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OCTOBER | 2014

busride.com $5.00

O F F I C I A L

BUSRide Road Test:

Winnebago Metro Link

quiets

the ride

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MCI: Commuter coaches in Houston p26 San Diego transit expands p34 Open architecture offers flexibility p38

inside


7 14 sit 83 0 Vi #2 PO 2 h ot EX Bo TA AP at

Designed for the highway, built for commuter express The MCI Commuter Coach The MCI Commuter Coach has earned its position as the proven, North American leader in Commuter Express bus service for public transit systems due to its safety, reliability and comfort at highway speeds. Our coach is strong and durable, with a rugged semi-monocoque structure that elevates passengers and drivers above traffic, plus Electronic Stability Control (ESC), tire pressure monitoring system and fire suppression system that make express routes, BRT and Bus-on-Shoulder service safer.

©2014 MCI

Our other strengths? Value and comfort. The MCI Commuter Coach offers a highly competitive per-seat price, plus low cost of operation and the best MDBF rate over all other types of bus models. Proven in the fleets of some of the nation’s most demanding transit agencies, it’s a hit with passengers too, thanks to comfortable forward-facing seats, reading lights, 110v outlets and high-capacity air conditioning. Plus, the MCI Commuter Coach is Buy America-compliant and available in clean-diesel, hybrid and CNG options. So whether you’re looking to build capacity, serve new markets, improve passenger safety and comfort or simply build on your reputation for reliability, service and value, the Commuter Coach is ready to transform your commutes. To learn more about the MCI® Commuter Coach, go to www.mcicoach.com/commuter


Our name has changed, but our integrity and values haven’t.

We continue to lead the industry with innovative, customer-focused solutions to strengthen transit, paratransit and rail operations in more than 200 cities and communities in the U.S. and Canada.

Veolia Transportation has changed its name to Transdev transdevna.com


OCTOBER 2014 CONTENTS

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Cover Story Official BUSRide Road Test: The Winnebago Metro Link

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Winnebago has entered public transit with a cutaway that tests quiet and responsive By David Hubbard

Features Stagecoach chief talks megabus.com

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Martin Griffiths explains how and why the system has succeeded in the U.S. By Doug Jack

BYD expands and moves forward

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As AVTA’s new bus outperforms expectations, BYD turns its attention to disadvantaged businesses

MCI is at home in Houston

Electrical systems can confuse techs 26

D-model Commuter Coaches for Metro in the spotlight at APTA EXPO 2014 By David Hubbard

Eight seconds to find the way CHK America responds to the psychology of transit mapping

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42

44

An older idea from Village Technology could still fight urban congestion

Cubic Transportation launches new programs and services 46

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BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

Metro St. Louis employs predictive monitoring to foresee component failures

U.S. DOT celebrates transit openings

The list for 2015 showcases the favorites and hidden gems

New technology and big data provide traffic solutions in major cities

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52

By David Hubbard

By Richard Tackett

Transit at the pedestrian level

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Improved brush technology means less wasted resources

Technology acts as the crystal ball

Accenture’s Michael J. Wilson explains how new technology creates competitive choices

ABA names its Top 100 Events

By Robert Buchwalter

By Jack Jackson

By David Hubbard

Open architecture welcomes everyone

Understanding the basics of electricity is key for electrical technicians

Touchless washing reduces costs 28

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Representatives from the Federal Transit Administration attended openings in Grand Rapids and Cleveland

DEPARTMENTS

COLUMNS

8 Update 11 People in the News 12 Deliveries 34 Transit Authority

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David Hubbard

14 Focus on Innovation

By Steve Hessel

16 TransIT

By Mary Sue O’Melia

30 BUS BRANDING

By Ryan Kelly

32 THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT

By Doug Jack

busride.com


FROM THE EDITOR

Innovation always has our attention

Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane steve@busride.com Group Publisher Sali T. Williams swilliams@busride.com

In addition to everything else that goes on at APTA EXPO every three years, I am especially interested in attending APTA EXPO 2014 this month in Houston, TX. The association has created an inviting opportunity for forward thinkers to present their solutions to complicated challenges in public transportation. Monday afternoon, October 13, in the Learning Zone on Plaza 3, select participants gleaned from applications will have all of five minutes to make their case in The Public Transportation Innovation Challenge. The APTA panel of judges will award a $500 prize to the top presentations in three categories. Of course, if any one of these good ideas should make it to fruition, the benefit to the industry will be far greater. The APTA judges will award the most innovative concept, the best overall presentation and the best idea that a transit agency could feasibly implement today. Creativity, innovation, fresh thinking and oblique approaches always get my attention. The announcement of this competition gave me pause to reflect on the some of the elegant solutions presented in BUSRide over the last 10 years. Two in particular exemplify the spirit of this contest and encore in this issue to emphasize the importance of innovation in keeping public transportation alive and exciting. Unfortunately, for all its benefit to urban congestion, the pedestrian-level people mover architecture that Village Technology patented and proposed in 2006 (page 44) is still a viable idea waiting to happen, and would undoubtedly turn heads in the coming APTA Public Transportation Challenge. On the other hand, St. Louis Metro stepped out on the cutting edge of predictive monitoring as early as 2005, and by 2011 was well ahead of the curve, developing and implementing its own proprietary analytical protocol for predictive monitoring and maintenance (page 52). The technology essentially personalizes every bus in the fleet. The Plan, as the agency calls it, eliminates any generalization as to why and when to send a particular vehicle into the shop, and turns any sort of failure into a very personal matter. In light of the focus at APTA, both of these innovations merit another read.

David Hubbard Executive Editor BUSRide Magazine

Executive Editor David Hubbard david@busride.com Editor Richard Tackett rtackett@busride.com Art Director Stephen Gamble sgamble@theproducersinc.com Production Coordinator Ching In Hsu nhsu@busride.com Accountant Fred Valdez fvaldez@powertrademedia.com 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 busride.com

Vol. 50 • No. 10 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: 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.

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BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

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CALL US TODAY! 877-723-4045 “TEMSA”, “TS35” and Circle Design marks are trademarks owned by TEMSA GLOBAL SANAYI VE TICARET ANONIM SIRKETI.


UPDATE

Voith DIWA Excellence gives operators a boost

Maine’s fall foliage season is underway.

Maine anticipates spectacular fall foliage Maine’s fall foliage season is under way. The 2014 Fall Foliage Report from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reported in mid-September that the northernmost area of the state was still green still with hints of color; and still on track for a typical fall foliage season with northern Maine reaching peak conditions by the end of September into the first week of October. Coastal Maine typically reaches peak conditions October 13 through October 25, according to Gale Ross, Coastal Maine typically reaches Maine’s fall foliage peak foliage conditions October 13 through October 25. spokesperson. As overnight temperatures drop into the 40s and daylight decreases, rangers expect a gradual change in leaf color from north to south culminating in peak conditions in late October. Leaf peepers can visit the state’s official foliage website www.MaineFoliage. com and sign-up to receive weekly reports by e-mail. Visitors and natives can share their photos of the riot of color throughout the state as the leaves gradually change. There will also be information about the fall foliage and ranger-led hikes in the state parks. In addition to the spectacular fall foliage, visitors to Maine can also enjoy the many fall festivals that occur throughout the state. The Trails End Festival 2014 took place in Millinocket September 12 – 14. People in the Katahdin Region and from all over celebrated with food, activities and fun for the whole family in downtown Millinocket. For more information about Maine fall activities and festivals, go to www.visitmaine.com or call the Maine Office of Tourism at 1-888-624-6345.

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BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

Throughout the IAA Commercial Vehicles Exhibition in Hannover, Germany, Voith is presenting its second generation telemetric system DIWA SmartNet, as a means to monitor operating costs, fuel consumption and preventative measures in maintenance and repairs. Re-manufactured by Voith is a further service highlight at the exhibition that features completely overhauled transmissions, control units and retarders brought into line with the state of the art. Voith calls its service and consulting program DIWA Excellence, beginning with the configuration of the driveline and extending over the entire lifecycle. The objectives are to reduce costs, make overhauls plannable, keep repair times short and ensure the availability of vehicles.

Voith is showcasing DIWA SmartNet, its second-generation telemetrics system, in Hannover, Germany.

Second generation of DIWA SmartNet at IAA The Voith telemetric system DIWA SmartNet has proved its value as an automatic monitoring system for DIWA transmissions over the past four years. At IAA, Voith will demonstrate how the technology reads and evaluates operating and maintenance data in order to suggest which transmissions should be repaired or replaced.

Remanufactured by Voith; used components as good as new As part of the DIWA Excellence program, Voith offers exchange transmissions, completely overhauled at the Munich location and remanufactured to the state of the art. This global Voith service network can provide the necessary technical support in a fast and cost-efficient way, as well as spare parts, including exchange transmissions, which operators receive at the same technical level as a new transmissions. Voith says downtimes are considerably reduced. Air compressors as retrofits Voith will also be demonstrating its two air compressors, the LP 725 and the LP 490, which are already used in series for the new generation of Euro 6 engines. In the context of its service package, Voith offers the option of retrofitting pre-charged two and three-cylinder air compressors. Two of the benefits which vehicle operators can expect are fuel savings of up to one liter per 100 kilometers and low energy consumption thanks to an innovative idle system. Voith supplies conversion kits for various Mercedes-Benz, MAN and Volvo Euro 3 to Euro 5 engines.

busride.com


UPDATE

ACT honors its commuter champions The Association of Commuter Transportation (ACT), Alexandria, VA, is an international trade association and leading advocate for commuter transportation and transportation demand management. During its 2014 ACT International Conference in San Francisco in August, the association recognized 19 outstanding organizations and individuals in transportation demand management (TDM) for innovative concepts, creative solutions, and professional achievement. Among them: Bob Owens TDM Champions acknowledges innovative entrepreneurs for their commitment to development in TDM. Winners: Luanna Huber, The Walt Disney Company, Los Angeles, CA and Kay Carson, “CTrides” Program, Rocky Hill, CT Excellence in Advocacy honors an ACT member and organization for exceptional advocacy for TDM. Winner: Heather Wheeler, Community Transportation Association, Boise, ID Outstanding TMA recognizes a transportation management association for its best use of public-private partnerships to achieve local and regional transportation goals. Winner: RideFinders, a division of GRTC Transit Systems, Richmond, VA Excellence in Scholarship acknowledges recent scholarly work in TDM. Winners: Chanyoung Lee, Ph.D., Phil Winters, Joan Pino, and Debbie Schultz, Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL Marketing and Outreach recognizes organizations that have developed and implemented a product, program, promotion, service or marketing campaign that address commuter needs. Winners: The Walt Disney Corporation, Burbank, California; TMA: Pima Association of Governments Sun Rideshare, Tucson, AZ; GVF TMA, King of Prussia, PA; University: Stanford University, Stanford, CA President’s Award presented by ACT President Josh Kavanagh honors excellence by elected leaders, volunteers, and partners in TMA. Winners: Connie McGee, Enterprise Rideshare, San Leandro, CA; Penny Menton, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA; Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL

The new 15-mile route features 46 stations, including 12 it shares downtown with the MetroRapid 801 line, with service to several college campuses including the University of Texas at Austin, the city’s museum district, two of the city’s most popular shopping destinations, downtown Austin and the State Capitol. The two MetroRapid routes form an “X” across the heart of Austin and connect approximately 25 percent of Capital Metro’s service area along some of the most heavily trafficked routes. Capital Metro says its two MetroRapid lines launched on time and under budget. Funding for the new service came from a $38 million federal grant, which amounted to roughly 80 percent of the $47.6 million total project cost. “Just like the 801, which took to the streets in late January, the 803 lets riders explore all of the best of what we have in Austin,” said Capital Metro President/CEO Linda S. Watson at the launch in August. “After just seven months, we’re about to provide our one-millionth trip on MetroRapid, which indicates people are really enjoying the new ride.”

Niagara Scenic Tours is one of two companys that joined IMG at its 2014 annual meeting.

IMG welcomes two new member operators During its annual meeting in Branson, MO, the International Motorcoach Group (IMG), Overland Park, KS, announced the addition of two new companies to its network of motorcoach operators. IMG President Bronwyn Wilson welcomed Niagara Scenic Tours, Hamburg, NY, and Ayr Coach Lines, Waterloo, ON, Canada, bringing the member count to 51 companies throughout North America. “We are delighted that these companies have joined IMG, as their membership increases the coverage of our network, which benefits our customers and IMG operators alike,” said IMG Chairman

WHEEL-CHECK THE LOOSE WHEEL-NUT INDICATOR Photo by Brio Yiapan

Capital Metro launches second MetroRide BRT route Capital Metro, Austin, TX, launched its second of two MetroRapid BRT routes, the 803, in August on some of the city’s busiest streets, providing frequent service on new buses with spacious interiors, free Wi-Fi and upgraded stations with real-time arrival information.

Because you could lose more than a wheel! Safe

Loose and unsafe

CALL: 888.829.1556 • wheel-check.com busride.com | BUSRIDE

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UPDATE Dennis Streif, vice president, Vandalia Bus Lines, Caseyville, IL. “Niagara Scenic Tours and Ayr Coach Lines are companies that have a strong commitment to customer service, safety, training and maintenance; commitments that are so important to us at IMG.” Wilson says as IMG looks ahead, it will carefully continue to grow its North American footprint. “We have and continue to receive inquiries from operators wanting to join IMG,” she says. “We have identified key cities where an IMG presence would be desirable, however it is not our intent to grow just for the sake of growth. We will carefully review all applicants to ensure that IMG standards and core values match.”

Proterra recognized as a global technology pioneer The World Economic Forum (WEF) recognized Proterra Inc., Greenville, SC, a manufacturer of zero-emission, battery-electric transit buses, as a 2015 Technology Pioneer — one of only 24 companies selected worldwide and the only company on the list serving the mass transit sector. The WEF’s Technology Pioneers program honors companies from around the world involved in the design, development and deployment of new technologies poised to have a significant impact on business and society. Most significantly, Technology Pioneers must demonstrate vision and the promise of long-term industry leadership — and their technology must be proven. “Proterra is proud to be named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum and recognized for the effectiveness of our technology and the positive impact it has had in the communities in which our transit buses are operating,” said Ryan Popple, president and chief executive officer, Proterra Inc. “Thanks in large part to Proterra’s efforts, the transit industry is able to offer riders a viable, sustainable and cost-effective urban transit solution. We recognize the long-term importance of these efforts in achieving energy independence and protecting the environment for future generations, and we are committed to continuing to lead the way.” Proterra buses have logged nearly 500,000 miles of revenue service in cities across the United States, and their performance has resulted in repeat business from multiple cities. Among its customers are King County Metro, Seattle, WA; TARC, Louisville, KY; MTA, Nashville, TN; VIA Metropolitan, San Antonio, TX; StarMetro , Tallahassee, FL; RTC, Reno , NV; WRTA, Worcester, MA, and Foothill Transit, Pomona, CA.

WSP Global acquires Parsons Brinkerhoff WSP Global Inc., Montréal, QB, Canada, announced in early September its agreement to purchase Parsons Brinckerhoff Group Inc. (PB), New York, NY, from Balfour Beatty PLC for an enterprise value of $1.2 billion plus an additional consideration for cash retained by PB of up to $110 million. The boards of both WSP and Balfour Beatty plc have approved the terms of the acquisition, which remains subject to certain conditions. The companies say the acquisition process should be completed later this year, at which time George J. Pierson, PB president and CEO, will become an executive member of the WSP Global Board of Directors. Parsons Brinkerhoff is a global firm that provides services in transportation, community development and other infrastructure 10

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

systems. It operates a network of approximately 170 offices on five continents and employs nearly 13,500. Balfour Beatty acquired PB in 2009.

Stertil-Koni sponsors National Lift Week, Oct. 6-12 Leading up to the American Public Transport Association (APTA) Annual Meeting and Expo in Houston, TX, Stertil-Koni, Stevensville, MD, will sponsor the inaugural National Lift Week October 6-12 to promote greater awareness and knowledge within the vehicle lift industry. From its extensive network of dedicated distributors located across North America, Stertil Koni will host events and presentations throughout the week that advance best practices for safety, efficiency, durability and environmental friendliness in the overall field of vehicle lifting systems. Lift themes through the week: Mobile Column Monday — the benefits of portable, mobile column lifting systems Two-Post Tuesday — the benefits of two-post vehicle lifts Wireless Wednesday — the benefits of vehicle lifting systems that communicate through encrypted wireless systems rather than connected cables Earthy Thursday — information and educational materials on new directions and options in environmentally sound “green” vehicle lifting Free-Wheel Lifting Friday — various lifting systems that provide “wheels-free” lifting to allow technicians to perform comprehensive vehicle maintenance and service Safety Saturday — multiple options that advance shop safety, including third-party lift certification, the American Lift Institute Certified Lift Inspector Program and the importance of regularly scheduled lift inspections Core activities include live product demonstrations, hands-on briefings and educational updates associated with the entire range of heavy duty lifting systems.

San Francisco PIER 39 tour bus and taxi zone revised In San Francisco, CA, PIER 39 continue to improve its current Tour Bus and Taxi Zone traffic management practices. Effective immediately, its enforcement procedures are expanding in the PIER 39 Entrance Plaza to improve the flow of vehicular traffic to minimize congestion, and reduce tour bus standing and unloading time, as well as the elimination of all unauthorized solicitation for tickets sales on and from the tour buses. Taxis are the only vehicles allowed to solicit in the Entrance Plaza. PIER 39 security personnel and the San Francisco Police Department will monitor to make the Tour Bus and Taxi Zone run smoothly. Every bus, tour and taxi operator needs to be aware of the rules and regulations pertaining to traffic management in the PIER 39 Tour Bus and Taxi Zone: • Idling and loud amplification are not permitted. • Tour buses, vans and school buses will be authorized to unload and load only. Tour buses will be directed to the short term layover parking locations as established by SFMTA. Long term parking, idling or staging of multiple vehicles will not be permitted in the PIER 39 Tour Bus and Taxi Zone.

busride.com


PEOPLE IN THE NEWS Maintenance Design Group (MDG) welcomes several new Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) staff members in its Denver office. In March, Doug Engel joined the firm as director of engineering. In addition to leading the firm’s MEP practice, he also serves as an electrical engineering manager on projects. Doug has more than 25 years of consulting experience. Doug Engel

Ferhat Soysal joined MDG as a mechanical engineering manager in April. He has more than 20 years of related experience with particular expertise in HVAC, plumbing, and fire protection projects. He has worked on projects in such extreme climates as Antarctica, as well as throughout the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

Guy Charron has joined Motor Coach Industries (MCI) as vice president, Regional Sales Eastern Canada, succeeding Joe Simard, who is retiring after an eight-year career at MCI and 31 years in the industry. Ferhat Soysal Charron will be responsible for MCI and Setra new coach sales as well as the sale of pre-owned coaches to private and public operators in Quebec and the Maritime provinces. He reports to Patricia Ziska, MCI vice president of New Coach Sales.

Bruce Wiebe, a senior contracts professional, has joined MCI as contracts manager. Wiebe will be responsible for all of MCI’s Public Sector procurement preparation and submissions as well as contract management. He will be based out of the MCI manufacturing plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and reports to Tom Wagner, vice president of Public Sector Sales. Guy Charron Allied Specialty Vehicles announced that Tony Augsburger has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing of Goshen Coach. Augsburger will split his time between the company’s manufacturing plant in Elkhart, IN, and his home office in Ottawa, OH. Augsburger says his first priority is making sure the company’s dealer network understands that he and the Goshen sales team are there to provide acrossthe-board support to meet their needs. Augsburger arrives from Collins Bus Corporation, an ASV bus division company where he had been senior director of sales since March 2013.

Bruce Weibe

Electronic Brake Monitoring System

*U.S. Patent Nos. 5,450,930, 5,825,287, 8,616,342 and other U.S. and Foreign Patents Pending.

www.mgmbrakes.com

busride.com | BUSRIDE

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DELIVERIES Motor Coach Industries (MCI) added

added

7

4

Royal Coach Tours San Jose, CA

Daniel’s Charters Lula, GA

As the leading provider of employee transportation for a top Silicon Valley company, Royal Coach Tours is expanding its fleet, adding seven new MCI J4500 coaches to accommodate its high-profile client. The new coaches feature its client’s signature specifications, including a silver-painted exterior and high-end interior with black leather seating for 50 with three-point passenger seatbelts. Riders furthermore enjoy power outlets at each seat, and a private-client Wi-Fi network that enables productivity en route. The new coaches are also equipped with clean-diesel Detroit-Diesel engines and Allison transmissions.

Daniel’s Charters, which serves the greater Atlanta area, has added four 2014 MCI J4500 coaches to its fleet of 32 vehicles and plans to open a second location in Duluth, GA, by the end of the year. All of Daniel’s coaches feature Satellite TV, power plugs, Wi-Fi and GPS. They are also equipped with Cummins engines, Allison transmissions, back-up-cameras and higher-end interior options including plush, leather-trimmed seating and wood-grain flooring. Standard features on the MCI J4500 include three-point passenger seatbelts, Electronic Stability Control, tire monitoring and a fire detection and suppression system.

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DELIVERIES Motor Coach Industries (MCI)

Temsa / CH Bus Sales

added

added

2

2

Southern Coaches Dothan, AL

Stout’s Transportation Trenton, NJ

In business since 1989, Southern Coaches will soon be augmented by two new 2015 MCI J4500s to be delivered this fall. Southern Coaches placed the order for the two new J4500 coaches at IMG’s Strategic Alliance Meeting in Branson, MO, where Adams accepted the IMG Operator of the Year award. The J4500s feature a new ZF independent front suspension and Bendix adaptive braking, which gives the J4500 a tighter turning radius and a more responsive ride.

Serving the tri-state area and beyond for more than 60 years, Stout’s Transportation recently added two TS 35 Temsa coaches to complement its TS 30 mid-size coach, operating with forward thinking and innovation, and diversifying as its client base evolved. The 38-passenger TS 35s come equipped with 110V plugs, Alcoa aluminum wheels, an auxiliary preheater, and an Elite REI system. Constructed from stainless steel, these coaches also have the Cummins ISL 345 HP-EPA 13 engine, Allison B500 transmission and independent front suspension.

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Innovate by listening to customers By Steve Hessel

Every day, we connect with some of our most important product innovation experts. They’re our clients. At Crosspoint Kinetics, those customers are fleet managers and maintenance staff, bus and truck drivers and public transit executives. Their input is invaluable as we continually strive to build “green” transportation products that they want on their vehicles. We make a concerted effort to listen – really listen – to these clients and we encourage others to do the same. After all, making a product no one wants or one that has become obsolete is a dangerous possibility when your team spends all its time listening only to each other, a phenomenon social researchers call “groupthink.” Don’t be afraid to ask for your customers’ opinions. Most are happy to share their thoughts when it’s easy for them to do so. Ask to hear the good and the bad. There is a tendency for respondents to give overly positive reviews so they don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, which gives a false sense that there’s no room for improvement. Push for the whole story. Our newest driver feedback display is a direct result of feedback we received from fleet managers and drivers. They wanted a more graphically visual way to see how much energy (and by extension, fuel) they were capturing with the Kinetics Hybrid. The display makes a game out of driving the right way, with smooth stops and slowdowns. Managers can also use the tool to see how drivers compare against each other and themselves over time. Additional training can then be provided as needed. Dozens of the new driver feedback displays are in final beta testing with client fleets right now, giving us another chance to solicit their feedback. Good deal, right? It’s remarkably easy and affordable to get this sort of insight. But, you have to ask. There are many ways to solicit their feedback. Some that we use include: • Periodic phone calls — We don’t just call our clients when we’re trying to sell them something. We routinely check in just to ask how they’re doing, how our hybrids are performing, and if there’s anything more we can do to help them achieve their “green” goals. • Client board of advisors — Our informal group of key clients meets with our team periodically via phone and in-person conferences to discuss upcoming releases, design changes, and market and funding conditions. 14

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The success of Crosspoint’s Kinetics Hybrid product hinged on ongoing customer interaction throughout its development process.

• Voice of the customer surveys — Twice a year, we formally survey our entire customer base with a short questionnaire. This gives us a quantitative measure of what’s working and what’s not for clients. • Focus/user groups — We take advantage of key trade shows where are customers are in attendance to schedule informal focus groups over dinner. • On-site visits — As the installation manager, I have the chance to be in the garage with the mechanics, drivers, and fleet managers. When you’re in the grease with someone, they’ll tell you the good, bad and ugly. And, that’s worth every skinned knuckle and stained shirt. One last important thought on using client feedback for innovation – put yourself in their shoes. Use the service or product you’re asking them to buy. For instance, every member of our team has taken at least a few turns in the driver seat of our demo bus. They get a chance to feel the product just as a bus or truck driver would. That experience generates plenty of “what if” questions that keep us motivated to make our Kinetics Hybrid even better for our clients. Spend time listening to customers and be sure to develop a product that continues to evolve, innovate and sell year after year. Steve Hessel serves as integration & installation manager for Crosspoint Kinetics, Fort Wayne, IN.

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TransIT

The search for business intelligence is over By Mary Sue O’Melia

Transit agencies are overwhelmed with data but have very little business intelligence. This is the first in a series of articles exploring business intelligence for the transit industry. Data overload Collecting and maintaining data is expensive and time-consuming. Each department typically maintains a separate data system and these systems may not be integrated. Basic data, such as number of passengers, may have three separate and disparate numbers – one passenger number from the automated fare system (AFS), another number from automated passenger counters (APC), and a third number based on manual counts used to validate APC data. Data may reside in separate systems and no two numbers ever agree. In this case, the basis for performance data is inaccessible or fragmented and thus credibility and reliability are often impacted by data inconsistencies. Consolidating data in an easy-to-use reporting system is a starting point for addressing data overload and fragmentation. In discussions about the numbers, there should never be any confusion about the accuracy of the data. The goal is to have data immediately available for tactical decision-making.

BI – How to get there

Next stop – BI for the transit industry

BI applied to the transit industry can help reduce costs, increase passenger revenue, streamline operations and improve safety and service quality. Implementation of a successful BI program requires: • Involvement by top management and full participation by data managers and process owners throughout the life of the BI program • Identification of key indicators for measuring performance and agreement on data definitions and sources • Elimination of time-consuming data reconciliations by obtaining data at the source and centralization of data storage and reporting • Involving the entire team in a collaborative effort to establish targets, analyze performance results and develop of improvement strategies A successful BI implementation empowers employees at every level of the organization to make better decisions. Critical transit data needs to be accessible to all employees so they can perform their own analyses and collaborate with team members on fact-based improvement strategies. With access to relevant data, displayed as useful information, employees can find opportunities to operate more efficiently and safely, helping your transit agency achieve strategic objectives. Agencies that report to the National Transit Database (NTD) already have a start on collecting information used in assessing transit performance. The next installment addresses key performance indicators (KPI) for transit and potential sources and information drill-downs.

What this means in practical terms is that management wants a system of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and dashboards that provide accurate and timely information for strategic decision-

Mary Sue O’Meila is president of TransTrack Systems®, a business intelligence solution that transforms volumes of data into meaningful information for transportation managers and executives to use in planning, strategizing and ensuring optimal performance. Visit TransTrack Systems® at: www.transtrack.net

Business intelligence defined Wikipedia defines business intelligence as the “transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes.” Business intelligence is characterized by: • A set of clear performance indicators that concisely convey the financial, service and safety performance of the agency • The tools, processes and personnel to continually evaluate and improve agency performance • The capability to identify challenges and opportunities, as well as the knowledge to take appropriate action

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making. Supervisors and mid-level management want information for tactical decision-making to improve performance. Managers require information in sufficient detail to make daily decisions with confidence and assurance that the data is correct and accurate. This implies more detailed reporting and dashboard drilldowns. Data managers require an effective process to collect and report information that does not involve re-keying data from multiple databases and sources. IT Managers require systems, tools and services to support the BI program. Speedometers and gauges appear to be the pre-dominant symbol for executive- level dashboards, designed to focus attention on a performance issue. These are the pointers; not the answer or reason for performance results. New BI tools focus on conveying maximum information at a glance.

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

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Stagecoach chief talks

megabus.com Martin Griffiths explains how and why the system has succeeded in the U.S. By Doug Jack

Although Sir Brian Souter had the inspiration for the megabus.com coach operations, nowadays he is chairman of the Stagecoach Group. In line with British rules on corporate governance, management of the Group is now firmly in the hands of Martin Griffiths, who moved easily into the top position from his previously held finance director post. I recently asked Martin for an update on Stagecoach activities in North America, particularly how megabus.com was developing. He says the company is now active in 34 Martin Griffiths, chief executive, states, two Canadian provinces and Stagecoach Group Washington, D.C. The daily peak vehicle requirement is 274 coaches, but the fleet is a little larger than that, mainly for engineering purposes. “Megabus.com in North America is the fastest growing part of the entire Stagecoach Group,” Griffiths says. “Revenue in the 2013-14 financial year was $177.9 million, versus $152.8 million on a like-for-like basis the previous year.” Asked if megabus.com was unique in using double-decker coaches, Griffiths says it was the first company to use them on scheduled line run services, and that they have proved very popular. “It is a specific product that we have developed with Van Hool,” he says. “Capital cost per seat is very important, and also the fuel burn per seat. The emissions per passenger per seat are the lowest of any form of intercity transport and that is a very important factor.” He says one of the North American sister companies, Kerrville, now uses double-decker coaches on a commuter service. Small numbers are in use by other companies on charter and contract runs. Griffiths says that Stagecoach had taken a different approach to providing intercity services in North America. “Before we started in 2006, we noticed that express services were what we would call production led,” he says. “A coach would start on the east coast and make its way across the continent. It might stop at intermediate points in the middle of the night for passengers to board and deboard.” 18

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A Scania Irizar coach on demonstration with megabus.com. Note the wheelchair lift that fits inside the front entrance. It is stored under the staircase when not in use.

He says it was a captive service for people who did not have cars. “We asked how we could get modal shift if we introduced the right product,” Griffiths says. “There is not as strong a rail network in North America as in Europe, although there are some busy corridors. We wanted to introduce a concept that was customer led. Our target had to be the 92 percent of the population that had cars.” “Americans and Canadians expect good service and demand value,” he adds. “They use the internet widely to find the best deals. We have found in previous research that our key market is motorists. Around 39 percent of megabus.com customers previously traveled by car; 14 percent by airlines; and 14 percent by train. The remainder came from trips that would not previously have taken place, and from various alternative coach operators.” Griffiths notes that many megabus.com passengers are young people. While the older generation had wanted a driver’s license as soon as they came of age, and to be car owners, the new younger generation is more aware of the cost of motoring and of the environment. Megabus. com services are popular with them because they have connectivity with free Wi-Fi and can work or stay in contact with friends. Griffiths says the North East services are typically around four to five hours. In other areas, typical journey length is around eight hours. There is very little scope for short distance routes under two hours, but busride.com


there are some longer distance services of 12 to 16 hours and those are proving very successful. I asked him about future plans for megabus.com in North America, realizing that it is a competitive market and that Stagecoach traditionally keeps plans under wraps until close to launch. “We see tremendous ongoing potential,” he says. “We have 10 to 12 hubs and are very happy with the geographic footprint. However, when I look at the map, some other places look attractive. We have the people in place and the business model that works very well, so we will certainly explore more opportunities.” The megabus.com model is focused on point to point intercity journeys. However, for a company to receive an FTA grant, it needs to feed into a national network supplied by an accredited company and to offer interlining. The accredited company provides in-kind match. The FTA acknowledges megabus.com as a company that can provide in-kind match. As a result, while not currently benefitting, megabus. com is in a position to work with other companies to increase rural connectivity in the future. Martin also refers to megabus.com activities in Europe. There are services linking London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, and more recently right through to Barcelona in the north of Spain. These are all operated by 49-foot tri-axle coaches, which Griffiths says cope very well with the old urban centers, right angled turns and other obstructions. Last year, megabus.com services from the United Kingdom to the continent generated more than $11 million in sales and this looks set to rise as more routes are opened. Martin says that German coach services are opening up to deregulation and the French will be required to do the same under European law. “While we have talked about megabus.com, we also have other strong parts of the business,” Griffiths says in conclusion. “We remain very positive about prospects in North America and are very committed.” Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.

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A megabus.com gold double-decker sleeper coach in the United Kingdom. They are longer than the US specification because of higher European axle weight limits.

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BYD expands and moves forward As AVTA’s new bus outperforms expectations, BYD turns its attention to disadvantaged businesses BYD Motors, Lancaster, CA, one of China’s largest companies, is making waves in California – both with their battery electric buses and community outreach. AVTA bus smashes expectations The Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s (AVTA) new electric BYD bus is performing better than advertised. AVTA and BYD operators put the electric bus to the test this weekend during a 24-hour marathon ride that looped from Rosamond to Palmdale a total of 18 times.

The first California-made, all-electric, long-range, 40-foot rapid transit bus. 20

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AVTA, Lancaster, CA, provides local, commuter and dial-a-ride service to a population of more than 450,000 residents in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale as well as the unincorporated portions of northern Los Angeles County. Its total service area covers 1,200 square miles and it is bounded by the Kern County line to the north, the San Bernardino County line to the east, the Angeles National Forest to the south, and Interstate 5 to the West. The BYD bus managed to travel 746 miles over the 24-hour period, operating in three shifts. Each shift logged between 240 and 256 miles before recharging the battery. The 24-hour marathon began on Saturday, August 9, at 1:04 in the afternoon starting from the BYD factory in Lancaster. AVTA’s electric bus was loaded with 5,250 pounds of sand bags to simulate the weight of 35 passengers. The bus traveled a total of 240 miles before its first battery charge, which is nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises and 30 miles more than is needed to service an average transit route in the Antelope Valley. The air conditioning system ran during most of the test except during the early morning hours when it was cold outside. This is the second test for AVTA’s electric bus. Its first unofficial test was July 29 when it traveled to Los Angeles to pick up the consul general of the Chinese Consulate who was scheduled to tour the BYD manufacturing facility in Lancaster. AVTA offered to pick up the Chinese delegation using its new BYD bus in order to test the zero emission vehicle’s performance on the 14 freeway. After circulating downtown, the electric bus easily climbed the 14 Freeway grade which has an elevation change of nearly 4,000 feet. The 92- mile trip ended in Lancaster, CA, with 64 percent of the bus’ battery life still remaining. “We are ecstatic to see our electric bus performing so well,” said Executive Director Julie Austin. “Our 12-month demonstration project is now off the ground and we could not be more pleased at the early results. We are also hopeful our plans to install wireless charging stations at AVTA’s two main transfer centers will extend the battery life of our electric buses even more than BYD technology can guarantee.”

Last year the city of Lancaster, CA, formally welcomed BYD Motors Inc as a manufacturing partner.

AVTA’s BYD bus managed to travel 746 miles over a 24-hour period.

A prominent DBE program BYD is also proud to support Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Minority and Women-owned Business and Enterprises (MWBE), providing the opportunity to participate in state and local procurement for the sourcing of components and materials in the manufacturing of the company’s electric buses. From the Federal Transit Administration: A DBE is a for-profit small business concern that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged… to ensure nondiscrimination in the award and administration of federally-funded contracts in Caltrans highway, transit, and airport financial assistance programs. Greg Davis, DBE liaison officer for BYD Motors, says the company has identified several fiberglass manufacturers and other vendors since participating in the DBE program. “Our goal is to lead the Transit Vehicle Manufacturing Industry in usage of DBE firms,” he says. “BYD wants to offer these firms an opportunity for growth while also participating in cleaning up our environment.” BYD has continued to foster a culture of working together with other American businesses to help local economies. “The goal is to help these companies be included in transit authority requests for procurement including components, consulting, even the gloves that our technicians wear – we want to work with them and include them in the process of building our buses across America.”

AVTA’s bus traveled a total of 240 miles before its first battery charge.

Each shift on AVTA’s marathon run logged between 240 and 256 miles before recharging the battery.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

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O F F I C I A L

BUSRide Road Test:

The Winnebago Metro Link Winnebago has entered public transit with a cutaway that tests quiet and responsive By David Hubbard

A

ll considered, the Metro Link bus is hardly a stretch for Winnebago, Forest City, IA, the premier builder of body-on-chassis RVs and motorhomes. In full production this past year and now making its way into the small and midsize market, the inception for this new cutaway vehicle was born from the 2008 recession when the company began kicking ideas around for further diversification. Winnebago says it had only to redirect its design and engineering capabilities to reflect its research findings in the small and midsize bus market; noting that its entrance into public transit was an initiative it did not take lightly. “We had explored opportunities in other relevant areas, such as towable trailers and fifth-wheels, and eventually acquired an existing company with an acceptable product line, which we adapted and refined to enter that market,” says Winnebago Director of Specialty Vehicles Jamie Sorenson. “Similarly, our company looked at OEMs already manufacturing cutaway buses, but ultimately concluded the existing products did not differentiate enough from one to the next to warrant an investment.” He says through further market research, Winnebago chose to move forward on its own and develop a proprietary product.

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Winnebago had only to redirect its design and engineering capabilities to reflect its research findings for the Metro Link.

Winnebago takes its time “The market research Winnebago conducted was a long and arduous process,” says Scott Loges, business unit president, Metro Worldwide, Clear Lake, IA, the North American distributor for the Winnebago Metro Link in commercial bus markets. “There were never any spur of the moment decisions. In fact, the company invested a good three years in research and development for an entirely new bus with features that would immediately differentiate it from the competition.” Drawing on its 20-year relationship with Metro Worldwide as its chassis supplier, Winnebago entered into a partnership, believing Metro Worldwide is in a better position to market, sell and deliver the Metro Link than traditional RV dealerships. Sorenson says this move also eliminates the need for a separate sales department within the company. Loges says the engineers studied the typically problematic aspects of small and midsize buses, and drew their design of the Metro Link from conversations with transit operators in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. “Winnebago’s concept for this bus certainly encompasses both public and private bus transportation,” Loges says. “However, in this region of the country, the public agencies were simply more accessible as Winnebago conducted its initial research.” The Official BUSRide Road Test BUSRide prevailed upon Donnell Adams, a veteran driver for Valley Metro Regional Transit Authority, Phoenix, AZ, contracted through First Transit, to take the Metro Link through a road test from the perspective of a third party. “I used to own a couple of RVs, so when I heard I was going to be test driving a Winnebago bus, I was very surprised,” Adams says. “My first impression of the Metro Link was of a clean, good looking vehicle.” Adams joined Valley Metro eight years ago, and now serves as director of Driver Safety and Training. With nine passengers on board from Winnebago, Valley Metro and BUSRide, he elected to put the Metro Link through the paces on one of the established trolley routes through Tempe and Scottsdale, and on a few additional sections of freeway. Adams says he viewed its performance through his lens of safety, training and passenger comfort, offering his comments afterward at the City of Tempe East Valley Bus Operations Maintenance Facility. “The Metro Link transit bus is very quiet and the seating is very comfortable,” he says. “But this is Winnebago, and I guess that comes from being in the RV business. Driving a bus as long as I have, and training others to drive a bus, these are the qualities I looked for right off the bat.” Loges notes that as the RV industry leader, Winnebago realized it would be building a vehicle to operate in commercial applications unlike any of its other products. “On average, RV owners put 8,000 miles a year on their vehicles,”

Driver Donnell Adams noted the solid installation and quietness of the Braun wheelchair lift.

Below: The secure interlock is an important feature for transit buses that stay running during stops.

Loges says. “In the bus business, an operator can easily log up to 8,000 miles in a month.” Not the typical body-on-chassis construction, Winnebago builds the Metro Link to withstand the rigors transit and shuttle buses encounter on a daily basis. Adams turned into an empty parking lot and put the bus through a few impromptu maneuvers, executing several tight turning circles in both directions and running slalom around light poles. “Driving like this does not crop up on the regular route,” he says. “But it does tell me the suspension on this bus is great. The turning radius on this bus is definitely tighter than buses I am used to driving; and that’s fine because sometimes we get into in situations where we need to negotiate tight turns to avoid an accident.” On a quiet side street, BUSRide invited Adams to put the Metro Link through several sudden controlled stops. “The controlled stop is a good exercise,” he says. “The stopping distance was very good. I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know if it is in the manufacturing or the chassis, but when we make a controlled stop with the buses we drive, the entire bus shifts and jerks back. That did not happen on this bus. It came to a very smooth stop in spite of the short distance.” Winnebago says this has to do with its more rigid frame and mounting techniques, and a more balanced center of gravity. “I was waiting for that typical shift, but, instead, at the speed we busride.com | BUSRIDE

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The Metro Link is very flexible with its seating configurations to fit multiple markets and vehicle applications.

were going it was a very different feel,” Adams says. “The entire body didn’t move forward, which I was anticipating a bit. I am a good driver, I can make a controlled stop with the brakes, but I can’t keep the body from shifting.” On the freeway run, Adams was satisfied with the acceleration. “This is a bus that would normally be carrying passengers, so when it comes to acceleration, we aren’t running the Indy 500,” he says. “But we still need that extra pickup to move in and out of traffic safely, where acceleration and deceleration play a big part. This bus has plenty of pep.” The proprietary solid steel roll cage and floor structure fit precisely onto the chassis. Winnebago welds the steel cage and floor structure directly to the chassis. This is the same body-on-chassis mounting system as for its C-body motorhomes, which it says gives the Metro Link more rigidity. The roll cage is 1.5-inch square tubular roll-cage sections welded at the floor line and at the apex of the roof. The floor system employs stronger 2 x 4-inch box tube steel of a thicker gauge in place of the more the more common 2 x 3-inch C-channel. “This construction is unique to the Metro Link in that we have eliminated the rubber puck isolators that are so common,” Sorenson says. “Our testing of the isolators on the first prototype showed they are actually a substandard design feature that creates weak links in the body.” He says the rubber expands and contracts as the body moves around, while right above the rubber isolators the metal is flexing and becoming fatigued. With the welded structure, the box does not roll and flex separately from the chassis. Winnebago says its true one-piece molded fiberglass roof on the Metro Link is another major development, as opposed to a one-piece center section with front and rear caps. “The entire bus structure from the ground up functions as a unified structure,” Loges says. “This eliminates all cavitation in the walls and strengthens the vehicle. Applying the sidewall online eliminates additional holes on the exterior of the bus.” The company says the net result of new componentry, design and engineering is a much quieter bus. “Our first objective was not necessarily to design and build a quieter bus,” Sorenson says. “But it is turning out to be a standout quality for the Metro Link.” To substantiate the claim, Winnebago points to the Altoona test findings, which show a statistically lower decibel rating for ambient noise than other OEMs. More than comfort, Adams believes a quiet bus is a safer bus. “The driver deals with noise from all directions,” he says. “Passengers talking, radio traffic from the base, excess rattling throughout the bus, air coming through the windows — all that 24

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

noise is a distraction for the driver and a nuisance for the passengers. It is exhausting, and wears everyone out. A distracted and irritable driver leaves room for mistakes, poor judgment and accidents.” He says the quieted ride on the Metro Link would make it easier for the driver to pay closer attention to his driving, accommodate the passengers and communicate with dispatch. According to Loges, the patent-pending frameless-like window design with large glass panels nearly flush to the sidewall helps eliminate excessive wind noise. “I think passengers are going to really appreciate the more expansive views,” Adams says. “As for me, these windows add to the quietness. I didn’t hear air from leaking in like I do on other buses.” The lighting also caught Adams’ attention, as well as the security interlock at the door. “I especially like the LED lighting on this bus —again for safety,” he says. “We have buses running until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. They are very dark and cause for hazardous and dangerous situations.” He says the secure interlock is important as Valley Metro buses have to stay running during stops. “We cannot pull into the transit center and turn off the engine,” Adams says. “Given the hot temperatures in Phoenix for most of the year, passengers want to sit in the bus with the AC running. This interlock is more important than it may first appear. We have them for safety and use them to prevent theft.” Winnebago tests in-house Winnebago prides itself on its in-house testing capabilities, which include a test track similar to Altoona with built-in obstacles and a MTS road simulator to test various components under real life driving conditions. “We ran the Metro Link prototype on the hydraulic shaker for 573 hours, which our test engineers equate to 210,000 miles,” Sorenson says, “We essentially put this bus through a seven-year, 200,000mile Altoona test before it ever went to Altoona.” According to Sorenson, Winnebago integrated its testing into the early design phase of the Metro Link. “Where a pull test failed early on, engineers were able to collect that data and respond immediately with a different solution,” he says. “Moving the pull test so far forward in the process and testing as we go has proven more productive than testing at the end of the build.” As an example of this earlier testing, the company discovered that in bolting the floor-track and sidewall seat track into place, the heads of the fasteners were ripping off during the pull test. The solution was to weld rather than bolt the floor-track and sidewall seat track into place. “This system makes the Metro Link very flexible with floor plan configurations,” Sorenson says. “We standardize some positions of the sub steel in the framework to allow greater flexibility in positioning the floor track to accommodate both perimeter and forward seating.” The Metro Link is currently available in 24-foot and 28-foot lengths. Winnebago builds only on Ford 450 and 350 chassis thus far, but says a model on a GM chassis that will provide the option for diesel is in development and will be available for production by the end of the year. busride.com


Click here to view a video of Winnebago testing the Metro Link


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D-model Commuter Coaches for Metro in the spotlight at APTA EXPO 2014 By David Hubbard

Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Des Plaines, IL, will literally fit in and feel right at home when it rolls into Houston, TX, this month for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) EXPO 2014 and Annual Meeting.

MCI has been part of the Houston Metro fleet since 2001 when the agency put highway-styled MCI Commuter Coach into service. MCI will feel right at home when it rolls into Houston, TX, this month for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) EXPO 2014.

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A proven workmate

Andrei Dragomir, Metro supervisor, Advanced Technology, stands with one of 95 new MCI Commuter Coaches being delivered to the Houston agency.

MCI has been part of Houston’s transportation scene since 2001, when the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Metro) began to use the highway-styled MCI Commuter Coach in the infancy of its Park & Ride initiatives. APTA Expo attendees will have the opportunity to see Metro’s new coach up-close at the MCI booth. “In Houston, the spotlight will be on Metro’s highly successful transit system, and we’re honored to be able to exhibit the model it uses for its growing commuter express,” says Patrick Scully, MCI executive vice president, Sales and Marketing. “Our Commuter Coach is designed to offer passengers comfort and safety at all speeds, especially at the highway speeds. As a workhorse with a reputation for reliability, this coach also fits into Metro’s model of providing its ridership a much higher level of service.”

The MCI Commuter Coach is part of the company’s D-Series, the industry’s alltime best selling model family with nearly 13,000 units built. The D model Commuter Coach has been serving in fleets of large public transit entities that include New Jersey Transit, and is also gaining in popularity with agencies creating bus-onshoulder programs, such as Pace employs in suburban Chicago, IL, to fight The MCI Commuter Coach provides a safe and comfortable congestion on chronicallyworkplace the driver. jammed expressways. “Our model is proven and operators can count on its reliability in grueling schedules, seven days a week,” says Tom Wagner, MCI vice president, Public Sector Sales. “With their solid construction, MCI builds its Commuter Coaches for high performance.” The MCI Commuter Coach claims the best mean distance between failure (MDBF) rate in its class. Wagner says it also offers the advantage of forward facing seats, giving 42 percent greater seating capacity than a comparable transit bus at a cost that studies show can be as much as 15 percent lower per seat. MCI also offers easy access to aftermarket parts and has a dedicated transit-technical team, which when combined with the long-life of the coach, adds up to total low cost of ownership. MCI’s dedicated in-field service representatives for public transit include Terry Fordyce and Carlos Ponce. Serving transit with parts supply

The commuter experience typically requires comfort and amenities beyond traditional transit.

Today, Metro operates more than 300 MCI Commuter Coaches, including 122 diesel-electric hybrid models running in HOV lanes to and from 29 Park & Ride locations. More coaches are on the way. MCI is near to completing delivery on a Metro order for 95 Commuter Coaches as the agency replaces older equipment and works on expanding its growing commuter express services. Safer, cleaner coaches The new 45-foot MCI coaches are Buy America compliant and come equipped with Cummins ISX clean-diesel engine technology, Braun wheelchair lifts, aluminum wheels and advanced safety features including Electronic Stability Control and an Amerex fire suppression system that has nozzles in both the engine and battery compartment. Metro has added a Luminator destination sign and a Transmark Mobile View color nine-camera surveillance system. The interior features Kiel seats with a 55-passenger layout and electrical 110-volt power outlets with USB plugs at every seat. Metro also plans to add an INIT Asset Management System, an intelligent networking system compatible with its entire fleet that tracks operational data.

Transit properties account for nearly 40 percent of MCI parts sales. “MCI has been in the transit parts business since the 1960s,” says Scott Robertson, vice president, MCI Service Parts’ Product Lifecycle Management. “We have a dedicated bids-team and stock parts for all makes and models of buses including low-floor transit.” MCI Service Parts will be at APTA EXPO 2014 to meet with transit agencies and discuss parts and service needs. “Transit properties will find us competitive and able to supply all their parts needs and maintain their buses,” Robertson says. “Additionally, many of our representatives in the field were formerly transit technicians. They give us a lot of expertise and credibility serving transit agencies.” Managing growth Metro reports an expanding ridership that continues to appeal to a younger, economic-savvy ridership by providing digital conveniences on its buses. Metro has a commuter calculator available on its website that allows a rider to estimate the savings achieved by riding with Metro rather than driving. At the same time, Metro is re-imagining its bus network, redesigning systems to better serve areas experiencing employment growth, including support for the Galleria BRT project. Metro operates more than 1,200 buses and makes about 370,000 trip-times per day throughout its system. The agency is currently expanding a 13-mile Red Line with two new light rail lines under construction. Metro predicts that the city of Houston will grow by another million in population by 2030, and is currently involved in a community engagement program, asking residents for feedback on its current and planned systems. Metro will use the data to plan for future expansion and improvements. busride.com | BUSRIDE

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8

seconds to find the way

CHK America responds to the psychology of transit mapping By David Hubbard

In New Orleans, at-stop panels provide riders with simple, clear information to help them reach their destinations without frustration or anxiety.

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Signage and graphics for public transportation falls under the general category of wayfinding, as much a philosophy as a navigational process that begins where traditional mapping leaves off. The objective is to present information for transit passengers to travel with minimal confusion, frustration and indecision in their journey by gleaning and whittling the available information down to a series of relevant steps. Wayfinding specialists at CHK America, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA, work to alleviate the guesswork, applying only the most pertinent information. Wayfinding connects with how riders view and interpret information on complex public transportation systems. The company says simplicity is critical. busride.com


The eight-second rule “We essentially have only eight seconds to provide an abundance of information that transit customers need before they become frustrated and walk away,” says CHK America President Rick Wood. “We call it their cognitive load, which can diminish greatly in a short time at a bus stop with so many distractions.” He says to think of The Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, CA, uses what life was like before eye-level panels to provide customers with Google Maps. simple, clear bus route guidance. “We would write out directions on a napkin using only the most relevant streets and landmarks to denote a sense of place and the most direct route,” Wood says. “No one would ever take the time to designate every cross street and attraction along the way.” According to Wood, graphics are king. What appears on the napkin is a diagram that effectively communicates the language of the brain. Simply straightening streets and converting angles to 90-degrees makes it easier for a customer to interpret and apply the information. “One basic principle we employ assumes all users are new to the system,” he says. “You are here orientation works for everyone at a bus stop. The directions are logical, simplified and easy for a new, busy or The CHK interactive kiosk works best for distracted seasoned traveler.” riders with time to explore their options. The object is to boil down the information and focus on the next decision necessary at that point of the trip. “Where am I?” Wood asks. “Where is my bus going? Am I headed in the right direction? Am I in the right place to board? This is what passengers need to know at each stop.” CHK aims for standardization From its base in Santa Barbara, CHK has produced wayfinding signage and graphics for Gold Coast Transit, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and Monterey-Salinas Transit. Anyone traveling the coast and taking public transit sees the information displayed in the exact same way in every city on every transit system. Wood says, regardless of unique agency branding and specific information, wayfinding aspects can be structured similarly for every city. “Why should someone travel from Phoenix to Chicago and have to figure out a completely different communication system?” he asks. “Ideally, as people travel into new areas, public transportation information should look the same for every system.” The company says standardization requires a long-term effort, which begins with senior transit management making the wayfinding system a priority. CHK America points to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Washington, D.C., for its exemplary commitment to creating a complete wayfinding system.

“From a customer information standpoint, WMATA is the best in the country,” Wood says. “London is the gold standard, but this is approaching a similar level. Building a system to this level takes a long time. We have been working with WMATA for over 10 years on more than 1,000 stops.” Wayfinding standards typically employ graphics and symbols already in practice. Working with the standards already in place, Wood says people expect to see certain information represented in a certain way. “If they are not, the graphics still have to appear extremely logical and instantly identifiable, such as handicap signs, restrooms, airports and hospitals,” he says. “If we deviate, we increase passengers’ cognitive load.” According to Wood, a proprietary feature unique to his company is an indication of the time it takes to travel by bus to the destination stop. “This is not about the bus running late,” he says. “Instead, it is simply a benchmark to help with trip planning and to keep a passenger from missing the intended stop. If it says the stop is seven minutes approximately, and the rider has been on the bus for 15 minutes, he may have missed his stop.” Technology is not everything Given all the available technology and focus on handheld phones and tablets, there is still a definite need for print. Wood says technology is only part of the wayfinding solution, pointing to a recent rider survey by Las Vegas RTA that revealed transit passengers wanted better print information at stops. “Technology works optimally for short messages,” he says. “The message on the iPhone says the bus will arrive in three minutes— perfect. But where is the bus going? Does the agency really expect a passenger to figure out, on a phone screen, all the connections coming up on a 13-mile route? People can’t do that, nor do they really want to.” According to Wood, technology is a complement to traditional methods of presenting information. To that point, CHK America recently introduced an interactive kiosk in the Santa Barbara transit hub. “Passengers interacting with the kiosk have time to do so between trips,” he says. “They have more time to explore, which is more difficult at the stop with noise and distractions from people walking by and traffic running in both directions.” On the move Rick Wood studied accounting as a prerequisite to eventually owning his own business, which ultimately led to his launch of Maps.com. Ten years later, CHK London, a major distributor for Maps.com, expressed its desire to establish a foothold in U.S. transit and invited Wood to head up the new operation from his offices in Santa Barbara, CA. After 14 years, CHK America appears Rick Wood to be the go-to company for transit agency president and CEO, CHK America customer information. Hampton Roads, VA, has an order for 3,000 new bus stops, for which CHK will fabricate the stops ourselves and cover the installation. Most recently, Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ, awarded the company its customer information design project, which includes consumerfocused light rail and bus connection maps and Guide-a-Rides, as well as local neighborhood maps to support all connectivity and pedestrian wayfinding.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

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A marketing plan is key to branding By Ryan Kelly

I

n last month’s article, we worked on establishing a brand that will help a company or transit agency stand out in the local marketplace. Now that we have created an eye catching logo and company name, it is time to begin working on a marketing plan. Why is marketing so important and what is the best way to develop a plan that works for your business? According to Peter F. Drucker, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Marketing is probably one of the most difficult yet necessary parts of running a successful business. As you plan for other aspects of the business such as billing, operations, budgets, customer service, etc. creating an effective marketing plan ensures that you stay competitive in the marketplace. A good marketing plan plan is going to require dedicated financial resources to make it effective. A lot of times, in today’s ever competitive passenger transportation marketplace, the margins are so thin that marketing plans get left on the cutting room floor during budget time. This should not be the case. Every bus company and transit agency needs to dedicate financial resources and get smart about marketing. Developing the marketing plan should include insight from different departments within a company or transit agency. It is too important to be completely planned by the marketing department. In the end, marketing is about understanding the tastes and preferences of the customer. That affects every employee of an organization. Set up meetings with front line employees who answer the phones and talk with customers. Have a meeting with drivers and get their insight based on the millions of miles they spend with customers annually. Send surveys out to customers and receive their input. Make it fun. Whether it be transporting someone to work on a daily commuter service or chartering a ten-day tour of America’s national parks, data is key to establishing a target audience. Take time to research competitors’ marketing efforts and make adjustments accordingly. The research phase is the most important and, if done correctly, can help a company increase revenue by understanding the customer’s wants and needs. Take time to conduct quality research. Who is your current customer? Is this the customer base that you want to keep? If so, review past marketing efforts and see what worked and what did not work. If not, what potential passenger transportation opportunities match

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your company’s vehicle fleet size and business operational capabilities? Conduct additional market research on those potential business opportunities and make sure you have the right demographics to identify the target audience. Once the audience is researched and defined, it is time to create a unique selling proposition (USP) or unique selling point. Through identifying a USP, we can implement an effective marketing campaign creating unique propositions to potential customers that convince them to switch brands. According to Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.” A unique selling point reinforces “personal brand” and helps establish company identity in the marketplace. Pull out a calendar and begin planning marketing campaigns. If these include newspaper, television, or radio advertising, research the costs associated so in order to complete marketing budgets. If the financial resources aren’t adequate to complete objectives, research alternatives to complete the same objectives. For example, in the bus charter market we know that peak season runs from Spring Break in March to Labor Day in late August. With this knowledge we can plan the best time to implement our plan and reach the target audience. Many of the trade shows such as the American Bus Association’s Marketplace and United Motorcoach Association/NTA’s Travel Exchange are held in January and February knowing that this is the charter bus slow season. This allows charter bus operators time to attend and meet with tour operators. These costs should also be included in our marketing budget. With this, the necessary time has been taken to understand the customer, analyze new market opportunities, and create unique ideas to attract customers away from the competition. Budgets with timelines and milestones have been created and now it is time to put the marketing plan into action. Next month we will look at some best practices for modern marketing tactics and begin creating an effective social media strategy. Ryan Kelly is president of Terrapin Blue. Reach him at rkelly@terrapinblue.com or by calling 706-372-3293.

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THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT

PolskiBus.com expanding rapidly By Doug Jack

Over the years, I have reported on Stagecoach, Europe’s most successful land passenger transport company, which Sir Brian Souter and his sister, Ann Gloag, co-founded in 1980. When Sir Brian stepped up as chairman, he handed control to Martin Griffiths as chief executive.

A

The launch was held in front of the Palace of Culture, a gift from Stalin to the people of Poland.

The second door on the coaches and the underfloor location of the washroom.

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few years ago, Sir Brian established Souter Investments as his family investment office in Edinburgh, Scotland. His investments across a broad range of asset classes, both inside and outside the transport industry, include a major shareholding in Alexander Dennis, a substantial shareholding in Stagecoach and two intercity coach operators based on the megabus.com model. Separate from the Stagecoach Group is PolskiBus.com, based in Warsaw, Poland; and his more recent investment, Onnibus.com, a network of services mainly in southern Finland. I recently traveled to Warsaw for the launch of a further expansion of the PolskiBus.com network involving 20 additional high-capacity coaches. Sir Brian initially developed the megabus.com concept with Stagecoach in the United Kingdom, and further realized its potential in the Polish market with his establishment of PolskiBus.com in 2011 at its first hub in Warsaw. With Sir Brian as president, the company expanded rapidly with a second hub 250 miles to the west in the city of Wroclaw. Crossborder services soon opened to Berlin, Prague, Bratislava and Vienna. Today PolskiBus runs 130 coaches and employs 700 people. Until recently, the fleet consisted entirely of high-capacity Van Hool models, mainly the Altano, which has a driving compartment and a couple of seats below a full length main deck. There are also some Astromega doubledecker coaches. PolskiBus does not achieve high capacity by cramming seats closely together, but by specifying the longest models available. The third axle is steerable on all for excellent maneuverability. The 20 new vehicles launched in August are 75-seat over-deck bodies with an overall length of 49 feet, 3 inches built on the Volvo tri-axle chassis by the Plaxton factory of Alexander Dennis.

Sir Brian Souter

The very spacious luggage capacity.

The double-width front door. The single seat can be removed to locate a passenger in a wheelchair.

busride.com


THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT

The lower deck of the Volvo Plaxton coaches.

Coaches at the launch with the Palace of Culture in the background.

The front entrance is double-door width, and there is a second staircase from the upper deck just ahead of the rear axles. Between the first and second axles there is ample space to store luggage. The tastefully trimmed red leather seats feature three-point safety belts, charging points for laptops and mobile phones, as well as free Wi-Fi. Souter says one of the reasons to purchase the Volvo Plaxton coaches had to do with their fuel burn per seat being better than any other vehicles in operation — an important factor where fuel in Poland accounts for 35 percent of costs. In its short history PolskiBus.com has already carried more than 8 million passengers and has become a remarkably well established brand. Much of this is down to clever marketing, with the company logo prominently displayed on each vehicle, celebrating the fact that Poland has the world’s largest population of white storks. Chief Executive Barry Pybis, a resident of Poland, says attractive ticket prices start from one Polish zloty plus one zloty booking fee for people who could plan their journeys ahead (one zloty equals $.30 US). He announced new routes, starting in September and October, including a cross-border service to Vilnius, the capital of Poland’s northern neighbor, Lithuania. Frequencies will increase on other routes, including 33 journeys a day between the southern cities of Wroclaw and Krakow. Managing Director Piotr Bezulski notes that research has shown that 23 percent of passengers have given up using their own cars to travel with PolskiBus.com. Sir Brian praises the team in Poland, saying their expertise is beneficial in rolling out the PolskiBus.com model in other countries. “Planning a strategy is the easier part,” he says. “The real skill is getting the coaches out on time every day and delivering a top class service. Our team in Poland is superb at achieving that.”

Barry Pybis, chief executive of PolskiBus.com

The full-length upper deck with reclining leather seats and three point safety belts.

PolskiBus.com’s logo celebrates the fact that Poland has the world’s largest population of white storks.

The PolskiBus.com network with the latest route additions.

Asked if PolskiBus fears competition from the Polish railways, which are modernizing and introducing faster services, Sir Brian says certainly not. “In the UK, Stagecoach runs trains between London and Manchester and also frequent express coaches,” he says. “They are two different markets. We have grown our business with both modes and have taken people out of their cars. They can work or relax on our trains and coaches.” Asked if PolskiBus will introduce sleeper coaches between Warsaw and Berlin, Sir Brian says the German authorities will not allow coaches with flat beds. He says that this seems strange, particularly as Germany, at long last, is opening up coach services to deregulation and the market is growing quite quickly. Asked if the coaches were over specified and too luxurious, Sir Brian says once a person has eaten fillet steak, he doesn’t like going back to sausage, making the serious point about establishing high customer standards. I met with the managing director of Onnibus.com in Finland. He and his partner started the company three years ago and the concept took off rapidly. The company is based in Tampere, while Helsinki is the main hub. When Onnibus.com needed more capital to expand, the partners approached Souter Investments. Sir Brian visited them, looked at their business model and recognized it was based on megabus.com. He suggested a number of improvements, took a majority shareholding and is in the course of adding 21 Van Hool Astromega double-decker coaches to the fleet. These coaches come with additional features to cope with freezing Finnish winters, and include extra heating and the facility for the interiors to be brought up to a comfortable temperature before leaving the depot. The investment will enable Onnibus to develop a new national network of express coach services and to invest in its operations, internet and customer service infrastructure. Following the Polish example, it will also strengthen brand recognition. busride.com | BUSRIDE

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THE TRANSIT Authority

MTS’ first Bus Rapid Transit service opened last summer and ridership is already exceeding expectations.

By Paul Jablonski CEO San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

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San Diego public transit comes of age Necessity has definitely made all of us inventive in the transit industry. After emerging from a long period of adversity – a major recession, state funding cutbacks, service cuts, fare increases and staff layoffs — many transit systems are now stronger than ever. That is certainly the case with the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. busride.com


THE TRANSIT Authority

Over the last 10 years, while the industry has struggled against all those outside factors, MTS has made significant advancements in both its bus and light rail systems: • MTS ridership hit an all-time record high last year with 95 million trips on its 90-plus fixed-route bus services and its 53 miles of light rail. We are now averaging more than 300,000 trips per weekday. • Our fleets of more than 700 buses and 120 rail cars have never been in better shape. More than 80 percent of our buses run on clean compressed natural gas. Our entire Trolley network will have lowfloor cars by the end of the year. We have ongoing bus procurement contracts to replace buses as they reach retirement age. • Maintenance is tip-top. For our bus operations, mileage between breakdowns is now more than 12,000 miles, up from just 4,000 miles seven years ago. • We just expanded and opened a new $30 million, LEED-certified bus maintenance facility in the South Bay area of San Diego. We are breaking ground on a similar facility in East County this year. Three years ago we purchased a facility from a recreational vehicle dealership to house our paratransit fleet and maintenance operation. • We launched our first Bus Rapid Transit service last summer and ridership is already exceeding expectations. Two more BRT lines open in October. • We are nearing completion on a $660 million renovation of two of our trolley lines. • We revamped pension plans for both represented and nonrepresented employees. • We are using technology to track ridership and provide convenience for our customers through smart cards and a mobile ticketing pilot program called mTicket. • Our key performance indicators, such as farebox recovery and costs

per passenger, are all at the top or near the top when compared to our peer agencies. None of this happens without focusing on the details; without a dedicated team of professionals. Our success depends on critical thinking and planning well into the future — and there is nothing like necessity for motivation. When I arrived at MTS a little more than 10 years ago, our bus network had not received a lot of attention as the agency focus was on light rail development. Routes were inefficient. Work rules for

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THE TRANSIT Authority bus operators made it difficult to manage employees. Maintenance protocols were lacking. A complete overhaul was necessary. We immediately conducted a Comprehensive Operational Analysis of the entire bus system. We analyzed every segment of every route and evaluated each one according to a market-based philosophy. The directive was to develop a plan that allocated our resources where we would attract the most riders at the lowest costs. At the end of this exercise, which included extensive customer outreach, special night board meetings, and customized web pages, we altered every route in some way; and our success was immediate. We cut $9 million on the expense side and increased ridership by 9 percent. Today, our revenue miles have climbed back up to where they were before the changes, but ridership is up 31 percent. Fortunately, we made these changes before the recession hit and when it did we were “right-sized” to weather the storm a little easier. Of course, success also depends on making tough decisions. When funding and tax revenues dropped precipitously, MTS quickly proposed and ultimately implemented fare changes that increased monthly passes from $60 to $72. We also eliminated transfers from bus-to-bus for one-way fares. Tough negotiations also took place with our bus operators and their unions. But to their credit, they accepted work rule changes to make it much more manageable to schedule work and to rely on attendance. Over the last decade we have renegotiated 14 labor contracts without a work stoppage. MTS also made tough employment decisions at the management level, reducing management staff by more than 20 percent during the recession. All of this contributed to our high farebox recovery ratio. For bus, it is around 38 percent and over 50 percent for rail. Our subsidy per passenger of $1.65 is the lowest among our peers. Necessity plays a role in that as well. MTS receives about one-eighth of a cent in a local sales tax dedicated to freeway, road and transit. That is much less than in other communities. We have to be efficient. MTS has squarely positioned itself to set even higher ridership records. I’d like to think we will surpass 100 million rides this fiscal year. A lot is working in our favor to reach this milestone. The first of our BRT services, called Rapid, will be fully operational the entire fiscal year. This route, which runs north-south on the inland transportation corridor, along with a series of adjustments to other supporting services, has increased ridership on the corridor by 34 percent. For 36

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

the current fiscal year, we project 500,000 more rides in that corridor alone. Two more routes have the potential to increase ridership in their respective corridors as well. Passengers are not only enjoying more frequent and much faster service over a greater span, new amenities such as dedicated stations, parking structures, next arrival signage, signal priority and new buses with high-back cushioned seats are improving their transit experience. We are also about to ink a new contract for about half of our fixed-route bus services. This deal could be for as long as 12 years with a value approaching $1 billion and will continue to keep our service levels high and our operational costs low. Today, our bus system is growing and our team is rising to the challenge as we train more than 400 operators on the service and make all of the necessary infrastructure changes to support it. We are thoroughly modernizing our Trolley system as plans progress for an 11mile north-south extension along our coastal transportation corridor. There is growing recognition that public transit must be a part of the region’s growth strategies. It is an exciting time for MTS. Public transit has come of age in San Diego.

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Open

architecture welcomes everyone

Accenture’s Michael J. Wilson explains how new technology creates competitive choices By Richard Tackett

Accenture, New York, NY, one of the world’s foremost transportation consulting, technology and outsourcing organizations, has been a leader in pushing public transportation toward its digital future. At the request of BUSRide, Michael J. Wilson, Accenture’s managing director for Public Transportation, North America, addressed questions about open architecture and explained how it is driving next-generation transportation. Michael J. Wilson, managing director for Public Transportation, North America, for Accenture

Briefly define open architecture. One definition is that open architecture is modular in its makeup. In the case of fare management, that means integrating multiple device vendors and suppliers. Traditional closed systems tend to have one equipment supplier with one system behind it. Open architectures allow multiple device vendors, creating a competition in choice. Another definition for open architecture is the type of backend software involved. Most fare management systems have financial management, custom management and asset management departments. There are some commercial software packages out today that do all of those functions, and open architecture makes those packages available for transit. By leveraging those products, an agency is able to get ongoing upgrades and support. Another element of an open system is integration architecture. Open architecture can easily plug and play with multiple external systems and multiple forms of payment in a way that’s easy to keep up-to-date and adaptable to future changes. 38

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

Open architecture allows for the integration of multiple device vendors and suppliers. busride.com


Can you explain the difference between open architecture and open payments? Interestingly, there’s still some confusion in the marketplace about open architecture versus open payments. You might see these terms used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Open architecture is about the various elements needed to create the modular system, whereas open payments are more about the choice you have in asking for payment media. Open payments are about payment media. Open architecture is important because, when an agency wants a choice, our systems need to be flexible and modular enough to support those different choices. What’s a sign that a transit agency should consider open architecture? In terms of the software, when an agency realizes its ability to dynamically move to some new payment mechanisms is being hampered – that might be a reason to consider replacement of that software and a move to open architecture. Many transit agencies are facing financial cutbacks and are averse to major changes. What’s the solution for them? What’s interesting about open architecture is that the business case is pretty strong. We did a research paper published earlier this year, Accelerating the Payback from Fare Collection Investment. Typically we’re seeing transit agencies report that 15 percent of their revenue goes into fare collection costs. That’s a significant number. When we looked at the expenditure analysis, we saw the opportunity to cut those costs by 6 percent with open architecture. When we look at the cost of purchasing these open systems, we’re seeing paybacks within three to five years.

Open architecture can plug and play with multiple systems in order to adapt to future changes.

What benefits will transit customers see from open architecture? The big advantage is that customers get access to new choices. Instead of providing only traditional magnetic stripe media, the access to smartphone embedded wallets like Google Wallet or ISIS, contactless credit cards or standard credential cards means a lot. For the consumer, it means greater choice and access to already existing retail forms of payment. Additionally, with open architecture, agencies can stay current in terms of new and emerging technologies. What goes into managing a truly open system? In some ways, reduced management costs are why we’re seeing a cheaper total cost of ownership. In some ways, it’s easier to manage. The more traditional systems are dealing with older equipment which requires significantly more maintenance. We’re seeing maintenance effort reduced with open systems. Also, traditional transit systems require customers to convert their currency into the agency’s payment media. This allows agencies to move out of the business of that exchange. It translates into less equipment and less energy put into managing that media.

Vix. Transforming the way people connect and commute. Account-based Electronic Fare Collection

Your report made mention of outsourcing management of open architecture systems. Please elaborate. When you move to open architecture, you’re basically leveraging commercial software that’s readily available in the marketplace. Microsoft, for example, has a marketplace of people that can manage and maintain Microsoft software. Agencies can choose who they want to provide the software, but also who they want to maintain it. In a closed system, you’re relying on the manager or vendor you’ve contracted with.

vix_americas

americas@vixtechnology.com | 206-749-5500x3 busride.com | BUSRIDE

39


Does open architecture aid in data collection? It absolutely helps with data collection. When you move to these commercial products, they’re set up to work with most standard analytic and reporting packages. You can easily leverage the data from these standard packages for whatever analytical uses you have. With a proprietary system, however, the data and approaches are often more closed in their structure and more difficult to access. With all of its advantages, why isn’t all of America already on board with open architecture? We’re starting to see this terminology make it into requests for proposals (RFP). Toronto was probably one of the first cities in North America that went to a “systems integration” approach, promoting open architecture. Washington Metro recently awarded its contract to Accenture, and again the premise was an open architecture systems integration approach. What’s the future hold for open systems? We don’t know what we don’t know, and that’s why it’s important to set up these kinds of systems to be adaptable. It’s interesting to continue to monitor what’s happening in the mobile space. There’s more of an emphasis on what customers already have in their pocket, with less and less need for transit agencies to spend on costly infrastructure.

Open architecture and open payments allow for customers to choose from a variety of payment media.

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ABA names its

Top 100 Events The list for 2015 showcases the favorites and hidden gems

Each year tens of millions of tourists traveling as groups on motorcoach tours visit thousands of destinations and attend countless events throughout the United States and Canada. Each year the American Bus Association (ABA) proudly announces the most spectacular events they might attend next in its annual Top 100 Events in North America. ABA released its 34th annual Top 100 Events list for 2015 in September, naming two premier events to the top spots for motorcoach groups to check out — The Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival in Custer, SD, and the Canadian Tulip Festival in Gatineau, Quebec. “Both the Buffalo Round Up and the Canadian Tulip Festival are motorcoach-group-friendly and family-friendly events,” says ABA President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS. “I urge groups and individuals considering unique places to visit on a motorcoach to book trips to these destinations and others in the Top 100. We salute those events that went through the process.”

The Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival stars 1,300 bison rounded up by cowboys on horseback.

The Buffalo Roundup “As far as I’m concerned, The Buffalo Roundup is the single greatest experience you can have in the West,” says country western musician Michael Martin Murphey. The Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival, September 25-27, 2015, is the quintessential South Dakota experience, starring 1,300 buffalos rounded up by cowboys on horseback. The roundup includes visits to Mount Rushmore and the six-mile seasonal Volksmarch, along with a buffet breakfast and lunch cooked at the event site.

ABA released its 34th annual Top 100 Events list for 2015 in September. 42

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

busride.com


grounds in a marketplace tent. Entertainers are on hand for autograph and photo opportunities, along with prize drawings, and giveaways and games for visitors to enjoy.

The Canadian Tulip Festival’s nine-mile tulip route winds throughout Ottawa and Gatineau, highlighting major tulip beds and attractions.

The Canadian Tulip Festival The inspiration for this festival occurred in 1945 when Princess Juliana of The Netherlands presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs in appreciation of Canada’s role in aiding her country during WWII. The Canadian Tulip Festival has since grown into the largest festival of its kind in the world, celebrating international friendship and the beauty of spring since 1953. Each May, Ottawa and Canada’s Capital Region are ablaze with more than one million tulips. The nine-mile tulip route winds throughout Ottawa and Gatineau, highlighting major tulip beds and attractions, including three spectacular nights of fireworks, live music, a carnival midway and interactive games for all ages.

More standout events in the ABA Top 100 Ford’s Theatre: Remembering the Lincoln Assassination Washington, D.C. Jan. 23–May 25, 2015 Ford’s Theatre commemorates 150 years since President Lincoln’s assassination with special programming including an exhibition returning items connected with Lincoln’s assassination to the Ford’s campus; a vigil; walking tours; panel discussions; a world-premiere play, The Widow Lincoln and the musical Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War on the historic stage. Dodge City Days Dodge City, KS July 24–Aug. 2, 2015 Dodge City’s history comes to life during the annual Dodge City Days, a 10-day celebration hosting more than 50 events including the award-winning PRCA Hall of Fame Dodge City Rodeo — the “Greatest Show on Dirt.” Other event highlights include a classic car show, carnival, an arts and crafts show, professional barbecue contest, a Western parade and the crowning of Miss Rodeo Kansas. The festival kicks off with the Boot Hill Bull Fry and Bash. See the World in Branson Music Fest Branson, MO April 22–23, 2015 Branson’s largest springtime event offers a sampling of more than 20 different Branson entertainers during two days of matinee performances. Savor the Flavors of Branson cooking demonstrations and Branson’s Celebrity Chef Cookoff take place on the festival

Mardi Gras New Orleans, LA Feb. 17, 2015 New Orleans is known for many sights, sounds and flavors, including jazz, Creole and Cajun cooking and the French Quarter, New Orleans’ French Quarter but Mardi Gras eclipses all as the is home to Mardi Gras. city’s most famous centerpiece. Fat Tuesday is Feb. 17, but the festivities begin weeks in advance. A time of revelry, fraternity, festivity, and unabashed indulgence, Mardi Gras reflects New Orleanians’ rich heritage, unleashes the joyous soul of the city and invites everyone to join in the fun. The festival embraces the city’s social and cultural variety, from the Mardi Gras Indians to the Zulu parade and the Endymion ball, and brings everyone together in the spirit of revelry. Indy 500 Celebration Indianapolis, IN May 2–24, 2015 The Indy 500 Celebration features a three-week and fourweekend event schedule that provides an opening week of busy daily track activity, two pressurepacked days of qualifications and a traditional Race Week format that includes a parade and all of the pageantry of “The Greatest The Indianapolis 500 is the Spectacle in Racing.” There will world’s largest single day be 12 days of on-track action sporting event. during the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, kicking off with the country’s largest half marathon, the 500 Festival Mini Marathon on Saturday, May 2. The month will culminate with the world’s largest single day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500. 60th Kentucky Derby Festival & 141st Kentucky Derby Louisville, KY April 16–May 2, 2015 The Kentucky Derby Festival is a whirlwind of 70 events starting with Thunder Over Louisville, the opening ceremonies of the twoweek festival. With an estimated average attendance of half a million people, it is the largest annual event in the region, the largest annual pyrotechnics display in North America, and one of the top five air shows in the country. Other highlights include a half and full marathon and live bed racing. The event that started it all, the Pegasus Parade, marches down Broadway the Thursday before the Derby. Pasadena Tournament of Roses Pasadena, CA Jan. 1, 2015 The Pasadena Tournament of Roses is a volunteer organization that annually hosts the Rose Parade, CFP Semi-Final at the Rose Bowl Game and various associated events. The 126th Rose Parade, themed Inspiring Stories, featuring majestic floral floats, equestrian units and marching bands, will take place Thursday, Jan. 1. Following the Rose Parade, the Tournament will host the CFP (College Football Playoff) Semi-Final at the 101st Rose Bowl Game featuring an exciting matchup between two of the top four collegiate football teams in the nation.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

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Transit at the pedestrian level An older idea from Village Technology could still fight urban congestion [EDITOR’S NOTE: This article first appeared in BUSRide, November 2006, (An idea ready to happen, p.26) and presented here as an encore to emphasize creative thinking and innovation in public transportation. A great idea at the time, by John Alt and Village Technology, and one that would still turn heads at the APTA Public Transportation Challenge taking place at EXPO 2014.]

Village Technology offers SMRrTRAM People Mover Architecture as the solution to urban traffic grid lock.

Parking access distance — the distance a pedestrian is willing to walk from a parked car or transit stop — creates big problems in most urban settings, according to urban designer-architect John Alt of Village Technology. He suggests most pedestrians are uncomfortable walking any more than 1,000 feet from their parked cars. Seeing this at the root of city traffic congestion, he further contends that urban planners and developers only exacerbate the problem by continuing to build in-town parking facilities to accommodate the vast number of automobiles needed to provide customers and tenants for their projects. Alt’s solution would reduce congestion by enabling people to park further away and stretch their normal 1000-foot parking access distance up to three miles or more with the help of a highly convenient and affordable pedestrian-mobility system he calls SMRrTRAM Architecture, a patented people mover by Village Technology in the U.S. and Canada. SMRrTRAM is a rubber-tired, driver-operated bus system traveling simultaneously in opposite directions along city streets in a single narrow guide lane next to the sidewalk. “With SMRrTRAM, new parking could be located at the edges of 44

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

core business and shopping districts, away from and not contributing to traffic congestion,” Alt says. “A customer or visitor need only park once to access an entire downtown business district.” Operating with a combination of computer and human-driver logic, SMRrTRAM Architecture synchronizes the movements of oppositely moving buses so they only meet at stops where pedestrians get on and off at the same moment. After boarding is complete, the oppositely moving buses go around each other using a short bypass associated with each stop area. The synchronized arrivals and departures give the system its high capacity and convenience. Alt calculates SMRrTRAM to move 1,440 passengers per hour in each direction with an average headway (waiting time between arrivals) of only 2.5 minutes. Village Technology sees the electric powered SMRrTRAM buses as scaled down from standard vehicular dimensions to fit into the pedestrian realm. For example, standing riders would be eye level with pedestrians walking along the adjacent sidewalk. As passengers are essentially riding pedestrians, maximum visibility is crucial to the concept. Choosing to ride the SMRrTRAM bus does not remove passengers from the experience of walking, as Alt says they would still be able to look at storefronts, read signs, window shop and be part of busride.com


Village Technology bypass configurations can fit into virtually any existing rightof-way without eliminating traffic lanes.

the sidewalk activity. With stops every block or so they can get off and on at will. SMRrTRAM Architecture could serve as a highly effective link in intermodal transportation strategies, conveniently connecting commuter transit, such as light-rail, with large areas of business, shopping and entertainment choices. Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee notes that as envisioned, the system interacts well with pedestrians without requiring expensive or elaborate rights-of-way. Here’s the rub: Village Technology reports that while many such city planners and administrators are intrigued, they are unable to consider a SMRrTRAM solution until they can see an operating prototype. The SMRrTRAM Architecture is a set of computer algorithms and synchronization strategies. Turning it into an actual people mover requires the other half of the system: the pedestrian oriented bus vehicle. “At this juncture, Village Technology has two goals,” Alt says. “One is to encourage city and transportation planners to get behind our vision. The second is to connect with a bus manufacturer and actually create a SMRrTRAM People-Mover that people can ride on.”

The manufacturer that signs on to engineer and build the SMRrTRAM bus could have North American rights to a hot new market. But they’d also need to be willing to change scales to a vehicle more oriented to pedestrian traffic than vehicular, and city rather than highway speeds. Because the average SMRrTRAM ride would only last five to 10 minutes, Village Technology envisions an interior scaled to quick and easy boarding with more standing room and less seating. Alt says compared with existing people mover and streetcar technologies, SMRrTRAM would be significantly lower in cost with equal or even better service. The unique advantage of the SMRrTRAM Architecture is its ability to operate safely in congested streetscapes. The system uses computer logic to control the speed of the buses to ensure their synchronous arrivals and departures at the stops. Drivers, however, have the ability to slow or stop the buses at any time in response to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic; though the random slowing by the drivers also makes the synchronization SMRrTRAM is a people-mover solution a formidable challenge. and not a transit solution. Passengers are essentially riding pedestrians, and will only be Alt says the SMRrTRAM on the bus for short periods at a time. Architecture and related patents are all about solving that challenge. With only a 2.5 minute wait for the next pair of buses to arrive from each direction, pedestrians would learn to use the system spontaneously as an integral part of their normal movement — just like they use elevators in a building. “This is exactly the kind of pedestrian mobility cities are desperate to have,” Alt says. “There is a tremendous need for this kind of system.”

busride.com | BUSRIDE

45


Cubic Transportation launches new programs and services New technology and big data provide traffic solutions in major cities Cubic Transportation Systems, San Diego, CA, an integrator of information technology and payment systems and services for intelligent travel, unveiled two new services during 2014 ITS World Congress in September in Detroit, MI. Cubic Intelligent Transport Management Solutions (ITMS) will provide its proprietary traffic monitoring and control systems and services. Urban Insights Associates is a big data and predictive analytics consulting company headquartered in Washington, D.C. Cubic says ITMS is a combination of transport management and vehicle

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enforcement solutions, with the company providing everything from smart signage, traffic safety cameras and data collection points to operational control centers. ITMS has already powered the transport and infrastructure projects for the Sydney and London Olympic Games, and now plans solutions to keep traffic solutions flowing in all major cities. Urban Insights helps transportation organizations unlock the true value in vast amounts of ITS data they generate daily. According to Cubic, using a cloud-based big data and predictive analytics platform, this company combines unmatched transportation expertise with industry-specific data science methods. The result helps transportation planners and administrators quickly comprehend what needs to be done to make their networks run more smoothly. Matt Cole, executive vice president and deputy for strategy, business development and diversification at Cubic Transportation Systems, participated in the World Congress Executive Session “Big Data and Open Data—the Big Issues.” Cole and other panel members discussed ITS applications based around big data and how they help improve the efficiencies in moving people and goods in urban transportation networks. Applications include transport service timetables, real-time awareness of traffic flows and the performance of traffic systems, a specialty of Cubic (ITMS). Claire Depré, head of Unit Intelligent Transport Systems, DG MOVE, European Commission, Belgium, moderated the session. Wade Rosado, director of analytics, Urban Insights, and Chris Bax, Cubic ITMS managing director, took part in the Urban Insightssponsored Town Hall discussion “Prime Time for Big Data,” exploring how recent technological advances in big data and analytics will help improve safety, traffic, energy and efficiency for agencies as well as the rider experience. Dean Garfield, president & CEO, ITI, moderated the session.

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Electrical systems can

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Understanding the basics of electricity is key for electrical technicians By Robert Buchwalter Service Training Manager Prevost

48

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

Despite the sophisticated control systems found on today’s coaches, we still rely on wires, connectors, and a few relays to achieve an output.

A friend of mine, a WWII veteran, was trained as a radio operator on USAAF airplanes. That he wound up as a tailgunner is another story. He recently gave my wife and me his training notes and books from his radio school at Scott Field in Illinois. Reviewing that archival material, which covers everything from simple lighting circuits to super-heterodyne radios, I see a lot of the same topics Robert Hitt and I discuss in our Prevost training classes: the basics! On those old yellowed pages is information on series and parallel circuits, resistors, connectors, voltage, amperage. For a geek like me, it is interesting reading. But how do 70 year old texts and notes relate to today’s motorcoaches that are controlled by multiplex electrical systems? The answer can be found in the basics. Despite the sophisticated control systems found on today’s coaches, we still rely on wires, connectors, and a few relays to achieve an output. Our world is also comprised of vehicles with conventional electrical systems, controlled not by modules but by relays and diodes. Regardless of the control system, we need to ensure our shop employees understand the basics. If they do not have this foundation, then we cannot expect them to understand and master the seemingly more complex electrical systems and networks of today’s environment. The biggest electrical issue is safety. Today’s 24 volt systems can, if improperly handled, deliver a significant electrical shock and most (emphasis on most) of us also understand the inherent danger in batteries. A good

busride.com


shop electrical training program must ensure everyone understands these hazards, wears the proper safety equipment and works safely. From that safe beginning, we can proceed. Do your techs understand Ohm’s Law? The basic relation between voltage, resistance and current must be clear to everyone who deals with electrical systems. There are different methods built into multiplex systems for monitoring current flow and these can display codes related to electrical problems. But the MIDs, PIDs, SIDs, PPIDs, PSIDs, and FMIs mean little to someone who is uncertain regarding electrical systems. Our people who interpret these codes need to know what the system is telling them and how it relates to their diagnosis. A laptop cannot think, nor develop a diagnostic path, for itself. Our techs need to relate the codes to the coach. A test question we use in training is, how much electrical energy does a Prevost consume in 2500 miles of driving? The answer can be determined to a high level of precision: none. No electrical system consumes energy; they convert the current flow into useful work. For coaches, this useful work is primarily torque (electric motors); light; heat (heated windshields or immersion heaters); and electro magnetism (relay coils, compressor clutches). Only when current is converted into one of these forms of useful work should we drop voltage. So, if you have 27.2 volts on one end of a wire and only 24.5 on the other end, there is something going on and we need to investigate. Do your electrical technicians understand how a volt meter can mislead them? About a year ago, we had a problem with a Prevost in service with New York City Transit. It would not crank. Hooking up our laptop and using its software, we immediately saw we were missing a critical voltage supply and without it, cranking could not

occur. Just as quickly we reviewed the schematic to determine where the problem was. Our voltmeters told us we had the required voltage in all the right places, but you can run a voltmeter on just a few strands of copper wire. A circuit load tester, however, showed us that while the voltage was present, when we loaded the circuit and needed current to flow, the load was more than the wiring could carry. A few more minutes of swimming upstream led us to the actual fault, a corroded wire, due to a small slice in the insulation. The voltage was there but it could not do the work. Just a few minutes of diagnosis and the fault was found and repaired. (Also, the fact that the bus was “on the roof” at a parking garage and this event took place in February provided added incentive to find the problem quickly!) Prevost, MCI, and Van Hool all have different electrical systems. But there is a common theme found in all: there are fewer and fewer electrical terminals. In older coaches, the electrical systems usually had ring terminal boards in the front and rear electrical boxes. On today’s coaches, the wiring is more “point to point” with fewer places that you can probe the circuit to check the voltage. Unfortunately, this results in some techs sharpening the points on their test lights in order to pierce a wire to check for voltage. This is a practice that only leads to more problems. Despite what people think, water can penetrate the smallest hole and this will lead to corrosion of the copper wiring strands. If the actual cause is a poor connection due to corrosion, the movement of the harness sometimes improves the connection for a few days or weeks, masking the actual problem but it will eventually return. If we cannot pierce the wiring, the alternative is often building your own breakout harness, using connectors mated to the original harness, in order to determine voltage levels while moving the harness. It takes some time and effort, but it is the best practice to employ. Electrical problems are usually handled by a senior technician and less experienced individuals are left out of the diagnostic procedure, but I think just about anyone can understand electrical systems. The challenge for us is to invest the time and instruction to try to help our techs. Start with the small problems; develop training methods and examples that they can relate to, in order to help them along the way. busride.com | BUSRIDE

49


Touchless washing reduces costs Improved brush technology means less wasted resources

Today’s brushes can perform abrasion and lubricity to ensure there are no issues with scratching.

O

Jack Jackson, president of Awash Systems.

50

ne of the most common bus washing questions today is, “Do my brushes scratch paint?” We have been washing vehicles for over 23 years and brush technology has progressively improved. At Awash Systems we are washing some of the most expensive paint and advertising wraps in the market on buses, trucks and trains with no issues. The technology of the proper brush with the proper chemical will far outperform any other method and will be the least expensive for any ROI.

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

Listing the various brushes, materials and mechanics would not only be overwhelming, but also depend on the desired outcome, throughput and budget. Let me share an experience: I visited a large urban transportation facility that spent over $1 million on an automatic, drive through wash system. This was only a three year old facility and their issue was the vehicles (trains) were not getting cleaned to their expectation. The chemical company was working diligently with the customer to come up with every scenario including adding in more wash arches to increase the ability to wash in the limited space allowed by the building. Of course, more chemicals add more costs and sometimes can actually do damage to the vehicle or paint and, in this case, the rivets. When we did the inspection, it was determined that it would be impossible to add any more chemicals to do the job, but it did come to light that the brushes were the most inexpensive on the market. The individual brush strands were round and hollow. In comparison, it would be like cleaning a car with a bunch of cocktail size straws whipping against your vehicle. A round brush is not going to hold any chemical or water on it to ensure lubricity and abrasion at the same time. Today’s brushes can perform abrasion and lubricity to ensure there are no issues with scratching, yet there is some scrubbing. The best method to clean is a little soap and a good scrubbing. That holds true with today’s technology in cruciform polyethylene or polypropylene brushes. Once we added in some of the proper brushing technology, the problem was solved. The chemicals were being applied and scrubbed to ensure the proper dwell time and all the nooks and crannies were cleaned as well. There are numerous videos available on line to discuss today’s brush technology and the myths of touchless versus soft touch washing. Available now are cloth, lambskin, foam, polyethylene and polypropylene brushes to mention a few. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Jack Jackson is president of Awash Systems Corp. “We solve vehicle washing issues where no one else can.” Email: jjackson@awashsystems.com or call 1 800 265 7405. Visit our website www.awashsystems.com.

busride.com


IC Bus adds propane offering CE Series pairs PSI 8.8-liter propane engine and Allison transmission to maximize power, torque, durability and efficiency IC Bus, Lisle, IL, announced it will offer its IC Bus™ CE Series school bus powered by the Power Solutions International (PSI) 8.8-liter LP propane engine for the 2015 school year. Purpose-built for the school bus industry, the IC says CE Series with PSI propane engine is designed to provide diesel-like performance with higher torque at lower engine speeds. “Our customers asked for a better propane fuel choice for the market and we answered,” says John McKinney, president, IC Bus. “Our IC Bus CE Series with PSI’s 8.8-liter LP engine will be the first school bus specifically engineered to run on propane without sacrificing power, performance or durability.” IC says the PSI 8.8-liter engine is engineered to deliver the highest torque at the lowest speed. With a rating of 565 lb-ft at 1500 rpm, the high torque-low speed design greatly benefits stop-and-start applications to allow immediate acceleration after stops and greater hill climbing capability. This not only improves startability and

gradability, but also eliminates excessive noise, heat and vibration associated with constant engine revving. “Until now, the propane vehicle market had been supported by underpowered engines that run at high-speeds to get the required power,” says Gary Winemaster, chairman and chief executive officer, PSI. “The PSI 8.8-liter engine is an economic, low-speed solution that boasts diesel-like performance, high durability, reduced noise and overall wear with all the benefits of alternative fuels.” IC Bus will manufacture CE Series school buses with propane out of its school bus assembly plant in Tulsa, OK. Deliveries will begin in summer 2015 and buses will go into service for the start of the 2015/2016 school year. The CE Series will also be on display at this year’s National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Annual Summit in Kansas City, MO, November 8 –11.

busride.com | BUSRIDE

51


Technology acts as the crystal ball Metro St. Louis employs predictive monitoring to foresee component failures By David Hubbard

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appeared in BUSRide Maintenance , October 2011, and now appears in an encore presentation to emphasize the necessity of innovation in public transportation.]

St. Louis Metro Superintendent Bus Maintenance Dale Schaefer, left, and Chief Mechanical Officer Carl Thiessen rely on predictive monitoring to determine more precisely why and when to take a vehicle out of service.

Predictive monitoring lies somewhere between a sixth sense and standard preventive maintenance, and essentially serves technicians as a crystal ball to foresee equipment failures. The technology personalizes each bus in the fleet, eliminating any generalization as to why and when to send a particular vehicle in for maintenance. Metro St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, is a diverse agency that operates the entire public transit network comprised of MetroBus, MetroLink light rail and Call-A-Ride paratransit. It transports sightseers on trams to the top of the landmark Gateway Arch and on Mississippi riverboats, and manages the St. Louis Downtown Airport. Already recognized for its outstanding maintenance operation, the agency has adapted this relatively new data analysis system to its bus fleet. It first engaged in predictive monitoring in 2005 when it signed on with Accenture, Chicago, IL, in a pilot program to equip 20 buses with special engine and transmission sensors to monitor performance. 52

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

Additional real-time sensors attached to the vehicle-monitoring unit enabled the predictive monitoring system to analyze more data than what standard engine sensors typically deliver. The objective was to cut costs and improve system-wide performance by reducing vehicle failures and streamlining maintenance schedules. The sensors monitor road speed, engine speed, engine load, cooling temperatures, oil pressure, fuel consumption, as well as ambient temperatures outside the bus. The information feeds to a central computer for analysis and follows with an internet presentation to service technicians. “Every bus in the fleet is a little different,” says Ray Friem, Metro St. Louis chief operations officer, transit division. “Each vehicle has its own quirks and operates under separate conditions. Before we try to find out what is wrong, we want to understand the performance of each bus when it is just humming along.” Metro St. Louis passed on the Accenture pilot, choosing instead to develop its own analytical model. “We felt we were a little ahead of the curve in this area,” Friem says. “We found the pilot program we tested very capable, and would certainly work well for most agencies. We just knew what we were looking for in such a system and believed we had the capability to custom build to our own specifications.” Friem sees traditional maintenance involving routine schedules coming either too late or too soon — using the data to understand only what happened when components fail and vehicles break down. Predictive monitoring compares real-time data to normal parameters established in the model. Any deviation from the norm translates as a triggering event that suggests the type of failure that is in store, and predicts when it is likely to occur. For example, advance warning in one vehicle pointed to an overheating hydraulic retarder. Though the problem was not severe or dangerous at that moment, early detection prevented a minor problem from developing into a costly repair. “Predictive monitoring does not reveal anything experienced mechanics have not seen before,” Friem says. “But these diagnostics provide empirical and timely evidence, which enables us to manage our maintenance schedules more precisely without wasting time and money.” After categorizing all the defect card information — how many and busride.com


Metro St. Louis Chief Mechanical Officer Carl Thiessen and Teresa Bowles, vehicle maintenance system administrator, receive the monitor reports and decide on a plan of action for scheduling maintenance and repairs.

MetroBus mechanic Antonio Floyd collects raw data from the predictive monitoring sensors and forwards the information for assessment.

The Metro St. Louis maintenance facility is equipped for the future of predicting failures and downtime.

what kind — and determining which age category they fell into, the team compared the data to the repair tickets to when and where the agency invested to fix each vehicle. Laying out the parameters in his Preventative Maintenance Initiative, he and his team created the predictive monitoring model he calls the Pseudo Bus. “Our guys in the shop just call all of this The Plan,” he says. “This marked the first time we had ever asked what our business plan was in terms of maintenance.” The Plan basically analyzes the fleet with respect to the age of each bus. It categorizes the buses accordingly: first three years; four to six years; seven to nine years; 10 to 12 years, and 13 to 15 years, as Metro St. Louis tends to operate older vehicles. Friem determined, upon closer examination, 80 percent of the maintenance costs (which he deems an investment) went to equipment due for retirement within two years. The Plan broke into a mileage-based system and developed repair activities in advance of component failure. For example, it was determined that a specific type of transmission would fail between 200,000 and 300,000 miles, and an overhaul effort was established at the 200,000 mile mark. Friem says predictive monitoring is clearly taking the fleet maintenance effort to the next level. “Where we were overhauling a transmission religiously at 200,000 miles, we found it to be failing at 260,000,” he says. “The new system showed us statistically it probably had 40,000 miles of good life remaining. This told us we might have been making our maintenance investments too soon.” Friem reports that the predictive maintenance program has already directly saved Metro St. Louis nearly $5 million a year and, at the same time, saved another $5 million in personnel-related costs. “Applying this new philosophy has truly shifted how this agency approaches maintenance,” Friem says. “Now a failure of any sort is something we take very personally.” busride.com | BUSRIDE

53


U.S. DOT celebrates transit openings Representatives from the Federal Transit Administration attended openings in Grand Rapids and Cleveland

The new Silver Line is operated by Interurban Transit Partnership, known as The Rapid.

Silver Line BRT The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) celebrated the grand opening of the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Grand Rapids, MI. The new system will significantly improve transit options in the greater Grand Rapids area and offer faster, more convenient access to major downtown employers along one of the city’s busiest commercial corridors. FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan joined Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle, The Rapid Board Chair Barb Holt and Chief Executive Officer Peter Varga, and other local officials at a ribbon-cutting event. “The Obama Administration is proud to partner with Michigan to improve transportation options for students, families, seniors and other residents in Grand Rapids who need and deserve a reliable option for getting to work, school, medical appointments and other opportunities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Congress should pass the President’s GROW AMERICA Act so we can invest in more good projects like this one that offer access to ladders of opportunity across the country.” The new Silver Line is operated by Interurban Transit Partnership, known as The Rapid. The 9.6-mile route operates primarily along Division Avenue, serving residential areas along the corridor and major employers such as St. Mary’s Medical campus, the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and the Cook-DeVos School of Nursing. Compared to non-BRT service, the Silver Line is faster because it eliminates the need for transfers between stops and uses dedicated bus lanes for much of the route. Cedar-University Rapid Station The FTA also celebrated the opening of Cleveland’s Cedar-University Rapid Station that will make it easier for transit riders to connect to 54

BUSRIDE | OCTOBER.2014

The FTA celebrated the opening of Cleveland’s Cedar-University Rapid Station.

bus and rail services at one of the city’s busiest transfer locations. FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan was joined by Mayor Frank Jackson, Cleveland City Councilwoman Mamie Mitchell, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) General Manager Joe Calabrese, and other local officials at a ribbon-cutting event. If Congress passes the GROW AMERICA Act, State of Ohio transit agencies will receive approximately $60 million in State of Good Repair Program funding in FY 2015. This funding, used to improve rail transit infrastructure, represents an increase of $37.5 million over the amount provided in FY 2014. The new station, near Case Western Reserve University, replaces an aging rail station and bus terminal, built in 1956, with a modern facility that significantly improves access for pedestrians and people with disabilities. The project included complete reconstruction of the rail station and relocation of the bus terminal to the north side of Cedar Glen, eliminating the need for street crossings and enhancing pedestrian connections between the bus terminal and rail station. busride.com


CARRYING THE INDUSTRY FORWARD FOR 90 YEARS AND COUNTING.

In 1924, Eugene Prevost, a carpenter by trade, built the first wooden motorcoach body. Today, the Prevost name is synonymous with dependability, performance, and craftsmanship. Though much has changed in regard to the materials, designs, and manufacturing processes used to create Prevost motorcoaches, our long-standing commitment to building and servicing quality vehicles remains the same. We are looking forward to many more decades of leading the industry with innovation and providing safe, comfortable, and memorable journeys for all of your passengers.

For more information: USA 336-393-3929 Canada 418-883-3391 www.prevostcar.com


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BUSRide October 2014  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry.

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