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Ameritrans: The Next Generation p10

FCCC debuts new chassis at BusCon p12


Bus Rapid Transit Q&A p22 | $5.00

T h e mo s t tr u s te d re s o u r c e i n t h e b u s a n d motor c o a c h i n d u s tr y

The Volvo

9700 Drivers

like it 20 p






Cover Story The Volvo 9700: Drivers like it


As Ryan’s Express grows, the company relies heavily on its six Volvo 9700s By David Hubbard

Features Ameritrans: The Next Generation


ABC Companies launches Ameritrans Inc. with improvements and new models By David Hubbard

New suspension and chassis means more power, reliability



Freightliner debuted its X-Ride suspension and S2C chassis at BusCon

Comfort is a measurable standard


North American bus and coach seating manufacturers speak to comfort, safety, ergonomics, and durability

Garage doors figure in the equation

Special Section Fare Collection: Part Two


Smartphone access improves fare collection

Rubber roll-up doors save time and money of the company By Kurt Angerrmeier

RTC and Samsung SDS partner to launch an advanced transit open payment system in Las Vegas

BRT builds from a plan with vision


Parsons Brinkerhoff’s Cliff Henke speaks to the aspects of successful Bus Rapid Transit planning

If that call comes ABA Crisis Communications program preserves the integrity and reputation of the company By David Hubbard





People in the News

11 Tour Business 26 Transit Authority 34 Marketplace


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013





By Doug Jack


Cummins reveals its ISV5.0 V8 diesel engine


attended the press event Cummins Inc. hosted at its headquarters in Columbus, IN, in early October to watch the spotlights shine on the ISV5.0. This is the five-liter V8 diesel engine the company has developed and kept under wraps for the last eight years. Cummins counts this launch as one of its top three product developments since Clessie Lyle Cummins first founded his diesel engine company in 1919. “The ISV5.0 creates new opportunities for our OEM customers,” said Dave Crompton, vice president and general manager, Cummins Engine Business. “Many of our customers have asked for a Cummins alternative for gasoline or other small displacement automotive diesel engines. The ISV5.0 represents the next dimension in fuel economy and performance as we continue to broaden our on-highway product line.” The ISV5.0 extends the Cummins range as a compact and lightweight engine that fits neatly into a small or midsize vehicle once powered by a comparable V8 or V10 gasoline engine. Cummins developed this new engine for operators in the United States and Canada. “Cummins has integrated the latest technologies in the ISV5.0 to deliver performance, fuel efficiency and durability in a highly sociable package,” said Jim Katzenmeyer, executive engineer – V8 Program. “Drivers will appreciate the smooth, quiet operation of the ISV5.0.” The durable and lightweight ISV5.0 combines a compacted graphite iron (CGI) cylinder block, forged steel crankshaft, high-strength aluminum alloy heads and composite valve covers. Cummins is testing and certifying the new engine in a varied mix of OEM chassis for a wide range of bus applications, each with a different set of criteria. The company says these features, along with dual overhead camshafts, also contribute to the greatly reduced level of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics. In cold weather, the advanced ceramic glow plug system significantly reduces start time and electrical current draw, reducing vehicle charging system requirements. The company says the ceramic glow plugs will last the life of the engine. Production of the ISV5.0 begins at the Columbus Engine Plant will begin during 4Q 2014.

Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane Associate Publisher Sali T. Williams Editor David Hubbard Managing Editor Richard Tackett Art Director Stephen Gamble Production Coordinator Kevin Dixon Accountant Fred Valdez Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone

BUS industry SAFETY council

A publication of:

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: BUSRide Magazine 4742 North 24th Street, Suite 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 Fax: (602) 277-7588 Vol. 49 • No. 11 Subscription Rates: United States: $39 for 1 year, $64 for 2 years, $89 for 3 years. United States via periodicals mail: $42 for 1 year, $69 for 2 years, $98 for 3 years. Canada. Canadian tax (GST) is included. Rest of the world, via air mail: $75 for 1 year, $125 for 2 years, $175 for 3 years. Single copies: $5 for the United States, $6 for Canada and the rest of the world. All prices are in United States Dollars (U.S.D.). Reprints:

David Hubbard Editor BUSRide Magazine 6

BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

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 Sali T. Williams at (602) 265-7600, ext. 209.


MCI to move headquarters, service center to new Des Plaines, IL, site MCI is creating a new Chicago-area destination for coach shopping and service, moving its Schaumburg corporate headquarters and Des Plaines Sales and Service Center to a single, new facility in Des Plaines, IL. The move will bring MCI’s corporate offices and Des Plaines Sales and Service operations under the same roof, fostering greater collaboration as part of MCI’s Reliability Driven commitment. The new 80,000-square-foot facility, at 200 E. Oakton Street, will include indoor space to showcase MCI and Setra models and ample parking for new and pre-owned coaches. About 60,000 of those interior square feet will house the air-conditioned MCI Sales and Service Center. Hours of service are 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The telephone number remains 1-800-428-7626. “This will be an industry-leading facility for service,” said Patrick McGuire, director of MCI Service Centers, in a statement. McGuire is leading a team coordinating the move. “We can accommodate up to 36 coaches for maintenance and repair, and we have the absolute latest equipment and diagnostics. We’ve added a number of state-of-art features, including portable tablets for technicians, all loaded with schematics, parts catalogs and diagnostics. There’s also space and comfort enough for our technicians to do all work indoors.” In selecting the site, MCI says customers came first. “The new location is closer to the Interstate and to O’Hare airport,” McGuire said. “We’ve configured the service center space for coaches to drive in one door and out the other. The goal is convenience and fast, expert service, a hallmark of our ReliaDrive guarantee.” Under ReliaDrive, MCI Service Center promises same-day diagnosis; an accurate estimate (within 10 percent of the actual bill); and a fixed-right-the-first-time guarantee on MCI and Setra coaches. The new service center will include two full-service pits for oil changes and related services; a state-of-the-art paint booth; two

indoor bus wash stations; a well-appointed drivers’ area with comfortable lounge chairs, television, Wi-Fi and refreshments; and a customer parts pick-up window. The facility is 10 minutes from O’Hare airport and two miles from the current MCI Sales and Service Center on Golf Road. MCI will move its corporate headquarters to the new location later in October. “The move is driven in part by our Reliability Driven culture,” said Rick Heller, MCI president and CEO, in the same statement. “It just makes sense for our corporate teams to be better situated to interact with one another and with customers who visit our MCI Sales and Service Center. With an indoor coach-display space our headquarters become a customer destination where we can better showcase the MCI and Setra models’ benefits and features to our customers at times convenient for them. Additionally, our service center, with investments in new tools and diagnostics and its expanded capacity, will be better positioned to stand out as a leader in an important marketplace.”

Cummins announces new global heavy-duty engine platform Cummins Inc., Columbus, IN, has developed its new global heavy-duty G Series engine platform to complement its existing global product offering. The G Series is an in-line sixcylinder engine available in 10.5 and 11.8 liter displacements to meet a broad variety of on-highway and off-highway global market requirements and emission standards. The initial engines run on diesel fuel. The company says this global design approach utilizes the latest technologies to meet unique performance and cost of ownership expectations for the target market and region each engine serves. “The G Series global design approach is a vivid demonstration of how Cummins is transforming from a multinational to a truly global company,” says Steve Chapman, Cummins vice president and chairman/CEO, Cummins China Inc. “This engine platform has been designed for diverse and global markets by utilizing the expertise and local knowledge of our engineers from around the world.” The G Series minimizes engineering requirements for

vehicle and equipment manufacturers with a common, compact installation envelope. A sculptured block retains high rigidity while removing unnecessary mass. The use of composite material for the oil pan and valve cover provides further weight savings, weighing in at a remarkably low 1900 pounds (862 kg) while retaining all the structural strength and durability expected of a Cummins Cummins Onheavy-duty engine. Highway G Series The G Series engines will go by incorporates Cummins ISG11 and ISG12. Xtra-High Pressure Injection (XPI) fuel system, derived from the larger and more powerful X Series engine. With multiple injection events driven | BUSRIDE


UPDATE cont. from pg. 7

by high-precision Cummins electronic controls, the XPI fuel system contributes to a very impressive peak torque for the G Series of 1700 lb-ft (2305 N•m), together with a torque rise as high as 60 percent available. These attributes enable the G series to deliver exceptionally fast responses to increasing load factors from low engine rpm. The G series offers fuel efficiency through parasitic reducing technology without variable flow pumps that add unnecessary cost and reduce reliability. Its Single Cam In Head (SCIH) design with roller valve train and high efficiency intake ports continue the design theme of minimum complexity and maximum efficiency. The resulting low weight design allows more payload to be delivered while requiring less energy to manufacture than competitive designs. For on-highway markets, the G Series heavy duty engine platform will be introduced as the Cummins ISG11 and Cummins ISG12. These engines offer a power range from 290 to 512 horsepower (213 to 382 kW) in a compact and lightweight package. Engines will be available to meet global variations in emissions requirements. At launch in 2014, engines will meet Euro III, Euro IV, and China NS4 emission requirements. Engines for Euro V, Euro VI and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2017 are also in development. The ISG11 and ISG12 are ideal power solutions for heavy-duty trucks in long-haul, regional haul and vocational service, as well as buses, motorcoaches, fire trucks, and recreational vehicles. The G Series will initially be manufactured in Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company, serving customers on a global basis. Production will start during the first half of 2014.

BusCon 2013, largest event in show history, reports great success in Chicago With over 2,000 bus industry insiders in attendance, including leaders from several transit agencies and private sector bus operators, BusCon 2013 was the biggest event in recent show history! A top-notch selection of leading companies showed off more buses than ever before, including a substantial number of low-floor paratransit vehicles and the largest display of electric buses of any event in North America (with models from Complete Coach Works, Phoenix Motorcars, Proterra and BYD Motors, Inc.). A variety of new products and vehicles made their debut on the show floor, including Goshen’s new Impulse cutaway vehicle, Winnebago Industries, Inc.’s Metro Link models (including a public transit, airport, and CNG version), and Collins Bus’s NEXBUS model, which marked that company’s first foray into the mid-size transit bus market. In addition, the educational sessions, which featured topics ranging from university transit to paratransit, safety, and alternative fuels, were packed with attendees. The accolades are rolling in, and BusCon says that attendees are asking for more. If you haven’t seen the on-site video footage recorded by Terrapin Blue, visit BusCon’s YouTube page at for a variety of short videos featuring show floor interviews, vehicle highlights and more.

SAVE FUEL. INCREASE STABILITY. REDUCE SPRAY. BUY AIRTABS. Apply Airtabs™ to the back of your motorcoach. You’ll notice instant results: • Up to 2-3% annual fuel savings per coach • Increased stability and less swaying at highway speeds • Less spray and snow collection on the back of the coach For technical information, please visit To purchase please call 970-663-9075 or visit 8

BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

Don’t let anything hold you back


Nova Bus added



Continental Bus Lines Houston, TX Houston-based charter company Continental Bus Lines has added four new MCI J4500 coaches to bring its fleet to 12 coaches. To please passengers, Continental has updated the interior of its older coaches and added premium options on its new coaches such as Wi-Fi and power outlets. The new J4500s feature a new, elevated look with the latest EPA-mandated clean-diesel engine technology, passenger seatbelts, Electronic Stability Control, tire pressure monitoring and a fire suppression system. Continental serves a large number of universities and area school districts as well as corporate clients with charters and tours throughout the continental U.S. and Canada, and has its own full-service maintenance and repair facility featuring five bus bays.

Puerto Rico Highway & Transportation Authority San Juan, Puerto Rico The Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) and the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses (AMA) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, are renewing their fleet with 16 new Nova LFS Smart Buses. “We value Puerto Rico’s renewed trust,” said Jean-Pierre Baracat, president of Nova Bus. “After 14+ years in service, our vehicles continue to prove themselves in San Juan with a strong track record of reliability and cost efficiency.” “Working with PRHTA has been a positive experience throughout the entire procurement process, and we now look forward to continuing to grow our successful partnership.” Nova Bus vehicles have been rolling in the streets of San Juan since 1999, when AMA received 24 Nova LFS buses. Deliveries of the new 16 Nova LFS Smart Buses are underway. San Juan’s Nova LFS buses are assembled in Nova Bus’ upstate New York plant.


The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board of Directors has appointed Nuria I. Fernandez as the next general manager for VTA. Fernandez has an extensive and impressive career in the public transportation industry, most recently serving as the chief operating officer for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) where she is responsible for the Nuria I. Fernandez overall security of the MTA system, development of its capital and environmental sustainability programs, federal and state government affairs, and management oversight of the five operating agencies and its capital construction. Nuria has over 30 years of experience in the transportation field and a professional career that includes, planning, design and construction of mass transit systems, airport operations and policy development of federal transportation programs.

Veolia Transportation has named Robert Goody as general manager, overseeing the company’s contracts with The Regional Municipality of York for transit service. “Bob Goody is a seasoned professional who brings with him vast experience in transportation including safety, quality-focused operations and customer service,” says Yann Leriche, vice president and deputy COO for Veolia Transportation’s Transit Division “He will be a true asset to the Veolia team.” As general manager, Goody will be responsible for two bus contracts Veolia operates for York Region – YRT/Viva and YRT (southwest operations) – with a combined annual ridership of more than 12,800,000 passengers. Goody began his career in transit at Transit Windsor where he spent 20 years as Operations Manager before moving to Oshawa Transit as general manager in 2000, followed by OC Transit as manager of Transit Operations in 2003. In 2010 Goody joined Gameday Management Group where he managed bus operations for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. Prior to joining Veolia Goody was manager of Transit Operations for Niagara Falls Transit. | BUSRIDE


Ameritrans: The next generation By David Hubbard

ABC Companies launches Ameritrans with improvements and new models


hen ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, elected in 2012 to diversify its product range to include a midsize cutaway and add a manufacturing component to the business, the company moved to acquire the TMC Group, Elkhart, IN, and the Ameritrans brand. Thirty-year bus industry veteran Barry Hines joined ABC Companies as general manager to lead its new subsidiary Ameritrans Bus Inc. ABC Companies saw Ameritrans as a reputable bus brand of quality workmanship and a loyal following. At the time of the acquisition, TMC Group was doing a low volume business with limited manufacturing, which ABC Companies saw as a company perfectly positioned for growth. “TMC had wanted to do more, but simply lacked the wherewithal to make it happen,” Hines says. “ABC Companies was able to engage a stronger team to support the product and increase volume.” Hines and his team listened to members in the dealer network, who pointed out the few improvements in the models they thought could make Ameritrans a dominant player in the high-end midsize bus market. The majority of these improvements, unveiled at BusCon in September, include the new 33-foot F330 model built on the Ford F Series 550 chassis. The company has also developed a new 33-foot model on the Ram 5500 chassis offered exclusively for Ameritrans, marking Chrysler’s introduction to the midsize commercial bus market. Hines says these new chassis and powertrain options expand the existing range built on the 20 to 28-foot Ford E Series and the 35 to 42-foot Freightliner M2 chassis.


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

“This gives us a natural progression in length and passenger capacity,” Hines says. “We felt these intermediate options were necessary in terms of vehicle size and price.” He says the biggest difference in the Ram R330 is the powertrain offering the Cummins ISB diesel engine coupled to the AISIN 6-speed transmission. As Ameritrans now serves a diverse customer base, Hines says these new models provide more commonality. “We have motorcoach operations with strong ties to the Cummins brand, and other small bus operations loyal to Ford products,” Hines says. “Allowing the same brands in a variety of bus types across the fleet is preferable for many in terms of maintenance and economy. Operators that run gasoline buses naturally go with the Ford models. However, a gasoline powered R330 option will be available in 2014.” The dealer network also wanted frameless windows on the smaller E Series models to match the Freightliner, as well as interior upgrades for a more consistent look across the brand. “The challenge here was matching the frameless windows on the flat sidewall of the Freightliner, where the Ford models have rounded sidewalls,” Hines says. “We worked closely with our supplier to make this significant change.” Hines says further cosmetic improvements included changes to the wheel flairs. Concealing unsightly exposed fasteners also cleaned up the look of the vehicles. Optional interior upgrades for Ameritrans buses now include higher-end specifications for seating by Freedman, Summit and Amaya, as well as REI entertainment systems and Hadley Swan overhead parcel racks.


Thanks for the ride T

o those motorcoach operators who sometimes feel underappreciated for the great service and heaps of new business they routinely bring to the communities they visit, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) says, “Cheer up and come to Laughlin, NV. We want to say Thanks for the Ride to all of the hardworking people in the motorcoach industry.” Mark December 9 through 13 on the calendar, plan to close the shop, and spend four fun-filled days feeling feted at Laughlin’s Motorcoach Appreciation Week. As the first industry event of its kind, the LVCVA, in conjunction with VisitLaughlin. com, is hosting a week of celebrations, live entertainment and awards to show appreciation for the tremendous impact coach and tour businesses have on tourism in this area. Representation and members from ABA, UMA, NTA and The Motorcoach Council will come together in a relaxed, informal and fun setting, key for networking and forming long-lasting and mutually-beneficial relationships. It is the only event of its kind that includes and recognizes everyone – company owners, managers, and front-line and behind-thescenes employees. Special events include the Bus Roadeo, driver and tour operator networking receptions, as well as special themed days honoring senior entertainers, active and retired members of the military and international motorcoach guests.

The awards banquet on Thursday, December 12, will honor nearly a dozen categories, chosen through industry nominations, that recognize achievements of successful motorcoach tour and travel operations. Several of the awards carry the name of an industry leader in that particular category. For more information on this event, contact The venue for this week of special events encompasses Laughlin’s major hotel resort casinos and lounges set along the Colorado River. The LVCVA recommends that motorcoach and tour operators make their room reservations at their favorite Laughlin hotel and resort property. | BUSRIDE


New suspension and chassis means Freightliner more power, debuted its X-Ride and reliability suspension S2C chassis at BusCon

FCCC says the new S2C strengthens its position as the superior choice for a variety of bus applications.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) unveiled its new 23,000-pound X-Ride commercial bus suspension at September’s BusCon in Chicago. FCCC manufactures premium chassis for the motorhome, delivery walk-in van, and school bus and shuttle bus markets. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company. Offering commercial bus builders an unparalleled combination of technology, functionality and performance, the new X-Ride suspension will be available on FCCC’s XB Series chassis, a rearengine, straight rail diesel chassis. FCCC says X-Ride offers coach builders a new, unique combination of two superior design elements – a four-point link and four-bag suspension. Together, these design elements make the X-Ride commercial bus suspension an innovative new option for coach builders. “By combining these two superior design elements, the X-Ride will offer the commercial bus industry a wealth of significant and 12

BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

exciting new features, benefits and competitive advantages,” said JP Davis, FCCC product manager for commercial bus, in a statement. “From improved ride comfort to increased safety to lower maintenance costs, the X-Ride offers notable improvements and innovation across the board.” The X-Ride’s four-point link offers commercial bus builders ample axle control in even extreme driving conditions, increased ground clearance and a decrease in system weight. FCCC says the fourbag suspension also contributes to the X-Ride’s significant reduction in system weight, lessens suspension noise, offers a more stable ride and lowers maintenance costs. In addition, the X-Ride utilizes fewer individual components, which streamlines and simplifies maintenance and lowers maintenance cost over the life of the suspension and chassis. FCCC OEM partner ElDorado is developed its 2014 model, the Arrivo, on the XBS and its X-Ride suspension. ElDorado displayed the new coach at BusCon. “FCCC is well known in the industry as the expert in designing and developing custom, application-specific chassis that get the job done,” said Davis. “That’s what we mean when we say ‘Driven by you.’” The S2C chassis The new S2C chassis showcased by FCCC at this year’s BusCon, powered by a Cummins ISB 6.7 engine with 660 ft-lbs. of torque, will offer 300hp – the first S2C model to reach that horsepower mark. Combined with the S2C’s innovative design emphasizing easy engine access, high driver visibility and outstanding operational efficiency, FCCC says the new S2C strengthens its position as the superior choice for a variety of bus applications, including public transportation, resort/hotel shuttles, day-tour operators and businesses with highly specialized transport needs.

“We are very excited about reaching this important milestone with the S2C and, as a result, increasing its already impressive power and performance,” said Davis. “The efficiency of the S2C has always set it apart from the crowd; this increase in power and performance will help it stand out even more for our build partners.” The new Cummins ISB pushes the S2C’s horsepower to 300 for the first time and is the newest addition to a list of features focused on making the chassis as efficient and versatile as possible. In addition to being the first bus cab chassis designed specifically for cutaway bus bodies, some more of the S2C’s most important standard features include: • 20-percent larger windshield, offering increased driver visibility of up to 50 percent • 60- or 100-gallon fuel tanks, which reduce fuel stops • 55-degree wheel cut for improved maneuverability • Low-effort, easy-tilt hood for easy engine access • Pin-slide disc brakes for reduced maintenance FCCC says X-Ride offers coach builders a new, unique combination of superior design elements.

The X-Ride’s four-point link offers commercial bus builders ample axle control in even extreme driving conditions.

• Optional full air disc brakes with 22.5-inch wheels • Ergonomically designed dash for optimized driver experience • Between-the-rail fuel tank for more opportunity for skirtlocated features In addition, the S2C can be equipped with optional Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) wiring, which offers body builders interface connections. The chassis’ exhaust clearance can be configured to allow for an in-step wheelchair lift, giving builders more customization options. “By increasing the S2C’s power and performance with this new ISB engine, the S2C solidifies its reputation as the chassis offering coach builders the most attractive and comprehensive suite of features and benefits,” said Davis. “When it comes to making the most of its time on the road, nothing compares to the S2C, which is why we are so excited about this latest model, as are our OEM partners.”

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Comfort is a measurable standard

North American bus and coach seating manufacturers speak to safety comfort, safety, health and durability By David Hubbard


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

Talk to any of the major manufacturers of bus and coach seating and the foundation for their unique, proprietary products rings the same. Each will speak to the challenges of designing, constructing and testing seating systems that meet or surpass all established safety standards; provide comfort for drivers and passengers; incorporate sound ergonomics; protect against health threats; and last as long or even outlive the vehicle lifecycle — all at cost effective price points for operators. BUSRide recently spoke with executives and engineers from these major U.S. bus and coach seating manufacturing companies. USSC Group, Exton, PA — USSC Group incorporates in-depth engineering that includes 3-D modeling to develop premium, durable and ergonomically-sound driver seats for many types of vehicles. The company builds passenger seating under its 4One brand with manufacturing partner, Freedman Seating. Freedman Seating, Chicago, IL — In addition to its joint venture with USSC Group, Freedman Seating manufactures seats and seatingrelated products for small-to-midsize buses and heavy-duty transit and paratransit vehicles. Commercial Vehicle Group, New Albany, OH — Three separate manufacturers comprise Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG), a seating provider for heavy-duty class-8 vehicles in a wide range of applications. • National builds passenger and driver seats for small buses and motorcoaches • Bostrom produces seating for the small and midsize bus market, as well as school buses • KAB builds primarily for construction vehicles HSM, Hickory, NC — Formerly known as Hickory Springs Manufacturing, HSM has expanded by bringing in other companies to fully integrate its manufacturing of seating products for school buses, and push further into the small bus and transit markets. RECARO Automotive Seating, Auburn Hills, MI — A division of the global Johnson Controls group, RECARO manufactures premium driver and passenger seating for every type of commercial bus. Focus on critical areas The companies commented on the regulations and procedures they adhere to, and the standards they establish themselves that allow their products to perform satisfactorily in these critical areas. Here are the key takeaways from our conversations. SAFETY Much of the focus on bus safety currently points to seatbelts. Though not mandated as yet, three-point seat belts are closer to a standard than an option in today’s motorcoach market. HSM has incorporated a dual retractor system with a restraint length up to 100 inches, to restrain the smallest to largest driver without having to rely on an independent belt extender. The HSM Driver seat, featuring Maximum Driver Protection (MDP), evolves from research on driver incidents, such as the driver doing something to slip or fall out of the seat and cause the vehicle to swerve. In this case, the armrest lowers and slides back into a full lock position to keep the driver from leaving the seat. Seat vibration is a source of driver fatigue and can become a safety issue. Jonathan Sieber, director of sales, RECARO Automotive Seating, says seats must not cause bodily harm or damage the health of the lower back, the shoulders and entire spine. “They must be comfortable and offer improved concentration on the road,” Sieber says. “High-spine alignment is something we consider with all of our designs.” This key fatigue factor typically requires a suspension seat mounted to an oscillating suspension that can absorb road vibrations through its own built-in air spring and shock absorber. “This is less of an issue in motorcoaches, as those vehicles ride on much softer suspension systems typically over smooth highways,”

says Dan Cohen, vice president of sales and marketing for Freedman Seating. “Motorcoach drivers will often opt for a static seat with a height adjustment over a suspension driver seat that costs 30 to 40 percent more.” Cohen says the landscape changed when Ford and Chevrolet adopted 202A, a FMVSS standard 202A for passenger seating which establishes criteria for the height of the seatback. The standard provides for greater head and neck support. “The 202A standard is law for any vehicle under 10,000 pounds GVW,” Cohen says. “From our work with Ford and Chevrolet, we have adopted 202A as the standard for the small and medium duty bus markets — even though it is not required.” COMFORT and ERGONOMICS The significant challenge in the design of driver seats is to arrive at a safe and comfortable solution that can accommodate a wide variety of body types. “Comfort is a measurable standard, as opposed to a subjective judgment of what may constitute comfortable seating,” says Ray Melleady, managing director, USSC North America. “We create comfort through static pressure mapping for a variety of body types in a pure seating position.” According to RECARO, while its driver seats accommodate the fifth percentile female to the 95th percentile male, product testing focuses more on those drivers who push the upper end of the limit. “The hips, shoulders and spine all align to the best of a person’s physical build,” RECARO’s Sieber says. “As much as you can try to put someone into an ideal position, there are a lot of outside factors. The best we can do is set up the core structure of the seat to put a person in proper alignment to allow a feature matrix that can adjust for an individual’s size and build.” CVG has developed the Back Cycler lumbar support that provides continuous air-driven spinal motion rather than a vibrating motion. “This device keeps the fluids in the spine moving and the muscles supple,” says Ray Miller, CVG vice president, Sales. “The continuous passive motion has been shown to prevent and alleviate back pain, and also increase driver alertness.” DURABILITY These companies say they see bus operators doing all they can to extend the life of their present fleets. This becomes their challenge, to build durability into a seating product that holds up for the life-cycle of the bus. | BUSRIDE


Driver seats According to USSC, its driver seats carry a 650-pound weight rating, the heaviest in the commercial vehicle market. USSC says that because seat adjustments must be easy, its driver seats feature pneumatic push-button adjustments to move the seat vertically, fore and aft, recline, and make adjustments in the lumbar support. “We use much heavier-gauge steel and 100-percent steel structural components,” Melleady says. “Our driver seats are durable enough to meet the typical 12-year life cycle. CVG tests for life-cycle durability on a fixedaxis shake axis, using a program to simulate one million miles on a test track. CVG says this test takes about two weeks to complete. HEALTH and SANITATION The seat must be capable of easy cleaning by maintenance crews, and the design has to give the impression of cleanliness to the passenger. Freedman Seating manufactures seats for small-to-midsize buses and heavyduty transit and paratransit vehicles.

“The average life of a cutaway bus was once seven years,” says Tony Everett, HSM vice president, Transportation Solutions. “Today, vehicle life expectancies are increasing upward to 10 and 12 years.” This challenge is no different the transit industry. “Our mission is to make an aesthetically pleasing, vandal-proof and comfortable transit seat that will last 12 to 18 years,” says USSC Group’s Melleady. “In many respects, this is like trying to achieve conflicting objectives.”

Antimicrobial; Antibacterial Freedman reports a trend in the bus industry toward a greater use of antimicrobial fabrics, a shift back to onceshunned vinyl materials. “The ‘icky factor’ is lower for vinyl,” Cohen says. “A passenger can walk onto a bus, take out a wet wipe and wipe down the seat and know it is clean for use.” He says recent improvements have led to vinyl and plastic materials embedded with inherent properties that are antibacterial and antimicrobial. Cohen says the killing effect lasts up to 15 years. In an outsourced process, Freedman treats the grab handles for its transit seats with specified antibacterial chemicals that be integrated during the product’s foam injection procedure. The grab handles bear the sanitized logo, authorizing Freedman to use the product and inform passengers that the handles are safe to touch. “The chemical company we use for this requires us to submit a sample of our grab handles annually for testing,” Cohen says. “It wants to be certain we are using their product as specified.” TESTING Most component manufacturers conduct their own product testing in conjunction with NHSTA test labs. They will typically test to a maximum weight, follow government standards established for safety purposes, and set their own quality criteria and standards with aim of exceeding federal mandates. “The old way was to take our products to NHTSA and ask how they measure up,” HSM’s Everett says. “We now tell NHTSA beforehand that we are exploring a particular concept or product for a school bus, and ask what they would like to see.” CVG says it does not do crash testing internally, but will conduct its own FMVSS 210 pull tests and 222 impact tests to simulate crash forces and dynamics. The company says it works with bus OEMS to crash-test its seats with the actual vehicle. USSC Group says it puts a seat through a series of 40 separate tests for safety, fit and comfort before it qualifies for production. This testing takes several months. “There are established thresholds that manufacturers must maintain,” Melleady says. “For example, one test we conduct specifies the maximum stress on a body over an eight-hour drive before crossing over the threshold that causes muscle fatigue. For this, we conduct extensive testing using extreme load data to not only ensure we meet those thresholds, but are well within the limits on the positive side.”


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Garage doors figure in the equation Rubber roll-up doors save time and money By Kurt Angerrmeier


us maintenance management rightfully pays great attention to the quality of the technicians and the equipment operating within the walls of their building. This level of scrutiny is important in ensuring that their fleet operates reliably to meet route schedules and optimize on-time performance. However, if the maintenance staff fails to pay proper attention to the doors to the maintenance facility itself, they may inadvertently be putting these schedules at risk. Typically, the doors to older garages are made of steel. Though these doors provide rugged doorway coverage, rollup doors with flexible yet tough rubber panels are an almost trouble-free alternative. The UTAH Transit Authority (UTA) recently replaced two of their steel doors at their Orem bus storage facility with rubber panel roll-up doors to help handle the 100 buses that enter and exit this temperature-controlled facility daily. The new doors offer the UTA benefits over their steel door predecessors. Continual doorway coverage — According to UTA maintenance, buses coming through the doorway have clipped the old steel doors, causing damage to both the door and the vehicle. As steel doors open and close slowly, drivers tend to misjudge doorway access at times. Disabled doors also leave the doorway uncovered, leaving the technicians and sensitive maintenance equipment inside exposed to the weather. During colder months, crippling a door means the Orem facility heating system has to work harder to keep the technicians comfortable and productive, costing the operation more in HVAC costs. A disabled door also forces management to deal with the hassle of diverting buses to alternative doors. A high-speed roll-up door generally keeps its panel out of the way of approaching buses. Should the door get hit, its 1/4”-inch engineered styrene butadiene rubber panel is as tough as the tires on the bus. In addition, these doors offer no resistance to the impact, preventing damage to the bus. When hit, the panel releases from its side guides and can be easily reset when the door rolls up and then rethreads back into its guide. Efficient operation — A slow operating steel door burns the clock for buses waiting to leave the garage and get to the route. Faster operating rubber roll-up doors not only cut the waiting time, they also better protect the technicians and equipment inside from inclement weather. Sealed doorway — Because all doors get hit from time to time, banged-in steel doors often become misaligned to the doorframe, creating gaps that enable costly air infiltration. On roll-up doors, the flexible rubber panels ride along guides

that also provide a shield against energy loss. A gasket seal at the bottom of the door conforms to the contours of the floor. Confining maintenance to the buses — Parts on a steel door wear out frequently from the strain of handling heavy panel weight and operating torque. Door parts such as door springs, counterbalance parts and drive motors need constant replacing. The height and hazards of replacing the torsion springs often used on these doors can be a safety issue. Roll-up door design eliminates many of these parts. The designers of these doors use electronics to replace the functions handled mechanically on earlier models and on steel doors to provide more responsive operation. On-board programmable input and outputs interface with motion sensors and other actuation sensors when a bus approaches, in addition to providing smoother motion to lengthen mechanical door part life. Pedestrian safety — These same responsive electronic systems on roll-up doors contribute to greater doorway safety, being better able to detect the presence of people in the doorway. Just the weight of the 12 foot by 14 foot doors the UTA had at the Orem facility would pose a safety hazard for their employees in the path of the closing panels. These advancements in design on roll-up doors mean that bus maintenance doorways can be covered and protected, and the door panel can get out of the way so that buses run on schedule. Kurt Angerrmeier serves as marketing vice president, Rytec High Performance Doors, Jackson, WI.

Slow operating steel doors hamper buses leaving for their routes. Faster rubber roll-up doors save time and better protect personnel and equipment inside. | BUSRIDE







F a re










Co l l e c t i on

Smartphone access improves fare collection

RTC and Samsung SDS partner to launch an advanced transit open payment system in Las Vegas


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013






F a re










Co l l e c t i on

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), a transit authority and transportation-planning agency headquartered in Southern Nevada, and Samsung SDS, a global provider of information and communications technology services, announced the launch of a pilot program to test the latest version of Samsung SDS’s Advanced Open Payment Fare System for transit. The pilot is the cornerstone of a partnership between the RTC and Samsung SDS to introduce the latest technologies and systems for fare payment within the public transit system. For the pilot, the new system called TransitTap allows RTC transit riders on the Centennial Express (CX) bus route to pay fares with the “tap” of their MasterCard® PayPass™ contactless credit or prepaid debit cards, key fobs, or mobile payment tags. TransitTap will also accept payment from smartphones enabled with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology to securely validate payments by wirelessly communicating information from cards or devices to payment terminals via the MasterCard Network. The pilot began on Monday, September 9 and will continue for 90 days through Sunday, December 8. Transit riders using the CX can look for special TransitTap readers when boarding the vehicles. Samsung SDS has installed TransitTap readers and has deployed a web site and other systems to support contactless fare payment. Readers will display the MasterCard PayPass logo and universal contactless symbol so that riders recognize that their contactless cards and devices will be accepted. Samsung SDS’s solution for RTC incorporates the latest advances in fare payment technology. Any person with a MasterCard contactless card or device can pay his or her fare without searching for change or finding a vending machine to purchase a pass. Samsung SDS believes that through this new fare system, riders will have a faster, more convenient, reliable, and secure experience paying transit fares. The company will evaluate results of its pilot program immediately following its 90-day test period. Samsung SDS invested its own resources into developing the technology at no outside cost to the RTC. “We are glad to partner with Samsung SDS on this pilot that introduces and tests the latest innovation in fare payment technology to our transit riders,” says RTC General Manager Tina Quigley. “It’s critical that we continue to explore these types of emerging technologies that will help enhance our transit system and attract the next generation of transit riders. The experience of paying with TransitTap will be just like shopping in retail: a simple, quick tap on the reader and riders can board and be on their way.” Riders will also securely and privately access and manage their personal transit accounts in the same way they manage their payment card accounts. For the prepaid card, Benefit Resource is participating as a partner. “Benefit Resource is excited to offer a more convenient payment option for the transit riders of Southern Nevada through the contactless BRilliant® Prepaid MasterCard,” says Anthony DiBarnaba, president, Benefit Resource, Inc. “This is the first stage of an evolution to widespread use and acceptance of open payment contactless card technology in the transit industry and we are excited to be partnering with the RTC, Samsung SDS and MasterCard to help pave the way.” Additional information about the Pilot Program, including details on how to participate and what contactless cards and smart phones may be used to pay fares, will be available on a special website,

Samsung SDS’s longterm, extensive commitment to transportation service providers is multidimensional: system design and implementation, consulting, operations, and project management. In particular, Samsung SDS has more than seventeen years of experience in development, implementation, integration, and management of complex fare systems in 21 cities. Since 1996, Samsung SDS has installed 17 comprehensive fare systems that currently serve more than 10 million daily riders with more than 15,000 pieces of equipment. SDS’s experience extends even further, to delivering ICT and related technical and business process services that support service delivery, operations, and customer support for all public mass transit modes, as well as for toll roads, airports, heavy, long-distance rail, and highways. Samsung SDS has 34 overseas offices in 15 countries, including its North American headquarters in New Jersey, with over 14,000 employees. Samsung SDS also operates nine world-class data centers in six countries to serve its customers. More information is available at Above: Senator Harry Reid speaks at the unveiling of RTC’s University of Las Vegas transit center. Samsung SDS was on-hand to celebrate the event.

Samsung SDS Samsung SDS was established in 1985, and since its founding has become a global leader in information and communications technology (ICT) services, with extensive experience serving both enterprise and public sector customers in international markets. | BUSRIDE


The Volvo 9700:

Drivers like it

As Ryan’s Express grows, the company relies heavily on its six Volvo 9700s By David Hubbard


stablished in 1996 and now based in Torrance, CA, Ryan’s Express operates out of five locations that include Sacramento and San Diego, CA; Las Vegas, NV; and Phoenix, AZ. Operating a mixed fleet of 150 assorted coaches, cutaways and school buses, the company provides standard coach charters, extended tours and contract shuttle services, as well as school activity transport. Chief Executive Officer John Busskohl joined the company in February, bringing a lifetime of experience in his family’s coach company, Arrow Stage Lines, and subsequent positions with Coach America, Coach USA and the associated venture capital partners.

Ryan’s Express considers its six Volvo 9700s as workhorses for group tours. A Volvo 9700 rolls past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. 20

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BUSRide caught up with Waters at the end of a 15-day National Parks Tour of more than 3,000 miles through seven states. He offered his further observations on the performance and appeal of his coach. “My first experience with the Volvo was in 2010 with one of the first units delivered to Ryan’s Express,” Waters says. “After driving the other motorcoach brands, my first impression was that it looked and handled like a smaller vehicle.” He says the improvements to the coach since 2010 became apparent when he picked up his 2013 model in Dallas, TX, earlier this year. “What a difference in the transmission,” he says. “I immediately Ryan’s Express and the Volvo 9700 noticed the shifter control pad on the left-hand side rather than the stick on the right. I also noticed power of the engine.” Ryan’s Express received 10 of the first Volvo 9700 motorcoaches Waters is referring to the Volvo I-Shift and Volvo D13 engine. Volvo shipped to the United States from the Volvo Industrial de Mexico calls the I-Shift an intelligent transmission system that combines the (VIM); manufacturing facility in 2010. dependability of a manual gearbox with the comfort of an automatic While the company reported some mechanical issues and a few transmission in selecting the best gear for the engine. matters with fit and finish, Busskohl says issues have been resolved “The performance mode helped me in several times in tight places,” with the six 2013 Volvo 9700s it recently received in trade for the Waters says. “It goes through all the gears in very tight shifts. Hill Stop original 10. is also a welcome feature when the coach is stopped on an incline and I “We certainly commend Prevost and Volvo for the manner in have to start moving.” which they stepped up to troubleshoot our concerns, and ensure Waters also expressed his satisfaction with a feature only a coach everything was in working order on the new coaches,” Busskohl driver can appreciate, and one rarely says. “Issues and glitches generally mentioned in a press release. crop up in the first few models of “The fresh water toilets are second any new line, and they seemed to to none,” he says. “Driving 40 have worked them out.” passengers around for 15 days, I never Busskohl considers the six had to dump the holding tank. There Volvo 9700s as the workhorses for were no odors whatsoever emanating tours. He made sure each of the from the restroom at any time. The five Ryan’s Express locations had a passengers never complained.” unit to operate. In his seven years of driving a He says that while the Prevost variety of brands and models, Waters name stands for quality among “bus says the interior of the Volvo 9700 guys” like himself, customers are feels smaller to him. more familiar with the Volvo name “The front wheels are actually as a brand that stands for safety. behind the driver and the nose is Volvo 9700 longer, which took getting used to safety features Significant safety features on the Volvo 9700 mark an until I gained a feel for where the improvement over past models. Significant safety features on front wheels are,” he says. the Volvo 9700 include disc brakes with Electronic Braking System The kneeling feature also gets Water’s attention. (EBS) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP). In a brake blending “With the long nose, it is helpful to have the option of raising the function, the auxiliary brakes activate before the wheel brakes. The front end in tight situations,” he says. “The kneeling feature has helped engine brake delivers retardation over the speed range. to ease through dips or rises in driveways and parking lots.” The front impact protection (FIP) for the driver absorbs and diverts Asked if he would change anything on the coach, Waters has impact in the event of a frontal collision. The Knee Impact Protection one suggestion. provides energy-absorbing panels to reduce the risk of injury to the “If I have one complaint, it is the warning buzzer beneath the steps lower extremities. In a collision in which the driver’s knees strike the when the coach is kneeling during boarding and deboarding,” he says. instrument panel, the impact panels absorb the kinetic energy and “It beeps loudly and continuously and drives everyone crazy. I have crumple to minimize injury. received a lot of complaints from passengers about the noisy warning In the event of a front-on collision with an automobile, the frontdevice. They ask if it beeps like that all the time, and they ask why I under-run protection system (FUPS) protects the occupants in the can’t turn it off.” car who face the greatest risk of injury. A steel beam behind the front He also noted that the overhead parcel racks got a little crowded for bumper prevents the car from becoming wedged beneath the bus. In the group on this trip. a collision, the beam deforms to absorb the car’s impact. Volvo is the “On an extended trip for a couple of weeks, people begin to collect first vehicle manufacturer to employ this type of frontal under-run stuff,” he says. “This trip was with 40 passengers. I can see where I protection on buses. might have problems with a full coach.” The engine’s fire suppression system incorporates linear thermal Waters says he has made a number of shorter commuter runs and detection plus an optical infrared sensor to protect the engine feels the Volvo 9700 is excellent for that type of service, and perhaps for compartment and auxiliary heater. The system provides audible and tours shorter than 15 days. visual warnings to the driver in case of an incident. Reporting on the handling of the Volvo 9700, Waters has nothing but praise and says he’s very content with his Volvo coach. Driver likes what he sees “It handles like a million bucks and is a driver’s dream,” he says. Ryan’s Express driver Dan Waters works out of the Phoenix location “What surprised me is how at 45 feet long, this coach still drives like a and has one of the Volvo 9700s assigned to him for the longer tours smaller vehicle. I really enjoy that feel out on the road.” throughout the western states, in which he reports his Volvo 9700 He moved to Ryan’s Express from his most recent position in transit management when his company, TransTech, sold to Keolis Transit America. Since his arrival, Busskohl has worked to shore up best practices within the company and upgrade the Ryan’s Express fleet. All the coaches now run with GPS. The company also recently rolled out the Coach Manager software platform to better manage and measure reservations, dispatch, billing and payroll, as well as vehicle maintenance.

achieving seven to eight miles to per gallon fuel consumption. | BUSRIDE


BRT builds from a plan with vision Parsons Brinkerhoff’s Cliff Henke speaks to the aspects of successful Bus Rapid Transit planning By David Hubbard


Cliff Henke Senior Principal Technical Specialist Parsons Brinkerhoff, Inc. Los Angeles, CA


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

or over a century, Parsons Brinkerhoff, New York, NY, has viewed public transit as an inherent community-building tool that influences investment decisions and fosters economic development and revitalization. The firm helps transportation agencies plan, design and manage the construction of all forms of mass transit, which more recently includes its work in Bus Rapid Transit. Cliff Henke, senior principal technical specialist for Parsons Brinkerhoff, spoke with BUSRide on his experience and view of BRT in America, particularly the aspects of projects in the early planning and funding phases.

What is your view of public transit and the growing interest in Bus Rapid Transit?

Where does the process to design, construct and implement a BRT project begin?

This country’s great dependency on the automobile has taken nearly a century to evolve. It will take many more decades to shape our view of public transportation much differently, but for now we are seeing a lot of exciting innovation. The downside is that transit, like government programs in general, is facing funding challenges as the demand for services is increasing. In light of that, citizens in cities throughout the country are voting to tax themselves to raise additional funds to advance transit project spending. In this economic climate, cities are coming to realize that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a flexible and less expensive solution, and more cities could use a BRT system in densely populated corridors. Rail is growing rapidly, but BRT is becoming a very attractive option because of advancements in equipment and technology over the last 10 years.

The critical first step is to determine the needs for such a system. As a newer mode, the idea is to be absolutely clear on what the transit agency is trying to do, and why a BRT solution is even under consideration. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) also looks first at purpose and needs when a transit authority submits its proposal for funding.

Is the public waking up to BRT? The ultimate success of BRT is a matter of education and familiarity. It follows the evolution of conventional transit. In the 1960s, everyone was looking at heavy rail solutions. When light rail came along, the industry again set out to educate the public. Now everyone is learning more about the benefits of BRT. Why are more cities considering BRT? It comes down to what a municipality can afford in order to handle its transit capacity now and in the future. Bus Rapid Transit is proving itself as a cost effective solution, especially because of the shorter time it takes to implement BRT and make it operational. The advantage of BRT is its flexibility to connect with other transportation modes, and its ability to adapt to shifts in community development and changing policy.

Who pulls the trigger? The decision to move on the project typically comes from the local level and begins with a feasibility study or alternatives analysis. It culminates in a locally preferred alternative that will then be entered into the agency’s transportation improvement plan. Finally, the plan is submitted to the regional metropolitan planning body to be included in the region’s long range transportation plan. What are the greatest challenges in the beginning of a project? Gaining the show of support at the local level, politically and financially, greatly increases the chances of securing the requested funding. How do politics help or hinder the planning process? Politics are fundamental, and politics are what BRT planning is really all about. Political support is critical in moving a project forward. The decision to implement any mode of transportation requires a collective decision from the community, business leaders and government officials. With the enactment of MAP-21, the FTA is more insistent on the level of commitment a community is willing to make toward funding. | BUSRIDE


Proposed Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project includes Los Angeles’ first two BRT corridors on Wilshire Boulevard.

Where does this commitment come from? It takes political champions who can drive the request for funding. Private sector stakeholders, interest groups and businesses that have a stake in the development of the project also play very important roles. What are the essentials in the BRT planning phase? Planning is primarily a function of “getting all the ducks in a row” to ask for funding, which involves the feasibility and alternatives analyses. Akin to playing “devil’s advocate,” these studies essentially compare all viable transportation modes to the proposed BRT system and route corridors — light rail, streetcar or conventional transit — as well as compared to doing nothing. The alternatives analysis narrows the choices based on the costs to plan, design and construct the system, as well as the ongoing operational costs. After weighing in on all the possible solutions, the transit board will make its recommendation for the regional transportation investment fund. Can you cite an example of your work in the planning phase? We did an implementation study for Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ, that included a number of BRT corridors, which the voters approved in the last transportation ballot initiatives. The board members envisioned the corridors going into effect so fast that they hired Parsons Brinkerhoff to look at the implementation stages and strategies for multiple corridors, prioritize their construction and get the stakeholders involved. Then the recession hit and the funding dried up. The impact from recession was an especially hard hit for Phoenix. Though the city is gaining a foothold, Valley Metro had to temporarily shelve a number of projects due to its loss of funding — forces well beyond the control of the stakeholders. Nonetheless, such circumstances still affect the FTA’s view of a project. Does every city get it right? What constitutes best practices and what would prove to be ineffective planning? Typically, transportation bodies have not embraced BRT proposals right away. They have taken a wait-and-see approach to see how it plays out in other communities. Effective BRT planning requires the vision to look decades ahead with a clear plan for continual development. Several scenarios could constitute what might be poor planning. The worst case would be not getting down to the real purpose of the proposed project, and not getting the needs right at the onset. Projects also often sink when local politicians change their minds and reverse their position, or get voted out of office. We have encountered 24

BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

instances where a community had the funding lined up only to see it pulled when the leaders no longer wanted to follow through on the project for a variety of reasons. Would you say successful BRT planning faces some long odds? Conditions can change as the project evolves. The fiscal landscape can face devastating fluctuations, which the stakeholders adapt to or risk losing the community consensus. It is difficult not only to have those champions but also to sustain support over the length of any public transportation project. That’s why another major attraction of BRT is its quick implementation. It’s often as quick as a politician’s single term. Who, in your mind, has done it right? The Wasatch Front in Utah is a region that gets it. A consortium of the business community, religious leaders and political figures came together and were able to settle on what they truly wanted their regional transportation to look like in 50 years. Their takeaway was that they needed to invest seriously and heavily in public transit. They laid the groundwork for a series of successful ballot initiatives over the next several years that put the plans in place. This very conservative region has passed record levels of public transportation investment over the years. The FTA now looks to Utah Transit Authority as a model for what to do right. How does a city determine the most opportune placement of BRT routes and corridors? Typically, BRT corridors build from the most heavily traveled transit routes. A proposed BRT route also reflects the level of development a city intends for its transit corridors. For example, one of Los Angeles’ first two BRT corridors is on Wilshire Boulevard, which the city is now upgrading with bus-only lanes and other improvements. Not only is this the most traveled bus route, the Westside Purple and Red Line subway lines also partly travel the same route beneath the roadway. In Phoenix, the voters stated they wanted to service outlying areas, where there was only nominal service or none at all. As a result, Valley Metro has an express service in place that could eventually connect with a BRT system. At what point do BRT planners engage engineers and architects in the project? Planners engage these professionals early on, especially during the alternatives analysis, where they help conceptualize the corridors, stations and any suggested transit development. Planners also need to present visualizations, which are renderings of the project, when they engage in public meetings.


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BRT combines with Monterey Jazz By Carl Sedoryk General Manager and CEO Monterey-Salinas Transit The long-awaited JAZZ Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is now operating after more than five years of planning, identifying funding sources, plus a year to construct and implement the project. Our seven specially-branded JAZZ BRT buses have been traveling the 6.75 mile corridor for barely four months. Our project is unique to say the least. Working with the Monterey Jazz Festival (MJF) has afforded us a one-of-a-kind opportunity to operate a transit line and create a linear museum to spotlight the sights, sounds, and social significance of the world’s longest continuously running jazz festival. The JAZZ BRT provides a one-of-a-kind experience for our residents and for visitors, who can travel and learn about the history of the festival at the same time. With approval from the Monterey Jazz Festival staff, Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) hired the festival’s graphic designer Phil Wellman to develop our BRT brand by creating visual elements similar to those for the festival. Wellman worked with South American artist Pablo Lobato to arrive at the captivating graphics for the buses. The original vision The very first inkling of BRT for this area began with my predecessor Frank Lichtanski, who was an early proponent of Bus Rapid Transit. He traveled on his own money to investigate the BRT systems in operation in other countries, and hosted conferences The JAZZ BRT provides a one-ofa-kind experience for residents and visitors.


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

in the Monterey region to educate policy makers on the value and benefits BRT could bring. Building on Lichtanski’s vision after his death in 2005, MST set out to re-brand the existing MST 24 line to better serve the Carmel Valley area. Interested vintners and growers in the Monterey region provided the agency with marketing funds to create a more vibrant image of transit to serve the numerous wineries, tasting rooms, restaurants, and shops. We named the new minibus service the Grapevine Express. Due to its snappier branding and faster service, we quickly realized a quadruple increase in ridership along this new direct and more frequent route. It occurred to us that the Grapevine Express was much like BRT, but just on a smaller scale. The need arises Further customer surveys revealed the lowest levels of satisfaction of transit service in on-time performance, service frequency, and bus stop amenities. Also, the lines serving shopping and residential areas of Sand City and Seaside had a highest percentage of transfers to routes serving the hotels, businesses, and attractions of areas surrounding Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Based on the success of the Grapevine Express, this new information spurred us to improve the level of local transit for residents, employees, and tourists traveling between the cities within this region. In 2007, the Monterey Bay Air Pollution Control District, which funds projects that reduce auto emissions and improve air quality, provided us seed money that allowed us to conduct a study to enable the project to qualify for a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Very Small Starts program. We received federal grant funding in 2008 and moved forward with the final planning and design of the Fremont-Lighthouse BRT line to serve the cities of Monterey, Seaside, Sand City, and link the major visitor and shopping destinations. Our project qualified for BRT funding by meeting the required FTA thresholds, including daily ridership, the use of low-floor buses, unique branding, traffic signal, prioritization, stations, off bus fare collection, and on-time next bus arrival technology. While we marveled at what larger cities had accomplished, and were inspired by such metropolitan BRT systems such as Healthline in Cleveland, OH, and EmX in Eugene, OR, we scaled-back and incorporated only certain BRT elements to levels we thought were a better fit for the size of the communities in our area.


For example, the Cleveland and Eugene systems have fixed bus guideways, which we just could not accommodate within our corridor. There just was not enough room. Our buses operate in conventional traffic lanes and jump queues constructed by the conversion of on-street parking areas. We have achieved significant time savings without the tremendous capital investment that other larger projects have required. Who likes JAZZ The JAZZ BRT system incorporates public infrastructure with public art. Our buses and shelters are now places to study learn and access actual jazz music performances through smartphones. From a transit industry perspective, this is a very unusual concept — and one we had to sell. Because this seemed so far beyond the normal scope of public transit, we had to spend many days and evenings attending community meetings and events such as farmers markets and street fairs. Riders’ Aha! moment came once they realized what they would be able experience and enjoy while simply waiting for a bus at any of the shelters. From then on, the public embraced our project with enthusiasm.

such thing as a small BRT construction project. Our project involved a lot of hard work and effort, and we have come out with a product that exceeds all expectations. BRT is not for the faint of heart. For the small urban operator, a project of this size stretches the staff and the governing board to move beyond their traditional roles and responsibilities. However, with a commitment to a vision, perseverance and broad community support, even a small operator can construct a big project that provides multiple benefits for an The JAZZ BRT system incorporates public entire community. infrastructure with public art.

JAZZ BRT creates jobs One of the important aspects of this project is the fact that we secured $6 million in funding at a time when the economy was going sideways. The country was experiencing double-digit rates of unemployment. We were able to spend the vast majority of funds within the Monterey Bay region, putting hundreds of people to work at a time when there was not much work available. We contracted locally for construction, as well as for the creation of the art and graphics for the buses and shelters. We put a lot of people to work when there wasn’t much work available at the time. What we have learned What we know already is that ridership and on-time performance are increasing faster than our system averages. We went from five shelters to 19 over the 6.75 miles, and increased seating capacity on benches at bus shelters by over 70 percent. It will take about a year to see its true impact, as the economy of the Monterey area is tourist based and we have to let traffic each season run its course. Based on our experience, everyone at Monterey-Salinas Transit learned there is no | BUSRIDE


If that call comes

ABA Crisis Communications program preserves the integrity and reputation of the company By David Hubbard


or a motorcoach owner, an accident with injuries and possible loss of life is the worst event that can happen for the company and everyone involved. Before such an event should occur, the question to ask is this: How prepared is the company to handle the sudden news of an accident that’s capable of putting the entire business in jeopardy? The operator most likely has safety policies and procedures for almost every situation, but how ready is the staff to work with the media when reporters show up at the door wanting answers? Stories travel around the internet in minutes. Reports that include pictures and video from smartphones appear immediately on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and news websites. Meanwhile, company leaders are making critical decisions while juggling a host of stressful situations. They may be simultaneously dealing with the families of injured passengers, cooperating with local and state law enforcement and helping employees cope with stress. All the while, the media is calling and covering the story with information typically gathered from a wide array of sources. The community is watching and communicating on social media to see how the company responds to the crisis. The company must do all it can to protect its reputation. This is where the American Bus Association (ABA) can help its member operators. As the only association to offer assistance with media relations, the ABA Crisis Communications team provides immediate, around-the-clock service in these instances. This program has undergone vetting by a national public relations agency, the NTSB, the academic community and top ABA leadership. Dan Ronan, ABA senior director, Communications, and former network news reporter, leads the effort. “The ABA steps in as an in-house public relations advisor to assist with the many calls from reporters,” Ronan says. “We work with the company to keep the message on-track and consistent. Because the reporters sometimes get their stories wrong, ABA will help ensure that the media reports the story correctly.” Ronan points to two examples of how ABA has been effective in these areas. ABA recently assisted two members involved in separate accidents within days of one another; one in New Orleans, LA, the other in Tallahassee, FL. Both companies were transporting school-age passengers on spring trips. In both cases, automobiles driving on the wrong side of Interstate-10 struck the coaches. ABA worked with the media in both cities to explain how the two companies were working with school officials, authorities and others to make sure the children were safe and got to their destinations.


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

In 2011 an ABA member’s coach suffered an accident in Nebraska on its way to Denver, CO. A passenger concocted a story that the driver had been texting while driving. Working with the operator and law enforcement, ABA ascertained that the driver wasn’t texting. Once the national and regional media were able to report the truth and invalidate the rumor, the company was able to preserve its otherwise outstanding reputation. Ronan says that even when a company involved in a serious accident is 100-percent fault-free, the event nonetheless becomes part of their permanent record. ABA believes that in most cases it is far better that a company prepares in advance to engage the media on its own terms. “When my company got that call at 3 a.m., the ABA was among the first group of calls I made,” says Ron Moore, president of Burlington Trailways, West Burlington, IA. “The association dealt with the media exclusively and did it very well — factually and quickly. Anyone would be crazy not to be an ABA member just for this service.” William Torres, president of D.C. Trails, Washington, D.C., says ABA quickly took over all aspects of media relations during a past accident. “With assistance in this area, we were free to help the passengers and work with the authorities,” he says. “This service through ABA is priceless.”

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Comtrans offers a new view of Russia By Doug Jack


hile many of you were probably at BusCon in Chicago, I went in a completely different direction to Comtrans in Moscow. Even in the United Kingdom, some people give you a funny look when you tell them you are going to Russia, as if they are questioning your wisdom. I was travelling with hand luggage, but arrived at a very modern terminal and went from my seat in the aircraft to meeting my driver in 15 minutes. That included a friendly welcome to Russia from the immigration officer. Many of the younger people speak good English, and most people are friendly and courteous. It is always well worth a visit. Modernizing Russian fleets Every time I return to Russia, the traffic seems to be even more congested. There is a growing and well-educated middle class, and that has created demand for high-quality cars and multipurpose vehicles.

The city authorities are responding by investing heavily in public transport, expanding the excellent Metro system and modernizing the fleet with new low-floor diesel buses and trolleybuses. Mosgortrans is currently taking delivery of 2,000 buses from LiAZ, the Likino Bus factory located near Moscow. Public sector companies in Russia are obliged to buy vehicles built in the country, although there are complaints that they are not as durable as Western products. Corrosion is still a major problem, with many vehicles requiring major rebuilding every few years. Mosgortrans specifies MAN engines to the latest European emission standards, even though Russia only requires Euro 4 emission limits. Moscow is relatively flat, therefore the MAN engines are compact 6.7 liter units mounted vertically and offset in line behind the rear axle, opposite a third double-width door. ZF of Germany supplies the fully automatic gearboxes and axles.

An interurban coach from NefAZ, a subsidiary of KamAZ.


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT The authorities are now talking about putting the operation of bus routes out to competitive tender. They are looking at an arrangement similar to London where the transport authority establishes the route network, frequencies, fares and types of vehicles. The authority plans to collect all the revenue and pay contractors an agreed rate per mile on a fixed term contract. Moscow is talking about permitting contractors to buy buses from Western European manufacturers in order to raise standards and improve service quality. Actually, that is a little misleading. The front-runners are probably Iveco, MAN and MercedesBenz with factories in the Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey respectively. The drivetrains are completely Western European, but construction to Western quality standards takes place in countries with much lower labor rates. If that goes to plan, there will be a great political battle. The largest domestic bus builder is the powerful GAZ Group that has four factories building buses and coaches of various sizes and types, including LiAZ buses. GAZ itself makes minibuses, including the popular Gazelle. Known as mashkrutas. many of these run on fixed routes in the cities (like shared taxis). At the beginning of this year, Scania and Sweden won an order to supply 709 chassis of different types bodied by GolAZ, the Golitsyno factory of the GAZ Group. Most of these vehicles are 49 feet long on three axles with a floor height around 33 inches above the ground. A passenger in a wheelchair can be taken on or off the vehicle by a lift that is normally stored behind the stairwell at the second double-width doorway. This is quite a major advance in Russia, which is not the most accessible country for people with disabilities. Russia is hosting the Winter Olympic Games next February in Sochi on the Black Sea, and is investing billions of dollars on the venues and infrastructure.

A low-floor MAZ bus with a Mercedes-Benz CNG engine and Allison automatic gearbox.

A LiAZ low-floor city bus with Western European driveline. | BUSRIDE



A Scania with a GolAZ body for the Winter Olympics.

A new low-floor LiAZ city bus near the Kremlin in Moscow.

Mostransavto, a major bus company in the Moscow region, will operate all the buses and coaches for the Winter Olympics. After the games they will enter service in and around Moscow, substantially modernizing the fleet. Scania is assisting by setting up workshop facilities in Sochi to be manned round-the-clock during the games.

diesel. While demand for gas heating is very high in winter, it drops in summer. Gazprom has targeted the bus industry because it is a potential year-round consumer. Russia joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year. Over time, this should lead to the elimination of tariffs and duties that have until now protected domestic industries. Russia is a major exporter of oil, gas and minerals and is keen to develop that business. There are already some disputes with WTO. For example, import duties on luxury coaches have gone up, but that is only a very limited sector of the market. Most long distance travel is still done by rail, with an increasing number of air services because of the great distances. Chinese and Korean manufacturers, especially Hyundai, are selling simpler and less expensive coaches in Russia.

Comtrans Comtrans took place in the Crocus Expo Centre, a large and modern complex on the outer ring motorway around Moscow. Although trucks dominated the exhibition, I saw quite a number of interesting buses and coaches. Gazprom, the major Russia gas utility, is encouraging city bus fleets to invest in gas-fueled vehicles. Currently, gas runs at about 40 percent of the price of


BUSRIDE | N O V E M B E R . 2013

THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT Their factories are nearer to customers in Siberia than the main factories of the domestic builders. MAZ, the Minsk Automobile Factory from neighboring Belarus, has a customs union with Russia. MAZ started building buses around 20 years ago to Neoplan designs, but has now developed its own range of low-floor diesel and trolleybuses in various lengths, as well as articulated. A low-floor bus with a MercedesBenz CNG engine and an Allison fully automatic gearbox was on exhibit. Anadolu Isuzu was the only Turkish manufacturer at Comtrans. It displayed three midicoaches and an attractive lowentry midibus. Daimler owns a minority shareholding in KamAZ, the largest domestic truck builder. Its subsidiary NefAZ makes low-floor city buses and higher floor interurban coaches, and can offer the option of a Cummins CNG engine. Cummins engines were installed in quite a number of buses and coaches at Comtrans. The smallest units are the 2.8-liter and 3.8-liter ISF engines, built in China and suitable for midibuses. Most of Russia is relatively flat, therefore high power is not a prerequisite. One interesting installation was a CNG engine in a midicoach built by the Kurgan factory of the GAZ Group. It was designed for short interurban routes, therefore the gas tanks were located under the floor. Larger Cummins ISL and ISM engines were installed in King Long and Higer coaches from China. The largest bus factory in the GAZ Group is at Pavlovo, 400 miles east of Moscow. In an average year they build around 10,000 mid-size buses. Most of them have a very square shape with a front-mounted engine and a relatively high floor. Surprisingly just over half the production is with V8 gasoline engines. The majority of production is for Russia and neighboring countries. However, more than 300 chassis are being delivered this year to Cuba. Traveling to and from Comtrans was an excellent opportunity to observe vehicles in service. Moscow has introduced some bus priority lanes and, with so many people living in huge apartment blocks outside the city, bus service is very frequent. Most of the old high-floor city buses have disappeared. Buses appeared to be in good condition and free from any dents or scrapes, suggesting that standards of maintenance are good. Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom. | BUSRIDE






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BUSRide November 2013  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry. In our November 2013 cover story: Drivers like the Volvo 9700.

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