JANUARY | 2015
Bus Rapid Transit Roundtable p14 Fleet Management Systems Roundtable p22 Motor Transport turns 100 p25
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BUSRide turns 50: A witness to the changing motorcoach market Industry leaders and veterans point to the significant changes and main events BUSRide turns 50 this year. To commemorate the progress over half a 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 motorcoach industry through the best of times and the worst of times.
Here’s looking at 50 years in their words: Peter A. Picknelly, chairman, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Springfield, MA I can think of two innovations that have changed regular bus service forever: the internet and technology in general. It used to be that if a bus company controlled the terminals, it controlled the industry. Now, people can buy a ticket on their smartphones and get on the bus at the corner. The technology on the vehicle has really been impactful. All our buses have WiFi, GPS tracking. We know where they are, how fast they are going and how the engine is running. Today, if a bus goes out without WiFi, or if the plug-ins don’t work, we get more complaints than anything. Peter Pantuso, president and CEO, American Bus Association (ABA) The significant changes I have seen in the industry, since my tenure, have been in the vehicles themselves. Not only the modern styling that has attracted new customers through greater curb appeal, but more recently the many safety enhancements and onboard amenities that now include WiFi connectivity. Online ticketing and plug-in capabilities has helped introduce an entirely new generation and demographic to motorcoach travel. Changes in scheduled over-the-road service to point-to-point operations have brought new customers onboard. But it is the growing professionalism in the industry that has brought operations, service, scheduling, maintenance and other elements of the business to an entirely new level. Victor Parra, president and CEO, United Bus Association (UMA) Without question, the most significant, course-altering event over the last 50 years occurred in the 1980s when the private bus industry was economically deregulated — clearly the signature event in our industry. That one single event cleared the way for
men and women to pursue the American Dream of owning and operating their own bus business. Helping make this happen was a dream of UMA when the association formed back in 1971. The founders saw the potential for a larger and more diverse motorcoach industry; one that could help people travel to all parts of our nation without cumbersome regulations and barriers that prevent buses from moving freely between states and Canadian jurisdictions. Eugene Hotard, executive vice president, Alliance Bus Group, Atlanta, GA I regard the United Bus Owners Association (UBOA) SuperBus Expo of 1986 as a turning point. This marked the explosive — but very short lived introduction of a half-dozen European bus OEMs that included Setra, Van Hool, Mann, Neoplan, Lagg and Renault attempting to cashin on the North American market. UBOA was formed out of the large bus association called the National Association of Motor Bus Operators (NAMBO) to represent the smaller coach owner/operator and serve as their voice in Washington D.C. and to protect and promote their interests and welfare. In 1996, UBOA became the United Motorcoach Association (UMA). Patrick Scully, executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, Motor Coach Industries (MCI) During my time in the motorcoach industry, significant changes that I have seen certainly include the move in the mid-1990s from 40 feet to 45 feet as the standard length for motorcoaches in North America. The vast steady improvements in research and technology from 1999 to today to reduce diesel exhaust emissions and increase efficiency have proven to be a major improvement for the industry, not to mention the positive impact on the environment. Above: New technology has greatly improved service over 50 years for companies like Peter Pan Bus Lines.
busride.com | BUSRIDE
JANUARY 2015 CONTENTS
COVER STORY Van Hool doubles down
The company and its North American partner, ABC Companies, reinforce their commitment to American operators
FEATURES BUSRide turns 50: A witness to the changing motorcoach market
Industry leaders and veterans point to the significant changes and main events
Mapping tomorrow’s highways 12 Solar roadways and the “Internet of Things” to shape roads in the future
Bus Rapid Transit Roundtable: Part II
By David Hubbard
Fleet Management Systems Roundtable: Part II
By Richard Tackett
Motor Transport marks a century of service
Flexibility and innovation keep the company moving forward By David Hubbard
DEPARTMENTS 8 UPDATE 10 DELIVERIES 11 PEOPLE IN THE NEWS 27 TRANSIT AUTHORITY
By David Brandauer and Mary Sue O’Melia
17 DRIVER SAFETY
By Jeff Cassell
29 THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
By Doug Jack
BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
FROM THE ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER
An All-American Road is the place to be Motorcoach tour operators would be the first to say the journey is as integral to a successful travel experience as the destination itself — reason enough to go exploring. The National Scenic Byways Program, developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), supports and promotes a distinctive collection of 150 roads through the U.S. that it distinguishes as either an All-American Road or a National Scenic Byway. The premise is to set the stage for unique travel experiences and enhance the quality of life for locals who live and work along these routes. According to program leaders, these roads are at the heart and soul of America. Established under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, a voluntary grassroots effort sustains the program. All-American Roads and National Scenic Byways throughout America demonstrate intrinsic archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. To receive the federal blessing as an All-American Road or National Scenic Byway, the route must demonstrate a minimum of these prescribed qualities. For example, in Oregon, between Troutdale and the Dalles, the Historic Columbia River Highway (modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe) stands as the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the 75-mile stretch was built through the Columbia River Gorge between 1913 and 1922. The process to gain admission into this unique collection is stringent. A successful nomination takes months of research and preparation. But, once chosen, the distinction lets travelers know it offers an exceptional travel experience. Routes bearing the designation as an All-American Road are typically the most scenic and offer a travel experience unavailable on any other road in the United States. AllAmerican roads run the gamut from the Las Vegas Strip to the Seward Highway in Alaska. Interestingly, tourists may not realize how spectacular these routes are without first knowing they carry such special designations. A discretionary grant program provides funding for byway-related projects each year. All American Roads and state-designated byways are eligible. Applications can be prepared online and submitted through the state’s byway program agency.
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BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
Unbelievable Ride, Uncompromising Reliability.
The new 2015 J4500 offers a ride like no other. The difference begins with a new ZF independent front suspension that drives like a dream and rides smooth as silk, with a turning radius that’s nearly seven feet tighter than before. Just as impressive is the new Bendix braking system that delivers car-like control, along with an optional collision mitigation feature that keeps drivers and passengers firmly in the safety zone. The one component we wouldn’t dream of changing? Our reliability. It’s why North American coach owners choose MCI coaches above all others, and depend on us for excellence in service and parts. Visit our website to learn more, or call your MCI rep for a test drive. Discover what it means to be Reliability Driven.
MCI’s J4500 is available with the reliable and efficient Detroit Diesel DD13 engine. To learn more, go to mcicoach.com/J4500
Brand USA’s Thompson to receive NTA Pioneer Award Christopher L. Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, will receive the Pioneer Award from the National Tour Association Jan. 22 at the association’s 2015 convention, Travel Exchange, in New Orleans. Also being honored by NTA are Suzanne Slavitter, CTP, and Steve Richer, CTP, each of whom will receive the Bob Everidge Lifetime Achievement Award. Established by NTA in 2005, the Pioneer Award recognizes an individual whose accomplishments produced a significant change in the travel industry from which NTA and its members have benefited. Thompson’s leadership fits the bill, according to NTA President Pam Inman. “Under Chris’ guidance, Brand USA has elevated the United States as a travel destination— rapidly and remarkably,” Inman said. “We’re seeing a dramatic increase in international visitors as a result of Brand USA’s extensive marketing and expanded international presence. And he’s brought in more private contributions to pay for it.” In the two years Thompson has led Brand USA, contributions to the public-private organization have increased from $60 million in 2012 to more than $130 million in 2013 and 2014, and the number of international offices has risen from four to 12. In 2013, Brand USA’s marketing efforts generated 1.1 million international visitors over the growth that would have occurred without Brand USA’s initiatives.
Christopher L. Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA
Trailways CEO Gale Ellsworth retires Gale C. Ellsworth, reigning CEO of the Trailways Transportation System, Fairfax, VA, for one more month, announced her retirement effective February 1 after nearly 18 years at the helm. “Our team is losing an extraordinary leader,” said Trailways Board Chairman Tony Fiorini of Silver State Trailways. “Gale has been Trailways’ number one champion expounding the power of the brand. She has steered our organization through astonishing changes with her reformist, entrepreneurial style of leadership.” Fiorni said at the core of Ellsworth’s legacy is a larger network of affiliated bus carriers, and service and program benefits that equate to stronger brand value. She also built the highly popular annual stockholders conference that includes trade representatives, allied partners and industry supporters. Gale Ellsworth “All of the organizational milestones accomplished during my tenure with Trailways are the result of the combined commitment, dedication and the work of many, including the Trailways board, staff, and other team members,” Ellsworth said. “My service to Trailways has offered me the most rewarding experiences of my career; I am incredibly thankful to have had this great opportunity to work for such an outstanding organization.”
BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
Houston’s new Metro coaches are equipped with 55 Avance 2010 recliner seats designed and engineered by Kiel.
Metro Houston implements new fleet with Kiel coach seats Kiel North America announced that it has been delivering 95 sets of its premium quality coach seats to Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO Houston) in partnership with Motor Coach Industries (MCI). Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city with one of the most rapidly growing metro areas. METRO’s new MCI Commuter Coaches will replace older equipment and allow for the expansion of its commuter express services while adhering to the agency’s ambitious “Going Green” program and federal fuel efficiency busride.com
standards. MCI has been part of Houston’s transportation scene since 2001, when METRO began to use the highway-styled MCI Commuter Coach in the infancy of its Park & Ride initiatives. This is the first time METRO has opted for Kiel seats. “Kiel is a relatively new supplier to MCI,” said Tom Wagner, MCI vice president of Public Sector Sales. “Kiel’s support of the Houston Metro delivery has been excellent, and industry feedback has been positive as well. We’re very pleased to offer Kiel seating as an option on our Commuter Coach model.” The new Metro coaches are equipped with 55 Avance 2010 recliner seats designed and engineered by Kiel.
ZF receives award for electrically driven bus axle As part of the “International busplaner Sustainability Prize 2015,” an independent jury of experts assessed bus innovations which combine economic success with social responsibility and environmental friendliness. In the “Components” category, ZF’s AVE 130 electric portal axle ultimately took the top step on the winner’s podium. It swayed the jury with its efficiency, flexible usage options, and unrestricted everyday practicality. The prize, which was initiated by the renowned trade magazine busplaner, was presented during the ceremony held in Munich on November 20, 2014. “We are absolutely delighted about winning the ‘International busplaner Sustainability Prize 2015’ in the ‘Components’ category – particularly since the main criterion for this competition was also a decisive criterion in the development of our AVE 130 electric portal axle,” said Andreas Moser, head of the Axle and Transmission Systems for Buses & Coaches business unit at ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “Thus the AVE 130 now provides urban public transport with the potential to improve sustainability in many regards.”
Motorcoach Marketing Council announces “Motorcoach Mardi Gras” fundraiser The First Annual Go Motorcoach Mardi Gras will be held on Monday, January 19 immediately following the UMA Motorcoach EXPO Sneak Preview Party at Razzoo on Bourbon Street. Proceeds of this event will go directly towards the Go Motorcoach Campaign to create new and innovative ways to increase public awareness on the many positive aspects of traveling by motorcoach. “We are so excited to host this new and fun event at Travel Exchange,” said Chairman Peter Shelbo. “The Go Motorcoach marketing campaigns are gaining traction within our industry and, with your continued help and support, we can carry on our mission.” The Go Motorcoach Marketing Toolbox has 19 campaigns that allow operators to quickly and effectively create powerful tools to target specific attributes of motorcoach travel as well as those who will likely use a motorcoach.
TransLoc Traveler launches TransLoc says the introduction of TransLoc Traveler means less work for transit agencies and riders in planning and using mass transit. Understanding how riders actually navigate their transit journey means agencies can plan confidently for the future. TransLoc Traveler uses mobile data to illustrate rider travel patterns throughout a system, creating the foundation for smarter and more efficient transit. “Many of our assumptions come graphically to life with Traveler,” said Samuel Scheib, transit planner and manager for The COMET, Columbia, SC. “But more importantly we can see unexpected travel patterns and tailor new service to meet that demand efficiently.” TransLoc Traveler uses a clear interface that quickly highlights where and when changes are ideal based on rider travel patterns. Making sense of the data is as simple as a click with the interactive, user-friendly maps rather than burying agencies in tables and spreadsheets. This visual nature translates even to non-transit audiences, allowing for more dialogue and input from community officials and advocates.
Boston provider wins five year Grand Canyon shuttle contract Paul Revere Transportation (PRT), a Boston-based provider of contracted and charter bus services, announced that the U.S. National Park Service has awarded the company a fiveyear contract to operate and manage bus shuttle service at the Grand Canyon National PRT will manage and operate shuttle bus Park in Arizona through service at the Grand Canyon National Park. November 30, 2019. “Paul Revere Transportation is pleased to continue its relationship with the U.S. National Park Service,” said James F. O’Leary, managing partner of PRT. “Our team takes great pride in providing safe and reliable transportation services to Grand Canyon National Park visitors.” PRT has operated the Grand Canyon Visitor Transportation System since January 2000. THE EYRE FAMILY
Providing Excellence In Travel for over 60 years! Buses for Sale 2003 MCI J Model (new trans) 2002 MCI J Model w / Lift 2001 MCI J Model w / WC Lift (2) 2000 Prevost H3-45 w / WC Lift (2) 1998 MCI 102D3 – 47 Passenger 1998 Prevost H3-41 w / WC Lift (2) 1994 MCI – 102D3 – 47 Passenger (2)
Contact Brad Eyre 410.442.1330 x 3210 See all listings: www.eyre.com/forsale busride.com | BUSRIDE
DELIVERIES ABC COMPANIES added
PREVOST / VOLVO
MOTOR COACH INDUSTRIES (MCI) added
Roadrunner Charters Irving, TX
Tiger Tours Olyphant, PA
Onondaga Tours Auburn, NY
Indian Trails Owosso, MI
Roadrunner Charters recently took delivery of four Van Hool TX45 coaches. CEO Ron Wills points out that this purchase is part of the company’s carefully crafted expansion, which also includes a new six acre, 20,000 squarefoot office and maintenance facility in Fort Worth, and the acquisition of HME Executive Coach. This is Roadrunner’s fifth acquisition since 2008 and their fleet has grown to 80 coaches. “The people that we work with at ABC go above and beyond in supporting Roadrunner and the Van Hools are built very well and easy to maintain,” Wills says. “Our maintenance costs are among the lowest in the industry. Customers love the way they look and our drivers enjoy driving them.”
Tiger Tours has taken delivery of a decked-out MCI J4500, building on a business that is earning its stripes every day. The new J4500 features such upscale extras as 110-volt outlets at every seat, chrome mirrors with cameras, wood-grain trim and magazine racks. Tiger Tours, which is named for the owners’ appreciation of the Bengal tiger, got its start in 1989, when owner Bob Johnson and partner Carl Straka, both of whom had driven for other companies, decided to use their experience to start a door-to-door van service for local bingo halls. Thanks in large part to the owners’ attention to detail and customer service, it didn’t take long for the young company to attract other clients, and in 2004 began building a motorcoach fleet.
Looks and passenger comforts are important, but there’s something about a coach that’s well-designed and reliably serviced. That’s what brought Mike Oster and Onondaga Tours back to Motor Coach Industries for their newest J4500. Besides a wheelchair lift and Detroit Diesel 401-horsepower engine, Onondaga’s 2014 J4500 features an Allison B500 transmission, Amerex engine fire suppression and the SmarTire pressure monitoring system. The 56-seat coach also features a state-of-the-art entertainment system, LED lighting throughout the cabin, and Amaya seating three-point passenger seatbelts.
Michigan Flyer put a new fleet of seven Prevost H3-45 luxury motorcoaches on the road in November. Parent company Indian Trails, Inc. says this $3.8 million investment adds additional comfort and eco-friendly features to the popular service. The 2015 model-year coaches come equipped with electronic stability control, fire suppression system, two GPS systems and tire pressure monitoring. For the trip, the Prevosts feature deluxe, ergonomic seating with leather headrests and ample leg room, individual climate controls and reading lamps, as well as 110-volt AC outlets on-board lavatory.
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BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA, has hired former San Diego County Sheriff’s Captain Ed Musgrove to oversee all field security and enforcement operations to help ensure safe travel for more than 95 million passengers annually. He will supervise 200 transit officers. Prior to joining MTS, Musgrove was a captain in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, Ed Musgrove where he served for 25 years and was the operational commander for the City of Santee. Most recently he worked as the Operations security manager for the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad.
Stertil-Koni, Stevensville, MD, announced that Robyn Collier is now a warranty coordinator, in addition to her current role as receiving manager. Collier, a nine-year veteran with Stertil-Koni, brings substantial hands-on product knowledge in addition to a dedicated customer focus to her expanded responsibilities with Stertil-Koni. Previously, she served with Stanley Black & Decker for more than 20 years, capping off her career there in a warehouse management position on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Robyn Collier
Masabi, London, UK, a provider in mobile ticketing and payments for transit, announced that Brian Zanghi has joined the company as its new chief executive officer (CEO) and president. He will assume the role immediately and is focused on accelerating growth globally in the evolving mobile ticketing market. He replaces previous CEO, Co-Founder Ben Whitaker who will remain with the company as head of Innovation. Prior to joining Masabi, Zanghi was CEO of Awareness, a provider of social marketing software. Before that he also served as CEO of Kadient and held ‘C’-level positions at a variety of software companies such as SPSS, NetGenesis and eRoom.
Greater Dayton RTA, Dayton, OH, announced the selection of Bill Ingram as the new chief maintenance officer for the regional authority. In this role, Ingram will be responsible for maintenance facilities improvement, fleet inventory/stores and electrical infrastructure construction and maintenance. He will also lead labor relations within the department.
The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority has appointed Dwight Ferrell as Metro’s chief executive officer and general manager. Ferrell most recently served as the county manager of Fulton County, GA, where he led more than 5,000 employees in the management of activities and operations of county departments. For four years, he served as deputy general manager and chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), managing day-to-day operations for the ninth largest transit system in the United States.
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busride.com | BUSRIDE
Solar roadways and the “Internet of Things” to shape roads in the future
Future highways will be made from solar materials and will be governed by sophisticated technologies that communicate with buses, cars, road infrastructure and GPS systems, according to Arup’s Future of Highways report. The report considers the consequences of themes including rapid urbanization up to 2050 and how climate change, resource depletion and changes in human behavior will shape roads in the future. “Anticipating and researching future trends will help us move towards a connected, low-carbon future, where mobility solutions put users at the heart of design and potential challenges are addressed as early as possible,” says Tony Marshall, Global Highways leader at Arup. “The changes that this report suggests will provide safer, more reliable and more environmentally friendly highway infrastructure for generations to come.” Surfaces could be replaced with advanced solar panels that would generate clean and renewable power, and wirelessly charge electric cars as they are driving or are parked. The panels would also contain LED lighting and heating elements to melt snow. As well as highways evolving, the report foresees that patterns of ownership will change in the coming years, with commuters more likely to purchase access to a vehicle rather than the vehicle itself. While the number of motorized vehicles on roads is expected to increase by 3 percent annually until 2030, the use of non-motorized transport such as bikes and walking is also due to rise in popularity. Cities worldwide have already recognized this trend and have started to implement strategies to reduce congestion and support the health of their citizens through various cycle and walking schemes. Electric cars are anticipated to become commonplace on the roads of the future as developments in material science will dramatically improve the performance of batteries and the potential for increased electricity storage. Fully-automated navigation systems will also enable roads to be populated by driverless cars which could change the design and operation of highways, and provide safety and environmental benefits. Vehicles will become increasingly “intelligent” and “self-aware”: a combination of the connected vehicle and the Internet of Things will enable vehicles to broadcast and receive information on traffic, speed, weather and potential safety hazards. As a result, cars will be able to travel closer together and react more quickly to variables around them. This will open the market to people previously unable to operate vehicles such as the elderly or disabled. For further information on the future of highways please download the infographic and report in full at: www.arup.com/Homepage_Future_of_Highways.aspx. 12
BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
Arup’s report considers the consequences of rapid urbanization up to 2050 and how climate change, resource depletion and changes in human behavior will shape roads in the future.
I have my ITS grant, now what? By David Brandauer and Mary Sue O’Melia There are several steps to take early in the life of an ITS project. Some of these should have been done prior to applying for the ITS grant. Nonetheless, if they have not been done, do them now. The first thing to look at is how the ITS project will support an agency’s overall business goals and objectives. Secondly, an agency must identify key stakeholders for the ITS project and ensure that they are involved in every step of the project. Finally, take notes from those that have gone before. The lessons they learned in their projects can be crucial to ensuring success in your new ITS project. Supporting business goals and objectives An agency should never do a project just because it has the funding. It takes significant effort to implement new technology in any organization. An agency should always know what business goals and objectives this new technology will help support. Maybe a new CAD/AVL system can help an agency meet its 85 percent on-time performance goal. Maybe it will generate bus arrival predictions to improve customer experience. Whatever the case, identify service levels and performance indicators that will be vital to knowing whether the results of this project can be considered successful. A lot of things need to be right for the system to know where a bus is and where it is going. If 75 percent of an agency’s buses track effectively in real-time, is that good enough to meet the expectations of its customers? Can it improve its service schedules using only 75 percent of the data? As much as peer reviews and consultants can be a guide, only you can set performance measures that will work for your agency. Do not be afraid to plan to change them over time as service improves. Requirements should be set in the procurement process. But, once an agency is working with its selected partners, use the system design phase to clearly identify what is to be measured, how it will be measured and, most importantly, how it will be tested to know it is working properly. Business objectives may change over time and as they are refined during the project implementation phase. Document these changes as they are agreed upon by the ITS project stakeholders. No matter how well written, unchanged original requirements rarely produce truly successful projects. What is critical is that the changes are well-documented. Things tend to be good in the beginning of a project. Verbal agreements are certainly easier to make then written ones. But, in multi-year projects, a lot can change including project dynamics and teams. At that point, all verbal agreements can be off. Documenting changing project goals, objectives, and stakeholder assignments for use and maintenance of data can help an organization keep the ITS project on track long after initial implementation. Stakeholder involvement Stakeholder involvement throughout the life of a project is critical. Far too often an IT Department is charged with delivering an ITS
project. They work diligently through all of the stages of the V-model of the system engineering project only to end up with a ‘successful’ project that misses the needs of operations. Early on, look with a broad view at whom will be impacted. Who will need to work with the system? Who will support it? How will the riding public be impacted? Generally speaking, ITS projects have a direct impact on staff (IT, Operations, Admin) and passengers. An agency may also want to include representatives of the organization that funded the project and other regional third parties with a vested interest. Maintain an organized process but allow voices to be heard. Nothing can guarantee success, but by actively involving stakeholders, obstacles that arise can be managed in a productive environment. Stakeholder involvement does not end with project acceptance. Periodic meetings to review post-implementation challenges, training and re-training needs, equipment maintenance, and setup and use issues are all important to ongoing project success. Proactively addressing these challenges will help an agency to take full responsibility and ownership of the ITS project long after the vendor has completed project implementation and acceptance tasks. Lessons learned Unless this new technology is on the bleeding edge, someone else has previously implemented a project similar to yours. Some of them, after their project was completed, actually reflected on what worked well with the project and what could be improved upon. Take the time to take notes from their experiences. No matter how effective the project planning, practical experience is difficult to replace. Mistakes result in lost time, money, and confidence in a project and the technology involved. An agency must do what it can to mitigate these risks. If there’s not someone on staff with direct experience, bring someone in from the outside. At a minimum, use someone for setting requirements, a schedule and a testing process. If possible, include them in the system design and testing phases. One valuable lesson to be shared is to make sure that training is done when both the system and people are ready. Far too often, training is done prematurely (leaving staff unprepared when the system goes live). Retraining is required in almost all cases. Staffs change. Those who partake in initial vendor training may also benefit from retraining. Even the most tech-savvy learn with use and have questions about advanced functionality that may not have been presented during the initial training, or may not have been understood at the time. 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
By David Hubbard
BUSRide reconvenes 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
Above: Veolia Transportation operates the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) Bus Rapid Transit for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, which currently runs between the Downtown Transportation Center and North Las Vegas. 14
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What is your best advice, best practices or pitfalls to avoid for transit authorities and municipalities considering a BRT system in their community? Alan Brick-Turin: We are not going to improve if we continue to do what we are doing. Elected officials must commit to giving up the street for transit and realize cars will never be able move the same number of people as a bus. Discussion about taking away a lane from general-purpose traffic for transit or BRT, or BRT and HOV lanes, marks a significant change in thinking. When I speak at transit and public meetings, I will say to the audience that the traffic they were in today was the best traffic here they will ever see ever again. It is only getting worse. Deborah Dagang: It is important for agencies to recognize that cities supportive of BRT are often looking for additional funding opportunities. They may view a BRT project as a form of urban renewal, thinking BRT is great because it is going to bring nice stations and nicer landscaping. All of a sudden, the transit agency is getting pushed to fund projects that it technically cannot call transit; whether it is lighting between the stations or the entire streetscape. I think transit agencies that are used to delivering a product to their customers need to become more integrated with how to work with local jurisdictions to help meet their needs, and how to merge their various funding sources.
consulting engineers who were working for the city simply yanked out the controllers and put the old ones back without telling anyone. It took us a several months to realize what had happened. In another jurisdiction, an IT director decided there was a weakness in the security of the entire computer system that could allow a breakin through the bus and the signal communications system. He simply disconnected all of the signal priority in that city without telling us. We thought we had bargained in good faith, but came to realize this as a weakness. An agency operating in multiple jurisdictions must have some type of hammer to ensure the buy-in continues after that initial honeymoon phase, once it gets into the day-to-day operations. Michael Allegra: As my job is to move people, I am actually modal agnostic. My agenda is to make transit the first choice by whatever means, bicycles, carpooling, buses or trains. The community has trusted us to-date to plan appropriate transportation solutions. One example is that our prospective 10-mile BRT line will run from one intermodal center to another, connecting with the commuter rail. We start with one project using the best off-the-shelf products we can buy — vehicles, signal priority, roadways — with the certainty that the watershed will follow. Starting small is one of the key indicators for obtaining feedback on viability. Cliff Henke: My best advice for agencies is to thoroughly understand the nature of the project and demonstrate a clear and consistent vision that fits with the bigger picture within their communities and regions. It is critical for agencies to work closely with champions who will see the project through successful end. The consistent support of those champions over the life of the project is very important.
Dennis Hinebaugh: More so than any other transit mode, BRT needs its champions. We discovered early on that BRT needs strong local support to move a project forward. The Cleveland HealthLine BRT system gets its moniker through a naming Whether they be elected officials, rights partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals — the leaders in the business community two major locations in the Euclid Avenue BRT Corridor. David Miller: The agency must or advocates out there speaking to be clear on the problems to solve the community about the virtues and decide on a measureable and of BRT. Most elected officials, without given comparable alternatives, achievable goal early in the project. Decide at the beginning what it turn their eyes toward the shiniest and most expensive option, which will accomplish and on which corridor. Bring all the stakeholders in is invariably light rail. They need outside encouragement to look at the to participate in the planning phase to address these questions from attributes, pros and cons of the specific transit mode itself. every angle and suggest funding sources. Tom Waldron: I think a region considering any form of transit must first determine what it wants its transportation network to look like, and if BRT is the end-all or an interim step to the ultimate configuration. A transit agency or municipality gets there through well-focused, concentrated planning that involves the stakeholders connected to the program going forward. My advice is to work toward a comprehensive, long-range plan, and be very transparent during its development. It is vitally important that the champions of BRT work with transparency as it will ensure consensus and a broad constituency once BRT survives the planning process as the modal choice. Hunter Harvath: Running our BRT system through four jurisdictions has been very complex and signaled a weak point we only discovered in the later phase of our project. During our planning and development, we laid out our responsibilities and those for each of the four jurisdictions, and made it crystal clear that each one was to inform MST before doing any type of work or disconnection on the system. Just when we thought we were ironclad, we learned one of the cities did not have enough staff on hand to maintain the signals, so the
Plan to spend 15 to 20 percent of the effort on system requirements and financial matters to avoid open issues and feature cuts later on. Most likely, a BRT system will be the most cost effective. However, the solution is usually multimodal. Graham Carey: I think BRT, strictly as a means of transportation, is difficult to sell. The most successful projects I have seen are those that include some form of urban renewal or corridor renewal spearheaded by local champions with a vision. I think we need to leave the corridor in a better condition than what it was when the project began, and that sometimes means incorporating non-transit improvements aimed at enhancing livability. John Birtwistle: BRT needs consistency in its image and quality to be successful. It needn’t be extremely expensive to implement, but it must set BRT apart from conventional transit and make people think they want to take the bus, rather than feel they are being forced. Everyone has a role to play in the success of BRT. They must take pride in the consistent delivery of that service. This is how an busride.com | BUSRIDE
agency actually gets people to use the system day in, day out. P. Christopher Zegras: Do not water down the product. The advantage of BRT, such as speed of delivery at relative low cost, often translate into “Let’s just do this quick and cheap.” Corners start getting cut and before anyone knows, it is just a glorified express service with a painted lane. Transit must work closely with municipal governments and view BRT as a unique opportunity to enhance public space. That being said, any altered road space will be local and sacrifices are inevitable. This requires municipalities to show some guts to demonstrate such changes will bring greater benefits. However, creating an environment that will enable BRT to thrive does mean taking a few risks. Michael Myers: A BRT project requires ongoing conversations and education before anything begins to happen. The planning process must allow a long lead time, as well as the execution. However, because BRT is simpler than building a massive subway or light rail system, the lead time is considerably shorter. BRT is almost counter intuitive. Cities that have implemented BRT have discovered that by removing automobile lanes and dedicating them to BRT buses, the overall flow of automobile traffic is even faster.
To our OEMs at the table, what do you say to agencies choosing vehicles exclusively for BRT? Paul Smith: We are an engineering-intensive industry and styling is at the forefront for all our customers, however difficult it is to define. Quite honestly, our biggest problem is we have is too many engineers out there. I think they have to leave it to the bus manufacturers to listen and come up with the best solution. Far too often we end up with a bus that somewhat fits the style, but there is not enough critical mass to warrant the investment, or to properly test and launch an all-new model. I will say when we do come up with a style that everybody likes, we will get hardcore BRT users and those with a dream of their BRT project who want a very uniquely styled bus for the service, and we are trying to satisfy both. René Allen: In some areas, the bus is considered the last choice for transportation, which leads us to think we have to make the bus look like anything but a bus so that people will want to ride it. We certainly can’t give each agency a different bus design. Considering the time to develop bus models, we cannot redesign the bus for every contract. How can we satisfy everybody? We need to get everyone in the room to agree with the desired features and options. There is an “R” in BRT and the focus should be on rapid service. It’s not as sexy, but let’s start with what we have — buses that can deliver high capacity very efficiently.
How important is branding to a BRT project? Brick-Turin: Quite frankly, I am uncomfortable with the notion of branding. An agency can call it anything it wants, while the people who use transit are only asking for the bus to get them to their destination safely, quickly and reliably. Typically, 2 to 5 percent of the population is already sold — if not dependent — on transit. That other 95 percent who otherwise would not ride transit makes branding an important element in capturing their 16
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interest and attention. No one is going to force them, so we have to make it enticing; to some extent imitate the mode they might think they really want, such as LRT or subway. Still, it is an uncomfortable tension; branding, to me, does not contribute to the product. Hinebaugh: Branding is subtle, but as important as it would be to any rail mode. We are trying to brand the BRT for what it is — premium. The name, logo, color and marketing campaigns all need to work together to convey the permanent nature of the service. There has been great success where agencies have branded their BRT similar to rail services. Even with a more conventional bus system, the branding has had a very positive impact on community perception and reception of the system. Harvath: An agency also wants its projects to be attractive to the people who will probably never use the service so that they don’t look down their noses at transit. My advice is not to be afraid to reach out to those community pillars that may enjoy the association with a transit project. In our case, MST originally wanted to call our project by our former name, Bay Rapid Transit; not very inspiring, but it would work. However, five years ago Carl Sedoryk and I were in the audience at the Monterey Jazz Festival admiring the stage set when it hit us. Why not just call it JAZZ? Go beyond transit and communicate precisely what our community has to offer. The festival officials were excited to join forces as a natural way to extend their involvement in the community. Henke: Branding is a strategic issue, as well as a legal requirement in dealings with FTA Small Starts. In branding workshops I tell stakeholders to step back and ask what they are trying to convey to the ridership, what is different about this service? It is a strategic exercise that involves much more than picking a name and a color scheme. Carey: It may sound like a shocker, but for most people transit isn’t always the pleasant experience we like to think it is. For many, transit is a means to an end. When we are starting to market a new project, I think what we need to focus on the opportunities that transit affords the rider to undertake other activities rather than the trip itself. Promotional images of happy passengers or pretty buses no longer resonant with the traveling public. Birtwistle: Very few people actually travel on transit for the sake of it. There is risk in thinking we know what is best. We need to make sure we understand the needs of the people who are making the trip for their own reasons. They are not out for a ride on BRT, but for another purpose. Dagang: During the Ribbon Cutting at Mexican Heritage Plaza, I found it moving to hear the executive director thanking the dity and transit agency for this BRT system, because they had a community with people with mobility issues who had places to go. They actually saw this BRT station in the middle of their community as an improvement in their way of life. This is what we must communicate. Above: Branding is essential to BRT success, as demonstrated by Santa Clara VTA.
By Jeff Cassell
Do it right, the first time, every time - so easy to say George, the executive director of the Moston Public Transit Agency, was sitting in his office thinking about all the problems he deals with in the operation of 54 transit buses and 21 paratransit vehicles — driver shortages, customer complaints, accidents. They are never ending; there had to be a better way. George called all his managers to a meeting. “Our drivers are making too many mistakes, all we are doing is putting out fires,” George said. “Surely there is a better way to get our drivers to do the job correctly. What are we doing wrong?” Ian, the lead trainer, frowned and decided to speak up. “We are stuck in the past,” he said. “Almost none of our practices have changed in 10 years. If we try to improve, to use better processes or materials, all we get is resistance. The answer we get is, ‘We have always done it this way.’ We are still using converted old VHS tapes and PowerPoint to train the drivers. They are bored with this and we never have anything new.” Dispatcher Linda Spoken broke into the conversation. “Wait a minute,” she said. “We created those training courses ourselves and they are the best in the nation.” Meanwhile, Ryan Milner, a new supervisor very experienced in the transit business, had been listening as this discussion continued to go to and fro. He asked if he could offer his perspective from what he had learned in his few short months with the agency.
“Poor and outdated” “I am sorry, but our training materials are poor and outdated; not even close to being the best in the nation,” he said. “If we want to improve, make fewer mistakes and incur fewer accidents, we have to change what we do. Our goal must be to get our drivers to Do it right the first time, every time, in everything they do.” “That’s easy to say,” Linda said. “But, how do we do that?” Ryan told her it requires focus, passion and the willingness to try new practices. “It is hard work, but it can be done,” he said. “I suggest that our goals be to establish the safest, most efficient norms in everything we do. Norms that teach, train and persuade our drivers to do it right the first time, every time.” “What do you mean, norms?” asked George. He explained to George that norms are the way people act and perform automatically in everything they do. “Norms are far more powerful than rules, policies and procedures and even laws,” Ryan said. “They are the socially normal way of acting; the way people act themselves and the way they expect and encourage others to act. If we set our norms at a high level, so that everyone uses best practices in everything they do, we won’t have any need to put out fires.” George said it all sounded great, but wanted to know how the agency could accomplish it. “I will tell you up front - it is not easy, but the returns are huge,” said Ryan. “In fact, it is the only way to consistently operate at a high level.”
“We are stuck in the past” He explained that many companies operate with a high level of norms and are all very successful. “These companies include FedEx, Target, McDonald’s, Walmart, Apple, Honda, Toyota, and thousands of smaller companies,” Ryan said. As for the Moston Public Transit Agency, Ryan reviewed the practices necessary for delivering the required services at optimum levels, which include recruitment, hiring and selection, credentialing, orientation, training, motivation and leadership. “Only by using best practices in all these functions will we be the best that we can be,” Ryan said. “It is like a sports team. If you have an average team and then buy a great player, you will not have a winning team. A winning team means every position has to play well.” Ryan proceeded to present his plan to the group under five key headings: 1. Leadership 2. Hiring, selection and orientation 3. Training 4. Train the trainers 5. It’s all About People
“More powerful than rules, policies & procedures or laws” “As this meeting is about over,” George interjected, “next week I would like you to share with us what you have learned in each of these disciplines that will help us establish our safest most efficient norms.” Ryan says leadership is by far the most important factor in bringing quality to the training. “How and with what program and tools we train the drivers is the foundation for everything else we do,” Ryan said. “When we help our drivers to do it right the first time, every time, we will have set our highest level of norms. The alternative is to accept mistakes and accidents as a cost of doing business — and keep putting out the fires. There is no other way.” This series by Jeff Cassell will continue in the March 2015 issue! Jeff Cassell is president of Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO), Hudson, OH. TAPTCO provides training courses that change driver behaviors. Visit www.taptco.com.
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DOWN The company and its North American partner, ABC Companies, reinforce their commitment to American operators
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In a decisive move to galvanize their North American market position with longtime partner, ABC Companies, Van Hool has upped the ante. By diversifying product offerings, investing in new infrastructure and increasing production capacity and quality, the company affirms its fully-committed strategy to market expansion in the U.S. and Canada. the care, precision and collective One of the largest manufacturers energy that goes into the design, of buses, touring coaches and engineering and manufacturing of industrial vehicles worldwide, every Van Hool coach.” Van Hool produces approximately 1,400 buses and coaches, and as Customer insights driving the future many as 4,000 commercial vehicles Van Hool prides itself on a uniquely annually of which 80 percent are hands-on management style. Its exported worldwide. With over dynamic business structure relies 8,500 coaches delivered in North on customer insights to influence America through its exclusive ongoing process improvements in distributor ABC Companies, R&D and product development, as Faribault, MN, Van Hool currently well as after-sales support strategies. holds the number one position in The company leverages those the U.S. private coach market. insights combined with business So, how did a European global intelligence to shape new product leader become the dominant force introductions and service offerings. in tour and charter coach products Van Hool cites standardization in North America? CEO Filip Van and interchangeability as core Hool, a third generation Van Hool principles in new product executive, says commitment and CEO Filip Van Hool cuts the ribbon at the opening of the new Van Hool plant. development – an ideology directly trust are essential to building longterm relationships between the firm, ABC Companies and its North aimed at helping operators reduce lifetime costs, preserve value, and American stakeholders. Nurtured by in-depth knowledge of customer enhance serviceability. In fact, with each new product introduction desires and market demands over almost three decades, Van Hool Van Hool engineers strive to increase the number of shared parts and has diligently cultivated a long-standing and mutually beneficial systems across equipment models. For example, last year’s release of the new Van Hool CX and TX coaches offered major interchangeability relationship with ABC and its American customer base. of typical maintenance and service replacement parts. After-sales A history of shared values and consistent leadership support is another key area where the partners have made major strides ABC Companies, founded in 1950 by Clancy Cornell, and Van Hool, in the customer service experience. Last year, in consultation with a founded in 1947 by Bernard Van Hool, are both privately-held, family- number of large North American operators, a system was developed owned businesses. When the two firms created their partnership in and deployed which makes the most frequently requested spare parts 1987, they agreed that hard work and a customer-first mindset would available for delivery to most major North American markets typically be the keys to a mutually successful business venture. The companies within 24 hours of receipt of order. shared similar business and family values, and recognized the The Van Hool CX Coach – the choice of North American operators opportunity to bring a unique product to the American marketplace Over the past year, the globally acclaimed manufacturer has that stood out from competitors. made a substantial capital investment in a new production facility, As the two families worked to build their relationship, the American appetite for high quality, durable Van Hool coaches grew. centered on a dedicated production line for the exclusive North “Americanizing” the Van Hool product to meet stateside-operator American CX motorcoach. “We want to be recognized as the supply-chain leader in North demands and compliance proved to be the winning strategy that America,” Van Hool says. “The CX coach is fabricated and assembled changed the face of American coach operations. Consistency of leadership has also been an important part of the Van on its own dedicated production line — enabling us to continue to Hool/ABC partnership. Unlike other corporate owned competitors, turn out a high-quality product — one that continues to offer operators both families have shared a continuing legacy of executive leadership a high-performance, durable and modernized fleet solution at a with generations of Van Hools, Cornells and, in many cases, key ABC sustainable price point.” The new 43-acre plant features the latest production technologies to Companies executives providing decades of successive leadership ensure consistent quality and safety performance, and employs over within both firms. “Having our family name displayed on every Van Hool coach on the 450 knowledgeable and well-trained employees. Current production road today is a special point of pride and ownership for generations of capacity is approximately 500 units per year, including full coach this family,” Filip Van Hool says. “The Van Hool emblem directly reflects fabrication and assembly. busride.com | BUSRIDE
“This new site provides us with an important competitive advantage,” says Dane Cornell, CEO & Chairman, ABC Companies. “It will enhance our service to customers and promises to support continued growth.” Van Hool says the facility was built with the future in mind and the infrastructure to expand. “It’s a prime example of a great design and is a premier production facility,” he says. “It is dedicated exclusively to supporting our growing American business base.”
The Van Hool CX has proven a success in the North American market.
Coming to America – the new CX35.
our company to the next level with our North American partner, Plans are underway for the production of a smaller-scale CX ABC Companies,” Van Hool says. “Integrating new technologies and equipment release. The new CX 35-foot model is currently in the product focusing on continuous improvement and product diversification development and engineering pipeline with planned features that offer will be part of our growth and North American operators all of development strategy for the the performance, high quality, North America market.” durability and amenities of a 45Additionally, ABC Companies Van Hool: Milestones At-A-Glance foot coach for smaller groups. supports customers with a The CX35 will integrate a comprehensive after-sale network > The U.S. Private Coach Market Leader – 2014 multitude of high-end amenities for service and repairs, collision > Approximately 8,500 coaches delivered in North America and functionality comparable to services, extensive OEM and full-size Van Hool models, with > 25+ year exclusive distributor partnership with ABC Companies quality aftermarket parts needs the added benefits of lower fuel from nine strategic locations > 65 years experience in bus design, manufacturing and service consumption, and almost full throughout the U.S. and Canada. > 100+ acres of manufacturing facilities throughout Europe parts interchangeability with “Van Hool isn’t just committed > 1,400 buses produced annually the larger CX 45-foot coaches. to growing in size and market Production units are slated to > 4,000 industrial vehicles produced annually reach,” Van Hool says. “It is also, be in the U.S. by late 2015 with a more importantly, cementing > 80 percent exports worldwide full product rollout anticipated in our commitment to our longtime early 2016. and valued North American “We’re positioned to take customer base.” 20
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BUSRide Fleet Management Systems Roundtable: Part II 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 second installment of the conversation focuses on guidelines for prospective software users and implementation challenges.
The panelists at the table were: Kevin McKay – Vice President, Programs Development, Avail Technologies Bill McFarland – Director, Technical Services, 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
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What guidelines can you offer for a transit agency assessing its needs for fleet management programs and technology?
align with best practices such as value stream mapping may support more efficient operations.
Kevin McKay: ITS technology has advanced tremendously in the past 20 years to the point where the technology is proven and reliable. The key is not the technology but how this technology can be used to provide “real” and quantifiable improvements to your operations such as improvements in the efficiency of delivering your service or in making it easier for your managers to get information. Oftentimes a technical specification has very specific details on the technology to be deployed or specific solutions to problems. The result is a focus on the technology and not the best solution. The key is to state the problems that need to be solved and create functional specifications that provide vendors with the opportunity to provide creative ways to solve a problem, rather than a list of very specific technical requirements. My recommendation is to focus on the desired result and not the method or technology that is utilized.
Curtiss Routh: It is very important for the agencies to recognize the incredible wealth of resources available to them in the marketplace, and it is exciting that agency executives are very astute in this regard. Certainly, the representatives of this roundtable are examples of the wisdom which is available. Of course, there are great consultants and firms available to do studies and assessments - but it is amazing to see how well agency professionals network with each other, and find useful benchmarks in transit operations. REI has the experience of working with hundreds of transit properties and the flexibility to consider the specific and unique concerns of each agency. Our clients find our approach very refreshing. We have an extensive evaluation protocol which we incorporate throughout the process. And, almost invariably, this process results in the need to be flexible and innovative in the problem solving approach. Often, our competitors will come into the agency with a set agenda and objective to “sell” their program or technology, with little regard for the true needs of the agency. We believe the “best practice” is to find the most effective program now, and to build and grow that program down the road. Our approach has been very successful.
Brett Koenig: My advice for any agency considering a new enterprise asset management (EAM) system is to demand transitspecific technologies and services. There are so many vendors and products out there, but the transit industry has very specific needs. If you look at the largest multimodal properties, EAM and maintenance management software aren’t just dealing with buses. They’re dealing with other types of assets (railcar rolling stock, facilities etc.), and those maintenance divisions have their own specific requirements. That would be my main feedback - to demand transit-specific technologies. It can mean the difference between success and failure. Dylan Saloner: If I were an independent consultant, I would advise transit providers to demand free, comprehensive APIs from their vendors. For those unfamiliar with the term, an API is just technology jargon to describe an open, transparent interface for customers and third parties to read data and interact with applications cleanly. If you look at technology stacks in tech sectors outside of transit, you’ll see that savvy customers are demanding clean access to their data and services through APIs. It’s essential for allowing different pieces of software to communicate. A lot of agencies today feel locked in to their current software vendor because their data is constrained. These vendors make it really difficult for agencies to interact with third party applications — that’s restricting for everyone. If a software vendor tells you, “We don’t offer an API,” or “We charge extra to provide an API,” what they’re really saying is, “We don’t have enough confidence in the standalone value of the service we provide to expose it to the world. We need to lock you in to our platform.” Not only is it good practice to make sure your data and software services are delivered through an open API, it’s also good practice use open-source software when possible. This allows for greater transparency — for example, in writing reports. Open-source also supports a collaborative network between transit agencies. Bill Collins: Fleet management programs are perhaps better served by looking at maintenance, not as a cost of repair or replacement of faulty or failing materials, but as a value for properly working equipment. I use the analogy of the QT manufacturing process that was formally perceived (and set up as) tracking cost of labor and materials on a per unit basis. A lean manufacturing technique called “value stream mapping” grouped the various build activities into definable operations to which a value can be ascribed. By analyzing those activities that bring the highest value to the build, it is possible to reduce waste and thus cost. The same model can be considered for fleet management. By analyzing fleet maintenance activities in terms of value to revenue service availability, it may identify labor and materials that provide less value and can perhaps be reduced or eliminated. Technologies that
Richard Goodrich: We’ve seen a big swing one way and then the other over the last 28 years or so. It used to be that users wanted a single consolidated software product, but preferences have kind of swung away from that. That’s because users didn’t get to choose the pieces - maybe they got a really good account package, but with a pitiful maintenance package. If software is easier to integrate and more standardized, it opens up a wider choice for the end-users. In order to meet those changing customer needs, we’ve added the capability to communicate with other systems. Lori Jetha: When we look at the implementations we’ve done, it helps to really look at what an agency’s objectives are with our technology. Having those clear objectives can really change what technology you think is going to solve your problem. I’d also recommend having a diverse project team because that’s where a lot of projects get tripped up. IT has a certain set of needs for network access. The maintenance team has to be involved because they’re going to continue supporting the product. You also have to have executive support and funding, because nothing goes ahead without those. A third recommendation for transit agencies is to be futurethinking. I see a lot of agencies focused on the initial cost of technology without looking at the total cost of ownership. Agencies must consider all of the labor needed to support those products and use them to their full potential. Jordan Brock: We always suggest that agencies identify the data and information they would require from the system. These include but are not limited to NTD/Governmental reporting, reports and performance indicators for management and customer information requirements. What do transit operators find most difficult as they implement a new program? McKay: Our desire is to have an in-depth understanding of how the agency operates and the problems they are trying to solve both now and in the future. The challenge that often occurs at the beginning of a project is to get the software or hardware deployed and fielded as soon as possible. However a key step in this process is taking the time up front to make sure the potential solution is really going to address the “core” problem and also work cooperatively with the customer to thoroughly understand the problem and the approach to resolve it. We refer to this as partnering with our customers to make sure they are busride.com | BUSRIDE
successful. When an agency makes an investment in technology, it is a long term commitment and therefore taking the time for both parties to thoroughly understand the problem and the agency’s operation results in a superior solution and truly meets the needs of the agency. Koenig: When a large agency rolls out an enterprise asset management system like Trapeze EAM, potentially the system will be used by hundreds of end-users. These systems are vital for dayto-day asset, work and material management workflows. To avoid, difficulties, I would advise agencies to involve key stakeholders in the project, even in the RFP requirements and vendor selection. Get those people to stay involved over the course of implementation, because early buy-in from key stakeholders is a key to success. Otherwise, you may end up with a situation where end users are very resistant to any workflow adjustments (even if it’s for the best of the agency). A second key aspect is a comprehensive training program. A third is one of the key drivers for Trapeze, which is ease-of-use. The system you choose must be very simple for end users or they’re going to resist change. Saloner: Transit agencies are cautious customers, and with good reason. Transit systems have enormous social and economic impacts, and so it’s important to proceed with deliberation when adopting new technologies. To deal with this challenge, it’s important to get feedback from everyone early on. It’s important to gather data from drivers, management and other stakeholders into the planning process for new programs. Collins: It is imperative that new technologies being introduced to support fleet management be intuitive and easy to use. They must also have a level of configurability to adapt to the “sweet spot” of a work force tasked with looking after these new technologies. Routh: Of course, finding dollars is always challenging when working with a transit agency. And sometimes, there can be risk
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Motor Transport marks a century of service Flexibility and innovation keep the company moving forward By David Hubbard
Leon Dotter purchased the company in 1927 and transported passengers in the best buses available.
Launched in 1914 to run a mail route with two trucks and seven cars, and eventually transporting coal miners to their shifts in the nearby mines, Motor Transport, Hazleton, PA, celebrates 100 years of service with third-generation owners Lee Dotter and his sister Lori Yanuzzi leading the company.
s with many family-operated coach companies that had their start solving basic transportation problems for small communities, Motor Transport has grown from similar beginnings, steadily evolving its operations to stay abreast of transportation needs. The Dotter family entered the bus business in 1927 when Leon Dotter purchased the company and transported passengers in an early 20th century Stanley Steamer. His son Herman Dotter followed the business path, leading Motor Transport into motorcoach charters after running local transit and school buses. According to Lee Dotter, Motor Transport established itself as a fullfledged charter and tour company during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, NY. “The World’s Fair was a tremendous event, especially for this region,” Dotter says. “With the Fair, Motor Transport began to grow and by the early 1970s our tour business had expanded to the point where we opened a second garage.”
Motor Transport celebrates 100 years of service with third-generation owners Lee Dotter and his sister Lori Yanuzzi leading the company.
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Presently, Motor Transport runs an exclusive MCI fleet of 13 motorcoaches, featuring four 102 C3 models and nine D-series coaches. Dotter says the company turned to MCI in 1980 when General Motors exited the coach business. With that, the Dotters began selling off old equipment in 1984, including two GMC 4103s with stick shifts. “My dad purchased three new 47-passenger MC-9s with automatic transmissions,” Dotter says. “What a difference. It was like going from riding on a donkey to a Lear jet. We never went back to manual transmissions.” At 100 years and looking ahead, Yanuzzi says Motor Transport is planning a more robust and innovative charter tour agenda as the economy improves. “Over the past several years in a weakened economy, our customers tended to choose single-day trips over the extended tours,” she says. “As the economy improves they seem to become more able and willing to go on multiday trips, and a motorcoach is certainly the most economical way to travel.” According to Yanuzzi, remaining successful in the tour and charter business requires innovation. “One idea we have that is catching on is to customize motorcoach charter tours for fundraising purposes,” she says. “As we live in a community where groups and organizations are always trying to raise funds, and we’re always trying to increase our customer base, it makes sense to incorporate both our efforts.” Yanuzzi says she began by asking various fundraising groups to share their collection goals. She then devised a series of reasonably priced one-day and overnight tours for group members that could generate that target amount for the particular cause. “We operate these tours at a reasonable rate for customers who have a built-in reason sign up,” Yanuzzi says. “The passengers can sit back and enjoy the trip along with the camaraderie of the group. At the same time, they accomplish what they need to from a fundraising standpoint. We have gained new customers through these fundraising tours; people who would have never taken a motorcoach trip otherwise. They have been a big success.” Dotter believes Motor Transport can roll for another 100 years simply by remaining flexible enough to evolve its services, routes and destinations. “In the 1980s, when I started in the business, Atlantic City was growing and becoming more inviting,” he says. “But my dad warned us not to put all our eggs in one basket. That is always good advice.”
BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
Motor Transport runs an exclusive MCI fleet of 13 motorcoaches.
THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY
COMTO names AC Transit ‘Agency of the Year’ By David Armijo
David Armijo General Manager AC Transit Oakland, CA
The Northern California Chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) recently honored AC Transit as its Transit Agency of the Year. COMTO is the premier organization for the training, education and professional development of minority transportation professionals. We are deeply honored for this recognition, as AC Transit and our Board of Directors continually strive to champion similar values as COMTO. In all of our operations, we strive to provide full access to employment and contract opportunities for people of color. The mission of the Northern California Chapter of COMTO is to strengthen those opportunities within the transportation industry. This is done by: • recruiting and developing personnel to make senior and executive positions better reflect the people in the neighborhoods they serve • advising disadvantaged businesses about contract opportunities within the transit industry All this points to our bottom line: the creation of transit options for diverse populations with decidedly different transportation needs. With that in mind, we have added 120 employees to improve our overall efficiency, allow us to better mold and deliver service to the very distinct neighborhoods along our path. Hand-in-hand with that has been our establishment of internship programs. More than just bolstering staff, we recognize that cultivating the interest of young, bright minds is critical for the future of public transportation. Our internships for high school and college students provide a hands-on learning opportunity. In return, the students in these positions often provide our agency with some fresh approaches and ideas. Equally important, our internship program gives us a way to grow a steady crop of professionals eager to transform and sustain the industry at large. Secondly, we recently replaced one-third of our fleet with more than 200 new buses, acquiring a blend of American-made vehicles — 40-foot Gillig and 60-foot New Flyer coaches. Aside from the aesthetics and a much more comfortable ride, the buses curry public favor, are more fuel-efficient and less costly to operate. Because they require fewer repairs and spew fewer emissions, the newer fleet has helped to improve our on-time performance, combining to make service more reliable while substantially greener, too. busride.com | BUSRIDE
THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY
Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chair Amy Rein Worth presents the COMTO Agency of the Year award to AC Transit General Manager David Armijo.
But we are especially proud of the fact that we have grown our ridership, steadily increased revenues and dramatically increased our contracting with economically disadvantaged businesses.
With a 7.5 percent jump in ridership, AC Transit is now carrying more than 193,000 daily riders, boosting our farebox recovery to more than 20 percent. Likewise, we are equally happy with what we see as remarkable achievement in contracting with small, women-owned and otherwise disadvantaged businesses (DBEs). With instructional workshops for both large and small vendors, mandatory good-faith efforts and other pro-active approaches, our DBE participation has jumped to 22 percent, compared to 5.3 percent in 2012. Lastly, we are forging a 9.5 mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project from Oakland to San Leandro; enhancing service and streetscapes on a 14.5 mile bus corridor from Berkeley to Alameda; and collaborating with BART to operate new Late Night bus service from San Francisco’s Mission District to Pittsburg Bay Point in the East Bay. With curbside furniture, new security lighting, street repaving, artistic bus depots and more, the BRT will beautify and invigorate some of the largely neglected areas through which it passes. By design and in conjunction with city governments, the BRT promises to enhance a core of businesses along its line while reducing commute times by as much as 25 percent. Our transit projects are being fashioned hand-in-hand with local government officials, neighborhood groups and businesses along our service corridors. We are attempting to make the streets more navigable and mass commutes more convenient. We are thrilled that COMTO has elected to award us for our efforts. COMTO has 39 chapters throughout the United States and over 3,000 members from various transportation-related corporations, small businesses, government agencies and universities. The Northern California chapter currently has 50 members representing businesses and government agencies throughout the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
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BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
Euro Bus Expo touts the British market By Doug Jack
Euro Bus Expo took place in Birmingham at the beginning of November. The title was slightly misleading, however, because it was mainly an event for the British market with many significant differences from continental Europe.
For a start, we drive on the left hand side of the road. Double-decker buses remain popular. Not just in London and other large cities - they are in service throughout the country because they combine high seating capacity with economical use of road space. Many other services run midibuses, usually around 10-12 tons gross with capacity for up to 40-45 seated passengers. Demand for full size heavy-duty single-deck transit buses has fallen sharply, leaving major players like MercedesBenz, Scania and Volvo to fight for available The all new Alexander Dennis Enviro200 midibus. business. The most open sector of the market is for express and charter coaches where the continental manufacturers have strong product offerings and Yutong of China came to the show for the very first time. In Europe, the price of diesel fuel is the highest in Norway and the United Kingdom. British transit operators receive a rebate of some of the fuel duty for buses used on local services, but not on express routes or charter. They are very conscious of fuel consumption and that has driven the manufacturing industry to develop new vehicles that are lighter and more fuel-efficient. This has The brand new Wrightbus integral double-decker photographed been quite an achievement before it entered the exhibition hall. because Euro 6 engines, with their very strict emission limits, require larger and heavier cooling systems. Wrightbus launched its new integral StreetDeck double-decker bus, having trimmed the weight to less than 11 tons. Part of this was due to using a 5.1-liter Mercedes-Benz engine mounted in line at the rear,
saving the complications of an angle drive. Many people wonder if such a small engine is adequate for a double-decker bus, but the twin-turbocharged unit coupled to a six speed fully automatic gearbox produces remarkable power. The first double-decker from Wrightbus launched in 2001 was a classic. The lower one-piece windshield was horseshoe-shaped and blended neatly with the upper windshield. Londoners soon dubbed them the Nokia buses because of similarities to the mobile phone. The styling of new StreetDeck met mixed reaction because it lacked the harmony of the old model, but there are some interesting features, including glazing on the staircase to let in more light. During the exhibition, Volvo and Lothian, Edinburghâ€™s bus company, signed an agreement for the delivery of 24 electric hybrid buses. These will have fastcharging systems at each end of a route, enabling them to operate in all-electric mode for up to 70 percent of each journey. Alexander Dennis (ADL) had a large and busy stand, with city buses on one side and Plaxton coach models on the other. It was the first public showing of the new generation Enviro400 double-decker bus, built on two axles and designed principally for the British market. The Enviro Virtual Electric hybrid single-deck bus is one of four that will enter service next year in Glasgow. They will receive regular boosts of electricity by inductive charging in a contactless system between the underside of the vehicle and plates in the road surface. Four double-decker buses entering service in London will use the same technology. All eight buses retain small diesel engines as a back-up source of energy. Another new exhibit was the first new generation Enviro200 Midibus. The design team managed to save more than 400 pounds across all models, but still accommodated more seats. New front and rear suspension systems give improved ride comfort and reliability. Depending on length, a four or six cylinder Cummins ISB engine couples with a choice of Allison, Voith or ZF gearboxes. Dana axles are standard at the front and rear. Alexander Dennis President and CEO Colin Robertson commented on the launch of the low height 13.5-feet Enviro500 at the recent APTA show in Houston, TX, and reported that it was very well received. busride.com | BUSRIDE
THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
“Believe me, the United States and Canada are no longer in ‘slumber land’ about the revenue-earning potential of doubledecker buses,” he said. “They see their capability to address congested inner-city traffic issues or provide high capacity interurban services.” Ashok Leyland of India now owns 76 A new Volvo Wrightbus double-decker in the shocking pink percent of a third British colours of Translink - Belfast. It has a 5.1 liter engine. bus builder, Optare, a company best known for a range of stylish midibuses that has also launched the MetroDecker with a 5.1-liter Mercedes-Benz engine. Amazingly, Optare has managed to bring the weight of this bus down to just under 10 tons. British manufacturers dominate the transit bus business, but there is some competition from importers. MercedesBenz showed an example of its latest Citaro city bus built to very high standards with car-like quality in the fit and finish of the interior equipment. A surprise exhibitor was Otokar, a Turkish company that brought a low-entry midibus and a midicoach to Birmingham, both with Irizar launched a new integral i6 midicoach at 35.5 feet. right-hand drive. There are no customs duties on goods supplied between Turkey and the European Union, so Otokar hopes to attract customers with its competitive prices. There is keen competition in the British coach market. Plaxton, part of Alexander Dennis, is the only remaining domestic coachbuilder, working nowadays only on Volvo chassis. They showed three examples of their popular range, aimed at different market and price segments. Irizar of Spain celebrated 125 years in business earlier this year. By coincidence, their UK subsidiary recorded 125 orders since inauguration two years ago. The United Kingdom was one of the first countries to take Irizar’s own range of integral coaches and they have proved very popular. A new model on the stand was an i6 midicoach, built to an overall length of 35.5 feet. Gotzon Gomez, export sales director of Irizar,
confirmed that his company was planning to introduce a larger version of the i6 to North America, tailored to your market conditions. I hope that the photograph gives you a good impression of this stylish and well-finished coach. When Irizar is ready, I will visit the factory in northern Spain to write fully about this project. The global financial crisis had an impact on coach registrations throughout Europe. Demand for coach charter fell and that affected many of the smaller companies that traditionally bought a new coach each year. They found it difficult, sometimes impossible, to obtain finance for renewal. Even with markets recovering, they now find it impossible to bridge the gap and to fund new purchases. Ironically, the better-established companies have kept going and have often bought high specification coaches rather than vehicles that are more standard. One of the main beneficiaries has been Van Hool. The Belgian company has seen a steady rise in its registrations in the United Kingdom, partly due to Stagecoach and megabus.com services. Their exhibits
A Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus funded by the company’s own finance subsidiary.
included a 48-foot tri-axle double-decker coach with large luxurious seats that convert to lie-flat beds for overnight express services between London and Scotland. They have proved very popular. Yutong, the largest bus and coach manufacturer in China, attended Euro Bus Expo for the first time. They and their British importer displayed a midicoach and a full size 40-foot coach that attracted much attention and some orders. Yutong has some excellent promotional material, including a DVD that shows their extensive research and development facilities, as well as their very modern anti-corrosion treatment systems. Yutong took time to study Western European markets and to adapt its products to our needs. They have also appointed a wellrespected importer in France who is having success in that country. Following the introduction of Euro 6 emission standards in the European Union, legislators are now turning their attention to maximizing fuel economy. Euro Bus Expo gave a very good indication of how the manufacturing industry is responding. Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.
The new Optare MetroDecker weighs just less than 10 tons.
BUSRIDE | JANUARY.2015
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