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JULY | 2015



BUSRide Road Test:


The science of seat safety p12 Software aids fleet monitoring p20 Low-floors raise expectations p23


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BUSRide turns 50

Industry veteran Kevin H. Snyder recounts his memories over the five decades Kevin H. Snyder, a safety representative for a New York agency and lifelong bus man, recently offered BUSRide his reflections of the bus and motorcoach industry as he has seen and experienced over the last 50 years, which, of course, corresponds to the first 50 years of this publication. I have been interested in bus transportation since I was a boy. As I am now 61 years of age, I have been involved with the changes that have only made this industry safer and more enjoyable for everyone from the owners, mechanics and drivers to the passengers. I cut my teeth at a small bus company in my home town, Red Hook, NY, where my father worked as a bus driver for one Mr. Teeter following WWII. I was infatuated with the shop and the buses, and was always a regular on the short hops to Poughkeepsie. This was a time before subsidization, when every small town had its own bus company. As time went on, the companies that stayed in business gradually became part of larger regional operations. Looking back, I’ve always been particularly interested in the degree of attention and concern given to the general realm of bus safety. My own interest in safety probably tweaked the day I fell backward into the maintenance pit while I was washing a bus with a long-handled brush. I could have broken my neck, but I was more worried what my mother would say about my oil-splattered khaki pants. I later became the safety training officer for the company I worked for and have stayed involved ever since

“I remember safety being an afterthought.” I remember safety being an afterthought. Buses packed with standees on commutes between towns were a common sight. Not too many people had cars. With owners and drivers doing double as mechanics, there wasn’t much emphasis on shop safety. However, once inspecting, testing and monitoring bus driver safety began with the New York 19A program a few decades ago, and a new interest in liability arose, everyone became aware of the significant reduction in mishaps and crashes. I think the widespread adoption of automatic transmissions on intercity and parlor coaches (this change in nomenclature was important as well) made shifting gears easier and driving a safer practice. And, of course, the changes I have seen between the old ICC brake for use only in an extreme emergency and today’s antilock brake and stability control is another story altogether. | BUSRIDE




COVER STORY Official BUSRide Road Test: The Van Hool TDX25


Improvements to the double-deck round out the 2015 Van Hool line By David Hubbard

FEATURES BUSRide turns 50


Recounting five decades of industry memories

The Science Behind The Seat 12 Seating manufacturers spotlight the different elements of seating safety

Fleet Management Systems


Fleet monitoring improves efficiency – industry experts explore best practices in a new forum








By Mary Sue O’Melia


By Doug Jack


By Colin Smith


By Ken Becker


By Jason Cash



By Jeff Cassell


After more than a year we are still finding new ways that this powerful program can help us improve our customer service and our bottom line. And the busHive™ staff has


question or need a customized report. Michael Neustadt (Owner), Coach Tours

EasyBus is now

been quick to help whenever we have a


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

Michael Hinckley President and CEO


Motorcoach Census says the industry is strong The American Bus Association Foundation (ABAF) has concluded its annual census and the numbers are in. They suggest the present state of the North American motorcoach industry is strong, dynamic and becoming more diverse, with small to medium-sized companies doing most of the heavy lifting. ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso noted that companies operating 99 and fewer coaches account for 98 percent of the total industry and for 25 percent of the industry’s total mileage. Small operators drive 39 percent of all miles traveled. John Dunham and Associates, an independent research firm, conducts the census on behalf of ABAF. John Dunham gives this accurate and succinct summation: “The [motorcoach] industry provides an essential transportation infrastructure independent of government subsidies. Beyond that, it represents the only non-automotive support system for thousands of small communities.” He reasons that local bus services discontinued for any reason would deprive this vast cross section of the population — a fact he says is lost on those who live on the coasts. Dunham says that bus companies provide myriad employment opportunities for drivers, maintenance technicians and operations personnel in small towns and suburbs of large cities. The census counts 1.4 million total motorcoach industry employees, and a loss of 153 operators from 2012 to 2013. Some went out of business, while others ceased motorcoach service, merged with other companies or sold to other companies. Interestingly, the census also revealed a 9.1 percent rise in fixed-route services along with a slight dip in coach charters. John Dunham and Associates attribute declining fluctuations in mileage per trip, passenger miles traveled and passenger loads to a number of factors – ranging from a depressed economy to fewer new operators entering the industry. ABAF says its Motorcoach Census, conducted annually since 2011, serves a vital function, giving related industries such as hotels and destinations a clear presentation of motorcoach transportation, which also benefits elected officials, cities, agencies and media. Read the full report at 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

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ABA mourns passing of legendary Bert Askwith Bert Askwith, the founder and president of Campus Coach Lines, longtime member of the ABA Board of Directors and chairman emeritus of the ABA Foundation passed away Monday, June 1st at age 104. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1928, Askwith started a small bus company to take his fellow students back and forth to New York, where some of them lived. His small bus company expanded with regular service between Michigan and New York, and the money he made after building the motorcoach company went to pay for Bert Askwith (right) with ABA Board of his tuition, along with his Directors Past-Chairman Tom JeBran. room and board. To say Askwith was a legendary figure in the motorcoach industry is an understatement. During his 86-year career, in addition to being the president and CEO of Campus Coach Lines, Askwitch served in a variety of high-profile national and regional industry leadership positions. This included a nearly 20-year tenure on ABA’s Board of Directors and six years as the president of the New York State Bus Association. Bert also served as the first chairman of the ABA Foundation, providing instrumental leadership to shape and grow the organization from a scholarship program to the leader in motorcoach group travel

research. In recognition of his service to the ABA Foundation he was named chairman emeritus. In May 2013, the ABA Board of Directors presented him with an award to honor his 85 years of tireless work on behalf of the motorcoach industry.

Allied Specialty Vehicles names new ASV Bus VP of sales Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV), a leading manufacturer of motor vehicles for commercial, fire and emergency and recreation markets, has named John Walsh as vice president of sales for ASV Bus. Walsh will lead all sales for ASV commercial, transit and school bus companies and report directly to Kent Tyler, president of ASV Bus & Mobility Group. ASV Bus is made up of several brands including Champion Bus, Collins Bus, ElDorado National-California, ElDorado NationalKansas, Federal Coach, Goshen Coach and Krystal.


• Because of an editing error, an Update item in the June 2015 issue about the Air Resources Board (ARB) of California approving BAE Systems misidentified the buses powered by 2015 propulsion systems that are valid under the ARB Executive Order. The order applies to 2015 models powering 40-foot and 60-foot transit buses, not 40-inch and 60-inch transit buses. • The June 2015 Security and Surveillance column about reducing the risk of operator assaults misidentified the law requiring tougher penalties for assaults on transit drivers, lobbied for by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA). The bill is called Bill S-221, not Bill-211.

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Setting performance targets for key indicators By Mary Sue O’Melia

You have decided on key performance indicators (KPI), identified data sources and started collecting data. You can now monitor if you are getting better or worse relative to prior periods. But how do you know if you are good and getting better or are just awful despite improvements? Key performance indicators (KPI) A suggested list of key performance indicators was provided in the November 2014 issue of BUSRide Magazine, as shown below. Definitions and the reliability of alternative data sources have been discussed in this column since that time. At this point in time, agencies should be able to calculate most of these indicators using their FY 2014 NTD Report. Preliminary figures for the first quarter of FY 2015 should also be available.

What is good performance? Targets should represent improvements the agency desires to achieve. Service plans and annual budgets provide much of this information, as does past performance. Sadly, if implemented as planned, some service plans and budgets result in declining performance. The focus should be on the status of the agency after three or five years of continuous improvement. Below is a sample of some performance targets that represent reasonable levels of overall performance.

Peer reviews to put performance in perspective Requirements that transit agencies meet specific performance criteria vary from state to state and may differ based on the type of service and area of operations (urban versus rural). A number of agencies conduct peer reviews using data available from the NTD website This helps with understanding your own agency’s performance relative to others of a similar size and operating environment. The American Bus Benchmarking Group (ABBG) is another forum for determining performance relative to peers. While the forum is limited to mid-size transit operators, those that participate are able to determine agencies with the best performance or those agencies able to make the most improvement. How did my peers achieve these results? What programs did they implement and would these same actions work in my environment? Take measurable actions to improve performance The purpose of setting targets and monitoring performance is to help the team improve performance. This requires that the team be involved in identifying performance targets and the development of actions to improve performance. For example, the Scheduling Team may decide to work on the 10 routes with the lowest on-time performance. Or, select the top five routes based on ridership and work on improving schedule adherence to provide the biggest benefit to the most riders. All transit agencies are interested in improving safety. What is the most frequent type of accident at your agency? Passenger slip and falls due to sudden stops? Or falls when the bus leaves the stop? Analyzing causes and conditions can point the way to actions. Actions can be measured in terms of effectiveness. Did we accomplish what we set out to do? Conclusion Information and technology are tools that have value only if an agency uses them to improve safety and performance or to provide an outstanding travel experience for customers. What is your agency doing with the data and technology in which you have invested? 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



Volvo launches all-electric bus By Doug Jack

One of the prototype plug in hybrids in Gothenburg.



Chinese manufacturers have made the greatest progress in developing and introducing full size allelectric transit buses, capable of all-day operation.


n Europe, the major manufacturers have been slower to go down the all-electric route. The main manufacturers make their own diesel engines, often shared with much higher truck volumes, and understandably want to preserve their aftermarket business. Some have been more active than others in developing hybrid vehicles. They are frequently seen as an important step towards the development of all-electric buses. Volvo has made the most progress, with more than 2,000 hybrid buses in service or on order. They are running in more than 20 countries. Although Sweden is a large county with a comparatively low population, the nation has always been one of the most environmentally conscious in the world. Many city buses run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or biogas, while Volvo’s great rival, Scania, has strongly promoted ethanol as an alternative fuel. All have very clean emissions, although there is now little advantage over the latest Euro VI diesel engines. While Volvo has built some gas-fueled buses, the message from many of its export markets was a preference for a hybrid solution, using smaller and cleaner diesel engines. Toward the end of 2006, Volvo launched the 7700 Hybrid city bus, built in its factory in Wroclaw, Poland. The full low-floor layout had a 5-liter four-cylinder diesel engine mounted vertically and offset in line, driving through an Integrated Starter Alternator Motor (ISAM) between the engine and an automated manual gearbox, creating a parallel hybrid-drive system.

A major manufacturer like Volvo takes time to ensure that new technology works reliably and efficiently before releasing vehicles to customers. Much of the following two years was spent in development. Near the end of 2008, the 7700 Hybrid bus became available for volume production. The entire hybrid driveline fit within the same space as a standard diesel-powered version of the same vehicle, minimizing the number of new parts created. Savings in fuel consumption were around 30 percent. At European prices for diesel, Volvo reckoned that the payback period for the higher initial price of the hybrid bus could be recovered within five to seven years. In addition to the hybrid developments in Europe and North America, Volvo has a half share in Sunwin Bus, based in Shanghai. In the spring of 2009, Sunwin launched a hybrid bus and a full size all-electric bus. The latter was built to 40 feet, with banks of lithium-iron phosphate batteries at the rear. Sunwin reckoned that it had a range of 100 miles on normal city service. By that time, Volvo was gaining experience with hybrid buses in Europe. Single-decker models were built complete in Wroclaw and the first examples entered service in Gothenburg. Double-decker chassis with the same driveline were bodied by WrightBus in Northern Ireland and entered service in London. Average savings in fuel consumption, compared with a standard diesel bus, were around 30 percent. After careful monitoring of these vehicles, Volvo approved regular production from the spring of 2010. As production of hybrid buses ramped up in Poland, Volvo carried out many demonstrations as far afield as Brazil and Mexico. Normally, the higher initial price of a hybrid vehicle, compared to a standard diesel bus, had to be subsidised by public authorities. An increasing number were willing to pay that price in return for lower noise and emissions in urban centers. Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for the entire public transport network in the Greater London area. TfL does not own any buses, but its routes are served by a number of bus companies, usually on five to seven year contracts. TfL specifies the numbers and types of buses to be used on each route and encouraged the introduction of hybrid buses on many of the busiest routes working through the city center. Volvo and WrightBus received regular orders from 2010 onwards, with more than 300 now serving the capital.

THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT In the summer of 2011, Volvo announced plans to develop a plug-in hybrid bus that could drive longer distances solely in electric mode. The European Union gave a grant toward a project involving three buses in Gothenburg. At each end of the route, the buses took a fast – five to ten minutes – charge from an electrical station. The small diesel engine was retained and helped to charge the batteries while running in the suburbs. The buses ran solely on electricity in the city center and in particularly sensitive areas. The plug-in hybrid bus was able to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by around 70 percent. Before that, Volvo had participated in the European Bus System of the Future project and had unveiled a novel articulated bus. The prototype had a full-length low floor but the front axle was moved further forward, providing a large area of low floor. The driver sat in a separate compartment, over the front axle, with a centrally-mounted seat. Although this bus remained unique, the central driving position would appear again. Volvo continued to refine its hybrid vehicles. By the summer of 2012, more than 650 hybrid buses were in service or on order with customers in 18 countries. That number excluded around 200 hybrid buses that had been sold by NovaBus in North America. The first articulated hybrid model was added to the range in the summer of 2013. With the introduction of Euro VI emission standards, Volvo made a particularly bold decision. It decided that, on the European market, it would offer full low-floor city buses only with hybrid drivelines. While the company had sold more hybrid buses than any of its competitors, they all continued to offer low-floor city buses with standard Euro VI diesel engines. Volvo continued to offer diesel engines in low-entry models and in double-decker chassis for the British and Irish markets. The plug-in hybrid project in Gothenburg proved popular and successful. The vehicles used 81 percent less fuel than the equivalent diesel bus. Taking the overall energy consumption, including diesel and electricity, the plug-in hybrid gave an energy saving of 61 percent.

One of the first six Volvo WrightBus hybrids in London.

The plug-in hybrid therefore became a regular option with the first vehicles entering service in Hamburg, Germany, before the end of 2014. The latest development has been the introduction of an all-electric city bus. Three vehicles have just entered service in Gothenburg. They were built to an overall length of just less than 35 feet with the front axle beneath the driving compartment. That arrangement removed a pair of wheelboxes from the passenger area. The main doors were between the axles, giving rapid and easy passenger access. Bearing in mind that all new designs have to be thoroughly tested and proved before handing over to customers, it is quite remarkable that Volvo has gone from hybrid to all-electric in a relatively short span of time. Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom. | BUSRIDE



Safety, Part 2 Talk to any of the major manufacturers of bus and coach seating and the foundation for their 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 at cost effective price points for operators. This month, The Science Behind The Seat continues, where BUSRide presents a cooperative forum series that explores safety, modularity, design, styling and fuel efficiency associated with modern-day bus seating solutions. In this second of two issues centered on the subject, BUSRide spotlights seat safety with contributions by Kiel NA, Elkhart, IN; Amaya-Astron Seating, Cuautitlan Izcalli, Estado de MĂŠxico, Mexico; and Chestnut Ridge Foam, Latrobe, PA. Kiel NA spotlights advances in three-point seat-belt technology. Controlled plasticity applies to both the belt and the seat, and FMVSS 210 has made the rigorous testing of safe seats even more complex. Amaya-Astron also investigates the advent of three-point seat belt, defining six critical questions that operators should ask before purchasing seats equipped with this technology. Agencies and operators should be well informed about the critical elements of safe seating, the design and protective factor of three-point seat belts, crash testing and product lifespans. Chestnut Ridge Foam examines how fire-resistant cushioning adds safety to bus interiors. They explain the liabilities associated with traditional FMVSS 302 cushioning, how cushioning can reduce damage in the event of a fire, and the costs involved with upgrading. Thank you for joining BUSRide as we explore the Science Behind The Seat!




The science of the three-point seat belt By Jürgen Mill Since the majority of new over-the-road buses will need FMVSS 210-compliant three-point-safety belts, it’s important to note that they are perhaps the greatest single device in making transportation safer. When the first three-point seat belts became mandatory for motorcoaches in many European countries about 25 years ago, we started to develop seats that work in conjunction with seat belts to create the safest solution possible—not only for the passenger in the seat itself, but also for the surrounding riders. Following the principle that the most protective survival space is created when materials are allowed to bend rather than uncontrollably explode, we have focused our research on the “controlled plasticity” of the seat and the seat belt. When it comes to FMVSS 210 testing, several reputable coach builders have started to require suppliers to not only meet but also exceed the NHTSA mandates by at least 10 percent. While this ensures important safety standards for the belt’s strength of anchorage and its ability to restrain the passenger in the seat, it does not take into account that the seat belt can actually fulfill another crucial function. By using its forward-pulling force, the shoulder part of the three-point belt can also initiate a calculated deformation of the seat back to reduce critical head and knee injuries to the passenger in the seat behind. The engineered ‘warp’ of the back of the seat requires not only the use of highest grade materials that will reliably enter this state voluntarily without breaking but also the most rigorous quality management and consistent safeguarding of the Conformity of Production (COP). Even little variances in material behavior can add up, so it’s best to partner with a manufacturer with a healthy habit of ensuring the quality of materials throughout the entire manufacturing process at all times and at all production plants. It has been a general challenge for seating manufacturers to extend the FMVSS 210 safety standards to slider seat models that accommodate passengers in wheelchairs. The seats, which seem notorious for the difficulties in installation and handling they present, need to show the reliability of a firmly installed seat yet be flexible enough to slide away effortlessly—all while complying with current seat-belt safety requirements. Using self-aligning, foot-operated technology with stainless steel legs has allowed us to offer a slider seat that does not only completely fulfill the NHTSA safety standards, but exceeds even the stricter FMVSS 210 requirements mandated by coach builder Motor Coach Industries, for example. Don’t forget two of the most overlooked items when it comes to seat-belt safety in coach seats. It is preferable to opt for seat belts and anchorages that are not integrated into the seat foam itself, for the simple reason that it will take a lot more time and effort to repair or exchange a malfunctioning seat-belt system that is integrated into the seat (as it almost always involves removing the entire seat from the vehicle). Additionally, non-integrated seat belts also allow for the use of a height adjuster for smaller passengers and tend to stay cleaner because dirt cannot get trapped in inaccessible slots. Because only the safest seats save lives, it is also important to ensure that the seat-belt buckles always close toward the aisle. While it

Test dummies in the top two stills are wearing no seat belts (15) and lap belts only (17). A three-point-belt combined with the controlled warp of the seat’s back reduces the risk of injuries greatly for passengers in the front and back seat (70).

tends to be a bit more involved for the seat manufacturer to deliver slightly different seats for each side of the aisle, it is worth ensuring that emergency personnel can access the belt buckle in the easiest and fastest way possible. Those seconds may make a crucial difference. Jürgen Mill is senior VP of engineering and R&D at the global headquarters of the Kiel Group. Kiel is a trendsetting seat provider to transit systems around the world including seating solutions for buses and trains on the local, regional and intercity level. Visit | BUSRIDE



Lap and shoulder belts aid maintenance By Roberto Montoya The need to provide greater protection for intercity and touring passengers has been a priority in recent years for the North American motorcoach industry. Years of analysis, testing and joint efforts between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and various representatives of the industry have resulted in the regulated use of three-point passenger seatbelts. The NHTSA issued the following statement in 2013, setting out the standards that must be met in passenger seats: “Beginning in November 2016, newly manufactured over-the-road buses and nonover-the-road buses with GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb.) will be required to be equipped with lap and shoulder belts for each passenger seat.” Relevant requirements: • Lap/shoulder-belt system for passenger seats to meet provisions for seat-belt adjustment and fit, so that the seat belts can accommodate children as well as large (95th percentile) adult males, are lockable for use with a child-restraint system, and are releasable at a single point and by a pushbutton action • Seat-belt anchorages, both torso and lap, on passenger seats are integrated into the seat structure, so as not to impede emergency egress. • FMVSS 210: The lap and shoulder belts must each hold a load of 3,000 pounds, all pulled simultaneously. Amaya-Astron Seating is one of the first companies to invest, develop and adapt three-point seatbelts in many of its models. The development of the seats and their suitability required working together with OEMs to engineer both the buses and the seats. All seats with three-point seatbelts must be tested in certified laboratories in the U.S. Regardless of tests conducted in certified laboratories, AmayaAstron Seating has an internal laboratory that periodically ratifies the homogeneity and strength of their seats in static tests, in order to ensure safety in production. Strengthening the seat should not devalue the comfort and design. These factors are crucial for the passengers, who in recent years have been calling for a greater number of options that allow them to multitask and travel comfortably. These are the six questions that every operator should ask before choosing a seat with three-point seatbelts: 1. What elements are critical to safe seating? • The design must be robust. The seating system has to be designed, tested and built to withstand the use and abuse of the intended application. • Consistency is key. The system has to be built so that every seat operates as it should. • Ease-of-use - If the system is hard to use or confusing, people will not use it properly or simply not use it. 2. How much does a well-constructed seat help in an accident? • Well-constructed seating can saves lives. If passengers wear seat belts, the chances of them being ejected from the vehicle are infinitely reduced than if they are unbelted. 14


Amaya-Astron Seating performs dynamic tests in a certified laboratory in the U.S.

3. What goes into the design of a safe seat? • Years of experience and people committed to quality and safety and a process that is repeatable and reliable. The best manufacturers make sure their seats are designed in a manner that ensures safety is built into every model. 4. How is the seat tested in order to ensure its integrity? • The best manufacturers test all of their seats to the applicable FMVSS / CMVSS requirements. Amaya-Astron also adds a 20-30 percent margin of safety on top of these requirements. Additionally, we cycle test our products to make sure that road fatigue and their repeated use over time will not cause any problems. 5. What is the average lifespan of a safe, well-constructed seat? • A well-made coach seat should easily last seven years or more. However, it is good practice to inspect the seat regularly after five years. Make sure the belts are not fraying nor have any cuts. 6. What else should I ask? • Make sure the seats were tested both on a platform and in-vehicle by an accredited testing facility. Used motorcoaches Remember this – The three-point belt integration standards apply only in November 2016 to new units and voluntary integration of old units. This leaves it up to the operators to carry out a retrofit on all of their earlier bus models. It is very important that the operator requests advice from the relevant OEM to verify that the bus is able to incorporate three-point belts. The standard for the use of three-point seat belts is one of the most important decisions in recent years in the motorcoach industry. We are confident that this new regulation will help generate a cultural change in the safety of passengers every day. Roberto Montoya is the leader of the Research and Development Department at Amaya-Astron, Cuautitlán Izcalli, Estado de México, Mexico. Visit AmayaAstron online at


Fire-Resistant Cushioning Adding Safety to Bus Interiors By Anthony Tomasello & Alicia Dixon Safety is naturally a major concern when it comes to public transportation. Compliance to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards is often assumed to be sufficient in keeping passengers safe. But what if there is more that should be done, specifically with the threat of internal vehicle fires? Representatives from Chestnut Ridge Foam, Inc., a 30 yearold fire-resistant foam manufacturer in western Pennsylvania, discuss concerns with the absence of fire-resistant foam in bus transportation seating and the immediate solutions available in the industry. 1. Please explain the risks / liabilities associated with traditional FMVSS 302 seat cushioning. One of the main contributors to interior fires on buses is the use of polyurethane cushioning, as it often represents the largest fuel load within the interior of the vehicle. Unfortunately, many individuals responsible for vehicle specifications mistakenly believe that FMVSS 302 seat cushioning provides a level of suitable fire protection. On the contrary, this traditional polyurethane cushioning will burn profusely, emitting tremendous volumes of thick, black, toxic smoke when exposed to a minimal open-flame ignition source. To add further alarm, an interior fire can spread rapidly, which is especially critical when considering the expanded use of public transportation by the elderly or those with restricted mobility. Eliminating this highly combustible item within the bus interior is a considerable step to best ensure passenger safety. 2. To what extent can fire-resistant cushioning minimize damage in a bus fire? The use of fire resistant cushioning offers a multitude of benefits in the event of a bus fire. Not only can this fire-resistant foam prevent the ignition of a seat, but it also prevents the flames from rapidly spreading through the interior of the vehicle. As in any fire, adding valuable time reduces threat to life and allows passengers to safely evacuate the vehicle. The use of fire resistant cushioning offers a multitude of benefits in the event of a bus fire.

3. What tips on seat cushioning would you impart to bus owners / transit authorities who are purchasing buses? Beyond the use of fireresistant cushioning, take into account the covering material as well. A proper foam upholstery combination is

Traditional polyurethane cushioning burns profusely, emitting tremendous volumes of thick, black, toxic smoke.

needed to ensure the performance of the cushion. If the covering allows contaminates (dirt, liquids, and even UV light) to penetrate to the foam cushioning, it may have a negative impact on performance and compromise the longevity of the cushion. The proper construction of the cushion assembly should utilize upholstery with a smooth undersurface to provide synergy between the two materials. This is recommended to avoid abrasion created by covering with a rough, sandpaper-like backing. If a rough undersurface is used, a lightweight material such as muslin fabric is suggested between the cover and cushioning. 4. What safety-related questions should be asked when specifying seat cushions? Be sure to include performance-oriented criteria in the seating specifications. This will ensure that the FTA-suggested level of fire safety performance is being utilized. To support this, Chestnut Ridge Foam offers condensed specification verbiage which can easily be inserted into the seating section of new vehicle bid packages. Without the necessary language present, the foam will most likely default to flammable, polyurethane cushioning. 5. What effect does fire-resistant cushioning have on the bottom line? While we cannot put a dollar value on the safety of passengers, it is understood that cost and the bottom line are always a factor in any industry. With durability in mind, Chestnut Ridge Foam has developed CR Safguard® XL and CR Safguard® XL60 to maximize service life. Utilizing this fire-resistant cushioning not only extends the life of a seat for a long-term cost benefit, but also maintains the proper and critical level of fire safety for passengers. Anthony Tomasello and Alicia Dixon represent Chestnut Ridge Foam, Inc. in the Sales and Marketing division. For more information on how to make seats safer for passengers with fire resistant foam, please visit: or call 800-234-2734 ext. 264. | BUSRIDE



BUSRide Road Test:


TDX25 Improvements to the double-deck round out the 2015 Van Hool line By David Hubbard

On any weekday, shiny Van Hool double-deck coaches are on the move in the San Francisco Bay area, transporting employees to and from their occupations along State Highway 101. Such highend employee shuttle service on luxury coaches has become standard operating procedure for many of the respected corporations based along the peninsula in the area familiarly called “Silicon Valley.”

New passenger overhead multisets provide air and adjustable LED reading lights.

The test coach is custom outfitted with onboard Wi-Fi, worktables and Grand Luxe leather seats, with USB ports and 110v at each seat.

BUSRide met with ABC Companies at its facility in Redwood City, CA, for a first look and Official Road Test of the newest iteration of the popular, proven Van Hool TD925 double-deck coach, now rebranded the TDX25. The test vehicle was prepped and ready for delivery to one of these companies. This particular coach was custom outfitted with onboard Wi-Fi, worktables and Grand Luxe leather seats spaced for ample legroom, with USB ports and 110v at each seat. The spacious interior of both the lower and upper levels allows passengers to ride in utmost comfort and stay connected for working and socializing en route. Since ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, and the Belgian familyowned coachbuilder Van Hool formed their partnership in 1987, the two companies have worked in tandem to continually enhance and refine the Van Hool coach products for the North American market. Two years ago, the two companies took major steps to upgrade and enhance the stalwart Van Hool T2100 and C2000 model coaches with the most current advancements in engineering and technology to ensure greater safety and passenger comfort, as well as up-todate curb appeal. That initiative carried the slogan “Evolution of Excellence” for what was the most complex redesign of these coaches since their inception 25 years ago. It was significant enough to warrant rebranding with new names — the Van Hool TX and CX. The evolution continues. Don Jensen, ABC Companies senior account 16


Redesigned control switches on the dashboard lend a refined look and easy touch.

manager, Western Region, took the wheel to explain and demonstrate the newest features necessary to bring the popular Van Hool TDX25 in line with its siblings, the 2015 TX and CX models. “The TDX25 upgrade essentially incorporates many of the same features and components as the TX, as well as additional modifications specific to the double deck platform,” Jensen says. “The headlight assemblies with integrated LED daytime running lights are one of the most defining similarities among the current Van Hool models.” He adds that the tail-light panels on the rear cap are removable for repair or replacement. A bike rack is also offered as an option on this model. For the test drive, Jensen essentially mapped a route through Silicon Valley similar to the area’s employee shuttles. The towering TDX25 easily maneuvered through narrow streets and tight parking lots, running smooth and especially quiet. In the driver’s area, the redesigned control switches on the dashboard lend a refined look and easy touch. A cup holder has been added in the dashboard – a small but important detail for a driver. The ISRI adjustable driver’s seat features an integrated three-point belt. | BUSRIDE


The driver accesses multiple systems using buttons via the control knob module. “The new control knob on the left side of the driver is very helpful,” Jensen says. “A driver will have no trouble adapting to these controls. It is a clean and easy way to access information on multiple systems.” The backup camera with a view of the rear roadway displayed on the Double DIN REI touchscreen player is now standard on the TDX25, along with the pre-wiring for side-view cameras. The standard engine is an EPA 2013 Cummins ISX12.0L. The engine couples to a Generation 5 Allison WT B500 automatic transmission. In the engine compartment, mechanics will appreciate the addition of four more inches of workspace allowing easier access to components and fittings. Improvements in the luggage compartment include door seals mounted to the luggage door, as opposed to the body structure. This change eliminates damage to the door seals by dragging luggage across them. The seal is mounted on the door, keeping it up and out of harm’s way. The electrical box shifted from the bulkhead wall to the roof of the left-side baggage compartment. In consideration of the shuttle services being provided, an interior luggage rack is now a convenient option. OEM-fitted standard safety features include a second emergency roof-hatch, the Kidde fire-suppression system, as



well as a SmarTire temperature and pressure-monitoring system. Also included are Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Antilock Brake System (ABS) for their instant detection of a potential emergency and assisted recovery. In the passenger cabin, the Grand Luxe reclining seats with three-point seatbelts are in accordance with 20 G legislation. The new passenger overhead multisets provide air and adjustable LED reading lights. The multisets are now designed to slide easily to any position along the rack, allowing techs to readjust the paneling to fit new seat layouts. An aluminum fuel tank now accepts the Emco Wheaton fastfill system. The fuel filler neck is now stainless steel with a brass filler cap. This spin through the peninsula affirmed that every improvement and new feature on the TDX25 is well engineered and refined. The ease of maneuverability and smooth handling, combined with added features and conveniences for the driver, along with a host of passenger amenities brings this TDX25 in line with the Van Hool CX and TX. The updated exterior adds to the curb appeal of this high-capacity, eco-friendly coach and completes its “Evolution of Excellence” Journey.

Security & Surveillance

Camera surveillance systems: Where’s the evidence? By Colin Smith Why do agencies use camera surveillance systems on buses? We can ultimately consolidate their uses into two major categories: enhancing visibility and affecting crime. While many providers tout these as true, we often lack evidentiary knowledge. Let’s examine further. First, let’s examine the claim that cameras enhance visibility. The largest hindrance to clear visibility on buses is the presence of blind spots. Bus-specific blind spots are large and typically appear directly behind the vehicle for an extended distance and to either side of the front-portion of the bus, as can be seen in Figure 1. While the rear blind-spot produces the most obstructed view, it is not of much importance – buses are rarely required to back up in the course of their daily routes. Thus, the two side blind-spots that remain are a safety concern. The claim that rear blind-spots take precedence over side blind-spots is supported by data from the Florida Crash Analysis Reporting (CAR) System. Although back-up crashes only caused 5.76 percent of at-fault bus crashes, sideswipe and side-related crashes made up 39.96 percent. Likewise, the Side Object Detection System (SODS) found only 19 percent of crashes occur in the rear and 46 percent on the side. Once more, data from a third study, Dunn et al., suggests 30 percent of crashes occur between the front and the rear while 44 percent are attributed to angle crashes or sideswipes. These data clearly identify where visibility is lacking – the sides of buses. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDT) found that camera systems (cameras and a viewing monitor) present a viable solution to overcoming side blind-spots. By comparing flat mirrors, convex mirrors, regular-angle lenses and wide-angle lenses, the FDT found that with proper placement and adequate fields of view, cameras can eliminate 100 percent of the side blind-spot obstructions that remain with traditional, flat mirrors. Thus, it can be concluded that the use of cameras does enhance the visibility drivers need to maintain a safe environment by, at the least, eliminating side blind-spots. Second, let’s examine the claim that camera systems affect crime. Most would suggest that cameras affect crime by deterring it. Anecdotal evidence in support of this claim is prevalent and signs such as “You are Being Recorded” bolster its supposed logic. However, the evidence does not paint such a simple picture. Through his literature review, Cavoukian (2008) found extreme variations in the results

of studies that measured reductions in criminal activity from the implementation of camera systems; as well, each study maintained a different degree of rigor, rendering inaccurate comparison data. Why the variations? It is difficult to measure reductions in criminal activity on transportation buses because of the chaotic nature of public settings – it is impossible to exclude extraneous variables for capturing untainted measurements. Also, crime rates vary from location to location, fluctuate sporadically and range in intensity, meaning a reduction in crime cannot be solely attributed to the implementation of camera systems. While Cavoukian ultimately concluded that camera systems do prevent some crimes, accurately measuring and tracking those reductions is difficult. There is correlation, but a lack of causation. Although cameras deter criminal activity, their main benefit lies in post-incident activities such as criminal investigations. Camera systems create a trove of video evidence, offering law enforcement the ability to confidently place a person at a particular location, on a particular date and at a particular time. With decreasing data storage costs and improving camera imagery, camera systems will increasingly be used for these purposes. It can be seen that the use of camera systems does affect criminal activity by deterring criminal behavior and by assisting with post-incident activities. In conclusion, camera surveillance systems are producing real results, bolstering the two claims originally made in this piece – that they enhance visibility and affect crime. While it is commonplace for those in the mobile surveillance industry to tout these two claims, the readers of this article are now armed with the evidentiary knowledge to back them up. Colin Smith, M.P.A., is the marketing manager for Safety Vision, LLC, a pioneer in mobile video surveillance systems. Safety Vision prides itself on its institutional knowledge. Visit Safety Vision at For a complete set of references please visit: | BUSRIDE


Fleet Management SYSTEMS

FLEET MONITORING In this issue, BUSRide continues “Fleet Management Systems,” an in-depth forum series addressing asset management, vehicle tracking, fleet monitoring, fleet optimization and in-vehicle diagnostics. This month, we cover fleet monitoring – a crucial aspect of any comprehensive fleet management software. The best fleet management system helps agencies ensure that their entire fleet is being utilized and routes are optimized for maximum efficiency. Experts in this forum focus on what metrics agencies should focus on to optimize vehicles and routing, as well as what software is available that can help. Avail Technologies, State College, PA, examines the critical elements of fleet monitoring. How can one solution tie together the competing interests of different departments within a transit agency? Furthermore, how can software streamline data so that they’re individually useful to each department? Infor, New York, NY, explores how to get the most out of fleet inspection data. There are many facets of asset management that go into planning an effective preventative maintenance program. Efficiency is key – an important lesson for operations managers looking to best coordinate with maintenance departments.



Fleet Management SYSTEMS

Enhancing service with fleet monitoring solutions Avail Technologies, State College, PA, is an intelligent transportation systems (ITS) solutions provider for transit operators in the United States, specializing in CAD/AVL solutions for fixed route and paratransit. In an interview with BUSRide, Rick Spangler, vice president of Customer Relations at Avail Technologies, answers a few critical questions about fleet monitoring. What are the essential elements of a comprehensive fleet monitoring system? As an ITS provider, we’re about providing tools to help solve tech problems. We’re constantly asking ourselves: What do our customers need and how can we tailor our tools and services to meet that need? There are two types of users we encounter most often, internal and external users. Internal users are the transit agencies – what tools can we provide the transit agency to monitor their fleet? External users are their riders – what can technology do to enhance the rider experience? Within the subgroup of internal users, there are many different departments at each transit agency. These can include operations, maintenance, planning, dispatch, customer service, marketing and administration. For operations, the best fleet monitoring program provides tools that monitor the health of the service in real time. This includes everything from vehicles in use, drivers working, schedule adherence and other data. Maintenance is concerned about the health of the fleet – so the best software also provides pre-trip monitoring, vehicle health monitoring and preventative maintenance monitoring. Planning is focused on the overall level of service. They have to monitor running times, dwell times, passenger counts, demographics, fare collection data, etc. The best tools will help them process that data and then refine the agency’s services. How does fleet monitoring software effectively coordinate the disparate interests at a transit agency – operations, planning, administration, etc.? When agencies are looking for a solution, they need to be mindful of these disparate interests. Each of these departments has different specific needs to accomplish their individual goals in support of the overall agency objectives. Not having a uniform system only exasperates these differences. You need an integrated solution that ties everything together, so that operations data feeds right into planning data, which feeds right into maintenance data. The exchange of data should be seamless to enable efficient workflows within the organization. Open architecture, the basis of Avail’s platform, is a great way to accomplish this. Any data generated by a comprehensive fleet management system can be shared with any user in the system on any tool, no matter the tool’s vendor. Many agencies have already made significant investments in software tools, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to rework their entire system to achieve seamless integration. Software that offers “role-based” scenarios is another great way to turn data into information. One tool can serve every user in an agency, but agencies can tailor various user interfaces so that each department only receives the information necessary to do their job.

“Role-based” dashboards help turn raw information into proactive answers.

Data generated by a great fleet management system can be shared with any user anywhere.

How can fleet monitoring software help operators to enhance the rider experience? When we think about the passenger in 2015, they have far more insight to agency operations than they have in previous years. Before, they only had access to the printed schedule. Now we’re giving passengers real-time information tools that are as mobile as they are. In some ways, the riders are now just as proactive in monitoring service as agency employees. This helps transit agencies to attract choice riders. Rather than just the transit-dependent population, agency services are being used by millennials, professionals and students. They’ve got websites and apps with real-time vehicle tracking information – and if the vehicle isn’t really where the agency says it’s going to be, those riders are the first to call that to the agency’s attention. Real-time Passenger Information (RTPI) is a great tool to not only communicate with your riders, but also stay on top of fleet service levels. Passengers, your advocates in the field, should be able to look at a transportation center’s sign, the app on their smartphone, and be on the phone calling into the voice system – and all of the information should match. If the information doesn’t match, riders will often alert customer service agents and the issue can be addressed. This type of interaction helps make riders feel empowered and in control of their transit experience, while at the same time helping operators maintain reliable service levels. Fleet Monitoring systems are now capable of providing answers and not just data, empowering the riders and operators in a way that keeps them ahead of the curve. Rick Spangler serves as the vice president of Customer Relations at Avail Technologies, an ITS technology solutions provider for transit operators in the United States. Visit for more information. | BUSRIDE


Fleet Management SYSTEMS

How to get the most out of fleet inspection data By Kevin Price

Monitoring and ensuring the health of the fleet: it can be a well-managed, efficient process or something much more haphazard. Having vehicles out of service when least expected and possibly when needed most creates safety, cost and potentially legal issues. How can fleet managers keep their fleets running in a fixed, measurable way? Leveraging inspection detail is paramount. Notice the word “leveraging” — not “collecting.” Nearly all fleet managers gather inspection information, whether manually, via mobile devices, or by using a telemetry system that can monitor the print diagnostics of a bus, for example. But how do they make the best use of the collected data? Planning a maintenance program isn’t simply a matter of scheduling vehicles for service. What equipment will you need? Is it sure to be available during that twohour window? Will special tools be required? How about parts—will you have what you need on hand? Can you count on the availability of a technician with expertise on that particular vehicle type? And Asset management software can provide the missing piece of a fleet monitoring plan. if several procedures or repairs are needed, but not all can be accomplished within the scheduled wear, brake usage and fuel consumption. They’ll quickly determine timeframe, which are most crucial, and when will you be able to take when they can schedule each vehicle for service, based on the that vehicle out of service again to perform the remaining work? availability of tools, equipment, parts and technicians, as well as Considering all the factors that must be taken into account when warranty schedules and any special circumstances. building an efficient maintenance program, it’s not at all surprising Some experts think the fleet manager’s role will someday be at that technology plays an increasingly critical role in getting it right. the board level—because of the ever-broadening skill set required Manual systems are tedious and time-consuming, especially for larger to be successful. Fleet managers today need to know not only about fleets, and prone to error. It’s tough to make informed decisions if vehicles and maintenance, but also about planning, finance, insurance managers are spending all their time gathering data and don’t have up- and managing staff. Technology will help pave the way to this newly to-date, accurate, timely reports on which to make decisions. expanded role by supporting faster, more effective decision-making. Asset management software can provide the missing piece of a fleet monitoring plan. Such systems can take the data managers Kevin Price has more than 17 years in Infor’s asset management business, provide—either manually or by integrating with a telemetry holding roles in sales and service, as asset solutions director for the Infor Public Sector group, and now product director for Infor EAM, MP2, Spear Technologies, application—and quickly build operator checklists for both and Infor Energy Performance Management. He is based in Greenville, SC. Kevin preventative and upcoming maintenance, among other things. Fleet welcomes your feedback and questions. Please don’t hesitate to email him at managers will gain a better understanding of how a driver who regularly exceeds the speed limit, for example, is impacting tire 22



Raising expectations with a low-floor By Ken Becker

We all know the commercial bus industry can be both challenging and rewarding. However, the challenges we experience are trivial in comparison to what people with disabilities face every day of their lives. One friend who is faced with real challenges is Kristina Rhoades. She is a spokesperson and advocate for the disabled community and speaks around the world on the subject of ”Traveling with a Disability.” Kristina suffered a spinal cord injury at only 10 months-old and has lived her entire life with the use of a wheelchair. Ironically, most people without a disability would have a hard time keeping up with her busy and active lifestyle. This former Ms. Wheelchair California currently resides in Georgia with her husband and daughter. Kristina recently spoke at our ARBOC National Dealer Meeting where she addressed traveling with a disability as well as something I am embarrassed to say I have never had any understanding of until now: wheelchair etiquette. Kristina’s presentation on ”Wheelchair Etiquette” was something that left a very big and lasting impression on all who attended our National Dealer Meeting. I hope that the following information Kristina presented will be as helpful to you as it was for me. I would like to recommend that this article be shared with everyone in your entire organization: ➤ Language: Always put the person first. ■ Do say: • ‘Person with a disability’ • ‘Individual who uses a wheelchair’ (or ‘wheelchair-user’) ■ Don’t say: • Handicapped • Crippled • Lame • ‘Wheelchair-bound’ or ‘Confined to a wheelchair’ ➤ Don’t feel the need to change common expressions. ■ I t’s still okay to say things like, “take a walk,” or, “stand your ground.” ➤ Avoid asking about a person’s disability without invitation or relevance. ➤ Don’t touch or give commands to service animals without permission. ■ While tempting, some animals may get distracted from their work. ➤ Get down to eye-level, if possible. ■ Especially important if discussing an important, lengthy or sensitive matter ➤ Never lean on or move someone’s mobility device. ■ These items are NOT furniture – they’re an extension of the owner’s personal, physical space!

Pictured from left: Ken Becker- national sales manager ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, and Kristina Rhoades- marketing assistant, social media & PR at Mobility Ventures LLC.

➤ Ask before helping. ➤ With common courtesies (such as opening a door), treat the person as you would anyone else. ➤ Get permission before offering physical assistance; don’t assume the person needs your help. ➤ Speak directly to the customer, not to their spouse or companion. ➤ Don’t be afraid to offer your hand in greeting. ➤ Offer at least a touch for a hand shake, but refrain from patting people on the head or being rough. ➤ When in doubt, ask! ”People with disabilities certainly appreciate anything that makes public transportation safer and easier to use, whether it’s with a wheelchair lift or a ramp,” Kristina says. “I can tell you from personal experience that a ramp is much preferred for someone in a wheelchair or walking aid. A ramp allows me to maintain my independence by often eliminating the need for the driver or someone else to assist me. I also get to use the same entrance as everyone else since the ramp extends out from the main passenger door.” Recently, one of our ramp-equipped buses was delivered to an assisted living home in Kalamazoo, MI. According to the transportation director, their old wheelchair-lift bus became just too difficult for some of their residents to board or exit, so many of the residents would choose to simply not participate in many of the off-property functions. With their new ramp accessible bus in place, there is now rarely an empty seat when taking trips! Just knowing that there are people getting out and enjoying life again is extremely motivating for everyone at ARBOC It’s because of this that the industry must continue to design and develop new and improved ways to make public transportation in both the private and public sector just a little easier for everyone. For ARBOC, it was evident that large transit buses were on the right track with ramp accessibility, while most all of the paratransit bus services out there still used buses equipped with a traditional wheelchair lift. We are proud to say that since 2008, ARBOC has now built over 2,000 ramp equipped cutaway buses for customers all across North America. Ken Becker is national sales manager for ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, Middlebury, IN, and a veteran with 14-years in the bus industry. Visit the ARBOC website at | BUSRIDE








A P Xpress Bus Hyattsville, MD

Dean Trailways Lansing, MI

A P Xpress Bus recently took delivery of a new ADAequipped CX45 motorcoach from ABC Companies, Van Hool’s exclusive North American distributor. The 56-passenger luxury coach is powered by a Cummins ISX engine in combination with an Allison B500G5 transmission. In addition to some of Van Hool’s standard features including back-up camera, lane-departure system, Kidde fire suppression, daytime-running lights, curbside perimeter lighting and static aiming lights, A P Xpress ordered an REI Elite Entertainment system with six video monitors, Saucon Wi-Fi, 28 110-volt electrical outlets, passenger cup holders and Alcoa Dura Bright Aluminum wheels.

The four new CX45s at Dean Trailways are equipped with Cummins ISX engines coupled to Allison B500G5 transmissions and have three-point seat belts, Alcoa Durabright aluminum wheels, REI Deluxe entertainment systems, wood grain flooring, 28 110-volt outlets, 4G Wi-Fi and Van Hool’s unique passenger rear window. Two of the coaches have contoured parcel racks with six 23-inch video monitors, while the other two have enclosed racks. All four offer Van Hool standard safety features including back-up camera, lane-departure system, Kidde fire suppression, daytime-running lights, curbside perimeter lighting and static aiming lights.


POSITIVE MARKET FEEDBACK KEEPS ROLLING IN! CUSTOMER STATEMENTS: “We have been using the Toyo tires for over a year and have been impressed with the ride comfort and extended mileage the tires have delivered” • Wes Kanaga • Peoria Charters • Peoria Illinois “We have been running the Toyo M144 tires for more than a year now and we are impressed with their superior ride, handling, and wear characteristics.” • Scott Habr • West Valley Trailways • Campbell California “The Toyo tires have been a great value and great performer for us” • Ken Dillard • Champion Bus Lines • Greenville S.C.

NEW PROGRAM ADDITIONS: Government/School District Transportation Discounts Available Volume Discounts Offered *14 tire minimum order required

For more information contact: or Call: 678-463-4110 24


Financial Management

Getting your financial house in order No house stands without a sturdy foundation, and the same can be said of a motorcoach operator’s “financial house.” Without basic fundamentals in recordkeeping, accurate financial information and benchmarking, no motorcoach operator can grow their business or have a successful and profitable business.

Charabanc, Atlanta, GA, is a diversified financial services company serving a wide spectrum of American industries, including the motorcoach market. In an interview with BUSRide, Jason Cash, president and founder of Charabanc, offers best practices and advice for getting your financial house in order. What kind of basic accounting best practices can you offer to motorcoach operators? You have to start with the accounting process. So many small businesses today, particularly in the motorcoach market, don’t manage their balance sheet or their P&L statements properly. A lot of it stems from the fact that they have their own internal bookkeepers processing this paperwork, and they just don’t fully understand how to account for proper expenses or where assets and liabilities should be recorded. What financial institutions end up receiving are internal financial statements with unbalanced balance sheets, assets not recorded or depreciation not recorded properly. Sometimes vehicles are listed as “loans” when they’re “leases,” or vice versa. There are a lot of people, bookkeepers at best, handling accounting. Data isn’t properly recorded and you can’t get accurate financial statements from that. When you hand that information over to any type of financial institution, they’re going to automatically assume that mismanagement is bleeding from accounting into the entire company. What basic recordkeeping should operators engage in? First of all, there’s the basic recordkeeping required from the IRS. Unfortunately, many people don’t even balance their bank statements and reconcile the general ledger. If you don’t do that, particularly in a small to midsized business, your financial records will never be correct. One of the biggest mistakes starts with the new hire and payroll process. An owner should know and adhere to all the IRS guidelines. From an owner’s standpoint, you won’t get all of the deductions and other benefits you’re legally entitled to. What accounting benchmarks should motorcoach operators remain cognizant of? The ultimate benchmark for any type of company is getting to the point where it can properly provide accurate financial information. In lieu of that, there are a few phases that businesses must go through:

Step 1: Balance bank accounts. Make sure everything is recorded properly. An accountant can play “catch-up” and figure out most of this for you. They’ll track assets, liabilities, loans, financial statements, depreciation and other items. Step 2: Reconcile all balance sheet accounts monthly, including all payroll activity. If the payroll is outsourced, make sure that all legal expenses are charged to that period. It is imperative to make sure that the appropriate government authority is paid on time. Analyze what your financial statements mean to help your business run better. Step 3: An accountant can now take financial statements a bit deeper into a reviewable status. Every financial lender wants reviewed financial statements for the best loans or credit extensions. In lieu of that, they’ll take consolidated statements with limited exposure. There’s a reason that accounting firms want you to go to review – because there’s an intrinsic value in being able to leverage assets (primarily buses) at the right interest rate, without having to waste time with so many different financial institutions. It’s a matter of operators increasing their accounting expenses by just a little in order to keep business expenses lower. What are some of the pitfalls that motorcoach operators tend to fall victim to? Most operators miss the basics – they need someone with the education and experience to get them accurate financial information. Jason Cash is the president and founder of Charabanc Financial Services, Inc. Since 2002, Charabanc Financial has provided commercial lending predominately in the passenger transportation sector of the transportation industry. Visit Charabanc online at | BUSRIDE


By Jeff Cassell

Four steps for success This is the third article in the Driver Safety series by Jeff Cassell. For the full series, visit Ryan is a new supervisor for the Moston Public Transit Agency. George, the executive director, challenged Ryan to prepare an implementation plan to greatly improve the safety NORMS in their agency. “We think we should implement the plan in five steps,” Ryan said. “Linda will explain the first three.” “Step 1 is that we need all levels of management working together to make this plan work,” Linda said. “We need to go in one direction and stay the course. All supervisors, dispatchers, trainers and every level of management are to be trained in Safety Leadership. We all need to agree the goals and how we will work together to set the safest NORMS. No one should ever turn their back on an unsafe behavior, or they are helping accept unsafe NORMS.” “Step 2 is focusing on the drivers.,” she continued. “We need to train them in Safety Best Practices. Last week I asked around 20 of our drivers the definition of the word safety and absolutely no one was even close. They were all in agreement to having a passion for safety, but were embarrassed to discover they did not even know what safety was. Our training should be such that every driver can immediately react to the following questions, almost without thinking.” Linda laid out the following key concepts: Defining safety – Freedom from risk Defining risk – The possibility of injury or damage to property Defining where risk comes from – Unsafe conditions and unsafe behaviors Name three behaviors where you can remove the risk – Not backing, no fatigue and not texting Name three behaviors where you can reduce the risk – Following distance, rock & roll for turns, and positioning What are our Vision, Mission and Values? Do it right, the first time, every time. Remove or reduce risk and engage in no unsafe behaviors. “Only when the drivers clearly understand these concepts and the desired behaviors can we start to create the safe NORMS,” Linda said. Ian, the dispatcher then jumped in. “We also need to make our message stronger in the desired NORMS,” he said. “Only yesterday I was in a discussion with a few drivers preparing for this meeting. I asked why we still have rear-end collisions when we teach a four-second following distance. It was obvious from their comments that they interpreted our desire for four seconds as a 26


suggestion, more of a do it when you can, and not a required practice.” “We need to reinforce that this minimum four second following distance is a job requirement,” Ian continued. “It is NOT subject to interpretation. They are to stay back a minimum of four seconds, at all times. Our messages to achieve the desired NORMS need to be far clearer and far stronger.” “The third step is focusing on the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?),” Linda said. “We should challenge the drivers to agree that any professional driver who causes or contributes to an accident is a failure as a professional. We then need to challenge the drivers to apply the practices we are going to teach them and then they will never be a failure in their profession. If we explain that, as professionals, they should follow the 12 safe behaviors as detailed in the Vision, Mission and Values, they will remove all unsafe behaviors and never have an accident.” “Step four is repetition, repetition and repetition,” Ian said. “We need to continually reinforce these desired behaviors. Every week, discuss two or three of these desired behaviors and why they are the right thing to do. If anyone has an accident, we will discuss as a group the behavior that led to this accident and ask that driver to tell the group why we failed to change their unsafe behavior. We can all learn from mistakes.” This series by Jeff Cassell will continue in the September 2015 Issue! Jeff Cassell is president of Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO) Hudson, Ohio. TAPTCO provides training courses that change driver behaviors. Visit

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BUSRide July 2015  

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