealerships. “The people selling the buses make the best distribution model,” says Walsh, who has 25 years in the small and midsize industry. The next year, when VPG Autos ceased operation, AM General bought the company and all rights to the MV-1, which included the name, all company assets, design and distribution.

On the track The AM General Chippewa Test Track, a 300-acre facility adjacent to the old Studebaker plant, features 17 miles of off-road track for military vehicles and a 2.5 mile paved durability track for the MV-1. “This facility sets up a brutal test for the MV-1,” Zemmer says. “As an automotive OEM, we test to higher standards under separate rules, much the same as for Ford, GM and Chrysler. Many of the vehicles built for paratransit service do not undergo such rigorous testing; nor are they required to abide by the same rules and standards for testing and durability, because they are primarily involved in aftermarket assembly and conversion.” Before slipping into the driver’s seat, Ford offers her thoughts on her profession and the present state of paratransit transport. “Because of the mobility differences we routinely encounter on a day-to day basis, our job requires patience, understanding and compassion for our passengers,” Ford says. “Paratransit is not only a wheelchair issue. We are just as sensitive to the needs of those with hearing and vision challenges.” Ford says she sees a number of changes that could make the make the ride easier and more enjoyable for her passengers. “Wheelchairs are getting wider and longer, which is making boarding on many paratransit buses and vans more cumbersome,” she says. “Many wheelchair, lift and bus manufacturers don’t seem to understand the more personal issues with their end users trying to get around on paratransit.” As for her trip around the track, in addition to track laps, Ford puts the MV-1 DX through a series full-radius turns and sharp steering, as well as controlled sudden stops. “It is almost unfair to compare this vehicle to the buses I operate,” Ford says. “The MV-1 actually feels more like driving an SUV-type automobile. The ride and handling is so much smoother and quieter. The suspension is far superior to the standard paratransit bus and not as bumpy for the passengers.” She says, with this smaller car with such responsive handling, paratransit drivers can get in and out of tight spots with much less effort. Ford says getting wheelchair customers on and off a bus faster without the humiliation she sees at times would be a major industry | BUSRIDE


The MV-1 SE model is the least expensive and comes with a manually operated ramp.

“This would make them more like a friend, especially the passengers we see on a regular basis.” The discussion also evoked a remembrance from Walsh. “My mother rode paratransit for years and would call complaining of the rough ride, bouncing around in her chair situated behind the rear axles,” he says. “The ride is always nicer if the chair is in front of the rear axle.” Ford additionally pointed out greater visibility through the front and side for wheelchair passengers. She noted that in a standard van, the windows are sometimes a little higher from their point of view. “These conveniences only add to the quality of service,” Zemmer says. “Providing the necessary accommodations to maintain a level of dignity, with passengers not feeling degraded by their disability, is critical to paratransit transportation.” improvement. This explains her interest in the proprietary ramp and deployment system engineered and built specifically for the MV-1. “Everyone can enjoy this feature,” she says. “That’s people using wheelchairs, scooters and walkers, as well as ambulatory passengers.” Depending on the size of the wheelchair, the MV-1 typically accommodates one powered chair, or two manual models. It can also seat five passengers with the optional rear-facing jump seat. The MV-1 ramp Mobility Ventures says the MV-1 is the first ever auto-type vehicle to come wheelchair-accessible direct from the factory. Mobility Ventures designed the accessibility ramp, which American Specialty Cars (ASC), Warren, MI, supplies. The ramp stores in a removable cartridge that fits flush with the floor and is barely discernable when not in use. Using the control buttons mounted inside the rear passenger door, it deploys electronically in two lengths: a short mode when pressed for space or curbside deployment, or a full-length expansion that further reduces the slope. Should the electric controls fail, there is a manual override. On deployment, the ramp extends straight out from the floor and drops down into position. For safer operation at night, lights in the door panel equivalent to those of a backup camera system illuminate the ramp surface and boarding area in front. Ford sees the ramp system on the MV-1 as a perfect solution for many of the customers she transports. “We carry a great number of passengers who want their independence, and appreciate the chance to do as much as they can on their own,” Ford says. “They don’t particularly want the caregivers and operators to do it all for them.” Asked how she could see the MV-1 making her work easier, Ford came back to the wheelchair placement. “I appreciate the roomy interior, to help locking down the wheelchairs,” she says. “There is even room for service animals to sit beside the passenger, no matter where they are positioned in the vehicle.” She says this can be an issue at times, especially for visually impaired customers. To that point, Zemmer notes that Mobility Ventures has installed heat shields beneath the floor that provide more comfort for service animals, but are mostly imperceptible to someone wearing shoes. “I can see how customers could feel like they are riding with us, instead of just being hauled around in the back of the bus,” Ford says. 16


Gasoline or CNG The DX CNG version served as the vehicle for the BUSRide Official Road Test. Three CNG tanks of different sizes are packaged together to fit into the rear of the vehicle and afford a range of approximately 300 miles. According to Mobility Ventures, the cost of this install on the assembly line is much lower than an aftermarket CNG conversion. A well-laid plan Mobility Ventures says its manufacturing plan assures long lasting dependability. Aside from the proprietary componentry that includes the frame, chassis and running gear of its own design, the company hand selects the basic component systems from other well-established OEM suppliers. “We didn’t feel the need to undertake all the research and development to design our own component systems; we aren’t reinventing the wheel,” Walsh says. “Nor do we need to be particularly brand loyal. Our choice of pre-existing and trusted products from a number of tier-one suppliers comes with millions of dollars in R&D and years on the road.” For instance, the MV-1 employs a Ford engine and transmission, as well as steering column and airbag. The rear end is similar to the Chevrolet Camaro, and the brakes are similar to another Chevrolet model. “This production model is very similar to what American Motor Cars did back in the day,” Zemmer says. “We are all about what works best for the MV-1 application.” NYC opts for the MV-1 “Agencies are looking for solutions that lower cost and help from an operating standpoint,” Walsh says. “Case in point, New York City MTA is replacing its 400 small paratransit bus fleet with MV-1s.” According to Walsh, the reasoning behind the NYC procurement has to do with cost, as the agency collects fare for each of the 2,000 accessorized vehicles in its fleet (each with one wheelchair lift). Walsh notes that NYC never buys a new vehicle without putting it through its own in-service testing for at least a year. He says the agency agreed to test 15 CNG and 15 gasoline models and halted after six months when it realized the money it was saving. “There will never be an end-all paratransit vehicle,” Walsh says. “However, we believe the MV-1 can certainly provide much needed versatility in this market.” Above: Evette Franklin-Ford, senior paratransit driver for Transpo Access, South Bend, IN, maneuvered the MV-1 through the humps and bumps on the AM General road test track.

By Prevost Prep

Preparing Drivers Founded in 2007 by the United Motorcoach Association (UMA), the Bus & Motorcoach Academy was started with five online courses for business owners and five online courses for motorcoach drivers and operators. As of late 2013, nearly 900 online courses had been administered, and the Academy had become a great resource for UMA member companies. But what about prospective drivers? Those who didn’t already have their CDL? Enter Prevost. Dedicated to growing the number of skilled drivers in the motorcoach industry, Prevost approached the Bus & Motorcoach Academy to develop a curriculum that would not only convey the knowledge necessary to pass the written exam for a Commercial Driver’s License; but practical knowledge that will better prepare a driver for “day one” on the job. By expanding and revamping its existing courses through Prevost’s support, the Academy launched the Prevost Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers (Prevost Prep for short) in February 2014. Engaging enforcement officials The nature of commercial motor vehicle operations requires frequent interaction with enforcement personnel. These interactions can range in purpose from basic highway enforcement, security issues, and routine vehicle and driver inspections. Drivers engage a large cross-section of law enforcement officials whose training, experience, and personalities vary significantly. This course covers the basic responsibilities of the driver when engaging Federal, state and local law enforcement officials, and passenger care during inspections. Also covered are the basic North American Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance inspections and out-of-service criteria. Managing passengers This course provides an overview of passenger issues, such as transporting baggage and passengers, including special needs passengers, special considerations for school buses, transit considerations, and issues of customer service and customer care relevant to the motorcoach operator. After completing this course, students will be familiar with basic customer service considerations relevant to the motorcoach industry. Students will also gain insight in how to defuse challenging customer service situations. This course also covers the basic unique differences between passengers on charter and tour groups, scheduled service, and local shuttle. The course highlights “how and when” to engage passengers including before departure, during the trip, and post trip. Highlights will include passenger and passenger possessions security, unruly passengers, passenger illness, and other unanticipated passenger emergencies. The motorcoach driver profession This course highlights the motorcoach driver profession by identifying the unique skills, knowledge and responsibilities associated with operating a motorcoach. The course includes employer’s regulatory responsibilities as well as the driver’s. Basic ethics and behavior are included, along with United States Department of Transportation whistleblower regulations. The course addresses the driver’s responsibility of maintaining a Commercial Driver’s License in good standing and the Federal Pre-

Employment Screening process. The basics of wardrobe selection, grooming and basic courtesies, as well as information about typical company rules and policies will be provided. Motorcoach in motion The modern motorcoach contains complex systems. Today’s driver may not have basic familiarity with basic automotive functions. While it is generally not the duty of a professional driver to repair a bus or motorcoach; it is often critical for the driver to make basic assessments in order to effectively communicate with shop personnel and manufacture technicians. This course highlights the critical pre-trip inspection and assessment of the condition of the bus and/ or motorcoach, basic parts identification, fuse location, fluid levels, climate control, and fire extinguisher. Also highlighted are tire inspection, condition, and tire-pressure monitoring. Navigation and weather This course covers basic route planning, map reading skills (including map symbols), distances, proper utilization of advanced electronic mapping systems, Global Position Systems, online mapping and route searches, electronic “street views,” and obtaining advanced traffic advisories. Weather conditions frequently contribute to bus and motorcoach crashes. Anticipating weather conditions better prepares a professional driver for route deviations and/or appropriate vehicle changes that mitigate the chances of a crash. This course will cover the appropriate places to obtain advance weather reports and road conditions, coordinating with company dispatch along with group leaders. The course will also cover the use of chains, tire pressure, effects of altitude, allowing ample time and general systems checks. Safe driving This course explores safe driving procedures under normal and special conditions, off-road vehicle handling and in-depth case studies in safety as related to the motorcoach industry. After completing this course, students will be familiar with general safe driving practices, understand the importance of various road conditions, and be able to analyze various driving scenarios to develop critical thinking skills needed to handle on-road and off-road situations. Also included in this course is basic knowledge of passenger carrier driver’s hours-ofservice and properly maintaining a logbook. Security This course features “First Observer” techniques, guidelines and procedures relevant to the driver, including crisis response. After completing this program, students will be familiar with the requirements of the Highway Watch Program and understand how to implement the “First Observer” recommended practices. Students will also learn how to increase the security of their motorcoach in the field, as well as how to handle security/crime-related situations. NOTE: We are advised by the Transportation Security Administration that this training will soon be required for all CDL holders. More information on Prevost Prep can be found at | BUSRIDE



Youth art says it all for Valley Metro E

By Steve Banta CEO, Valley Metro Phoenix, AZ



ducating and engaging students about public transportation in the communities we serve are important endeavors for Valley Metro. Through a variety of school outreach programs, we are able to help students discover how and why riding transit is so important. Over the years, Valley Metro has generated tremendous interest and excitement for public transit by encouraging elementary, junior high and high school students’ to apply their artistic talents to the subject of public transit. Our various art contests bring out their creative interpretations of how public transit improves their community. Their artwork generates excitement and gets our youth on board, and helps shape the future of transit in metropolitan Phoenix. Valley Metro is currently accepting entries for the 15th annual Design a Transit Wrap contest with the winning student’s artwork featured on a Valley Metro bus and light-rail train for one year. Most recently, Valley Metro celebrated the 10th edition of the 3rd grade Cool Transit Stuff calendar. Throughout 2015, more than a dozen Arizona students from seven public and charter elementary schools will have their artwork displayed in offices and in homes across the Valley. Valley Metro invited third grade students across the Valley to create artwork highlighting this year’s contest theme, Valley Metro… It’s How We Roll. Some of the winning drawings of Valley Metro buses and rail cars also included other important messages, such as Valley Metro, Helping Keep the Planet Clean. The competition was stiff for the 2015 calendar. Valley Metro reached out directly to more than 400 schools and received entries from 335 students. To celebrate the growing community involvement and the 10th anniversary, the 2015 calendar also includes a commemorative card featuring Best of Show winning artwork from 2005 to current.

Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta presents the Best of Show award to Jenna Lorti, a 3rd grader from Tumbleweed Elementary, Phoenix, AZ.

Valley Metro provides public transit options to residents of greater Phoenix and Maricopa County that include the planning and operations of a regional bus system and the development and operations of light rail, as well as alternative transportation programs for seniors and people with disabilities, commuter vanpools, online carpool matching, bus trip mapping, bicycle safety and telework assistance. Two Boards of Directors set the policy direction for the agency with the intent of advancing the regional public transit system.

Winning and runner-up submission pieces in Valley Metro’s 2015 calendar.

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Turn and tail swing accident prevention techniques By Todd Carrier Have you ever come close to making contact with an object or vehicle while turning? Are you aware of how wide the rear of the bus will go as it makes the turn? Turns can be dangerous and costly if you don’t take the necessary precautions before and during these maneuvers. They are among the most common type of accident in the school bus and motorcoach industry. Most of these accidents are minor and usually involve something small such as a mailbox, mirror or stop sign. However, these accidents can also involve pedestrians and bicyclists, resulting in extensive bodily harm. For example, a right turn in a school bus on a tight residential street may only result in the right rear tire going over someone’s sidewalk or lawn. But a left turn in a motorcoach in a parking lot drop-off situation could knock a pedestrian into a parked car, causing severe bodily injury. Poorly adjusted mirrors, not knowing the dimensions of the bus, speed and proximity of fixed/moving objects can all contribute to this type of accident. So how can companies avoid turning accidents? First, always know the length and width of the vehicle. Many school buses have a standard width of 8.5 feet and length of 40-45 feet, while motorcoaches have a standard width of 9 feet and length of 45 feet. Follow company policy on pre-inspections and be sure to take note of the vehicle’s dimensions, especially if you are assigned to a different vehicle than normal. The rear axle of the bus acts as a pivot point for the rear of the vehicle. However, the distance between the rear axle and the rear of the bus is much greater than that of a passenger car. This part of the bus between the rear axle and rear of the bus is commonly referred to as the “tail swing” because it appears to swing around during a turning maneuver. The tail swing can be 10 feet or more on a standard school bus and almost as much on a motorcoach. Make sure that mirrors are properly adjusted so you can be sure that the rear of the bus will adequately clear vehicles, pedestrians and objects when it begins the turn. Begin with the driver side mirror. If you can see the windows on the side of the bus, the mirror needs to be pushed out. Remember to check the right side of the bus when turning left and to check the left side of the bus when turning right. And always be certain your vehicle has the right of way before beginning the turn. During the turn, it’s necessary to ensure that the rear axle is up far enough to keep the bus from pinching objects on the right once the bus begins to pivot to the right. Check the right flat and convex mirrors for space as the bus continues through the turn. Re-check the left mirrors for clearance in the event that a vehicle or person has entered the area where the tail swing has occurred. Once the vehicle has completed the turn, check the mirrors and straighten out the front wheels before accelerating. 20


Ensure that your rear axle is up far enough to keep your bus from pinching objects on your right once the bus begins to pivot to the right.

The part of the bus between the rear axle and rear of the bus is commonly referred to as the tail swing. The tail swing can be 10 feet or more on a standard school bus and almost as much on a motorcoach.

When turning from a single lane into a double lane, always turn into the far lane and make the transition to the desired lane well after the turn. When entering a double turn, always stay in the outside lane to avoid a pinch by an outside vehicle. Finally, it’s important to ensure the vehicle’s pre-trip inspection includes cleaning off the windshields, mirrors and side windows, adjusting the mirrors properly, and knowing the dimensions of the vehicle and tail swing. Todd Carrier serves as director of risk management for Protective Insurance Company, Carmel, IN. Watch Protective Insurance Company’s “Safety Solutions: Turns and Tail Swings” video online at For more information, please email


Are we planning for poor performance? Mary Sue O’Melia With the technology available today, the transit industry has more data than ever to help plan productive and efficient service. But more data does not necessarily translate into good planning decisions and improved performance. Drilldown not up Agencies should start at the Route level by Day Type (i.e., Weekday, Saturday, and Sunday). Drilldowns to the trip and stop levels are done on an as-needed basis and require APC and AVL system data. Picking a year or even a month’s worth of detailed data without having a framework for evaluation is a waste of time. Evaluating productivity and effectiveness Agencies will need four data items that are required for National Transit Database (NTD) reporting and are generally available to all transit agencies, both large and small. The four data items include: • Passengers • Revenue Service Hours (or Revenue Service Miles) • Passenger Revenues • Operating Costs Calculate system average and individual route performance statistics for key indicators: passengers per revenue hour and farebox recovery ratio (i.e., passenger revenue divided by operating costs) or subsidy per passenger (in lieu of farebox recovery). Use these two indicators to assess areas of strong, moderate and poor performance. Display information in a diagram or table format. In the example that follows, Quadrant A shows strong performance while quadrants B and C (shown in gray) show moderate performance. Quadrant D is shown in red and indicates poor performance.

In the example above, Route B has the lowest performance in the group. The next drill down would be to examine performance by day type, followed by performance by time of day (e.g., early morning, AM peak, mid-day, PM peak, evening) and then by route segment. Examining route performance by day type may be accomplished with standard data by route used for NTD reporting. Identifying performance issues by time of day and route segment requires a ride check or APC data. Route performance standards Many agencies go through an elaborate process to define route performance standards, but using your own transit system average

for general public service is fairly easy to calculate and levels the playing field. This allows for a few basic service planning guidelines. If an agency wants to improve system performance, the first rule is this: Do not implement service changes that are going to result in performance below the system average. The second rule: People will walk to frequency. Invest in improving the frequency of the best routes. Evaluating service change requests Attend almost any public hearing for transit services and there will be requests for: • New routes in new areas • Expanded service hours • Weekend service • Additional stops • More frequent service • More reliable service • Faster service. Evaluating options does not require complex formulas. How do existing services in similar areas and during the same hours and days of operation perform? If service changes perform in the same way as existing services, will the route be above or below the system average after these changes? For additional stops and off-route stops, a different type of analysis is required. How much running time will be added with additional and/or off route stops? Is there enough slack in the schedule to accommodate a few additional stops? Are additional vehicles required to accomplish the requested change? Answering these questions can go a long way to presenting the facts for performance-based decision-making. Transit managers should not be recommending routes expected to have poor performance based on comments received during a public hearing or because it would be nice to expand service. If an agency is venturing into expanded hours and days, and there are no similar routes, then implement the service on a demonstration basis with clearly communicated performance standards. Summarize up before making a final decision Once a set of service changes have been identified and vetted, the cumulative impact of these changes should be evaluated. What is the current system average for key performance statistics and will these improve, decline or stay the same with implementation of recommended changes? If an agency does not know the answer to this question, then it is not ready to make the change. Don’t guess; know before you recommend and approve. Mary Sue O’Melia is president of TransTrack Systems®, Inc., a business intelligence solution that transforms volumes of data into meaningful information for transportation managers and executives to use in planning, strategizing and ensuring optimal performance. Visit TransTrack Systems® at: | BUSRIDE


Building the team Trailways adds new members in Pennsylvania and along America’s third coast Mlaker Trailways Three generations of family management and 30 years’ experience are behind the ownership and operations of Mlaker Trailways, the latest company to join Team Trailways, the world’s largest network of independently owned motorcoach companies. “My grandfather began our company and now my father and I run it,” says Matt Mlaker, vice president. “We began by running school buses - which we continue - but in recent years, we’ve added a lot of charter and tours business,” he says. The company fleet now includes 40 school buses and 17 other full-sized passenger coaches and trolleys for weddings and other private event use, he said. “I am very excited to welcome our newest team member because Mlaker Transportation (Trailways) embodies the business operations USSC-074 FMNA Ad_BRM.pdf 1 5/21/14 12:19 PM

and ethical values for which our team has become renowned in the past eight decades,” says Gale Ellsworth, Trailways president and CEO. “Mlaker Trailways joins David Thomas, Fullington, Martz, and Susquehanna Trailways all based throughout Pennsylvania, which helps to provide a wider brand presence in the Northeast region—our team is most pleased.” Mississippi Trailways Team Trailways expands again – Bus Supply Charters, Inc. (BSCI), DBA, Mississippi Trailways - is not just expanding the group’s network of independent motorcoach operators across the continent. It’s also closing an important service link along America’s third coast, as companies in all states along the Gulf now fly Trailways’ famous Big Red colors. “Mississippi Trailways’ decision to ride with us means we have important team links in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida,” says Trailways President/CEO Gale Ellsworth. “Our network is now fully connected along the Gulf coast, and this strengthens its fabric, as we cooperate to build business opportunities and back one another with road services when needed.” Keith Sanders, president of Mississippi Trailways, says he looks forward to working with fellow Team Trailways companies. “We know the brand will help us generate business through its network, especially in slower winter months,” he says. “We’re delighted to add a Mississippi member to Team Trailways!” Sanders says his company is based in two small-towns, Madison and McComb, MS, but the locations are strategic because they’re about a 100 miles from both Baton Rouge and New Orleans and not far for Jackson, MS. New Orleans convention business is one market they would like to expand, he adds.

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is an ever-present risk SP Fire Research works to establish best practices that thwart bus fires By David Hubbard


us and coach manufacturers, vendors and operators have gone to great lengths to make buses and motorcoaches one of the safest modes of public transportation. Still, though preventable, vehicular fire is an ever-present risk. The threat increases with equipment advances and the introduction of new componentry, and puts the onus on OEMs, operators and suppliers of fire systems to ensure safety in an area with relatively few strict regulations. Because of the high number and varying vehicle models operating in cities and on open highways, buses and coaches pose unique challenges in regards to fire. In the event of a bus fire, determining the origin and cause is an indispensable learning tool for improvements in fire prevention that touch on vehicle and equipment design and operation, as well as human factors. SP Fire Research, a division of SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, is one of the largest fire research and testing facility in Europe. The 130-plus SP Fire researchers, engineers and industry experts provide evaluation and risk analysis in the prevention and suppression of vehicle fires; and have promoted bus fire safety globally as a top priority since 2004. In 2014, the organization expanded its mission to include vehicle fire safety the United States. Fire safety expert Joey Peoples heads up the expansion from offices in Raleigh, NC. He says the expansion brings new opportunities for further evaluation and risk analysis in the prevention and suppression of vehicle fires. “We test products and solutions against realistic fire scenarios and aspects specific to vehicular fire hazards,” Peoples says. “Our aim remains the same, to establish standards to objectively evaluate safety performance of fire suppression products and prevention methods, and establish effective best practices.” According to SP Fire Research, the greatest areas of concern include:

minutes. In addition to tire pressure/temperature monitoring systems, early testing of some wheel-well coatings has shown to provide a significant increase in the evacuation time. Detection systems SP Fire Research says it is currently working on improved test methods for fire detection and fire alarm systems, with plans to propose new standards for their use in heavy vehicles. The research investigates non-traditional methods such as predictive failure modes for high risk components, which it says will facilitate the rapid identification of pending failures of hoses and lines carrying flammable fluids, as well as components that have greatly exceeded their operational parameters. Electrical fires The increased complexities of systems that connect componentry in the engine compartment into the driver area elevate the risk for fire. Electrical arcing and shorts do not always trip protective devices such as fuses. Some cables, such as cable from the battery to the starter and alternator, carry very high currents capable of producing enough heat to not only ignite nearby combustible materials, but also cause breaches in hydraulic lines and metal covers. Best practices to reduce such risks include rerouting, securing and better protecting electrical circuitry. Alternative fuels While the overall benefit of alternative fuels that include CNG, LNG, propane, hydrogen and hybrid-electric are obvious, each fuel system needs scrutinizing for their unique threats of vehicle fire.

Engine compartment The engine compartment poses unique conditions that effect fire detection and suppression. High temperatures in the engine compartment can cause premature failure of components; increased surface temperatures can ignite flammable fluids faster than expected. Ventilation through fans and openings in the engine compartment produce high airflow levels to facilitate necessary cooling of the engine and compartment, but also increase the intensity and spread of flames. A best practice is the use of temperature strips in high-risk areas to identify unexpected high temperature zones. Wheel wells Wheel-well fires are particularly difficult to detect and suppress because of their exposed environment. Testing has shown toxic fumes and smoke can seep into the passenger compartment in less than five

This mock-up of an engine compartment tests the performance of the suppression system under different driving conditions. Tests include both small and large fires under varying conditions of air flow, temperature and size of ventilation openings in the test rig. | BUSRIDE



Inter-city coaching expanding in Europe By Doug Jack All photography courtesy of David Cole

Over the last two to three years, there has been a noticeable increase in inter-city express coach services in Western Europe. Although all of Western Europe is smaller than the United States or Canada, there are numerous countries and therefore different regulations governing national and international coach transport.

ADAC has pulled out of the joint venture with Postbus in Germany. This is one of their many Scania coaches.

A Volvo Plaxton coach on a premium express service in Scotland.



There has been, and still is, strong lobbying by stateowned rail networks to preserve what they see as their right to inter-city express services. Until quite recently on longer journeys — especially cross-border — the same was true of state-owned flag-carrier airlines. The European Commission has been keen to open up all kinds of services to competition. As far as the bus and coach industry is concerned, it has generally been easier to make progress with express coaches than with city and suburban buses. The Commission identified three types of national control. The first was deregulation, where any competent bus company could apply to run on a route or network of routes, sometimes with competition from other operators. The second was controlled competition, where routes tended to have licenses for a fixed period of years, often with protection from competitors. The third system, quite widespread until fairly recently, did not permit any competition. Oftentimes this was to protect the services of state-owned railways. The United Kingdom was the first Western European country to open up express coaches to deregulation in October 1981. Until then there had been inter-city services, but operated largely by members of state-owned groups. They sold their services largely on price with few passenger comforts. Reclining seats were a rarity and onboard washrooms were only on the 400-mile journeys between London and the main cities in Scotland. After deregulation, when competition was permitted, coach specifications and passenger amenities increased dramatically. The state-owned companies had to follow, but they had the major advantage of established networks, ticketing agents (remember them?) and financial muscle with all sorts of suppliers. Some of the new competitors failed to survive, but one young brother and sister team stayed the course. I am of course referring to Sir Brian Souter and his sister Ann Gloag, who have gone on to establish Stagecoach and


and very economically priced, although Subsequently, some other European there are rumors that fares must rise to countries opened services to reduce the levels of subsidy. On the other competition. Generally, they also found hand, rail connections between major that a small number of players became population centers are often poor. Spain dominant - but some niche players has a well-established network of intersurvived because they offered unique city coach services, often franchised for services, or carved out less popular a fixed period of years, subject to vehicle routes (often across country). standards, service frequencies, etc. This has been one of the most important National Express, through its subsidiary factors in European coach deregulation. ALSA, is one of the largest operators. Sir Brian Souter observed a few years ago The European Commission has pressed that in most countries, a principal city other countries to open up coach services can become a hub, such as London, Paris to competition, especially Germany, with or Madrid. It is more difficult in a country The distinctive Caetano Levante style for National Express. It is the largest population, and France, with like Germany, where there are several on a Volvo chassis. the largest physical territory. France has major cities, but not one that is dominant. When deregulation occurs, it helps to be one of the first in the paid lip-service to the idea, with some coaches owned by a subsidiary door and build up strength to tackle further opportunities as they of the state-owned rail company running between Paris and London. become available. In England and Wales, the state-owned National Bus Coach operators from other countries have started running to France, notably, but the authorities are placing restrictions that Company established National Express as an inter-city brand. Subsequently privatized, National Express is now a major are bound to be the subject of appeal to the European Commission. At the start of December,, international operator with an intensive which was already running services network requiring 400-500 coaches per between London, Paris, Brussels day with many more contracted during and Amsterdam, expended a base busy periods. Its pattern is interesting. in Brussels to run a regular service It hires the majority of coaches from through the German cities of Cologne, contractors at a fixed rate per mile. The Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich. contractor supplies vehicles in National They started with two return services Express colors and specifications, per day, running high capacity doubledrivers, fuel, insurance and maintenance. decker Van Hool coaches, practically National Express is responsible for identical to those used by scheduling, marketing, selling seats, in North America. A large number of and paying an agreed rate per mile to the similar vehicles are said to be in built contractors, although it also has some at Van Hool, and observers have noted vehicles of its own on certain routes. advertisements for coach drivers in A few years ago, National Express made A Setra double-decker coach of other German cities. The company is a bold decision to establish a corporate very shrewd at not announcing new identity for its buses, asking Caetano, the Portuguese bodybuilder, to develop a distinctive and practical design. routes until a couple of weeks before they are ready to commence, The company resisted the temptation to fit the maximum number making it very difficult for any competitor to respond in such a of seats, but concentrated on leg-room and comfort with a quality short time. The potential to develop in Germany is excellent. The country has ambiance for passengers. The coaches are also accessible to passengers a high population and an excellent network of highways. On some in wheelchairs. Although vehicles of other makes can appear on National Express journeys, even between major cities, the point-to-point journey routes, the exercise with Caetano on branding and identity has been time by coach is little different from that by train. Passengers have guaranteed seats, secure storage of their baggage, onboard a great success., a subsidiary of Stagecoach, is the other major British connectivity, and other facilities that are in advance of many of express service operator. The company owns all its own vehicles and those available on European rail networks. The main weakness is is very good at branding. Megabus has also been more innovative, on-street boarding, often without any cover, so that waiting for the coach can be a miserable experience. with very high quality double-decker There will always be a place for highsleeper-coaches used on overnight speed inter-city rail travel in Western services between London and Scotland. Europe, although progress on crossIn the daytime, they convert to premium border travel is proceeding at a low coaches with high quality reclining seats rate. Trains and express coaches are and plenty of passenger space. not directly competitive. They serve Both National Express and different types of customers and their can compete with the railways on services competition will always remain the car to and from London, mainly on price, and and low-cost airlines. with the guarantee of a seat. In Spain, successive Governments spent Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the vast sums of money developing high-speed United Kingdom. rail services between Madrid and several regional centers. They are highly efficient A Mercedes-Benz Tourismo with MeinFernbus in Germany. | BUSRIDE



EASY LESSONS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRIP An invitation to other drivers to learn from this driver’s mistakes

The article by Mark Hewitt originally appeared in MultiBriefs Exclusive, reprinted here with permission. Hewitt has driven buses for nearly 10 years. Five of those involved mass-transit service in England driving the iconic double-deckers. He currently drives motorcoaches and trains drivers in the United States. Find the original article at: www.exclusive.multibriefs. com/content/lessons-learned-in-bus-tours/travel-hospitality-event-management.

“I have learned a few things during my many years as a motorcoach driver,” he says. “I would like to pass some of them on in the hope that others will learn from my mistakes.” 1. NEVER RELY ON TECHNOLOGY This one is important — especially in this day and age. I recall a three-day when my GPS device failed after the first day. I cannot begin to explain the sinking feeling I felt powering up the device and seeing nothing. My first thought was one of panic. Then I remembered that I still had the maps my dispatch had sent with me. I knew how to read them and was able to make it home. 2. ALWAYS CARRY A TOOLKIT This is not as easy as it sounds. Stocking a toolkit can be expensive, so try to determine the tools and equipment you may need for a specific trip. I recommend inspecting the coach beforehand, and talking to the technicians who maintain it regularly. Go with their suggestions. One of the more memorable times when I could have used a basic toolkit, I was traveling at night when I discovered one of my sideview mirrors was not tightened correctly. At speeds above 50 mph it would turn into the wind, which created a serious blind spot. I did not have any tool with me to fix it and had to drive another 70 miles with the mirror turned. Negotiating the cloverleaf exit was a challenge. Once I reached the hotel, I was able to borrow the necessary tools from the handyman and fix it before setting out the next morning. 3. NEVER BLINDLY TRUST THE HOTEL STAFF FOR PARKING DIRECTIONS This is important, as most hotel staff have no idea of the vehicle you are driving into the parking lot. Wherever they suggest, check it out to be certain of the going in and coming out. If you arrive in the middle of the day, chances are by evening or when you depart in the morning, there will be more cars limiting your 26


room to maneuver. I have been stuck in these situations when I did not account for the extra cars. There is always an easier way, just look for it. 4. KEEP TOGETHER IN A CONVOY This one really annoys me when it happens. Always try to stay together when you are traveling with other coaches. Traveling separate from one another creates a bad impression of the company and the drivers. Whereas a well-organized convoy of two or more coaches traveling as a unit sends the impression that you actually care about your passengers and the other drivers. 5. IN WINTER, ENGINE HEATERS ARE YOUR BEST FRIENDS I have been on more than a few trips in the winter in extremely cold temperatures where I relied heavily on the engine heaters. They can save a trip. If the bus was parked in the shed overnight, I would just fire them up once I was outside. If the bus was outside overnight, my advice is to fire them up at least an hour before starting the engine. Also, in very low temperatures, it doesn’t hurt to run the engine heaters while driving to help maintain temperature. 6. WORK WITH GROUP LEADERS AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY WANT A trip can become difficult with little or no communication between the driver and the group leader, and create tension for the duration. I at least make sure my group leaders know my name and my cellphone number. They know to call with any question. This simple courtesy led to one of my most successful trips of the year.



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BUSRide February 2015  

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