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JUNE | 2015



BUSRide Road Test:



Driving in a convoy p13

Why network my fleet? p17

Reducing operator assaults p29


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BUSRide turns 50 Industry veteran Doug Jack recounts his memories over the five decades Congratulations to BUSRide on reaching its 50th anniversary. One year before Bill and Adelene Luke started their magazine in 1965, I joined the commercial vehicle industry with the old Leyland Motor Corporation in the United Kingdom. I was the only legal graduate Leyland took on, putting me through a very enjoyable year in all the production departments. Even at that time, the international bus industry was starting to consolidate. We used to reckon that half the manufacturers disappeared every decade, either by acquisition, amalgamation or closure. For the Europeans, the United States was always fascinating. Compared with some distant regions of the world, its legal and accounting systems were much easier to understand. There were three major challenges to selling from Europe into North America: 1. The sheer size of the United States and Canada 2. Setting up parts and service support 3. European commercial vehicles were being built to metric dimensions using metric tooling, which became more of a barrier than it should have been. In 1973, when Leyland reached a verbal agreement with MTA New York to supply eight double-decker buses to the city, I was sent to agree the contract with MTA and was quite staggered by the volume of legislation then in force. The US Department of Transportation said there was no provision for bi-level buses. They would have to be treated as one uni-level bus super imposed on another uni-level bus in order to create a bi-level bus. One outcome was the need for nine emergency exits spread over both decks. The pace of legislation picked up again in the 1980s, with the introduction of progressively more strict limits on engine noise and emissions. Unfortunately, the US, the European Union and Japan all introduced different standards. Most other countries followed European legislation, but often were one, two or even three steps behind. Although the objective was largely the same, test cycles could vary quite widely. It was a nightmare for multi-national manufacturers, resulting in considerable duplication of engineering effort. By this time, I had met Bill Luke several times, mainly at international exhibitions. European manufacturers and their customers were impressed by an American who took such an interest

in their products, in their transit systems and coach operations, and who was so widely traveled. In 1986, I set up my own consultancy, working with quite a number of truck and bus manufacturers, but fairly soon started to concentrate solely on the bus industry. Bill asked me to contribute a monthly report that was initially called “Letter from Europe� about industry developments over here — and there was plenty to write about. The European industry started to consolidate towards five top tier players, namely Daimler, MAN, Iveco, Scania and Volvo. The shape of the European industry changed quite dramatically with the fall of the old Soviet, or Comecon, system. At one time, Ikarus of Hungary was the largest bus manufacturer in the world. As it shrunk in size, North American Bus Industries (NABI) took over one of the factories in Budapest. Turkey started to emerge as a major bus manufacturing center. TEMSA buses are now products of Turkey, while Mercedes-Benz established a factory which now has capacity for around 5,000 buses and coaches per annum. Until as late as the 1990s, most Chinese buses were very basic, with high floors and front-mounted gasoline engines. Limited by law to a maximum life of eight years, many fell apart within that time. Since then, China has undergone an amazing revolution. The quality and sophistication of the facilities in some of the best factories have to be seen to be believed. Yet, while the Chinese have ambitious export plans, they are restrained by booming demand in the domestic market. Similarly, until the 1990s, the Indian bus manufacturing industry was in a time warp. Ashok Leyland and Tata, both very large builders, were making vehicles to European designs that pre-dated the founding of BUSRide. Great credit must go to Bill and Adelene Luke for founding BUSRide, and developing a first class industry journal. Bill made so many friends around the world and people still ask about him. He laid very sound foundations for BUSRide, so here is to the next 50 years. | BUSRIDE




COVER STORY Official BUSRide Road Test: The DUR-A-BUS™ Grand Touring (GT)


Ready for North American, the proven Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and cab chassis rises to the next level By David Hubbard

FEATURES BUSRide turns 50


Industry veteran Doug Jack recounts his memories over five decades

Focus On: Fare Collection Systems


SPX Genfare provides best practices for updating and acquisition

The Science Behind The Seat 22 4ONE Seating showcases new advances in passenger seating

Focus On: Finance



Wells Fargo Equipment Finance answers the critical question: what is the bank looking for in a loan application?

APTA honors two California agencies for safety


MTS, San Diego, CA; AC Transit, Oakland, CA, each earn a Safety and Security Excellence Award

Saluting Dann Wiltgen


Prevost celebrates Dann Wiltgen’s career in the motorcoach industry




11 TransIT

By Mary Sue O’Melia


By Prevost Prep


By Estee Woods



By John Resnik


By Charlie Vits


By Lori Jetha

Mike, for over 10 years your software has been a key component to our successfully growing operations. I can’t say enough about your people and the product you have fine-tuned over the years. I’m looking


forward to where you take us in the next 10 years with the new busHive brand!

Eric Faust, Owner, Philly Trans, Philadelphia, PA

EasyBus is now


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


Roadeo champ COTA outshines the “best of the best” A bus roadeo at any level is the signature sport of this industry. I am pleased to spread the word on Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) earning Grand Champion honors in May at the Annual International Bus Roadeo, the granddaddy of transit competition sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) during the Bus and Paratransit Conference in Fort Worth, TX. The Grand Champion Award recognizes the transit system with the highest combined bus operator and maintenance team score. The champions themselves are COTA bus operator Howard Yoder, and the vehicle maintenance team: Tom Belcher, Don Readnour and Steve Woods. The event is comprised of bus operators and mechanics from public transit systems across North America who participate in competitions that showcase their skills in safe driving and vehicle maintenance. The Operator Competition includes events such as judgment stops, turning and clearing obstacles. The Maintenance Competition requires skills in the identification of defects in engine, transmission, brake and HVAC modules. According to APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy, this time-honored competition shows no sign of going away. “Over the past 40 years, our industry has highlighted the best of the best of talented drivers and maintenance professionals, and this year’s winners are shining examples who will continue that legacy,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “I appreciate all the work these professionals put into maintaining and operating a safe and reliable fleet day in and day out. Thanks to all who competed and congratulations to the winners.” For the record, Yoder took second place in the 35-foot bus competition of 20 competitors. Thirty-five teams competed in the Maintenance Competition, with the COTA team placing first in the HVAC category. Participation in this prestigious competition is through local bus roadeo competitions held throughout North America.

David Hubbard Associate Publisher BUSRide Magazine CEO Judi Victor Publisher Steve Kane Associate Publisher David Hubbard Editor in Chief Richard Tackett Art Director Stephen Gamble Account Executive Jeanette Long Accountant Fred Valdez

BUS industry SAFETY council

A publication of:

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BUSRide Magazine 4742 North 24th Street, STE 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 Fax: (602) 277-7588 VOL. 51 • NO.6

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Reprints: All articles in BUSRide are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Judi Victor at (602) 265-7600, ext. 125. ©2015 Power Trade Media



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Motorcoach Census shows strong and dynamic industry The American Bus Association Foundation’s annual Motorcoach Census demonstrates that the U.S. and Canadian motorcoach industry continues to show strength as one of the most flexible, cost-effective, environmentally efficient modes of transportation. Total passenger trips remained strong at more than 605 million, compared to the 743 million (domestic and international) enplanements on domestic air carriers and 32 million passengers for Amtrak. The Motorcoach Census details the size and activity of the motorcoach travel industry in the United States and Canada for 2013.

Passenger trip reductions may be caused in part by the decreased number of organized student travel trips and changing demographics in the tour market. Industry consolidation and the closure of some companies may have stemmed from economic pressures and from higher capital and operating costs due to increased government regulation. “The motorcoach industry continues to be a small-business success story, with small and medium-sized operators representing more than 98 percent of the total industry,” said Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association (ABA). “This data affirms the importance of motorcoach travel to our national transportation system. ABA and its members are proud to be in a business that’s safe, reliable and environmentally friendly, moving hundreds of thousands of people every day to their destinations.”

manufactured by Collins Bus to the company’s commercial bus, emergency and other vehicle products. The Westport WiNG™ Power System is a dedicated natural gas fuel system for light-duty specialty vehicles built on Ford truck chassis and backed by a Ford Factory three-year/36,000-mile engine and powertrain warranty.

Air Resources Board of California approves BAE Systems BAE Systems and Cummins Inc. announced the receipt of approval from the Air Resources Board (ARB) in California to sell the HybriDrive propulsion system together with Cummins ISB6.7 and ISL9 diesel electric hybrid engines for the electric-hybrid transit bus market. The dual Executive Order, issued by the ARB to both BAE Systems and Cummins, is valid for 2015 models powering 40-inch and 60-inch transit buses. “This Executive Order enables transit agencies in California to take advantage of the nation’s latest in fuel and emission savings technology,” said Steve Trichka, vice president and general manager of HybriDrive Solutions at BAE Systems. Last year, BAE Systems and Cummins collaborated to bring the first ever Stop/Start technology to North American transit, allowing for engine shut-down at bus stops in order to reduce air and noise pollution as well as fuel consumption.

ASV announces alternative fuel partnerships Allied Specialty Vehicles (ASV), recently announced an exclusive partnership with CleanFUEL USA, an industry leader in propane autogas technology. Under the partnership, CleanFUEL USA will provide products and services to expand ASV’s line of alternative fuel vehicles, namely propane autogas. The partnership agreement calls for CleanFUEL USA’s propane autogas systems currently installed by third party upfitters to be transitioned to ASV factory-certified installations. The two companies will also work together to develop customer service centers that will offer spare parts and maintenance services for a full suite of CleanFUEL USA propane autogas systems for multiple ASV product lines and their customers. ASV also announced an exclusive partnership with Westport a global leader in alternative fuel, low-emissions transportation technologies. The partnership expands the availability of the compressed natural gas (CNG) Westport WiNG™ Power Systems, currently offered as an option on ASV’s Type A school buses 8


Meridian Specialty Vehicles expands into Canada Meridian Specialty Vehicles, Inc., a Mercedes-Benz Preferred Bus Upfitter, announced the expansion of its geographic footprint and dealer base into Canada with the addition of Autobus Thomas, Inc. of Drummondville, Quebec as its newest stocking bus dealer. In recent years Meridian has reported steadily increasing sales thanks to state-of-the-art production techniques, design innovations, and one-of-a-kind features that deliver best-in-class quality, safety and manufacturing consistency. “With demand for Meridian vehicles continuing to climb, it only made sense for us to expand our dealer presence into Canada,” said David Ronsen, president and CEO of Meridian Specialty Vehicles. “After more than a year of negotiating a purchase agreement with Mercedes-Benz Canada, achieving Transport Canada


Clearance status, establishing a Foreign Trade Zone for seamless import/export and carefully selecting Autobus Thomas as our first dealer, we’re confident that we’re teed up for short- and long-term success in the Canadian market.” Autobus Thomas is currently stocking Meridian product that is ready for immediate delivery.

MTS receives perfect score from FTA After a comprehensive review of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) found no deficiencies in any of the 17 areas of MTS operations. This is the third consecutive time the FTA has given a perfect score to MTS during its Triennial Review of operations. “To receive a perfect score three audits in a row is almost unprecedented,” said MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski. “With 17 major categories and dozens of subcategories, it is rare that the FTA finds no deficiencies. This review is very important to our ability to secure competitive grants from the federal government. As it stands now, FTA hasn’t found any deficiencies at MTS in the last nine years of operations. This is a testament to great work being done top to bottom in the MTS organization.” The purpose of the FTA’s Triennial Review is to ensure compliance with regulations and also provide a forward-looking assessment of each agency’s risk in the management and implementation of FTA grant programs. The FTA examined various aspects of MTS, including documented policies and procedures, effective implementation of grant funds, sufficient resources to implement programs, understanding of FTA requirements and ability to conduct effective oversight.

Key categories for the review included: • Financial management • Maintenance • ADA compliance • Title VI • Procurement • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise • Legal • Public participation requirements • Safety and security • Equal employment opportunities

ProAir promotes Jeff Armstead ProAir, LLC, is announced that Jeff Armstead has been promoted to vice president of sales & marketing. In his new role, Armstead will direct the company’s sales & marketing department and he will be developing new business opportunities both domestically and globally. Armstead will take a greater responsibility in the strategic planning and implementation of projects involving the overall organization. Jeff Armstead





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RTC’s Club Ride Commuter Services receives EPA 2015 Clean Air Excellence Award Club Ride Commuter Services, a free program of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) received the Clean Air Excellence Award for “Community Action” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The award recognizes innovative state, local, tribal and private sector programs that protect health and the environment, educate the public, serve their communities and boost the economy. Judged by the EPA and members of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, the Community Action award applies to the community partnership efforts that directly and indirectly reduce emissions of air pollutants or greenhouse gases. Club Ride Commuter Services is designed to improve air quality and encourage alternative commutes such as riding transit, carpooling, vanpooling, walking, motorcycling, bicycling, telecommuting and compressed work weeks.

Martz Group appoints Frank Henry as chairman emeritus Frank Henry, chairman of The Martz Group, will now transition from company chairman to chairman emeritus. His son Scott Henry will now become the company chairman. Frank Henry has been growing the company for 58 years and has been active throughout all Martz Group companies which include Gold Line, National Coach Works, First Class Coach and Martz Trailways. He has served as chairman and CEO of these operations. This change will not affect any operating procedures. Craig Smith, Martz Group CEO, will now report to Scott Henry. Frank Henry will continue to remain involved on the Martz Group Board of Directors. Frank Henry has been the longest running active board member of The American Bus Association (ABA) since 1974 and still serves today. In addition, he has also been chairman of Trailways, The Pennsylvania Bus Association and Gray Line Worldwide.

Steve Hamelin to lead Total Transit national expansion Total Transit, Phoenix, AZ, a privately owned Arizona based corporation founded in 1984, has hired Steve Hamelin to lead the company’s public transportation services national expansion efforts. He is charged with developing and executing the Total Transit growth strategy for the company’s uniquely integrated private/public transportation model, which currently provides more efficient paratransit service to the ADA Steve Hamelin communities in greater Phoenix and Tucson. Hamelin brings more than 17 years of public transportation leadership and most recently worked with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s water taxi and trolley system. Previously, Hamelin 10


served as director of operations and planning for the Springfield Mass Transit District as well as director of transportation services for the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA),Flint, MI.

Berend Bracht to join Bendix as president and CEO Effective July 1, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC, Elria, OH, welcomes Berend Bracht as its new president and CEO and a member of the executive board. He takes over for Joe McAleese, who steps fully into his role as Bendix chairman, a position he has held since 2014. Bracht comes to Bendix after 24 years career at Bosch Rexroth, an international leader in drive and control technology headquartered in Germany. He makes the move from his previous position as president and CEO of Bosch Rexroth Americas. Berend Bracht In that post since 2007, he led the company to $1.4 billion in annual sales. Bendix has been a member of the Munich-based Knorr-Bremse Group since 2002. Knorr-Bremse is the leading worldwide supplier of pneumatic braking and related safety systems for commercial vehicle and railroad applications.

InvItatIon to tender

Supply of electric Buses for Sydney airport Sydney Airport is Australia’s gateway airport, connecting Sydney with almost 90 international, domestic and regional destinations. In 2014, the airport welcomed 38.5 million passengers, making Sydney the busiest airport in Australia. As part of our commitment to sustainability, Sydney Airport is considering the introduction of electric buses to shuttle airport customers and staff to and from the airport’s Blu Emu long stay car park, which services the T2/T3 terminals. We are now seeking interested manufacturers of electric buses to participate in an Open Tender for the supply and maintenance of these buses. Expressions of interest should be registered by using the URL below for a form that must be completed in order to qualify for participation in the Tender. Registrations close at 5.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on Friday 12 June 2015. business/services/ electricbustender.aspx


“Safety First” is more than just a slogan By Mary Sue O’Melia The emphasis on safety has re-emerged as a federal priority with new MAP-21 reporting requirements. In January 2015, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) revised safety and security reporting requirements to align National Transit Database (NTD) data with State Safety Oversight Program and Map-21 data sources. In May 2011, the FTA Office of Safety and Security sponsored release of the “Transit Safety Management and Performance Measure Guidebook.” As an industry, we know that safety is important and that we need to measure performance so that we can figure out how to improve. But where to start? What to measure A typical goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for passengers and employees. Objectives related to this goal may be to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries for passengers and employees. Typical measures are: • Total Number of Fatalities • Total Number of Passenger Injuries • Total Number of Employee Injuries To achieve these objectives, agencies need to reduce the number and severity of accidents, hazards, near-misses and security “events.” When it comes to accidents, some are unavoidable and therefore are classified as non-preventable. Number of employees, passengers served, passenger and vehicle miles travelled, and hours operated are all factors that influence exposure to risk. Typical measures include: • Passenger Injuries Per 100,000 Passenger • Accidents Per 100,000 Total Service Miles • Preventable Accidents Per 100,000 Total Service Miles • Incidents Per 100,000 Total Service Miles • Employee Injuries Per Employee Data definitions NTD defines reportable safety and security events to include: (1) Acts of God/Natural Disasters; (2) Collisions; (3) Fires; (4) Hazardous Materials Spill; (5) Derailments; (6) Personal Security (e.g., assault); (7) System Security (e.g., bomb threat); and (8) Other Safety Occurrences Not Otherwise Classified (e.g., passenger slips and falls). Events are reported based on Major Thresholds and Non-Major Thresholds. Major Thresholds for non-rail modes were recently revised but in general include any event involving a fatality, injury involving medical transportation from the scene of the event, property damage equal to or exceeding $25,000, evacuations, and collision accidents where a vehicle is towed. NTD statistics do not include occupational safety events occurring in administrative buildings. Injuries and incidents that do not involve medical transport are not reported. The National Safety Council provides definitions and standards for most safety related indicators. A preventable accident is one in which the driver failed to do everything that reasonably could have been done to avoid a collision. Transit agencies may define an accident as any physical contact with the interior or exterior of transit agency equipment and facilities. An incident is any unusual event that occurs. These are much broader than NTD definitions. Analyses An example of a safety dashboard that uses Preventable NTD Accidents per 100,000 Miles of Service is shown above. Fixed

Object Collison Accident is the most common type of NTD Reportable accident.

Transit agencies know, however, that slip and falls are by far the most frequent type of accident and may result in a claim, regardless of medical transport. Limiting analysis of safety data to NTD thresholds means that the agency is not getting the full picture. NTD data provides a basis for peer benchmarking. However, smart agencies will want to go deeper and be more comprehensive when it comes to internal performance monitoring. Reducing the total number of accidents and injuries will most likely reduce those events that meet the new NTD thresholds. Agencies need to analyze and pin-point causes and conditions related to safety and security events in order to come up with strategies to improve performance and then to measure the effectiveness of these strategies and programs. Location, time of day, weather, activity at the time of the incident (e.g., vehicle turning, passenger boarding, lift deployment, walking to car in park-n-ride lot, fueling), seniority and training, facility design and condition, and equipment type and condition are all examples of factors that may be analyzed to better understand causes and conditions. Severity may be measured using factors such as cost of repairs, cost of claims, number of claims, lost time, equipment damage (towing from scene of accident), medical transport from the scene or events requiring police investigation. Conclusion Adopting safety and security goals without performance measurement may result in great slogans but in today’s safety conscience environment, that is not enough. Osborne and Gaebler sum it up best in “Reinventing Government”: What gets measured gets done. If you do not measure results, you cannot tell success from failure. If you cannot see success, you cannot reward it; nor can you learn from it. 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








Goldfield Stages Los Angeles, CA

Windstar Lines Carroll, IA

Goldfield Stages recently took delivery of two new 2015 Van Hool CXs from ABC Companies, Van Hool’s exclusive North American distributor. The luxury coaches, powered by Cummins ISX engine coupled to Allison’s B500 Six-Speed Automatic (Gen5) transmission, boast Van Hool’s exclusive contoured parcel rack with 22-inch video monitors, leather seats, rear passenger windows and wood grain floors.

USSC Passenger Ad_BRM.pdf



Executive Coach Des Plaines, IL

Windstar Lines recently took delivery of five new 2015 Van Hool CX2045s powered by a Cummins ISX engines and B500 Allison transmissions. The coaches boast Alcoa Durabright wheels, chrome mirrors and an ASA back up camera, and they are equipped with wood-grain flooring, leather passenger seats, REI’s Elite multi-monitor DVD entertainment system, Van Hool’s unique rear passenger window and ASA side-view cameras.



Executive Coach’s latest J4500 has Wi-Fi and full passenger electronics with a Cummins ISX 12L, 425 horsepower engine and an Allison transmission. The 2015 MCI J4500 also features a new ZF independent front suspension providing a turning radius that’s nearly seven feet tighter than before and a new Bendix braking system for car-like control and ease of service.

Lewis Coaches New Orleans, LA The newest J4500 at Lewis Coaches features a ZF independent front suspension, steerable tag axle, Bendix braking and adaptive cruise control that give the coach an unprecedented tight turning radius and car-like braking. The coach offers strong passenger appeal, thanks to touches such as wood-grain flooring and accents, plus refined exterior styling. The striking red-splashed coach additionally displays “Princess Logan” above the passenger entry door.

12:04 PM

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By Prevost Prep

The art of moving the critical mass Transporting large groups of people that wish to stay together throughout the trip often requires charter and tour coach drivers to maintain a convoy to a common destination. In any such movement that involves three or more motorcoaches, it is important to instruct the passengers to view the driver of their coach in the group as a member of a unified team of professionals. On the same hand, in such circumstances, it is equally important that the company has trained its drivers to conduct themselves as a team with the expertise to handle any situation. In the case of a convoy of heavy-duty vehicles, there is no quicker way to instill confidence and respect than for that team of drivers to appear to be clearly working as one unit. To negotiate a multiple bus movement successfully as a team, drivers are encouraged to follow these key guidelines: • Communicate with fellow drivers prior to departure — The company must be certain that each driver in the move understands every step of the entire trip itinerary; the precise route, all the stops and bathroom breaks enroute. • The lead driver must always know the status of the buses following — At no time will the lead driver ever race ahead independently and leave the other coaches behind. • A lways allow a follow distance of at least five seconds — Allow even more time as more perilous driving conditions warrant. • The driver in charge should make allowances for less experienced drivers on the team — Some drivers may not be as familiar with the area or the route, or with a convoy movement. • P rotect the newer, less experienced drivers — Do not put the least experienced or least familiar driver at the rear of the group. • Communicate by radio and maintain contact — Announce any deviations to the established plan or sudden turns and route changes well in advance. • Instruct each member of the team not to rush — Allow each driver the time necessary to operate safely and correctly handle any situation. Feeling rushed or fearful of lagging behind the group typically leads to tailgating — never advisable, especially in a convoy. • Never pass other buses in a convoy unless it is necessary — Passing the bus ahead for no reason is a sure way to lend the impression of being unprofessional. • If one stops, all stop — In the event of an emergency or break down, all the drivers in the group will stop and assess the situation as a team. Passengers on the disabled vehicle may need transporting to a safe location. • The driver responsible for the stop makes the call — If radio communication is available, the driver can advise the other buses if it would be safer and more expedient for only one bus to stop, allowing the group to proceed and then catch up and regroup at a predetermined time and location.

Prevost says drivers are cornerstone resources of the industry.

Driving in a convoy always relies on common sense — from any position within the group, the driver of one coach cannot rely entirely on the actions of his fellow driver ahead. Each driver must anticipate the unexpected and be able to respond accordingly given the situation and conditions. The safety and overall satisfaction of each passenger in the group is at stake, not to mention the image of the motorcoach company. Everyone benefits from the extra attention the team of drivers gives to the extra details involved in moving the critical mass by coach. More information on Prevost Prep can be found online at | BUSRIDE



BUSRide Road Test:

The DUR-A-BUS™ Grand Touring (GT)

Ready for North America, the DUR-A-BUS™ Sprinter van and cab chassis conversion rises to the next level By David Hubbard

The DUR-A-BUS™ GT features an exceptionally spacious rear-drop luggage compartment with room for 20 bags.



GTA coach driver Orlando Amorim drove the GT leisurely through downtown Toronto, noting the qualities and features that caught his attention.


ettling in behind the wheel of the new DUR-A-BUS™ Grand Touring (GT), Orlando Amorim, a 20-year veteran driver for GTA Coach, Toronto, ON, says he felt more at home than he expected — considering the obvious differences between this midsize Sprinter and the Prevost H3-45 Amorim usually commands. DURA-BUS™ builds on the proven Mercedes Benz Sprinter van and cab chassis to provide what it considers comparable passenger comfort, spaciousness and expansive views. BUSRide traveled to Toronto to meet with DUR-A-BUS™ for an Official Road Test of the new GT model, with GTA Coach and Amorim providing a third-party perspective. At two years, DUR-A-BUS™ is a young organization that is off to a fast start. Following on the heels of his long, successful career as a fleet operator and bus sales & service center based in Toronto, ON, Canada. Lorenzo D’Urso founded the company following a trip to Europe where he saw firsthand what the Spanish bus and coachbuilder, UNVI, was doing with the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Returning home inspired and motivated, D’Urso formed a partnership with UNVI to develop a new line on the Sprinter platform that would appeal to coach operators and transit agencies throughout the U.S. and Canada. Through the reverse engineering, development and new product testing complete, DUR-A-BUS™ is presently delivering on initial orders across North America, and entering into full production in its new

66,000-square-foot facility. The company says all testing showed the DUR-A-BUS™ Sprinter Van to exceed all existing standards and specifications, including those from Mercedes-Benz. Shortly after arriving in Toronto from his home country of Portugal in 1990, Amorim launched his career as a coach driver with GTA Coach in 1996. He returned to Portugal for a brief five-year stint driving coaches and escorting tours throughout Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, and has since settled in with GTA as senior driver. “I am very familiar with the Sprinter in Europe,” Amorim says. “But this treatment is unlike anything I have seen before. I think DUR-ABUS™ has created a remarkable concept for this well-known brand.” Rui Marcelino founded GTA Coach in 1987 with one limousine and one client. Always priding itself on safe, high quality transportation services, the company has grown to provide a mixed fleet that is equally divided between Prevost motorcoaches and assorted small and midsize vehicles for charters and specialized shuttles, such as those used for transporting airline crews. The transformation to the DUR-A-BUS™ models begins with cutting and refitting the standard Sprinter van and cab chassis as they arrive at the plant in Toronto. The patented features include; elevated seating over the wheelwells to create spacious and unobstructed views for each passenger; as well as an exceptionally spacious rear-drop luggage compartment with room for 20 bags. According to DUR-A-BUS™, this is the only Sprinter with such a feature. Additionally, a flip-up ledge in the luggage compartment is an option that allows standing room for skis and golf clubs. The spare tire stores inside in an enclosed space behind the baggage compartment for clean, easy access. “Baggage storage can be become very problematic for drivers,” Amorim says. “Drivers and passengers will certainly appreciate the extra space in the rear of the bus.” The most dominant top-of-the-line feature on the GT is the greatly expanded one-piece windshield that reaches to the roofline and larger side windows, which differentiates the GT from the T model. “Opening the view through the windshield is a terrific idea,” Amorim says. “The driver always has an outstanding view, but I find that most the passengers want to be able to see out the front. Through my rear view mirror, I often see passengers scrunching down in their seats trying to get a better look at the road ahead. The GT truly has more of a motorcoach feel.” As Amorim drove the GT leisurely through downtown Toronto on what was as much a personal guided tour as a test drive, he noted the qualities and features that caught his attention. “I find this vehicle’s ride to be exceptionally quiet,” he says. “I also notice how much more stable this bus handles than other mid-size cutaways. Of course, that has a lot to do with the Sprinter chassis, but the weight seems very evenly distributed, and it feels very secure.” The reduced noise level is due to the extra insulation throughout this minibus, as well as the attention given to the window seals. The entry is a MASATS airtight automatic plug door that further reduces outside noise. “Typically, a windshield replacement such this would create some wind noise,” Amorim says. “There is none of that here. I heard nothing. “We are introducing a Touring model that comes in at a much lower price point, but will come standard with a plug door and our patented rear drop luggage and elevated seating, features that set us apart from the competition,” says Joseph D’Urso, marketing and business development manager for DUR-A-BUS™. “With the exception of the larger windshield, every upfit is available as an option on the standard T (Touring) model as budgets and customer needs allow. Once an operator opts for the windshield, he has chosen the GT.” Two-and-one seating configurations featuring reclining Lazzerini coach seats range from 10-passenger up to 21-passenger cab chassis floorplans. | BUSRIDE


Airline-style overhead parcel racks are an option that provide reading lights and adjustable airflow. USB ports and 110-power outlets are available to operate electronic devices at each seat. Advanced safety technology includes adaptive ESP, electronic brake-force distribution, acceleration skid control, brake assist and start-off assist. While the Mercedes Benz six-cylinder diesel engine with BlueTEC SCR technology is standard, DUR-A-BUS™ also offers a four-cylinder engine option. Popular in Europe, it is now available to North American operators as of this year. Of particular interest is that Mercedes-Benz literature claims its new four-cylinder turbo-diesel results in an 18-percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the diesel V-6. A model with All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) is also available. “Of utmost importance in the development and long-term success of the DUR-A-BUS™ Sprinter lines, is our effort put forth to ensure all systems, components and parts are sourced in North America,” says Lorenzo D’Urso. “We want to make the operation and maintenance of our products as seamless as possible for companies and agencies in the U.S. and Canada.”

Above: Combined with spacious views, luxury seating by Lazzerini on an elevated platform lends a distinct coach feel to the DUR-A-BUS™ GT. At right: Orlando Amorim, a 20-year veteran driver for GTA Coach, conducted the Road Test in Toronto.




Why network my bus? By Estee Woods

Why network your fleet? With customer-facing networks, like those on bus fleets or other vehicles, downtime is definitely not an option. Quickness, efficiency and ease-of-use on the network are imperative for operators, network administrators and riders. In an interview with David Murray, director of product marketing at Cradlepoint, he answers frequently asked questions that will illuminate the reasons why all buses should be online and managed in the “cloud” in 2015. Why is in-vehicle networking becoming more imperative for transportation companies? There are many reasons why a “connected bus” is imperative in today’s transportation landscape – an agency/operator might need to enable wireless surveillance, to allow Point-of-Sale credit card transactions, to broadcast messages across digital signage, to enable mobile devices for operations, and Wi-Fi to meet passenger expectations.

Netflix, reading or browsing online are easier than ever with the influx of handheld networking devices like tablets and smartphones. It’s important to cater the trip to the riders’ wants and needs from a competitive standpoint. Riders are leveraging the Internet more and more to get their work done, and likewise are using mobile devices for personal browsing. Serving both of these needs enhances the passenger experience and can increase ridership.

What are the management advantages for agencies or operators in networking vehicles? There are suites of cloud-based applications that drivers and operators might use to manage time sheets, maintenance and repair scheduling, and other business-critical functions. Without the connectivity to access these applications in the cloud, agencies lose the ability to operate efficiently. Ultimately it creates a negative customer experience and affects the bottom line. The remote management of in-vehicle networks through the cloud is critical to reducing network downtime while managing bandwidth and data usage costs between different users on a bus. Additionally, processing credit cards is another business-critical function. If an operation can’t automatically run credit cards, and has to store card information for later use, the credit card companies will bill that operation. Margins are lost and it creates a greater risk of nonPCI compliance. From an IT standpoint, 4G networking and cloud management is a major benefit. If a network goes down, it won’t be drivers who fix it. With cloud-based management, a network administrator can log in wherever he/she has Internet access, remotely reboot the network, troubleshoot the problem, and salvage the customer experience in real-time.

What are the risks associated with networking my fleet? From the perspective of security, a critical consideration when providing Wi-Fi for riders is Internet-based security and content filtering – not allowing riders to access malicious or inappropriate content on the operator’s network. The majority of network threats that arise in bus infrastructures are malware – web-based attacks and threats that occur when riders visit websites that they may not think are harmful. It’s critical that operators stay abreast of current security protocols and antivirus solutions. This series will continue in August, as we further explore the benefits of cloud management in transportation. David Murray serves as director of product marketing for Cradlepoint, Inc., Boise, ID. Cradlepoint is the global leader in 4G LTE networking solutions that power transportation fleets—joining data, cloud, security and the evolving IoT with intelligent networking. Visit them online at

Networking a fleet provides many inherent advantages.

What are some advantages that passengers might see after implementation? This depends on where the buses are and what they’re doing. King County Metropolitan Transit in Washington State is centered in the major technology hub of greater Seattle, so it has a very techoriented ridership. The ridership needs network connectivity as they commute to and from work. There are also riders who simply want to kill time. Their objective is to get from point A to point B faster, and time-passing activities like watching | BUSRIDE


FOCUS ON: FARE COLLECTION Updating and Acquisition BUSRide Magazine is proud to continue the “Focus On: Fare Collection” series, highlighting the benefits of various modes of fare collection, as well as addressing the best practices associated with each. This month’s featured installment is centered on acquiring new fare collection systems or updating existing technology. No matter if an agency’s fare system is well established or if it’s in the market for a new system, the rapidly changing transit technology landscape can be a tough nut to crack. Couple these new technologies with revenue management, funding issues and rider needs, and the task becomes even more daunting. For this installment, BUSRide called upon the revenue management experts at SPX Genfare, Elk Grove Village, IN, to help break open this complex topic. SPX Genfare builds from roots that date back to 1880 and the invention of the first farebox by Johnson Farebox Company, which acquired Cleveland Farebox in 1938. Drawing from 135 years’ experience, the company is well equipped to advise agencies about updating and acquisition. In this chapter, SPX Genfare outlines four essential areas of interest those agencies – system review and mapping, phased piloting, training and final installation. Join BUSRide as we “Focus On: Fare Collection!”




Upgrading a fare collection system – 4 tips that can make a difference By Kate O’Driscoll

When it comes to reliable fare system solutions, there are several key points to consider when upgrading. System review and mapping, phased piloting, training and final installation are a part of a successful fare system upgrade. Our staff has hundreds of years of collective experience in fare system design, development and implementation. Over the last 30-plus years, we’ve assisted many agencies in implementing and upgrading solutions to fare systems. 1. System review and mapping By starting with a system review, system providers will have an opportunity to review any upgrades, changes or integrations an agency has made since the original fare collection system was implemented. The system review will lead to an overall system map of the existing fare collection system. Identifying changes will help the provider plan better and allow for a smoother upgrade process. With the map in place, clearing defining the fare collection upgrade and desired results will help keep both parties on track. Another advantage to system mapping occurs when the upgrade is complete. It’s a good idea to update the system map as the agency continues to expand services or upgrade software. This way, system providers will always start with the most up-to-date data. This will also improve ongoing support and performance. 2. Phased piloting Piloting programs are an excellent opportunity to ensure the overall system is performing as designed. This is also an opportunity for the agency to ensure the way the system, fare structure and software was envisioned works as originally intended. A structured, phased pilot program (either internal or with an external population) can solve issues before they arise. If any changes need to be made, this is the right time to make or update those changes prior to a fleet-wide installation. 3. Training The transit agency’s staff is key to successful implementation. Incorporating a comprehensive training program can help pull agencies together, creating a clear understanding of the overall upgrade. The staff helps riders understand the changes taking place, which is valuable in helping riders adopt the new technology change. We recommend individual train-the-trainer programs along with onsite training to the entire staff. If the upgrade includes hardware upgrades, then training the maintenance team is another crucial component. As part of regular maintenance training, preventative maintenance can extend the life of an overall fare collection system. One component of doing onsite maintenance is to include the necessary inventory of spare

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parts required to keep the system running smoothly. Preventative maintenance, along with having an inventory of spare parts, can save the team valuable time and lead to better performance. 4. Final installation – experience matters Choosing a fare system provider that has performed many installations can help the process go more smoothly. With the completion of a successful pilot program, the final step is to complete the fleet-wide installation, ensuring the agency stays on track with launching the upgraded system to the riders. With the completion of the final installation, the first few days are the most important for overall system functionality. We recommend increasing the number of agency staff riding the system to help answer questions and to assist passengers with the adoption of any changes. When looking ahead, keeping up with rider demands for technological advances means that you’ll need to be reviewing any system upgrades – both hardware and software – on a regular basis. Kate O’Driscoll serves as marketing manager for SPX Genfare, Elk Grove Village, IL. SPX Genfare is a leading provider of fare collection solutions for transit agencies of all sizes. Don’t miss the next three connecting articles in the August, November and January 2016 editions of BUSRide Magazine, and visit to get the full story in SPX Genfare’s eBook. | BUSRIDE


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Single-slope ramps allow accessibility not only for wheelchair occupants, but for all passengers at every stop.

The benefits of single-slope ramps By John Resnik A rough estimate of adults in the U.S. using some sort of wheeled mobility device — assorted wheelchairs and scooters — stands at more than 2.7 million; a number surely to increase as the population ages. Individuals moving about with mobility issues will always rely heavily on public transit within their communities to access work, medical care, school, shopping and social activities. For those reasons, the federal government enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities, mandating public transit agencies to provide appropriate accommodations that allow persons to remain seated in their devices when onboard public vehicles. Numerous studies cite inadequate transportation as the primary reason so many people with disabilities cannot leave their homes to see to their needs on their own. A 2013 study from Department of Bioengineering at the University of Louisville assessed ramp slopes of fixed-route public transit bus deployed ramps at the time and compared field measurements to the proposed new ADA Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles. The study found that 45 percent of cases exceed the proposed ADA guideline of 1:6 maximum slope when the ramp was deployed to street level and 2.5 percent of cases when the ramp was deployed to sidewalk level; suggesting that the difficulties mobility passenger have with bus ramps can deter as much as encourage transit usage. A six-year retrospective observational review found that wheelchair passengers experienced a greater percentage of incidents when using

Unlike conventional fixed panel ramps, single-slope ramps adjust to a straight, flat slope despite varying deployment surfaces.

the bus ramp (42.6 percent) than during transit (33.9 percent), and 43.6 percent of ramp-related incidents resulted in injury. The existing ADA Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles state that ramps shall have the least slope practicable. A proposed allowable ramp slope is 9.5° regardless of deployment location. Combatting these issues means a need for new technology, like the Equalizer Ramp® from Champion Bus, which incorporates automatic sensing technology that provides a uniform single-grade slope based on the height of the deployment surface to create a flat entrance bridge into the passenger area. It automatically senses the height of the ramp deployment surface and equates all sections of the ramp to the easiest possible single-grade slope accessibility; as close as possible to a flat plane based on the height of the curb. Single slope ramps aren’t just safer – they offer improved accessibility not only for wheelchair occupants but for all passengers, including people who use a walker or scooter, parents with strollers and persons who are elderly, visually impaired or pregnant. John Resnik serves as president for Champion Bus, Imlay City, MI. Champion Bus is one of the pioneers of the mid-size commercial bus industry and has been producing buses since 1981. | BUSRIDE



Passenger Seating 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 issue, BUSRide partners with USSC Group, Exton, PA to spotlight 4ONE’s advance design in passenger seating. 4ONE, a joint venture between Freedman Seating and USSC Group, is a North American market leader in passenger seating. 4ONE designs and engineers world-class passenger seats and integrated wheelchair restraint systems for heavy-duty transit vehicles. As an industry leader, 4ONE develops some of the safest, most durable and most economical seats in North America. This month, the company analyzes the main tenets of passenger seating design, focusing on ergonomics, space, aesthetics, safety and ADA concerns. Comfort is a measureable standard, and it’s extremely important for agencies and operators to consider these factors when purchasing seating solutions for their riders.




A comfortable ride for passengers By Deanna McGough

According to APTA, over 35 million people use public transportation each day. With the increasing amount of people using public transportation every year, comfort and durability are key features that seating manufacturers must provide to customers. What makes a seat comfortable? The seats should allow your body to be comfortable and not confined. The best passenger seating incorporates the most advanced materials and technology to allow the passenger’s body room, while also being durable, long lasting and safe. With industry leading hip to knee spacing, and extra width, manufacturers must strive to fit as many body types as possible. USSC’s passenger seating is designed and manufactured by 4ONE, a joint venture with Freedman Seating in Chicago, IL. 4ONE passenger seating provides passengers with comfortable options for buses, subways and light-rail systems. The main focus in the design of passenger seating is comfort, durability, cost-effectiveness and maintainability. The goal of 4ONE passenger seating is to provide customers the best transit experience available with affordable, comfortable and easily-maintainable seats. Ergonomics Ergonomics is the science of designing products to fit the way we use our bodies. The aim of ergonomics is to maintain a good posture while sitting. Sitting is a position that adds stress to the structure of the spine. To avoid developing back problems, the best seats are ergonomically designed with waterfall front edged contoured cushions. This design helps supports the lower back and brings good posture to the body. Space Passengers must be able to board the bus conveniently. For this to happen there needs to be extra space throughout the bus. Seat contouring provides more space and hip-to-knee room for passengers. This additional feature adds leg room and ease of entering and exiting the bus. The space-saving design is also ergonomically efficient. Seating must not leave passengers feeling confined while sitting, loading or walking through the bus. With this design, a bus can maximize its seating capacity and passengers are still able to sit comfortably. Aesthetics Aesthetics are very important when it comes to a passenger’s experience on public transportation. For a passenger to feel comfortable the design and artwork of our engineers is very important. Seating

Grab rails and antimicrobial upholstery help improve passenger safety.

must facilitate a clean atmosphere with inserts and back shells made of materials that are difficult to vandalize, cut or graffiti. 4ONE inserts are full of vibrant colors that improve the overall aesthetics of the bus, as well. Safety The grab rails and antimicrobial upholstery on the seats help improve passenger safety. The antimicrobial technology targets bacteria on the protected surface of the upholstery for the life of the furniture. This technology is also environmentally friendly, leaving the passenger feeling comfortable knowing they are protected. ADA It’s important to focus on improving the experience of transit passengers with disabilities. The ADA-compliant Q’POD seating securement device, for example, is popular with the North American ADA community for a reason. It is fully integrated securement system that provides a complete ADA system. Components like stabilizing bumpers, scooter rings and integrated shoulder straps ensure that passengers are riding in superior comfort with maximum safety. Deanna McGough serves as marketing specialist for USSC Group, Exton, PA. USSC’s passenger seating is designed and manufactured by 4ONE, a joint venture with Freedman Seating. 4ONE designs and engineers world-class passenger seats and integrated wheelchair restraint systems for heavy-duty transit vehicles. Visit for more info.

To avoid developing back problems, the best seats are ergonomically designed with waterfall front edged contoured cushions. | BUSRIDE


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Occupant protection systems: It’s time to save with safety By Charlie Vits

The U.S. school bus is the most regulated vehicle with over 37 federal standards and a myriad of other state and local requirements. With the exception of California however, there are no legislated requirements for the protection of traveling students with lap shoulder belts. Currently, the majority of children are protected in school buses by compartmentalization. In the event of a low-speed, forward crash, children impact the padded seat back structure in front of them to absorb the energy of the collision. “A bus driver’s biggest fear is a motor vehicle accident that results in bodily injury to passengers, particularly involving children,” says Todd Carrier of Protective Insurance Company. “The debate on whether compartmentalization is enough is heating up.” Lap shoulder belt seats on school buses were first introduced in 2002, and California was first to require them in 2005. In 2008, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration concluded research that began in 1998, confirming its recognition of the use of lap shoulder belts in school buses by publishing a ruling on design and performance standards effective beginning 2011. Technology has continued to improve the systems, and today’s seats offer a wide variety of features to accommodate various student needs. The basic seating package has the flexibility to accommodate either three small elementary students, or two larger upper grade students. In most cases, capacity remains the same with or without belts.

So, why has the school transportation industry been slow to adapt to lap shoulder belt safety? “The main objection keeps coming down to the expense associated with their installation and use,” Carrier says. “Fleets’ number one priority is passenger safety, yet operating costs, maintenance, training, and proper usage are all important factors to consider.” Real world costs typically add $7,000 - $10,000 per bus to a new bus that already costs $70,000 to $150,000. Although the technology adds cost to the bottom line price of a bus, school districts should view the addition of lap shoulder belts as a cost savings. Savings can be recognized from something as simple as decreasing minor injuries when a bus must make a panic stop. Furthermore, recent crash tests performed by IMMI, a leader in advanced safety systems, have revealed the increased potential for serious injury when students are not seated properly within their seating compartments.

Simulation of belted vs. unbelted students in a school bus roll situation.

Lap shoulder belts also offer significant improvements in student management. Reports of 90 percent reduction in write-ups of student behavior incidents on school buses have been documented when lap shoulder belts are used in conjunction with an enforceable usage policy. “Costs for medical attention, vehicle and property repairs and potential lawsuits can far outweigh costs for lap shoulder belts,” Carrier says. “Considering the life of an average school bus is 12 to 15 years, the likelihood of one incident occurring during the life of the bus, even a minor incident, can pay for the lap shoulder belt many times over. Regardless of any impending federal mandate, it’s time for the industry to begin planning for the future.” In February of 2015, NHTSA announced their intent to reinvestigate the installation of lap shoulder belts in school buses, which could result in some type of additional mandate for their installation on school buses. However, across this nation, school districts small and large have already reviewed the merits of lap shoulder belts and decided to proceed to equip their buses with them rather than wait for a mandate. Those districts that have carefully implemented lap shoulder belts with enforceable usage policies have found the results to be so beneficial they will not go back to a school bus with out-ofdate safety technology. Charlie Vits is the market development manager at IMMI, a research partner with Protective Insurance Company on transportation occupant protection. An industry leader in the design, testing, and manufacturing of advanced safety systems, IMMI is headquartered in Westfield, IN. To learn more, please visit and | BUSRIDE



What is the bank looking for in a loan application?

In five comprehensive issues in 2015, BUSRide will present “Focus On: Finance,” a series highlighting the ins-and-outs of finance and leasing as they relate to the bus and motorcoach industry. This series will center on the issues, trends and practices that affect operators’ borrowing, acquisitions and all-around financial health. Financial experts will showcase factors that influence equipment financing with a fluctuating economy, evolving technology and a more discerning customer base. Furthermore, they’ll spotlight factors that impact lending decisions and suggestions for operators to improve their financial capabilities and better their chances for sound financing. In this issue, Matt Hotchkiss, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, Minneapolis, MN, answers a critical question – What is the bank looking for in a loan application?




How to present your company for financing By Matt Hotchkiss This is undoubtedly the most common topic that is discussed in the many trade publication articles and tradeshow panel discussions I have been a part of in my years as a lender to the motorcoach industry. The topic deserves its popularity because financing in a capital intensive business like ours is critical to the success of a company. The difference between competitive financing and financing with a higher risk/higher rate type lender may result in interest costs that can be tens of thousands of dollars higher. Above all, I will emphasize the importance of presenting your company professionally and with as much detail as possible. Let’s start by identifying a quick hit list of what a lender generally looks for to approve motorcoach financing. Typically, lenders will want the following: 1) Credit application 2) Last two year-end financial statements / tax returns on the company 3) M  ost recent interim financial statements with a comparative statement for the prior year (this allows us to monitor trends and understand seasonality in the business) 4) L  ast two year’s tax returns on the owners/guarantors of the company 5) C  urrent personal financial statement on the owners/guarantors 6) Current fleet list, preferably with corresponding debt Next I will expand on a few specific areas surrounding the application process and help you understand how things look from the lender’s side of the table. Tell us your story Credit underwriters typically have to complete a fairly detailed write up on a deal and the rationale for approving it. A key component of that write-up centers on what their customer does and why they are buying equipment. Helpful information includes: • The transportation business the company focuses on (i.e. charter, line-run, tour, contract) • Who your major customers are, how long you’ve been doing business with them, and what percent of company revenue they represent • Who you have contracts with, how long you have you been doing business, how long the contract is for, and the annual revenue derived from them. A copy of these contracts is always helpful. • Your reason for buying a coach and whether it is an addition or replacement to the fleet Provide quality financial information I have always encouraged customers to consider hiring an external accounting firm to provide reviewed (or audited for larger companies) financial statements on their company. Credit people appreciate reviewed statements because they provide instant credibility to the information they are looking at, whereas poorly prepared internal statements can often raise more questions than answers. A CPA review provides detailed information on the results of the company that have been validated by an external firm. For the borrower, this provides a system of checks and balances on the company and can help identify irregularities or exceptions that you may not catch otherwise.

A good CPA can also be an excellent advisor on your business. Explain the results If you had a down year (or an exceptional one) provide commentary with the statements that speak to what’s going on with the business. Many companies provide a one page letter with financial statements that detail results and specific expense or revenue items that vary from the prior year. To a credit underwriter, this shows that you are dialed in to what’s going on with the business and are proactively taking action when needed. Be professional Working with a lender should be considered a long-term relationship that goes on well after the deal is signed. If a lender has questions on your business or financial statements, take the time to provide detailed answers. One word answers to important questions are often an immediate red flag that a borrower may not be interested in the relationship. An occasion may arise where you and your lender will have to work through some difficult issues together and a good relationship is crucial. Personal information Most coach companies are family-owned businesses where the owner is critical to the success of a business. An owner is often able to provide the necessary financial support to weather the storm when a business struggles. The ability to evaluate the strength of company owners can often counter weaker financial results. Although not the most exciting aspect of the motorcoach business, financing is important and likely represents one of your larger expenses. Providing a complete presentation of your company can pay dividends in the type of financing you are able to secure. Finally, take the time to invest in a relationship with lenders that want to grow with your company. The consummation of a deal is just the beginning and you need to be confident in the lender’s ability to take care of you through the life of the relationship. Matt Hotchkiss serves as senior vice president for Wells Fargo Equipment Finance, Minneapolis, MN. Wells Fargo Equipment Finance offers financing designed specifically for businesses in the transit industry, including charter and tour service providers, transit contractors, schools, municipalities, and bus and motorcoach manufacturers and distributors. Reach Matt at 800-322-6220 x74129 or at Visit Wells Fargo Equipment Finance online at | BUSRIDE


APTA honors two California agencies for safety MTS, San Diego, CA; AC Transit, Oakland, CA, each earn a Safety and Security Excellence Award A NEW CAMPAIGN FOR MTS The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) named Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), San Diego, CA, as the recipient of the 2015 Bus Safety and Security Excellence Award for efforts to improve bus safety and reducing preventable accidents. APTA presented the award in May at its Annual International Bus Roadeo, during the Bus and Paratransit Conference in Fort Worth, TX. The Safety and Security Excellence Award recognizes bus transportation systems implementing programs or projects that have achieved documented success in addressing specific safety or security program areas. MTS Bus earned the recognition for its “Safety First, Every Trip, Every Day” campaign recently created to renew focus on driving safety. Key components to the campaign included: Management commitment and support to safety Strategic data analysis and information management • Hazard elimination/mitigation projects • Innovative, engaged communication and training • Enhanced recognition of safety success • •

“This award speaks volumes about the commitment to safety by the MTS Bus operations and maintenance teams,” says MTS Chief Executive Officer Paul Jablonski. “Such a comprehensive improvement across the board with our bus safety numbers is a testament to their capabilities, professionalism and commitment to our agency.” According to MTS, after just the first year, the new program exceeded expectations, including: 2 4 percent reduction in preventable accidents compared to previous five-year average • 18 percent reduction in preventable accidents by veteran operators compared to 2013 • 22 percent reduction in preventable accidents by new operators compared to 2013 • 50 percent increase in the total number of customer compliments for safe operation • 61 percent lower accident rate on the new Rapid Express Service • Set a six-year record, achieving 0.60 preventable accidents per/ 100k miles in December •

NEW POLICIES AND PROCEDURES AT AC TRANSIT AC Transit, Oakland, CA, earned its Bus Safety and Security Excellence Award for its array of security and safety efforts to protect passengers and employees. APTA recognized AC Transit for “industryleading innovation and exceptional achievement” in dramatically improving passenger safety and reducing operator mishaps. 28


San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System received a 2015 Bus Safety and Security Excellence Award for efforts to improve bus safety and reducing preventable accidents.

“From a safety standpoint, we have accomplished a great deal and we are thrilled that APTA is recognizing our efforts,’’ says AC Transit’s Chief Operations Officer Jim Pachan. “Safety is our number one priority and we are working very hard work to ensure it.” For starters, AC Transit formed an Accident Reduction Committee (ARC) to create a multifaceted approach with better training, awareness programs for employee and passengers, and emphasizing strict adherence to rules and regulations. The committee fostered:  onthly displays of a M series of safety posters for transportation and maintenance employees • LED safety signs— huge, glowing reminders installed at the exit gates at each bus yard • Daily rule reinforcement as operators begin their shifts • Safety themed text messages via the bus radio system— offering safety information Chief Operations Of ficer Jim and reminders based upon hot Pachan accepted a Bus Safety and Security Excellence award topics identified by the ARC. for AC Transit, recognized for its • On-board Passenger industr y-leading innovation and Awareness and Safety exceptional achievement. Communications, including rider safety information on overhead cards, audio announcements and posting of passenger safety tips • Safety posters at each bus yard. • Operator training videos in break rooms • Safe driver awards and one-on-one driver re-training •

In addition, AC Transit reviews and incorporates the best practices of other transit agencies to improve overall safety.

Security & Surveillance

Reducing the risk of operator assaults By Lori Jetha Daily news headlines tell a horrifying tale of drivers being slapped, punched, kicked and even stabbed while trying to complete their daily routes. The nature of their job, working alone, with the public, collecting money in a small confined space, puts them at risk. Operator assaults have increased by 31 percent over the last six years according to the National Transit Database (NTD). These assaults can have a lasting financial impact on the transit system. Lost work hours, absenteeism, worker’s compensation claims, and lawsuits are just the beginning, and can lead to loss of public confidence in the safety of the transit system, decreased ridership, and ultimately reduced fare box collections. To mitigate these significant risks, there are five things every transit agency should be doing to reduce the risk of operator assault. Conflict de-escalation training Many assaults on bus operators are related to fare disputes or enforcement of bus rules. They often start as a verbal exchange which can quickly turn into a violent attack. Many of these assaults could easily be prevented by incorporating conflict de-escalation techniques in regular customer service training for bus operators. Bill Parsons of Roadworthy Communications recommends a comprehensive communication, safety and customer service program all rolled into one. This type of program gives the operator an effective set of tools and techniques to mitigate conflict and manage it when it arises, by influencing the decisions that riders make in very subtle but noticeable ways. On-board security technology Video surveillance is considered one of the most effective ways to protect operators from assaults according to a survey conducted by the Transportation Research Board and summarized in TCRP Synthesis 93. Simply pointing out the presence of video cameras and signage warning passengers they may be recorded has helped countless bus operators to prevent conflict from escalating into violence. As a leading provider of video surveillance technology, Seon has seen results of a combination of video and audio surveillance and a driver panic alarm. When an assault is anticipated, the driver presses a panic alarm to mark the surveillance footage for future review, or if the bus is equipped with real-time transmission technology, the alarm could alert transit security who could tap into the installed bus cameras to monitor the situation in real-time. Having a camera placed over the driver’s shoulder pointing at the stepwell of the front entrance of the bus will capture fare box interaction and help identify assailants, while a camera placed by the front door pointing at the driver will capture the entire driver-passenger interaction leading up to an assault.

Launching a public awareness campaign Capturing an assault on video is just the first step in reducing the future risk of assault for other operators. The public needs to receive the message that all assaults on operators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Key to a public awareness strategy is publicizing key arrests and penalties received for operator assaults to discourage future transgressions. Many transit agencies have also seen success by launching public awareness campaigns to inform the public of appropriate bus behavior and the penalties for assault against a bus operator. Lobbying for tougher penalties Essential to the public message against operator assaults is an adequate penalty for the offense. The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) saw recent success of its lobbying efforts for tougher penalties for bus operator assaults with the introduction of Bill-221 into law this past March. The bill amends the criminal code to require a court to consider the fact that, if the victim of an assault is a public transit operator, it must be considered an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing by a judge. The new law is supported by a new advertising campaign for bus stops across Canada to help spread the message that assaults against operators could land perpetrators in jail. Tracking operator assaults Every agency should have a procedure and system in place to report assaults and track their frequency. This data is important in justifying security upgrades and demonstrating the effectiveness of any initiatives to reduce assaults. Without a benchmark, any improvements or worsening of the situation can’t be measured. Lori Jetha serves as marketing manager for Seon, a video surveillance and fleet management company based in Coquitlam, BC, Canada. | BUSRIDE


Saluting Dann Wiltgen

Dann Wiltgen is retiring this spring.




ann Wiltgen, the vice president of pre-owned coach sales and new coach key accounts at Prevost, is retiring this spring after 20 years with the Quebec-based motorcoach manufacturer. He leaves behind a legacy of profound achievement and leadership excellence that has helped Prevost to grow dramatically during his tenure. He started in manufacturing, moved to customer service and went on to spend 20 years at Prevost in motorcoach sales and corporate accounts; serving as vice president of that domain for the past decade. Witlgen admits he was lukewarm about joining Prevost when approached in the mid-nineties. “At the time I thought of Prevost as a small company, far away in Canada,” he says. “But the interviews in Quebec sold me. The people I met were so dedicated, proud, and passionate about their work and that left a deep impression on me.” “Dann has dedicated his entire career to serving the industry,” says Prevost President and CEO Gaetan Bolduc. “His strength in building strong customer relations is a reflection of Prevost’s core values and one that others within our organization have learned from him. His mentoring approach has given all those around him the right attitude to carry on as he takes his retirement. I am thankful for all the great work he has done for Prevost and the industry.” “Over the years, Dann really helped Prevost raise the game in terms of customer relationships,” says Mike Colbourne, president and CEO of Pacific Western. “He always took the time to listen, and he always followed through to make sure that our needs were met. That’s been so important in terms of nurturing genuine partnerships between Prevost and its customers.” One of Wiltgen’s cornerstone achievements at Prevost is the relationship he helped build with Greyhound Lines – a bold objective initially received with some skepticism. “Our first Greyhound order for 50 buses might have raised an eyebrow or two in the industry,” Wiltgen says. “But when we landed the subsequent order for 140 coaches, people really sat up and took notice. I especially have enjoyed getting to know Dave Leach (president and CEO of Greyhound Lines). He really went to bat for Prevost within Greyhound, and smoothed the way to make those first orders happen.” “When we were negotiating with Prevost for those first buses, Dann was instrumental,” Leach says. “He found a way to get us what we needed. Those were the first buses in North America with seat belts, and Prevost made that happen in an environment where there were no requirements or regulations, but it was the right thing to do. The support we received was eye-opening. They care, and Dann cares. He has always made himself available, always been responsive and very professional. He is one of those guys who doesn’t come along very often.” Wiltgen now hands off to Jack Forbes, who will be Prevost’s VP of corporate accounts and commuter sales. “Jack is a natural choice for the role,” Wiltgen says. “I’m confident that he is exactly the right guy to help Prevost make the journey Jack Forbes will to the next level.” Asked what has made the industry such an replace Wiltgen. enduring passion for him, Dann speaks about relationships. “Working alongside terrific colleagues, being led by a remarkable man like Gaetan, and getting to know so many of our customers both professionally and personally – all that has made my career wonderful and memorable,” he says. “This industry gets into your blood, and more than anything it’s the sense of community and closeness that all of us in the business share.”

BEST VIEW FROM EVERY ANGLE. Prevost coaches deliver the luxury experience that today’s charter travelers are looking for. With their fuel-efficient powertrain and low-maintenance design, they’re as comfortable on your balance sheet as they are for your passengers.

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For more information call: 800.222.2875 email or visit © 2015 ABC Companies. All rights reserved.

BUSRide June 2015  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry for five decades.

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