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MARCH | 2015

BUSRIDE.COM $5.00

Focus On: Fare Collection

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Benefits of universal design p12

4G and Wi-Fi aid surveillance p21

Intercity coach travel on the rise p22

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BUSRide turns 50

Motorcoach veteran Dave Millhouser recounts 50 years on the road and in the shop It never occurred to me that BUSRide and I share a major milestone. As it turns out, I first cleaned, worked on and drove a bus in the summer of 1965 — the same year Bill Luke founded the magazine. At that time, Being 18 with my Maryland chauffeur’s license, I began working summers for a non-profit organization with ranches in Colorado. We used three 1947 Brills, a 1947 Aerocoach and a 1937 Brill we called the “wind wagon” because of the breeze that came through a hole in the wheel well. We could see the road passing beneath us — sort of a Scenicruiser in reverse. We were not subject to ICC regulation and didn’t have to log. We used two drivers per bus for the 2,000 mile trip. One slept while the other drove.

deregulated, the pendulum swung a long, long way — some say too far. The test to enter the industry required little than the capability to breathe fog on a mirror, which opened the doors to a whole new generation of marketing/sales-driven bus lines. Many of the older operations adapted; others did not. But many of the new entries became so caught up in the sales aspect that they never learned to operate — and they failed. Too much of the competition in the charter market was based on price, often by companies clueless as to their real operating costs. By 1985, as a result of the competition, buses began to change significantly. Neoplan, Van Hool, LAG, Sabre and Setra entered the market with “sexy” buses, forcing MCI, Prevost and Eagle to evolve their old machines into something the public wanted to ride. Eventually, the industry business model changed. For many years, particularly in the regulated era, companies operated at or near a static cash flow; the profits were in the equity in their buses. Buses were simple and extremely durable. Buy one, use it for five to 10 years and sell it for a whole lot of money. Everything over the depreciated value showed up on the balance sheet as profit. Folks didn’t try very hard to make money running buses because they made a ton when they sold them. It worked fine as long as used coach values held up. The influx of European buses with longer lead times created the need for stock units. Coupled with increased competition, discounting inevitably followed. Gleeful buyers took advantage of manufacturers’ discomfort without realizing that with a discounted new coach, the used brethren loses value as well — which stunned many when the value of their used equipment dropped precipitously. Family businesses counting on huge fleet equity were disappointed— and sometimes crushed. Another milestone: The National Interstate Highway System. Enough said.

“We were not subject to ICC regulation and didn’t have to log.”

As for major milestones in our 50 years: A-C was still optional as late as 1960 on some prominent models. Power steering in buses was optional on some major brands as late as 1979, and automatic transmissions didn’t even begin to take hold until the mid-1970s. With these innovations commonplace by the 1980s, the dynamics of bus driving changed forever. The job required fewer skills. Newcomers could never have driven the earlier coaches. Double clutching a manual transmission was a skill some never got; and the driver learned to set up turns in advance without power steering. By the early 1990s, engines had become so powerful that coaches accelerated like cars. Bus companies liked this, because coaches that handled more like cars simplified recruiting and training drivers. Deregulation changed everything. Until then, an operator sort of owned his market. There was precious little innovation because it wasn’t necessary. Almost everyone did okay, but the industry had shrunk in the regulated environment with virtually no competition. All anyone had to do was operate reasonably well. Once the industry

busride.com | BUSRIDE

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MARCH 2015 CONTENTS

14 busride.com

COVER STORY Focus On: Fare Collection

14

Experts from INIT, SPX Genfare and Trapeze Group offer best practices for fare system integration

FEATURES BUSRide turns 50

Motorcoach veteran Dave Millhouser recounts 50 years on the road and in the shop

Intercity luxury travel on the rise

3

22

Study shows point-to-point, scheduled motorcoach service is increasing for eighth consecutive year

DEPARTMENTS 7 UPDATE 18 DELIVERIES 20 PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

22

COLUMNS 6

DAVID HUBBARD

11 TransIT

By Mary Sue O’Melia

12 EQUAL ACCESS

By Ryan Zemmer

19 DRIVER SAFETY By Jeff Cassell

21  SECURITY AND SURVEILLANCE

By Robert Fuchs

24 THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT

4

By Doug Jack

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

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DAVID HUBBARD

Energy plus ideas and new initiatives move BISC forward The Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) has never operated in secrecy. Under the sponsorship of (but separate from) the American Bus Association (ABA), this is a collective of safety-minded individuals encompassing every function of the bus and coach industry — safetyminded operators, safety directors, maintenance supervisors, OEMs, vendors and government agency members — who share a singular focus for the absolute safest bus and motorcoach operations. Since its founding in 1999, the council has met regularly twice a year to help the industry better understand and improve the work it does in the interest of safety; proving instrumental in bringing federal administrators and state officials and members of the industry together, where government and industry are often viewed as adversaries. BISC members and invited guests assist the ABA in developing comments and testimony to Capitol Hill, government agencies, statements to the media inquiries and lending general support. Presentations and group discussions center on the most pressing issues and innovations in areas of safety, regulatory compliance, mechanics, technology and security. BISC asserts that working in a coordinated fashion, sharing information and communicating openly offers a better chance of success. The council’s conclusions and determinations often suggest specific aspects that may prescribe additional emphasis in safety training programs. The BISC winter meeting took place in January during ABA Marketplace, St. Louis, MO. Transitioning to president in the executive board rotation, Stephen Evans, vice president, safety, of Pacific Western Transportation, Calgary, AB, takes the helm with an energetic agenda he believes promises more connectivity and member participation to keep the organization moving and reaching out to the industry. The soon to be released minutes from his first meeting will show an effort to provide a number of significant, clearcut takeaways from the sessions that members can initiate in their own operations to improve safety awareness. Evans also tasked members to take specific action on findings provided by the principle federal safety organizations, and report on the outcome at the summer meeting in June in Ashburn, VA. Operators and safety professionals interested in BISC membership are encouraged to contact ABA Director of Regulatory Affairs Brandon Buchanan at the ABA offices.

David Hubbard Associate Publisher BUSRide Magazine

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BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

busride.com CEO Judi Victor jvfly@busride.com Publisher Steve Kane skane@busride.com Associate Publisher David Hubbard dhubbard@busride.com Editor in Chief Richard Tackett rtackett@busride.com Art Director Stephen Gamble sgamble@busride.com Account Executive Jeanette Long jlong@busride.com Accountant Fred Valdez fvaldez@busride.com

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UPDATE

Bus Industry Safety Council honors Pete Worthington In 2014, the Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) created the Norm Littler Memorial Safety Award. It recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to improving the safety of motorcoach passengers, who collectively take nearly 640 million trips on motorcoaches each year. The award was presented for the first time at ABA’s Marketplace in St. Louis on January 11, 2015. The inaugural recipient is Pete Worthington, who recently retired as a vice president with DATTCO Transportation in Connecticut. His responsibilities included management of DATTCO’s equipment and fleet, operations, sales and overseeing a complete reorganization of the company’s operational systems. Worthington worked in the motorcoach industry for more than 50 years, beginning as a bus driver in 1963. Most of Pete’s career was with two companies, Vermont Transit and DATTCO. He is also a former president of the Connecticut Bus Association and the former executive secretary of the New England Bus Association. In addition to Pete’s extensive experience with those two companies, Pete has been a respected safety consultant and even in retirement, Pete continues to serve the industry as a part-time consultant and member of the Bus Industry Safety Council. Pete is also one of the country’s foremost authorities on the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), and he has assisted countless companies with ADA compliance questions. For nine years he served as a member of Easter Seals’ Project Action. Pete was not only the Project Action motorcoach liaison, but he also assisted in the writing of language of the law and the rulemaking process from 1998-2002. “Pete Worthington has done everything there is to do in the motorcoach industry,” said DATTCO President and American Bus Association (ABA) Vice-Chairman Don DeVivo. “I am so pleased that Pete is the first Norm Littler Memorial Safety Award Winner.” Pete’s focus has always been about safety. “For many years, Pete and Norm were dear friends, and both were instrumental helping to create the Bus Industry Safety Council,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso. “It just seems right that this award honoring Norm is presented to Pete. They both shared an unshakeable commitment to making our industry safer. The work they started years ago continues today. They had a vision and the determination to create an organization where the entire focus is motorcoach safety, and everyone is welcome to collaborate and improve our industry.”

Pete Worthington

About Norm Littler The late Norm Littler was ABA’s longtime vice president of Regulatory Affairs and the executive director of the Bus Industry Safety Council. He had a 41-year career in the motorcoach industry in Washington, D.C., and his hometown of Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Littler was considered by government leaders and industry officials to be one of the top experts on transportation safety and regulatory issues. Littler helped create the Bus Industry Safety Council. BISC is recognized as the motorcoach industry’s top peer-to-peer group, where small, medium and large motorcoach officials can work together to improve the safety of their companies and the industry. BISC holds two annual meetings, the first at ABA’s Marketplace in January and the second in June in the Washington, D.C., area. For more information, visit buses.org/BISC. Norm Littler

busride.com | BUSRIDE

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UPDATE

Kinetics Hybrids now offered with easy leasing terms Crosspoint Kinetics, maker of the Kinetics Hybrid, announced a special financing program for commercial fleets and transit agencies through Pro Leasing Services. The company said the new program makes greening a fleet easy for those who prefer to pay for the hybrid systems over time. Fleet owners and managers can choose to retrofit their existing fleet with the Kinetics Hybrid or order it to be installed on new vehicles. They can also use the program to refinance their current fleet vehicles or purchase new ones with the Kinetics Hybrid system installed. The new leasing program is flexible, allowing fleets to select terms that best fit their needs and goals. Many fleets, for instance, may apply their monthly fuel savings to pay the lease. In most cases, fleets only need to fill out a simple application. “Pro Leasing is excited to work with Crosspoint Kinetics to provide financing for their fleet customers,” said Monica Diehl, business development manager for Pro Leasing. “Our ‘Go Green’ initiative is a great way for fleets to be more environmentally conscious while they also better manage cash flow.” The Kinetics Hybrid system quickly transforms class 3-7 buses and trucks into more fuel-efficient and cleaner running vehicles. Fleets have reported up to 30 percent more miles per gallon and a comparable reduction in emissions when the hybrid is used in heavy start/stop duty cycles. The hybrid is engineered to be easy to install and easy to use, with minimal driver training and no extra steps for the driver to take. The Kinetics Hybrid has undergone rigorous testing through the FTA at Altoona and CALSTART. And it has been further validated by the over 9 million miles of driving done by public and commercial fleets throughout North America. “We’re focused on providing innovative ways for fleets achieve their green goals,” said Amy Dobrikova, director of business development and strategy for Crosspoint Kinetics. “This program is ideal for small to mid-sized fleets who want to enjoy the money saving benefits of the Kinetics Hybrid today but pay for it as it’s being used.” For more details on the Kinetics Hybrid, visit http://crosspointkinetics.com. For more information on Pro Leasing Services, visit http://pls-usa.com.

New Corcentric partnership gives buying power to Trailways carriers Corcentric, a leading provider of cloud-based technology and financial process automation solutions, announced they have signed a partnership with Trailways Transportation System, Inc. (Trailways), to create a private group purchasing program, utilizing Corcentric’s CorConnect technology that allows Trailways carriers to purchase products and services from more than 50 National Accounts programs through the AmeriQuest Business Services procurement program. Corcentric will handle all transactions through CorConnect, a centralized billing portal that includes e-invoicing, reporting, and line item analytics. This will give members visibility across multiple locations to verify contract pricing. As transactions flow through the Corcentric portal, Trailways members will only need to write one check for all purchases made within a set time. 8

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

“We know this will be a great program for our network of stockholders,” said Ron Moore, owner of Burlington Trailways and chairman of Trailways. “Gaining access to so many important suppliers and getting prices consistent with those of our biggest competitors is going to be a game-changer. Plus, the centralized billing portal will simplify all transactions for our busy members and give them the visibility they need to grow their own businesses.” “Trailways members will benefit not only from AmeriQuest’s group purchasing opportunities but will also be able to leverage Corcentric’s proprietary centralized billing technology,” said Dave Lindeen, senior vice president of sales for Corcentric. “Members will free themselves from the inefficiencies and costs of manual, paperbased processes, while gaining access to our robust analytics and reporting capabilities.” Stertil-Koni anticipates including the ebright Smart Control System in all new wireless mobile column lifts shipped in the first half of 2015.

Stertil-Koni introduces ebright Smart Control System Vehicle lift manufacturer Stertil-Koni announced that it has introduced a full-color touch screen control console on its wireless mobile column lifts, engineered to provide intuitive, ease-of-use with maximum visual information about the lifting process – all at the fingertips of the technician. Called “ebright Smart Control System,” the new touchscreen technology will initially be available on the Stertil-Koni EARTHLIFT™, widely recognized as the industry’s first hydraulic “green” wireless mobile column lift. The new version of EARTHLIT is available with a lifting capacity per column of either 18,500 pounds or 22,000 pounds (depending on the model) and is ANSI/ ALI-ALCTV 2011 certified. What further differentiates the latest model of EARTHLIFT is Stertil-Koni’s new ebright Smart Control System, the benefits of which include: • A high resolution, brightly illuminated, full-color, 7-inch screen • Touch screen control, even when the technician is wearing gloves • Owner/user configurable options, including choice of language and personalized ID key to protect against unauthorized use • Presentation of all relevant information at a glance • Up to 32 mobile columns fully synchronized in a single set Stertil-Koni anticipates including the ebright Smart Control System in all new wireless mobile column lifts shipped in the first half of 2015. “The ebright Smart Control System is all about customer care,” said Dr. Jean DellAmore, president of Stertil-Koni. “This important advancement underscores Stertil-Koni’s unwavering dedication to constantly improving the safety and performance of what already is the very best heavy duty wireless, hydraulic mobile column lifting system in the world.” busride.com


UPDATE

Tuff Rug resilient in hightraffic areas The new Oil Eater Tuff Rug affords long-wearing durability for high-traffic areas such as auto service departments and bus maintenance bays. The manufacturer said absorbent pad quickly soaks up oil, grime and dirt. Made of 100 percent recycled materials, Tuff Rug is underside fused through a heat and pressure process to produce a high level of absorbency while also retaining the tear resistance required. The product is available in 36-inch by 150-feet rolls. A sample is available upon request. For information, visit www.oileater.com or call 800-528-0334.

Trojan Battery launches Reliant™ AGM with C-Max Technology™ Reliant™ AGM with C-Max Technology™ is now available from Trojan Battery Co., LLC, the world’s leading manufacturer of deep-cycle batteries. Reliant AGM maximizes sustained performance and increases total energy output to meet demanding deep-cycling requirements in Trojan’s wide range of market applications. Reliant™ AGM is manufactured in the U.S. at Trojan’s newest production facility in Sandersville, GA, and applications including aerial work platform, floor cleaning, golf, material handling, recreation, renewable energy, and remote telecom will benefit from its true deep-cycle design. Reliant™ AGM is also designed to power equipment used in locations where regulatory mandates require use of non-spillable batteries such as airports, healthcare facilities, shopping centers, educational institutions, etc. “Trojan’s Reliant AGM is specifically engineered for deep-cycling applications, unlike most AGM batteries on the market today which are designed for dual-purpose or standby applications, such as UPS backup,” said Dave Godber, Trojan Battery’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Trojan has focused on deepcycle technology longer than any other battery manufacturer in the industry and has utilized our extensive expertise and knowledge in developing the industry’s most reliable deep-cycle AGM battery.” Above: Trojan’s Reliant AGM is specifically engineered for deep-cycling applications.

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busride.com | BUSRIDE

9


UPDATE

San Diego MTS approves multiyear agreement with TransDev

University certification program promotes sustainable transportation

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) approved a new bus services contract agreement with Transdev Services, Inc. The six-year agreement includes two three-year options that could bring the total value of the contract to $735 million. The contract was awarded after a competitive bidding process. Under this agreement, Transdev will operate 52 of 95 bus route services from MTS facilities in Chula Vista and El Cajon, using MTS buses and uniforms with MTS branding. Transdev has been under contract with MTS to provide similar services for the past eight years. As part of the new contract, MTS will provide 311 buses and two major facilities for operations, maintenance and fueling. The contract also includes funding for more than 700 Transdev operators, mechanics and administration positions in the San Diego region. “We thank MTS for their continued trust and vote of confidence with this important contract renewal,” said Mark Joseph, chief executive officer of Transdev North America. “Transdev has been operating in San Diego since 1996 and we’ve made great advances in safety and service. We look forward to continuing to provide safe, reliable, top quality service and to collaborating with MTS to further enhance the passenger experience.” Priorities for the new contract include: • Finalize the consolidation of the Chula Vista Transit Operation into the new South Bay Maintenance and Operations Facility with a new 16-bus bay maintenance facility, a new two-story administration building and more. • Increase the level of service to passengers through a new dedicated customer service manager who will lead a team of transit ambassadors assisting riders in the South Bay and East County. • Installing equipment on all buses to provide real-time locations of all vehicles, which will enable making real-time arrival information available to passengers and route management tools to Transdev • Implementing a new centralized radio and dispatch function where MTS currently runs dispatch operations • Maintaining a strong focus on key performance indicators like ontime performance, safety and customer service • Integrating both dispatching and scheduling systems into one combined platform for a more seamless and efficient operation

A new national certification program is helping transportation companies nationwide reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve vehicle energy efficiency and save money. The eRating certify cation program, which recently completed its inaugural vehicle certification cycle, was developed by the University of Vermont Extension Certification for Sustainable Transportation (CST) program. “The eRating certification program is the first of its kind to provide eco-certification for the passenger transportation sector,” said CST Director David Kestenbaum. “Just like an Energy Star label might help a consumer identify the most efficient appliance for their kitchen, the eRating program helps them choose the most sustainable vehicles and way to travel.” CST was founded in 2012 to help improve economic, environmental and energy efficiency within the sector. The program accomplishes this through the eRating vehicle certification initiative and educational programs that certify drivers who learn techniques to improve fuel economy such as limiting aggressive accelerations and idling. To date CST has worked with more than 50 transportation companies in 26 states. The program can help businesses increase marketplace visibility and generate cost savings through improved efficiencies at their operations. The eRating vehicle certification is voluntary and uses an index that measures several criteria including the use of low-emissions technology, alternative fuels and greenhouse gas emissions calculated per passenger mile.

Seeo awarded USABC contract for technology assessment Seeo, a developer of advanced lithium polymer batteries, announced the award of a contract for technology assessment from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), a collaborative organization of FCA US LLC, Ford Motor Company and General Motors. The contract encompasses three-party assessment of technical characteristics of Seeo¹s high energy density batteries and validation of characteristics anticipated for electric vehicle applications. Cofunded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the contract has a value of $298,736, including a 50 percent cost share by Seeo. “We are very pleased to engage with USABC and the major U.S. automobile manufacturers,” said Hal Zarem, president and CEO of Seeo. “As part of this contract Seeo will deliver several hundred cells from our pilot manufacturing line assembled in battery modules, each module providing 1.65 kWh storage capacity. We welcome the opportunity to independently validate their performance as we prepare to introduce the next leap forward in electric vehicle battery technology.” 10

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

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TransIT

How effective is my vehicle maintenance program? By Mary Sue O’Melia Fleet maintenance systems provide significant information to help manage preventive maintenance programs and the management of parts, labor, costs and work orders associated with fleet repair. Determining and improving the effectiveness of a fleet however requires that maintenance data be analyzed by that fleet’s maintenance team. This column provides some suggestions about where to start.

Other mechanical system failures are those items which as a matter of local policy require a vehicle to be removed from service (e.g., fareboxes, wheelchair lifts, heating, ventilation and air conditioning [HVAC]). If in doubt about what is considered a system failure, then go to the NTD Annual Reporting Manual section for the R-20 Form found online at www.ntdprogram.gov under Reporting Manuals – Urban Reporting.

What to measure We all know that a good preventive maintenance program is required for service reliability. Each day, managers look at PMs that are due, DVRs, vehicle availability, roadcalls and accidents during the day, and perhaps consumables (e.g., fuel, or oil use) from the day before. The immediate focus is having vehicles fueled and available for pull-out. The daily key performance indicator is the “number of vehicles available for pull-out” or “late pull-outs – vehicle not available”. The measure of fleet maintenance effectiveness is “Miles Between Roadcalls” and this is a measure seen on most monthly Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Reports for executive management and/or policy boards. In discussions about the numbers, there should never be any confusion about the accuracy of the data. When measuring ’Miles Between Roadcalls,’ questions about accuracy are most often related to definitions of an agency’s data (i.e., what are you measuring, what is the source). Let’s look at the definitions for roadcalls and for miles.

Data definition – Miles Which mileage figure to use? Service Miles (i.e., pull-out for revenue service to pull-in) or Vehicle Miles (hubometer or odometer)? Both, depending on the audience. KPI reporting to the policy board is easier if there’s only one mileage figure used for all KPIs. Agencies should know the scheduled service miles when budgeting for the upcoming year so this figure is available for use in estimating total vehicle miles and for setting performance targets. Service miles are also useful for peer reviews. NTD vehicle mile data is only available for vehicles in service at the end of the fiscal year. Mileage for vehicles taken out of service will not be available and will inflate performance figures. Use service miles for policy board and peer reviews. For discussions with your team and for looking at mechanical failures in detail, use Vehicle Miles. These are readily available for each vehicle and may be summarized by fuel type, subfleet and mode/service type. Mileage data from the fuel island (where many agencies collect vehicle mileage data) should however be reviewed for accuracy as the opportunity for data input error is significant.

Data definition - Roadcalls Roadcall is defined in many ways depending on who is doing the measuring and for what purpose (e.g., Maintenance Department, Purchased Transportation Contract Compliance, and annual National Transit Database [NTD] reporting). Agencies may measure roadcalls in more than one way, but using the NTD definition allows for peer comparisons and a consistent and documented method of reporting. The definition won’t change with a change in management. Consistency over time in reporting is important if trend analyses or peer comparisons will be used. It is hard to tell if an agency is getting better or worse if the definitions keep changing. The National Transit Database renamed roadcalls to be “Revenue Vehicle System Failures,” which are reported annually by mode/ service type on the R-20 Preventive Maintenance Form. The definition of a revenue vehicle system failure applies to any vehicle that fails to complete a scheduled revenue service trip or start its next scheduled revenue service trip even when another vehicle is substituted. The failure may occur in revenue service (which includes layover and recovery time) or during deadhead travel. So a bus exchange for mechanical reasons at a layover counts as a “Revenue Vehicle System Failure.” Accidents and passenger biohazard (i.e., body fluids for the less technical) are non-mechanical and therefore are not included. The NTD further classifies mechanical system failures as major (e.g., flat tires, brakes, doors, engine cooling systems, steering) because a vehicle cannot complete a trip or start the next trip.

Analyses For agency-wide KPI reporting, operators will most likely be reporting at the system, mode, or program level. At this level, maintenance managers can still review causes of roadcalls by type (e.g., Farebox, Engine, Brakes, and Wheelchair Lift), but will also want to review roadcalls by subfleet. Other mechanical system failures tend to be items that may be the same across all subfleets, so improving the reliability of these items may have a significant impact on overall reliability. Major mechanical system failures tend to be related to the vehicle model and the way the equipment is maintained. Once a contributor to mechanical failures has been identified, agencies need to find a solution. Industry research on the component or subsystem found online, contact with the manufacturer/ other transit agencies, or discussing potential solutions with the maintenance team can all provide information leading to an appropriate strategy. Improving fleet maintenance effectiveness requires involvement by the full team (e.g., supervisors, mechanics and materials management). Involvement starts with posting KPIs and performance results. An agency cannot win if the team does not know the score. Data definitions, collection of information, measurement, and analyses are all just background for the team to come up with strategies and actions to improve maintenance effectiveness and service reliability. busride.com | BUSRIDE

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EQUAL ACCESS

Social benefits of universal design By Ryan Zemmer “Universal design” isn’t necessarily a popular topic. It doesn’t come up amongst families at the dinner table or colleagues at the water cooler, but perhaps it should. After all, examples of universal design are rampant in our daily lives, and the segment of the population that depends on them is growing every day. At a high level, the principals of universal design require that the object is flexible and equitable in use, simple and intuitive, and requires low physical effort with the proper space and tolerance for error. The trend for equitable products and amenities got a serious kick start from the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July of 1990. Nearly 25 years later it is easy to see examples of accessibility and universal design An accessible door at least 36 inches wide provides the same amount of clearance found in most doors everywhere. Sure the obvious ones are and hallways. easy to spot, and you can probably name a few off the top of your head like curbReducing idle times lowers fuel costs, assists in meeting emission cuts, ramps, elevators, wide entrances and automatic doors. Others requirements, and keeps the route on schedule. can be more difficult to spot. Incorporating levers on doors instead It’s important that manufacturers provide a safe, quality vehicle that of knobs makes them easier to manipulate for someone with limited everyone can use regardless of their level of ability. A non-slip ramp dexterity. Even a hard, flat floor can be qualified as universal design, integrated into the floor (allowing access not just for wheelchairs, but because it provides significantly less rolling resistance for a user of a scooters, walkers, canes, and crutches) is essential. An accessible door manual wheelchair over padded carpet. at least 36 inches wide provides the same amount of clearance found While many individuals can understand and appreciate the small in most doors and hallways. Factory-installed restraints ensure that changes that make life easier for others, it usually ends there. Most any type mobility aid can be properly secured. The MV-1 by Mobility cannot see through the thin veil to understand that universal design Ventures provides the accessibility, versatility, and efficiency that can benefits everyone! If you stop to watch pedestrians crossing a busy be enjoyed by operators and passengers. street, you will notice that most tend to gravitate towards the curb With advances in medicine, our society is continuing to live longer cut. Not because they necessarily need it, but it allows them to keep a and those with debilitating diseases and/or injuries are able to enjoy natural stride. Much like automatic doors, an extra step is eliminated inclusive and active lives. The need for products that can accommodate allowing the herd of humans to move smoothly and consistently. everyone is only going to grow. According to the Administration on While delivering pizzas in college I routinely had my hands full. I took Aging (AoA), in 2009 persons 65+ represented 12.9 percent of the full advantage of every automatic door opener or lever that I could find population. That percentage is expected to grow to 19 percent by 2030. by utilizing a spare hip, elbow, or foot. This wasn’t the original intent While there will be some overlap between the two demographics, it is of the designs, but they are simple and flexible enough to be used in a also reported by the U.S. Census Bureau that in 2010, 19 percent of the number of ways. population has some form of disability. Most of these individuals still In the field of public transportation, many items have been have a strong sense of independence, but may need a little assistance designed to accommodate people with disabilities only to discover along the way. Equal access, barrier free, universally-designed that they had overarching benefits for operators and passengers alike. products will help ensure that independence while providing added Low-floor buses were designed to better accommodate wheelchairs benefits that everyone can enjoy. and scooters by eliminating stairs and lifts. Interestingly enough, people with disabilities were not the only ones to benefit from the Ryan Zemmer is marketing manager for Mobility Ventures, South Bend, IN, design. The ease of ingress/egress allowed ambulatory passengers manufacturer of the MV-1 vehicle. More information about the revolutionary MV-1 to quickly enter and exit the bus requiring less time at each stop. can be found at www.mv-1.us. 12

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

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Today’s savvy commuter has no time for downtime,

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the existing Genfare system.

practices – they want to plan, pay and get on board.

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FOCUS ON: FARE COLLECTION System integration In five comprehensive issues in 2015 and 2016, BUSRide will present “Focus On: Fare Collection.” The series will highlight the benefits of various modes of fare collection, as well as addressing the complexities inherent to each. Technology providers, system integrators and transit thought leaders will lend their expertise as we probe the cost, efficiency, logistics, security, training, pros and cons of next-generation payment solutions – and how they affect the future of transit agencies. Buying a bus fare in 2015 is as simple as buying any other goods or services with a contactless card. In some cases, account-based systems help transit agencies move away from cash collection by providing a safe and secure back-office solution for fare processing and by furnishing them with vital ridership reporting to improve service planning and operational efficiencies. As “digital wallets” and other NFC-enabled smartphones become more prevalent, transit is adjusting its revenue management as well. In this issue, top fare collection and revenue management providers give their takes on system integration. As agencies undertake new electronic fare media (EFM) projects, there is often trepidation toward the work involved. These manufacturers and solution providers offer best practices for integrating new fare technology into existing transit systems. Join BUSRide as we explore the future of fare collection.

14

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

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FOCUS ON: FARE COLLECTION

Fare system media integration By Wojciech Warias

When an agency is looking to expand or replace their fare collection system, media integration is one of several critical components to consider. Proper planning is crucial for the agency just as it is for the riders it supports. As part of a comprehensive rollout plan, agencies spend a considerable amount of time and resource informing their ridership of an upcoming fare collection change or expansion along with the supporting media implementation. Time is of the essence when introducing new fare media. Planning a step-by-step blueprint of how to implement a system can be one of the most important tasks for an agency and can quickly lead to roadblocks if not properly managed. Essentially, the process can be divided into three major points to ensure a smooth integration. 1. Fare system media marketing 2. Fare media time management 3. Fare system media education Fare system media marketing Marketing is one of the most public sections of the integration process and it serves as an important function in a new systems acceptance. The riders and agency staff will not be eager to accept a new system if they do not know the benefits the system has to offer. Marketing a new fare media system can be very complex and planning a successful campaign can be the most difficult component. The look, feel and goals of the campaign must be established prior to the actual launch; there must be room for change, if necessary. The marketing campaign must have a multi-channel solution to explain and support its fare media integration process. Marketing materials must be created, curated and outlined precisely to educate the riders and agency staff. Questions and concerns will be abundant and thus the agency must be prepared with FAQ sheets, brochures, advertisements, training for employees and everything in between to successfully complete new fare media system integration. Fare media time management As stated, time is of the essence in fare system media integration and it can be the defining factor in its success. One of the key factors is to understand how much time is really necessary for such a significant change in the agency’s usual processes. A significant amount of time will go into the planning stages of the integration as it can take weeks to months to be finalized. One of the first steps an agency will take in order to begin the integration process is decide how it wants the fare media to perform. Agency needs will vary from location to location and it will define how the integration process will have to be handled. The programming of the fare media itself is a serious undertaking and can take weeks to finish between design, branding, programming, quality assurance and testing. The functionality of the fare media is the backbone and foundation of the entire system, thus the execution of it must be as smooth as possible.

Artwork design, approvals, and any changes to the fare media can take up to eight weeks on average. It may seem like an overbearing amount of time, the back and forth communication about the artwork between departments and vendors is bound to take a substantial amount of time. Depending on how the agency functions, the artwork may be reworked and edited countless times before it is sent up as a true, finalized version up the chain of command to be approved and released. Fare system media education The education portion of the integration process is just as important as the actual creation of it. A new fare media system is nothing without a training program attached to it. The agency must execute a proper education process for their staff as well as their riders in order to show correct and most efficient usage. If educated and taught about the system thoroughly, the knowledge can then be spread and passed on to increase efficiency and improve adoption of the new media. Just like the time management or marketing portion of the integration, education can take a phased approach for implementation to simplify it for the riders and agency staff. A full system rollout all at once can be overwhelming for the users and can cause confusion and trouble for the agency. One approach of rolling out the integration is to add the equipment to the transit system first and have the riders and staff learn and become comfortable with that portion of the system before the fare media is introduced. Introducing the equipment first and keeping the fare media the same will allow for a smoother and easier transition for the agency and rider alike. The agency can take steps to teach the public about the equipment and how it benefits them first while allowing them to keep their existing media in place. When the equipment is fully implemented, the agency can establish a time period where the old media begins to be switched out for the new fare media. Riders will have an easier time adjusting and understanding the change and learn how to gain access to the new media to simplify their travel processes. Establishing a cut-off date will hold riders to a deadline and speed up the media transition. “Timing is everything when it comes to a fare collection system rollout,” says Dan Gilfand, director of sales and program management of SPX Genfare. “The more time spent upfront defining the phases of implementation, the easier it will be to make the integration a success.” Planning ahead and using time wisely is the key to providing riders with a dependable and understandable fare media system while simultaneously making the agency’s processes more efficient and dynamic. SPX Genfare 800 Arthur Avenue, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007 www.genfare.com

busride.com | BUSRIDE

15


FOCUS ON: FARE COLLECTION

Three requirements for EFM projects

At left: Agencies must provide technology to meet the requirements of today’s passengers.

By Ann Derby

16

Public transit must address the challenges that have evolved through the global use of modern information tools. In our dynamic and fastpaced world, understanding the requirements of passengers is a key factor for success. This means that access to transit services and information should be easier and more user-friendly. With modern electronic fare management systems, the use of mobile phone payments and the EMV standard have many implications regarding these requirements. After all, next to cost, customer requirements are the most important consideration for new technology applications. Specifically, certain factors should be considered when creating a long-term system integration plan.

When serving the unique requirements of each company, multiclient solutions are also more economical. An example would be when functions are not used by all clients in the system. The specific costs are distributed to each client based only on the features that they really need, but each is able to benefit from the customized product development.

Functionality Today, fewer and fewer transport companies are installing completely new systems. This may be due to the presence of pre-existing system components or because funds are only approved for sub-projects due to cost. What that means for the industry is that new technologies, such as software and vehicle equipment, must be capable of being easily incorporated into existing infrastructures while still being flexible for the adoption of future technologies. For instance, using a common system platform to process the exchange of both vehicle and fare data eliminates the necessity for additional onboard equipment. This approach saves on the expense of new implementations, while also conserving valuable vehicle space. Another consideration involves integrating fare functionalities using current onboard equipment. For instance, it is possible to combine fare functions within a mobile data terminal which would allow passengers to swipe their smart card or mobile tickets when boarding. At the same time drivers would continue to enjoy all the navigation functions needed. This option allows agencies to more efficiently manage their resources.

Third-party integration Modern e-fare systems also require third party system integration. Banks, vendors and retail outlets where passengers manage their fare transactions must be connected in order to provide the up-to-date, real-time services passengers have come to expect. Open Application Programming Interfaces (API) allow seamless integration with existing infrastructure and third party systems. These interfaces give passengers the ability to conveniently open new, or top up existing accounts through retail outlets. The advantages for passengers are easier access to public transit and better mobility within their city and surrounding region. In this environment, it is important to have an experienced partner since not all ITS providers can successfully navigate this ever-changing landscape. INIT incorporates the complete range of requirements into one fully integrated system. Modularly designed solutions help to create a stable platform that makes it much easier to build and activate client-specific requirements. This process also avoids the risk of errors and cost overrides that would exist in a newly developed specific solution.

Multi-client capable Transport companies can also share costs and provide better services through multi-client integrations. When passengers consider their options for travel, multi-client systems provide better connectivity and higher satisfaction, which subsequently increases ridership and revenue. The benefit for agencies is that the cost of developing new functions can be shared across multiple customers. This is especially valuable for smaller companies because they no longer have to worry about the management of certain tasks such as an IT system, but can allocate this task to the combined transit network. However, multi-client e-fare systems do raise some questions, such as how to protect sensitive company data. Today’s systems allow agencies to define company-specific requirements while at the same time protect sensitive company data against unauthorized access. Autonomy permits the providers to remain independent, while simultaneously sharing information as needed and continuing to effectively compete for business.

Passenger requirements Today’s passengers require faster, more contemporary and convenient choices. Incorporating modern e-fare technologies through an integrated approach will provide a greater number of attractive services to passengers, as well as a more economically sustainable solution for transportation providers. While the use of innovative tools in public transit will continue to grow, getting ahead of the curve will mean exceeding today’s tech-savvy passenger requirements. In the end, integrated systems will take us one step closer to a more accessible and user-friendly transportation experience while giving passengers one more reason to choose public transit.

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

Ann Derby is director, marketing and events at INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc.

busride.com


FOCUS ON: FARE COLLECTION

Building the foundation for modern fare collection By Floyd Diaz

Transit customers are demanding a greater choice of payment options, fare media and purchasing channels, while at the same time requiring a user friendly and simple process, no matter the transaction type. This presents a number of challenges to transit agencies planning fare collection strategies for the future — especially as they factor in the wide range of solution options and equipment, and the number of vendors in the marketplace. Any solution design must also consider transitioning legacy systems in the challenge to determine exactly where to start. The most straightforward approach to this challenge would be to enlist the help of a system solution provider to offer a complete fare collection package. From cash collection through to account-based smart and digital passes, the optimum system must have the underpinning of an extensive back office that provides a unified view and meets the transit agency’s fare policies and business reporting needs. Implementing a market-leading, agile system lessens many of the integration challenges so agencies can readily embrace today’s technologies, and maintain the firm foundation necessary for meeting the requirements of the future. For most, the road to a modern fare collection system entails a more gradual and transformational approach, integrating legacy systems with some newer technologies. An example of this approach to future faring would be upgrading an agency’s Ticket Vending Machine (TVM). The latest TVM technology, such as Trapeze has developed and built in its AFC production center exclusively for the North American market, focuses extensively a simple-yet-premium customer experience. The user experience mirrors how riders use their smartphones and the TVM has the aesthetic appeal that is synonymous with today’s technology. This particular TVM brings together all modern cash management features such as bill/coin validation and recycling, secure contact and contactless PCI & EMV card processing, with card-based and accountbased smart card processing — representing an integrated way to meet

“The road to a modern fare collection system entails a more gradual and transformational approach…” ADA requirements. Where legacy systems may still be in operation the new TVM also supports mag-stripe where appropriate. The Trapeze TVM is part of a faring solution that is supported by a comprehensive revenue management back office, designed to seamlessly integrate with a range of legacy, current and future transit technologies. Regardless of what stage an agency is at in the overall transformational process, introducing this type of product to its paying customers clearly demonstrates the look of future of faring, while deriving real-time benefit for today’s business. It is also worth noting that a scalable back office is available to support myriad new payment standards, requirements and technologies that are transforming the payment landscape. This strategic first step solidly anchors the foundation for a modern, fully integrated faring system. Once this foundation is built, the transit agency can better position itself to move ahead on the strategic front best determined to suit business needs. Floyd Diaz serves as director of automatic fare collection, Trapeze Group, Mississauga, ON, Canada. Visit the company online at www.trapezegroup.com

Above: TVMs like this one from Trapeze Group mirror the user experience of a smartphone.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

17


DELIVERIES

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Since 1998, the Los Paisanos fleet has grown to 26 Van Hool coaches and 30 vans. None of the coaches is older than 2012, and with the recent addition of three 2015 Van Hool TX45L luxury motorcoaches, they boast one of the most modern fleets in the region. Los Paisanos’ commitment to serving their customers is reflected in the new wheelchair lift equipped TX45s which are configured with 110-volt electrical outlets, Wi-Fi, wood grain flooring, and an REI Elite entertainment system with upgraded monitors. The coaches are powered by Detroit DD13 engines coupled to Allison B500 transmissions.

Nebraska-based Arrow Stage Lines has taken delivery of three new Van Hool TX 45 coaches. Arrow now serves seven Western states, utilizing 12 locations, offering scheduled service, charters and tours as well as airport shuttle services. The luxurious 56 passenger motorcoaches, sold by ABC Companies, are powered by Detroit DD13 engines coupled to Allison B500G transmissions and feature Alcoa Dura Bright Wheels, Rud autochains, woodgrain flooring, passenger side shades and magazine nets, 110-volt outlets, Wi-Fi and an REI Elite entertainment system with 15-inch video monitors.

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By Jeff Cassell

What’s the true definition of safety? This is the second article in the Driver Safety series by Jeff Cassell. For the first article, see page 17 of the January 2015 edition of BUSRide. George, executive director of the Moston Public Transit Agency, opened his monthly management meeting by asking what his staff had learned about creating safe norms in their operations since the last meeting. Ryan, a new supervisor, had started this direction and took the lead. “We have had a couple of meetings and talked with a number of

“State requirements are the absolute minimum training.” other agencies and we believe our training is outdated and woefully incomplete,” Ryan said. “If we want to create safe norms, we need a major overhaul.” “Wait a minute, our training meets all the state requirements and we created these materials ourselves,” George interjected.“What are you saying?” “That was my opinion before I investigated what other agencies are doing,” said Linda, the dispatcher. “Each of our programs are stand alone and out of date. Yes, we meet the state requirements but we have learned that the state requirements are the absolute minimum, not the ultimate goal. Think about it, we have been proud of our driver training, when in reality, we have been teaching the absolute minimum possible.” “I see what you mean, but can you explain what you mean with examples?” George asked. “What subject should we be presenting that we don’t train now?” “A trainer from one of the agencies we contacted took us all through a webinar presenting a program called Safety Best Practices,” said Alan, the lead driver trainer. “We do not address any of the critical issues she covered in Safety Best Practices. She started off with asking us to define the word safety. What does the word mean? As we thought about it, we realized none of us knew the true definition.” “I said having no accidents,” added Linda. “I said that it’s acting in a caring way,” Ryan said. “Since then, I have asked many drivers and management and no one knew what safety meant. This is ridiculous.” Ryan paused. “The trainer we contacted explained to us that the definition is freedom from risk,” he said. “If you are free from risk, you are safe. If you reduce risk, you are safer. We then

learned the definition of risk, where risk comes from, and how to remove or reduce risk in everything we do. The Safety Best Practices program brought every one of our goals into perspective and it became clear how to achieve them. We do not know or teach any of these best practices anywhere in our operation.” “Then she explained how to use the tools of a LLLC defensive driving program to remove or reduce risk in everything we do,” Linda said. “This made so much sense.” “LLLC?” George asked. “It stands for Look Ahead, Look Around, Leave Room and Communicate,” Linda said. “Four Safety Best Practices that drivers can use to remove or reduce risk, making everyone safer. Think about it, we have posters in our facilities saying we have a passion for safety, when we don’t even know how to define it. We ask our drivers to drive safely without ever explaining what that means. No wonder we have so many accidents.” “We also learned how these concepts of LLLC can be used to remove or reduce risk in specific practices we need to teach,” Ryan said. “All the safe practices for intersections, lane changing, railroad crossings, and pedestrian awareness relate to each other making the training systematic and integrated. They are not standalone training programs like we use now.” “To instill safe practices into operations, other agencies we talked

“Can you define the word safety?” to have created a vision, mission and values strategy aimed squarely at the drivers,” Alan said. “The Vision is do it right the first time, every time. The Mission is to remove or reduce risk and the Values are to avoid all unsafe behaviors. They have built their training curriculum around these concepts and have achieved tremendous results reducing accidents and improving their overall operations. This is the creed to live by.” “Everything you have talked about, we weren’t even aware of,” George said. ”How can we put this into effect? Ryan, you are in charge, bring an implementation plan to our next meeting.” This series by Jeff Cassell will continue in the May 2015 Issue! Jeff Cassell is president of Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO) Hudson, Ohio. TAPTCO provides training courses that change driver behaviors. Visit www.taptco.com.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

19


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Following the election of the American Bus Association (ABA) Board of Directors by the General Membership, ABA’s Board elected a new chairman, vice chairman and treasurer during the Board’s recent meeting in St. Louis: John Meier, the president of Badger Bus and Coach, Madison, WI, is ABA’s new chairman. Meier joined the ABA Board in 2004 and served as marketplace chairman in 2008. Don DeVivo, the president of DATTCO, New Britain, CT, is ABA’s vice chairman. Both Meier and DeVivo will serve three-year terms. Craig Lentzsch, the executive chairman of All Aboard America! Holdings, New Orleans, LA, is the new secretary/treasurer. The ABA Board of Directors added three new at-large members to the Board’s Executive Committee: Steve Haddad, president/ CEO of Bieber Transportation; Gene Berardi, Jr., president/CEO of Adirondack Trailways; and Stephanie Lee, president of Group Sales Box Office/Broadway.com/Broadway Across America. Two new members joined the Board for three-year terms. Camilla Morris is the manager of Oneonta Bus Lines, Oneonta, NY. Terry Fischer is president of Transportation Charter Services, Orange, CA. In addition to his ABA Board service, Bryan Cole, president of Super Holiday Tours, Orlando, FL, was elected to serve a one-year term as ABA’s Marketplace Advisory Committee Chairman.

Judy Dennis

Nova Bus, Saint-Eustache, QB, Canada, is pleased to welcome Judy Dennis as West Coast regional sales manager. Dennis has a strong sales background in the transportation industry, working with hybrid propulsion manufacturers, component suppliers and an electric bus manufacturer. Her vast network, industry knowledge and experience with emerging technologies will benefit Nova Bus clients, who can now choose different propulsion

technologies such as diesel, natural gas and electric buses. Rob Mowat, vice president of sales for Nova Bus, leads an experienced team in North America, which now includes in the United States: Judy K. Dennis for the West, Steve Kratzer for the Midwest and Kevin Dawson for the East Coast. Transdev’s Transit Division announced that Derrick Breun has been promoted to regional vice president of the Southeastern Region. Prior to this promotion, Breun served as an area vice president for the same region of the Transit Division. “Derrick has been given increasingly larger roles at Transdev building his reputation and demonstrating his talent and leadership in the New Orleans area,” said Mike Murray, president and COO. Breun started his career with Transdev in 2005 as the general manager of the Jefferson Parish Transportation Operations known as JET. While at JET, Breun oversaw a large restructuring effort to combine the fixed route and paratransit operations under a consolidated structure. From there, Breun went on to be the chief operating pfficer of Transdev’s contract in service to the New Orleans RTA Board of Commissioners. Transdev’s Transit Division also announced that John King has been promoted to regional vice president of the Northeastern Region. Prior to this promotion, King served as an area vice president for the Transit Division. “John has extensive experience as a leader in the transportation industry, including a long history of service at Greyhound and a successful tour of duty as General Manager at Transdev’s contract in Prince George’s County, MD,” Murray said. “John has provided strong leadership of our Northeastern Region and I am confident that he will continue to do so.”

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Security & Surveillance

Get onboard video surveillance with 4G and Wi-Fi for buses By Robert Fuchs In-vehicle surveillance is widely used in public transportation and it is now being embraced more by commercial vehicles operators, which includes delivery trucks, shipping cargo, even law enforcement. Since safety is first priority, fleet management may need to view vehicle situations in real time, or need a way to review an incident and quickly retrieve the surveillance video for an investigation. Today many in-vehicle surveillance videos are offline, which means there is no connection between the vehicle and the command center. Whatever is recorded on the local storage will not be seen until it is back to the depot. In this circumstance, when something happens, or a potential threat may occur, drivers sometimes only have cell phones to rely on as a communication device. The videos that are stored on the local storage can only be retrieved when a system engineer or IT personnel does so. The best way to get a real-time video is to leverage a cellular network, the same one millions of people are using every day. Many tasks can be achieved when mobile surveillance is embedded with a 4G network. The biggest benefit is being able to access surveillance video “live” and knowing instantaneously the activities onboard. At some point, an event may happen at an undetermined time where live video streaming will be needed. With live video, an agency can instantly know the likelihood of a threat escalating, and managers are able to see what drivers are doing on route. Alternatively, other operators may prefer a solution that lets communications between the driver and command center to take place at the push of a button. Alerting management to a potential threat in real-time requires the blazing speed that only 4G can deliver. Compared to the previous 3G network, which some of the fleet operators may still be using, 4G network provides a faster and more stable network environment for video streaming, especially on a moving bus. With the pervasiveness of 4G, the future of video is no longer just a passive record of a recent event; live video will take a more dynamic role in the way operators make decisions on the fly. Agencies should make sure their solution is compatible with their 4G carrier. Having an integrated video system that cannot backup video passively will be a labor intensive chore without Wi-Fi. Not long ago, the onboard hard drive (or other storage type) would be removed to retrieve footage for backup (this removal also made the hard drive prone to damage). Today, DVRs with Wi-Fi offer a more convenient way to access footage for backup. Especially when a fleet manager requests backup of everything from the road, the surveillance system should be

able to set on to an “automatically back-up” feature whenever the buses return and are in range of the command center’s Wi-Fi network. Not only does it enable fast and cost-effective backups and access to recorded video, it also opens up more efficient system maintenance alternatives. With a Wi-Fi enabled mobile DVR system, it’s easier for technicians to log-in for system maintenance, or to update software and change settings remotely when needed. It is also important to mention that good software that can correspond to these activities is very crucial. Always remember that simple and easy system maintenance is the key to running buses with less down time. When considering a mobile security system, choose a solution that will not be out of date in a few years. Having a truly integrated surveillance system will maintain that software and hardware work effortlessly together, and agencies do not need to bolt on additional devices when their surveillance requirements change in the future. With all of these advances in live video technology, we expect that onboard live video surveillance and automatic video offloading with remote maintains will be a big consideration for bus operators in 2015. Plustek VX-C540 (4ch) and VX-C580 (8ch) are in-vehicle surveillance solutions that have built-in Wi-Fi with 4G options. Robert Fuchs is the marketing manager of Plustek Technology Inc., Sante Fe Springs, CA, a manufacturer of ruggedized and high-quality security products that provide a variety of recording solutions for all surveillance needs for mobile and in-vehicle recording systems, including fully integrated software hardware solutions. For more information, please visit www.PlustekSecurity.com.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

21


Intercity luxury travel

rise

on the

Study shows point-to-point, scheduled motorcoach service is increasing for eighth consecutive year

DePaul University of Chicago Chaddick Institute, Chicago, IL, released its annual report on intercity coach travel in January, showing the eighth consecutive year of growth for scheduled service, point-topoint motorcoach service. According to the report, intercity bus service providers added more than 100 new daily services across the United States in 2014, resulting in a 2.1 percent increase in daily scheduled operations. The report points to upgraded luxury service with more free onboard amenities that include Wi-Fi and 110-volt electric plugins. The expansion of city-to-city express carriers and conventional bus lines added 80 new daily services across the United States. The Institute says 2014 brought a flurry of initiatives to offer new amenities designed to attract new consumer groups to bus travel, particularly those who put a premium on comfort and convenience. Megabus.com now offers reserved seating that also gives buyers the opportunity for priority boarding. Vonlane, a company new to the motorcoach industry, launched a first-class ground travel alternative to flying between Austin and Dallas, TX, and will soon expand to Houston. Greyhound Lines is moving aggressively to offer Wi-Fi and power outlets on not only its Greyhound Express routes but also on its entire fleet. Royal Sprinter began offering an intimate, luxury travel experience in the Northeast. Other carriers are making similar investments to upgrade their services. Expanding discount city-to-city carriers and traditional bus lines means there is a 2.2 percent increase in the number of daily operations on the nation’s bus system. This rate of growth is far exceeding air and train service. The growth in passenger traffic appears to be even higher. This expansion featured the introduction of an extensive new Megabus network in Florida. Megabus introduced reserved seating, added extensive new service in Florida, and continues to move aggressively toward building a national network of interconnected hubs that cater to both short- and longer-distance trips. 22

BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

Dramatic enhancements to travel booking aggregator websites, including Wanderu and BusBud, are significantly expanding the size of the bus travel market. Consumers are becoming empowered to make decisions with far more information about their choices than has been available in the past. The study suggests bus travel is gaining loyalty among passengers who place a premium on comfort and convenience. Increasingly, business travelers who have tended to shy away from bus service in the past are now jumping onboard. In the midst of another wave of expansion, the intercity bus retains its status as America’s fastest growing intercity travel mode. Bus express carriers have nearly doubled their service offerings since the start of the decade and now account for about 1,066 daily operations. America’s intercity bus system grew from 4,309 to 4,399 daily operations in 2014, representing a 2.1 percent increase over the course of the year. The growth included targeted expansion by a wide range of carriers, and marks the sector’s eighth straight year of expansion. This came notably after a year in which conventional bus lines kept their services virtually flat, leaving the growth to city-to-city express operators, which grew by 4 percent in 2013. Both sectors are again on an upward trajectory. The number of operations by city-to-city express carriers has almost doubled since the start of the decade, rising from approximately 589 in 2010 to 1,066 in 2014.The number of daily trips was up 3.9 percent in 2014 vs. 2013, with BoltBus and Megabus accounting for nearly 80 percent of these operations. Key initiatives of carriers Greyhound mostly held firm in 2014. However, with 1,080 daily buses (down 28 from 2013), it continues to have nearly twice as many daily departures as any other carrier, even without the inclusion of other busride.com


operators owned by its parent company, i.e. FirstGroup that includes Greyhound’s BoltBus and Yo! Bus divisions. Greyhound continued to expand its Greyhound Express network, which offers faster schedules, Wi-Fi, and guaranteed seating, in the Southwest. Moreover, Greyhound continued to make Wi-Fi and power outlets standard amenities throughout its entire system and adopted a sophisticated yield management system for all its services. This carrier also continues to be more aggressive in managing the number of reservations allowed for each bus departure. Although it still does not explicitly guarantee a seat to everyone with a ticket (except on its Express offerings), the operator is moving in this direction. Selling flexibility Carriers are increasingly “selling flexibility” to allow passengers to change their departure times at only a modest expense—in sharp contrast to the restrictive (and costly) airline policies. Bus travelbooking websites, most notably Wanderu and Busbud, are encouraging reluctant bus travelers to try this mode of transportation. These websites offer a convenient means of comparison-shopping, much as Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity do for air travel. Vonlane Compared to traditional operators servicing the same route, Vonlane features only 16 seats, Wi-Fi and outlets, and an onboard attendant serving snacks and drinks. This service targets the cohort of business travelers commuting between the two cities each day that currently either drives or flies on airlines such as Southwest. The custom-built coaches also feature a private six-seat boardroom with a table in the back. Instead of operating from bus terminals or downtown curbside locations, Vonlane partners with hotels in each metropolitan area and operates up to four trips in each direction, depending on the day of the week.

Vonlane charges around $100 per one-way trip. Indicative of the carrier’s desire to win the loyalties of travelers who would otherwise fly, or are willing to ride coaches to make connections to long-haul flights, the carrier operates from the Hyatt Hotel at Dallas Love Field, where patrons have access to a free airport shuttle. Royal Sprinter Successful Washington, D.C.-based restaurateur Andy Seligman launched Royal Sprinter in March, and began offering a new intimate, luxury travel experience in the Northeast through the crowded New York - Washington, D.C., corridor — joining LimoLiner in Boston; Vamoose Gold in the Washington, D.C., area; and C&J and Dartmouth Coach in New England. Royal Sprinter says it differentiates through personalization, as its vehicles offer a first-class service with only eight seats on smaller motorcoaches for direct service to and from hotels in each city. The carrier features a leather seat that reclines more than the standard, satellite TV that accesses paid movie and sports channels, as well as snacks and drinks. The company currently operates two schedules in each direction every day. The pace in which scheduled operators enhance their services appears likely to remain brisk throughout 2015. By all indications, the trend toward more first-class services will continue. A new breed of carrier has emerged, operating from business-oriented hotels and providing service marketed as an alternative to short-haul air travel. Smaller carriers also appear poised to grow.

This figure displays notable new intercity bus services in 2014.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

23


THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT

Neoplan turns 80 with little fanfare By Doug Jack

The German bus and coach OEM Neoplan reaches its 80th anniversary in July. I hesitate to use the word “celebrate,” because annual output is now considerably lower than at its peak. The company has passed from middle-age flair to a more sober and disciplined old age. The OEM saw its formation when Gottlob Auwärter left the company that his father and grandfather had established and set up his own business in July 1935 to build bus and coach bodywork in Möhringen, a suburb of Stuttgart.

Above: For saving even more fuel, MAN offers the pre-configured Lion’s Coach EfficientLine. Photo: MAN Group.

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BUSRIDE | MARCH.2015

There were numerous chassis suppliers in Germany, almost all of them offering normal control layouts where the driver sat behind the engine. Bodywork was invariably framed in timber. Gottlob Auwärter soon gained a reputation for good quality and attractive styling. After the Second World War, with a great shortage of materials but demand for transport, the company became one of the first to develop an all-steel body, considered safer and more durable than timber. A major change came in 1953, when Neoplan developed its steel structure into a partial integral design, using welded steel main side panels to contribute to structural strength. Another innovation came in 1957, with the introduction of independent front suspension, using the McPherson principle, and full air suspension became available. They greatly improved the ride and handling on coaches. busride.com


THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT

As part of a dissertation for their degrees from Hamburg University, Auwärter’s eldest son Albrecht and schoolmate Bob Lee designed a new integral coach with a number of novel features. The main side glasses curve inwards at the top into the roof-line, giving improved visibility for passengers. They also conceived a fresh air supply system with individual adjustable nozzles for each passenger. Albrecht succeeded his father in the management in 1965 and Lee later became head of engineering and design. Gottlob’s second son Konrad designed a double-decker bus with a low floor and capacity for more than 100 passengers as part of his university dissertation. The styling of the Skyliner was very distinctive, with large one-piece windshields on each deck, forward sloping pillars, and main sideglazing on the upper deck that curved into the roof-line. The earliest Skyliner models were 36 feet on two axles, but soon evolved into a 40-foot version with higher capacity and a third steering, trailing axle. The Cityliner was the next major development from Neoplan in 1971. With the main passenger deck raised, the driver and courier sat at a lower level, improving forward visibility for passengers. The greater height of the Cityliner lent increased luggage capacity and onboard washroom beneath the main deck without reducing the number of seats. Another new feature in this model was the extensive use of fibreglass mouldings to enhance styling. By this time, Neoplan was selling further afield and opened a second factory opened in Pilsting, Bavaria. Although Neoplan was best known for its luxury coaches, it also offered city and interurban buses and special, over-width buses for airside transport. The Möhringen plant had a highly skilled workforce with legendary adaptability. Customers who had their own ideas about coach design frequently came to the factory for discussions with engineers. The adaptability became a legend. However, this flexibility was a twoedged sword. It enabled Neoplan to satisfy the wishes of its customers, but it proved to be a major headache for parts and service departments. The flexibility continued with the launch in 1975 of the Jumbocruiser, a double-decker articulated coach, built to an overall length of nearly 60 feet. The turntable between the two sections was at the upper-deck level, so there was no through connection on the lower deck! The first overseas factory opened at Kumasi, Ghana, in December 1974. The company added the Spaceliner in 1979, which featured a through upper deck, extending over and above the lowered driver’s compartment, within an overall height of 12 feet, offered washrooms, kitchen facilities and a bunk for the second driver below the main deck. In a period of rapid expansion, Neoplan opened another factory in 1981 which became the manufacturing center for the Uniliner, a small 25-seat coach with a front-mounted engine designed to bring large coach luxury to a sector of the market served by van-based vehicles. The company opened in North America with a factory at Honey Brook, PA, building city buses and later established a factory at Lamar, CO; a brave move to open a new factory with a new workforce and new products so far from Germany. Neoplan was almost certainly the first European manufacturer to go to China, building coaches since the mid-1980s, beginning with Norinco (China North), and granting a sub-license to Jinhua Neoplan that not only built in much greater volume than China North, but also introduced some models of its own that looked pure Neoplan. Jinhua Neoplan builds around 3,500 Neoplan style buses and coaches a year, and continues to take some parts from Germany. Neoplan was always capable of springing surprises, but it excelled itself at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1992. With one of the exhibits on the Neoplan stand being a 49 feet, 3 inches, Megaliner double-decker coach. The fourth rearmost axle and both front axles steered with the same turning circle capabilities as a 39 foot bus, and could carry many more passengers without the complication of a turntable. Neoplan developed new projects that were developed at a rapid rate

The MAN Lion’s City Hybrid with its serial hybrid drive cuts both diesel consumption and CO2 emission by 30 percent. Photo: MAN Group.

and many competitors questioned the costs. The Metroliner-in-Carbon was a low floor midibus with a complete carbon-fiber structure. Various hybrid, gas-fueled, and fuel-cell city buses appeared, as well as trolleybuses. All 49-foot models had aircraft-style black box recorders. The first coach with a radar system to maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front premiered in 1995. The culmination of Neoplan’s great designs was the top-of-the-range Starliner launched in 1996, which quickly became the favorite vehicle for VIP transport and sports organisations. Neoplan reached its target of building 2,000 vehicles per annum by the year 2000, but was barely making money. Mercedes-Benz had merged its own bus operations with those of Setra and was proving to be a very strong competitor. When the press assembled for a Neoplan conference at the show in Frankfurt in 2000, many were surprised to see a number of MAN executives in the audience. It soon became clear that Neoplan had agreed to sell out to MAN and that was formalized in the following year after clearance by the European competition authorities. MAN decided to concentrate on interurban and luxury coaches. Production of Neoplan city buses ceased by 2008. MAN carried out a major project to rationalize the MAN and Neoplan ranges mechanically and structurally, while retaining distinctive external styling. MAN moved production of city buses from Salzgitter in Germany to two plants in Poland, and they will go into one factory in 2016. Production of interurban and most luxury coaches transferred to a modern factory at Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where labor rates were a fraction of those in Germany. The Pilsting plant sold to Viseon Bus which later collapsed. The main Neoplan coach nowadays is the Tourliner available on two and three axles. It is attractive, but lacks the flair, the wow factor, of traditional Neoplan designs. A new Skyliner was launched, but production has been delayed until it can start again in Ankara. Sadly, the decision has been taken to cease production of the Starliner, because of falling demand for most luxuriously-equipped coaches in the main European markets. It is difficult to describe the 80th anniversary as a celebration, but we have to recognise that Neoplan was responsible for the introduction of many features that we take for granted on buses and coaches today. Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

25


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BUSRide March 2015  

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