SEPTEMBER | 2014
O F F I C I A L
BUSRide Road Test:
The Ameritrans M2 Vista p22
Red Arrow diversifies service p20
Small Bus Showcase p28
Daimler at IAA
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SEPTEMBER 2014 CONTENTS
Cover Story Official BUSRide Road Test: The Ameritrans M2 Vista
The Shoups, owners of Cardinal Buses, test drive the bus built on a M2 Freightliner chassis By David Hubbard
Features BusCon is at home in Indiana
The move brings new sessions; more to see and do
APTA EXPO 2014 heads to Houston
A full slate of exhibits and presentations explore the theme America’s Future is Riding on Public Transportation
Red Arrow Motorcoach diversifies service
The 35 year-old luxury coach service adds Sprinters and ebus to get everyone Safely Home By David Hubbard
Small Bus Showcase
8 UPDATE 13 Deliveries 26 Transit Authority
BUSRide spotlights small and midsized vehicles, the workhorses of the industry
Transit committed to sustainability
APTA recognizes transportation agencies for environmental accomplishments
Connected travel on the rise 36 DePaul study finds travelers’ use of personal electronic devices rising sharply
Maxwell adds to large ultracapacitor family
New 2.85-volt, 3400-farad cell with DuraBlue™ Advanced Shock & Vibration Technology to improve reliability in transportation applications
Arbitrary pricing plagues the industry Fair and profitable pricing comes down to basic business principles By Carmen Daecher
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
By John McNichols
30 BUS BRANDING & MARKETING
By Ryan Kelly
32 THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
25 Focus on Innovation
By Doug Jack busride.com
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FROM THE EDITOR
HTF is safe for now as the industry goads Congress Upon congressional passage in early August of legislation to extend $10.8 billion funding for the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015, trade associations from every niche in the transportation industry were out with their statements. Everyone appears relieved but underwhelmed by the outcome, considering the horrendous amount of work left to do and Congress giving no marching orders to forge ahead and get it done. The Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx is disappointed by the continuing kids’ game: “While I am pleased that Congress took action to avoid the immediate insolvency of the Highway Account this summer, I am disappointed that they merely kicked the can down the road again,” he said. “This is the tenth surface transportation extensionon top of 18 short-term budget measures — in the last six years. So in the coming months, the Department will again prepare cash management procedures in anticipation of repeating the same Highway Trust Fund insolvency crisis. Americans deserve a multi-year transportation bill that provides the certainty that businesses and communities deserve.” American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy emphasized that this is only a short-term fix. “While keeping the Highway Trust Fund solvent as a necessary first step to avoid a funding crisis, Congress still needs to fund a long-term solution for transportation in the coming months,” he said. “With the crisis deferred, it is essential that Congress stay focused and complete its work that recognizes this demand and provides the needed investment in our nation’s aging transportation infrastructure.” The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Executive Director Bud Wright told Congress to keep moving: “State transportation officials across the country are relieved that the Highway Trust Fund will continue to support critically needed highway and transit projects,” he said. “More than 660,000 jobs and at least 6,000 state DOT construction projects were at risk. Congress must keep America working and the economy moving forward by passing a long-term surface transportation reauthorization bill that is supported by a sustainable source of funding as soon as possible.“
Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane email@example.com Group Publisher Sali T. Williams firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Editor David Hubbard email@example.com Editor Richard Tackett firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Stephen Gamble email@example.com Production Director Kevin Dixon firstname.lastname@example.org Accountant Fred Valdez email@example.com Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone
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BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
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ABA selects Cleveland for 2017 Marketplace The American Bus Association (ABA) announced Cleveland, OH, will host the ABA’s annual Marketplace, to be held January 14-17, 2017, at the Cleveland Convention Center. The ABA’s Marketplace is the motorcoach, travel and tourism industry’s premier event. “The American Bus Association is thrilled when we can bring new cities into the ABA Marketplace family,” said President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS. “Cleveland will be a fantastic host city. We know our members will have a great time, visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the city’s many other attractions, and, of course, generating tens of millions of dollars’ worth of travel and tourism business for Cleveland.”
The Delco Remy 28SI™ now standard equipment on the Navistar IC Bus Remy International, Inc., manufacturer of Delco Remy® heavy duty starters and alternators, as well as Remy® light duty starters and alternators, was recently awarded the standard alternator position for Navistar’s IC Bus brand. IC Bus selected the Delco Remy 28SI™ (200 amp) as the standard alternator. Other Delco Remy products-the 29MT™ and the 39 MT™-already hold the standard starter position.
FMCSA announces enhancements to SMS website The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a package of enhancements to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) website. SMS is an automated system that quantifies the on-road safety performance of commercial truck and bus companies that is used to identify and prioritize high-risk carriers for enforcement interventions, including increased roadside inspections and compliance reviews. The enhancements were derived from feedback solicited from motor carriers, law enforcement personnel, industry representatives and other stakeholders who were given an opportunity to critique various website enhancement proposals.
In anticipation of increased traffic, C&J Bus Lines has ordered a fifth motorcoach which will be dedicated to its expanded service.
C&J Bus Lines expands service to New York City C&J Bus Lines, one of New England’s premier transportation providers, announced the expansion of its popular New York City Service. The company will add a third roundtrip on Fridays and Sundays effective August 1, 2014. The new departure will leave from Portsmouth at 9:30 a.m., Tewksbury at 10:20 a.m., arriving in New York City at 2:30 p.m. The new departure from the Big Apple will occur at 4:30 p.m., returning to Tewksbury at 8:45 p.m., and Portsmouth at 9:30 p.m. respectively. In anticipation of increased traffic, the company has also ordered a fifth motorcoach which will be dedicated to the expanded service.
Midwest Bus Corporation Sun Van introduces new vehicles awarded Halifax Regional Municipality to fleet Sun Van’s purchase includes minivans and sedans to improve system efficiency when full-sized Sun Van vehicles are not necessary.
The City of Tucson, AZ, and Sun Van, the City’s award-winning paratransit service, introduced 42 new Sun Van vehicles, which includes minivans and sedans to improve system efficiency when full-sized Sun Van vehicles are not necessary. Once all 42 vehicles are received by the end of August, they will replace 2009 diesel-fueled vehicles in Sun Van’s fleet, decreasing the average age of the fleet from 4.10 years to 2.47 years.
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
Midwest Bus Corporation of Owosso, MI, was recently awarded a contract by Halifax Regional Municipality to supply late model New Flyer bus panels. Midwest Bus Corporation body panels and doors are a major cost-savings choice to restore late model buses with OEM quality parts. Midwest Bus parts have been used on multiple fleet rehabs and approved by transit agencies for fit, form and function. In addition to late model New Flyer applications, Midwest Bus also offers parts for Gillig, NABI, ElDorado and RTS buses. busride.com
UPDATE construction project that was five years in the planning and required 18 months to complete. It replaces an older garage, dating back to 1953, and is approximately three times the size of its predecessor. The facility now serves LANta’s fleet of 83 buses, including 24 new hybrid buses – each of which delivers fuel savings in excess of 40 percent over older, diesel models.
ABA mourns the passing of Dorothea ‘Dottie’ Henry LANta’s facility now serves a fleet of 83 buses, including 24 new hybrid buses.
LANta selects Stertil-Koni lifts for recently completed maintenance facility Stertil-Koni announced that The Leigh and Northampton Transportation Authority (LANta) has selected and installed a targeted range of the company’s in-ground scissor lifts, platform lifts and wireless mobile column lifts for use in LANta’s recently completed, state-of-the-art bus maintenance facility located in Allentown, PA. The 31,000 square-foot LANta service center, named the Armando V. Greco Maintenance Facility, represents a $12 million
The American Bus Association released the following statement in July: It is with deep sadness that the American Bus Association announces that Dorothea ‘Dottie’ Henry, the wife of ABA Board Member, former Chairman and current ABA Secretary-Treasurer Frank Henry passed away on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. The family owns and operates Martz Coach Company/Martz Trailways in Wilkes Barnes, PA. The ABA Family is very saddened to learn of the death of Mrs. Dorothea Henry. The Henry family has contributed so much to the industry, and Mrs. Henry has been there with her beloved husband Frank through these many years. They were a terrific team and all of us in the industry owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to her for the kindness and friendship she has shown to all of us. Dottie and Frank truly were partners, raising a great family, running one of the best motorcoach companies in the country and serving their community,” said ABA President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso. Funeral arrangements are pending. ABA will have more information as soon as it becomes available.
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People in the news MiX Telematics Limited, a provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions, announced the appointment of Skip Kinford as president and CEO of the Skip Kinford MiX Americas business. Kinford brings more than 20 years of experience in business and sales leadership to his new position at MiX Telematics. He has an extensive background in commercial telematics, most recently as executive vice president for U.S.-based inthinc Technologies, a telematics solution provider to various industries in the USA and around the world. Tim Lampen Hadley announced the recent appointment of Tim Lampen to the position of fleet/dealer account manager. In this role, Lampen is responsible for developing new business within the fleet and dealer industry. Tim heads up the sales of Hadley’s new electronic height control system, “SmartValve™”, to dealerships and fleets throughout North America, with a focus on the Midwest. Tim is also the lead in developing and managing the Hadley SmartValve Discovery Tour, an educational on-site training session offered at no cost to dealers.
Burbank conducts bus rider survey The results are in, and riders aboard the City of Burbank’s local transit program have indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the service. Of the 142 respondents, more than 85 percent rated their overall satisfaction level as excellent or good. Other results from the City of Burbank’s recent transit survey revealed more than 90 percent of surveyed BurbankBus riders were traveling to and from work, with the majority frequenting the Metrolink-Media District route. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
respondents cited riding the bus four or more days per week, which is consistent with prior BurbankBus rider surveys. This year’s survey of BurbankBus riders was designed to gauge customer satisfaction while also identifying opportunities to enhance the City’s transit service. The survey was administered online, onboard the vehicles, and at the downtown Metrolink and North Hollywood (NoHo) Red Line stations. Respondents were entered into a random drawing for gift cards. This year’s winners, Burbank residents Paul T. and Nicholas R., were selected from among the participants.
ABA Foundation awards nearly $60K in scholarships In support of the next generation of motorcoach, tour and travel industry leaders, the ABA Foundation is pleased to announce the George T. Snyder, Jr., 2014-2015 scholarship winners. Hanna Peterson, whose family owns Prairie Coach, won the “Driving the Future” award, a $10,000 scholarship. Nineteen additional students will be presented with $2,500 awards in five categories. This is the 17th year of the program, which has awarded over $650,000 in assistance to industry families. The ABA Foundation’s scholarship program was established in 1997 to honor George T. Snyder, Jr., who passed away suddenly in 1995, after spending his life in the industry and serving as ABA’s President and CEO for 9 years. A significant focus of Mr. Snyder’s life was a deep and lifelong interest in the wellbeing of all people. He emphasized education and the opportunities for advancement it could bring. “The ABA Foundation scholarship program is another example of the organization’s support for the industry,” said ABA Foundation Chairman Doug Anderson. “These scholarships help young men and women take the next step in their education and eventually move into leadership roles that support the motorcoach, travel and tour industry.”
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Interurban coach Asia Granbird’s 2009 crash in Bashkortostan, Russia. Photo courtesy of Art Konovalov / Shutterstock.com.
NHTSA proposes new regulations for rollover crash protection Submitted by the American Bus Association The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced in late July its proposal for new regulations to help better protect passengers in motorcoaches during rollover crashes. NHTSA says the proposed standard would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a dynamic test in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface. The agency notes that both the proposed test procedure and performance requirements are closely modeled after the European regulations for large buses. The rule would ensure the rollover structural integrity of overthe-road motorcoaches and that a sufficient level of survival space around seats is able to be maintained so that passengers could survive a crash. Also, seats, luggage racks and window glazing would be required to remain attached during a crash. Emergency exits would be required to stay closed during a crash and still work afterward. Non over-the-road buses (e.g. body-on-chassis or cutaway vehicles) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 26,000 pounds are also included in the proposal. If approved, the proposed rule would be implemented for all new motorcoaches, manufactured and produced for the industry more than three years after the publication of the final rule. There is also no retrofit requirement in the proposal. “The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement unveiling the proposal. “I want passengers to know that when this department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that, and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction.” “The traveling public deserves safer service and peace of mind when they board a motorcoach or large bus,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “Stronger large bus structures, combined with seat belt use will help keep passengers secured and protected in the event of a crash.” 12
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
Since the signing of a new transportation bill more than two years ago and the development of the Motorcoach Safety Action Plan, a variety of federal agencies have been working on a series of regulations related to improving the safety of bus operations, increasing the level of enforcement and the enhancing the vehicle’s overall structural integrity and crashworthiness. ABA believes that if any changes are proposed that would modify the design of the motorcoach, they should be done by utilizing the best available science and by making sure that new rules impacting design are developed all at once as part of a comprehensive and integrated occupant protection safety system, rather than in a piecemeal fashion. ABA says its Government Affairs and Policy team is continuing to analyze the proposed rollover rule and will be discussing these proposed changes with various groups within the industry. Interested parties may submit comments by visiting the Federal eRulemaking Portal, http://www.regulations.gov, and using the docket ID # of NHTSA-2014-0085.
FTA invites comment on propose circular for bus-related funding The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) invites comment on a Bus and Bus Facilities proposed circular, which provides recipients of FTA financial assistance with instructions and guidance on program administration and the grant application process relative to the Bus and Bus Facilities Program (49 U.S.C. 5339), established by MAP-21. The Bus and Bus Facilities Program makes federal funding available for financing capital bus and bus-related projects which will support the continuation and expansion of public transportation services in the United States. The circular is available at the Bus and Bus Facilities Program: Guidance and Application Instructions web page. The notice, published in the Federal Register on July 30, 2014, is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-0730/pdf/2014-17926.pdf. For questions or technical assistance regarding this program, or any other FTA grant program, contact the nearest regional FTA office.
Trico sells to the Crowne Group Trico Products Corporation, Rochester, MI, a global manufacturer, marketer and distributor of windshield wiper blades, systems and components, has signed a definitive agreement to allow Crowne Group LLC, Cleveland, OH, to acquire the company from funds managed by the private equity firm, Kohlberg & Company. Trico will maintain its headquarters in Rochester Hills, MI, and the current management team led by Lou Braga. The company employs approximately 2,450 people throughout the United States, Mexico, Asia, Europe, Australia and South America. Crowne has a strong reputation in the industry and offers a diverse portfolio of products, including carbon and stainless steel tube components and fabricated products for exhaust systems, gas springs, fuel system components and injection molded plastic parts. Crowne says Trico is an excellent strategic fit due to its balanced mix of business between aftermarket and OEM potential for manufacturing and distribution synergies, a great infrastructure and management team.
DELIVERIES TEMSA/CH BUS SALES
ABC Companies/Van Hool
Stout’s Transportation Trenton, NJ
Wise Coaches Nashville, TN
Serving the tri-state area for more than 60 years, Stout’s Transportation continues to add coaches to the fleet to serve a diverse clientele, recently adding two Temsa TS 35s from CH Bus Sales, Faribault, MN, to go with its current Temsa TS 30, which Harry Stout, owner/CEO, purchased in 2013. The stainless steel constructed 38-passenger TS 35s come equipped with the Cummins ISL 345 HP-EPA 13 engine and Allison B500 transmission and independent front suspension, as well as three-point seat belts, 110V plugs, Alcoa aluminum wheels, an auxiliary preheater and Elite REI system.
As part of Wise Coaches’ effort to maintain their edge, they recently took delivery of three 2014 Van Hool TXs powered by Detroit Diesel DD13 engines coupled to Allison B500 Transmissions. The distinctive red and black coaches are equipped with a REI Elite entertainment system including five 22-inch LCD monitors mounted in Van Hool’s exclusive contoured parcel racks. In addition they have 110v Outlets with USB ports, satellite TV and Wi-Fi, as well as leather seats, seatbelts and hardwood floors.
Motor Coach Industries (MCI) added
Richfield Bus Bloomington, MN
Little Rock Tours Little Rock, AR
Richfield Bus has some the oldest buses in the industry, thanks to its extensive fleet of antiques—but with the delivery of its latest MCI J4500, it can also claim it has one of the newest. The 2014 MCI J4500, delivered earlier this month, offers premium wood-grain flooring, 110-volt outlets, and an Actia video system with 15-inch monitors and all the standard features the model is known for, including a Cummins-Allison powertrain that’s been optimized for better fuel economy. WiFi is being added.
A fast-track model with standard bells and whistles including flat-screen video monitors, tiered theatre seating and LED lighting, plus performance features including an optimized powertrain for better fuel economy, the 2014 J4500 complements Little Rock Tours’ mostly-MCI fleet. Little Rock Tours is part of Eventure America Inc., with 16 vehicles in all.
busride.com | BUSRIDE
BusCon is at home in Indiana The move brings new sessions; more to see and do Indianapolis, IN, hosts the 19th staging of BusCon, September 15-17, after several years on the Navy Pier in Chicago, IL. BUSRide spoke with Metro Magazine Managing Editor Alex Roman about the advantages of bringing the event to a new venue and the changes that come with the move. What brought about this move to Indianapolis? BusCon show organizers thought the recommendations from attendees and exhibitors to make a move were a great idea. We chose Indianapolis because it is centrally located to many of the major bus OEMs, and because this user-friendly city allows attendees and exhibitors to enjoy themselves and keep travel expenses down. What is the advantage for BusCon in its new host city? BusCon attendees are really in for a treat. Indianapolis is a great city — affordable, walkable, and there are excellent dining options at more than 250 restaurants and taverns within walking distance of the Indiana Convention Center. What will attendees experience for the first time at BusCon 2014? BusCon attendees holding full conference passes will enjoy more education sessions than previously offered for motorcoach, shuttle, transit and paratransit operators. Our opening keynote address is also new to BusCon this year, which we think will set the stage for the rest of the conference. Show openers BusCon opens in the Indiana Convention Center, Halls F and G, with two key sessions. Ken Presley of the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) and the Bus and Motorcoach Academy presents Understanding the FMCSA Safety Management Cycle. Ray Melleady of the USSC Group will speak to Transit Bus Procurement — Best Practices for A Successful RFP or IFB Process. 14
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
The traditional Welcome Reception follows at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station Grand Hall, a historic Romanesque-revival designed building. Keynote address Olympic Performance Psychology Consultant Dr. Craig Manning will present the keynote address, The Mental Edge, on Tuesday morning, in which he will discuss how an optimum performance is best achieved by understanding critical laws involved in the acquisition of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual skills. Attendees can mull over his comments Tuesday night during BusCon’s Night on the Town, holding forth at Dick’s Last Resort, a short walk from the convention. A favorite Hawaiian shirt is optional. BusCon trade show On the exhibition floor, BusCon will provide attendees the opportunity to inspect an array of new model buses, cutaway vehicles and chassis from the major OEMs and perhaps a few new players in the industry — over 60 makes and models; along with vendors and suppliers of cutting edge components, parts and bus-related products. Concurrent session highlights: • How to create a driver training program start to finish Louie Maiello and Steve Mentzer, L-3 D.P. Associates • Save money through improved tire service and maintenance Kevin Rohlwing, Tire Industry Association of America • Electric Buses here and now charge into the future Michael Lewis, Center for Electromechanics, University of Texas at Austin • How partnerships help reduce paratransit costs Erik Zandhuis, Veolia Transportation; Michael Terry, IndyGo • What to Know About Altoona Testing Updates David Klinikowski, Pennsylvania Transportation Institute busride.com
Time to green your paratransit or shuttle bus fleet? Say hello to the Kinetics Hybrid. Simple, clean, affordable and proven. It’s ready to go on new vehicles or as a retrofit in about a day, requires no new infrastructure or expensive facility changes, and doesn’t use batteries so you’ll never need to replace one. The next generation Kinetics Hybrid has been fully tested by FTA/Altoona, CALSTART, Cummins, and by our customers. They’ve traveled more six million road-miles in all climates and just about every corner of North America with impressive results – up to 30% more MPG, 8 times more brake life, and emissions cut by 20-30%. When your fleet is ready to go green, the Kinetics Hybrid is ready to get you there.
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APTA EXPO 2014
Houston heads to
A full slate of exhibits and presentations explore the theme, America’s Future is Riding on Public Transportation The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) 2014 Annual Meeting and EXPO is a month away, October 12-15, 2014, in Houston, TX. APTA reports 800 exhibiting companies will fill the Hilton Americas and George R. Brown Convention Center with just about every available public transportation product and service on display. BUSRide talked to APTA President and CEO Michael Melinaphy on the first APTA EXPO under his tenure. What has been your greatest challenge in staging your first event? The greatest challenge is simply to make this year’s EXPO bigger and better, and continue to improve upon the experience for our attendees and exhibitors. I think we will succeed in this, as this year we have nearly 280,000 square feet of exhibit space compared to 274,000 in 2011; and we will welcome 800 exhibitors compared to 771 in 2011.
What do you want members and attendees to take away from APTA EXPO 2014? We want attendees to walk away with great ideas that they can implement at their public transit property or business. We also expect they will make new connections and leave with a rolodex full of business cards. And for the vendor, we hope they can leave with a book full of new orders for their product or service. 2014 APTA Annual Meeting
General sessions, topical seminars and workshops address the theme for 2014: America’s Future is Riding on Public Transportation. Highlights What steps have you taken to improve this year’s will include the presentation of the APTA Awards APTA EXPO? at the opening breakfast, graduation of the APTA President and CEO Michael Leadership APTA Class of 2014, and recognition of Melinaphy marks his first APTA EXPO. I am very excited about the improvements we the American Public Transportation Foundation have made to this year’s show. We have created Scholarship Award recipients. more educational offerings right on the show floor. For instance, for APTA will also host its 2014 TransITech Conference the first time we have created both an Exhibitor Product and Services concurrent with the Annual Meeting & EXPO, which examines Solutions Learning Zone and an Innovations Learning Zone [see the annually ITS technologies in place in ever y sector of transit full slate of presentations below]. On the third floor, we have created an area dedicated entirely operations and management. In conjunction with EXPO, the APTA Annual Meeting presents to “Livable and Sustainable Communities.” This will provide transit leaders and professionals in a robust slate of general sessions an opportunity for attendees to find out the latest technological innovations from vendors with products and services that promote and forums focused on current issues facing public transportation. This year APTA is expecting more than 15,000 visitors. energy efficiency. 16
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
APTA EXPO, the premier trade event in the American transit industry, takes places every three years for the benefit of transit professionals, policymakers and board members, government agencies, manufacturers and suppliers, as well as consultants. The association says all the information from the presentations, sessions and exhibits is certain to help public transit professionals operate their agencies more efficiently and profitably; and at the same time s enhance the passenger experience and public transportation environment. New this year on the exhibit floor and adjacent areas, seven APTA Learning Zones will present easily accessible educational sessions, presentations on public transportation projects around the world, best practices, as well as new product and service updates. EXPO Advisory Committee Chair Jeff Wharton, president of IMPulse NC, Mt. Olive, NC, says the aim and goal of entire event is to enhance and broaden attendees’ EXPO experience with a variety of technical and international presentations. Presentations in each Learning Zone focus on a specific topic in seven operational areas: • Innovations 3D scanning technology for automated tunnel inspection Saving money with improved business intelligence New technologies in idle-free operations Optimizing vehicle location systems Advanced technologies for real-time business analytics Affordable bus washing systems Hosted fare collection systems • Solutions Vehicle lift safety and the fleet manager’s responsibilities How to purchase a driver training simulator Managing a successful BRT/transit shelter project Successful mobile ticketing deployment Solving wireless communications in tunnels Increasing safety with video-based driver risk management
• International opportunities Mass transportation project opportunities in Israel InnoTrans 2016, International Trade Fair, September 2016, Berlin Passenger transportation projects in Mexico The 9th World Congress and Trade Exhibition on High-Speed Rail Looking forward to the Olympics in Brazil Public transit projects and needs in Canada • Mobility Management for Livable and Sustainable Communities Planning for sustainable communities Accessible design Energy efficiency Complete streets programs and policies Intermodal connections Access and connectivity to essential services Moving Disadvantaged Business Enterprises forward • Procurement and Materials Management Pre-award and post-delivery audits for rolling stock State and local schedules, joint procurement, and piggybacking Buy America P3s and PM/CM at Risk: What procurement officers need to know Evaluation committee training, two-step procurements, and Brooks Act procurements Supply chain management • Bus Technical Maintenance and Clean Technology Leveraging new technology for smarter transit Large-capacity, flash-charging electric buses Increasing the range of the electric bus Maintenance operations: best practices for whole life costing Fuel economy and the modern bus transmission The future of fuels and powertrains
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APTA is expecting 800 exhibitors to greet attendees on the exhibit floor in Houston.
Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Account, and other federal funding and regulatory issues. Promising Practices in Asset Management MAP-21 requires that all FTA grantees develop a Transit Asset Management (TAM) plan, including an asset inventory with condition assessments and an investment prioritization process. Public transit agency and MPO representatives will report on how integrating TAM and state of good repair priorities can lead to better capital planning investment decisions. Comprehensive Approaches to Financing Transit Projects With increasing ridership, demands for more service and tight funding, this session focuses on innovative ways the private sector can support the expansion and improvement of transit systems, thus strengthening quality and introducing efficiency. Transit Board Members Role in Procurement Transit agency board members and commissioners provide advice on procurement policy that protects and does not compromise the procurement process.
• Workforce Development Promoting public transportation careers to teenagers Engaging college-level students; universities, colleges, technical and vocational schools Opportunities for young p rofessionals and the frontline workforce Launch of the Transit Virtual Career Network
The Arts in Transit Art and design excellence is an absolute necessity in the planning and implementation of a successful transit development project. This session addresses the threefold challenge to weave aesthetics with function and durability; and why art and design in transit are a good investment. Transit art administrators will share their best practices. 35th Annual AdWheel Awards Ceremony
Sessions not to miss
The best in public transportation marketing and communications in print, electronic, campaigns, special events, and social media.
Congress and the Federal Transportation Agenda With MAP-21 expiring at the end of this month, a Congressional staff will share views on the authorization process, the status of the
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Red Arrow Motorcoach diversifies service
Red Arrow has run Prevost coaches from day one.
By David Hubbard
Thirty-five years ago the late Robert B. Colborne, founder of Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), Calgary, Alberta, Canada, realized his dream to build and operate Red Arrow Motorcoach as Alberta’s first intercity business-class passenger coach service and make it accessible for everyone. Colborne passed away in 2012, leaving a legacy of 22 independent bus and coach operations throughout Canada under the PWT group of companies that developed into one of the largest privately held transportation companies in North America; and seeing his Red Arrow succeed just as he expected it would. Speaking to BUSRide in 2009 [BUSRide, June 2009, p. 20], Colborne shared his vision: “I always believed there was a better way to package and deliver motorcoach service,” he said. “When we started this company, I said if we can get a person to ride Red Arrow one time we will have a customer for a long time to come.” PWT President and CEO Michael Colborne says the Red Arrow brand is defined by the commitment and professional talents of its employees.
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
Red Arrow Motorcoach has delivered on its promise every day since 1979 to provide top-shelf scheduled coach service between the province’s major cities. The service now takes in Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary and Lethbridge, and even more through recently added services. “R. B. Colborne was a visionary and a pioneer in the passenger transportation industry,” says Red Arrow General Manager John Stepovy. “He always focused his passion on safety and meeting the needs of passengers.” Establishing ticket offices and curbside service from convenient locations, including separate stations within popular hotels, has eliminated many of the hassles associated with motorcoach commutes between cities. Stepovy says because of its success over the years, Red Arrow Motorcoach attracts savvy passengers who have simply elected to leave their vehicles at home and take a coach. The company says the average annual number of satisfied customers now tops 250,000. Red Arrow Motorcoach also recently introduced direct service to Calgary International Airport with 10 daily trips, where a Red Arrow passenger experience representative handles ticketing and reservations from a kiosk center located in the airport. “Many motorists are not comfortable with the increasing traffic congestion on major highways,” he says. “With the rising cost of fuel for lone occupant travel, increasing concern for the environment and wanting to reduce their personal carbon footprint, they prefer to book a seat on Red Arrow where they can feel comfortable, relaxed and be productive.”
Red Arrow’s downtown Calgary location offers ticketing to all of the province’s major cities.
Red Arrow fleet and operations Red Arrow has ran Prevost coaches from day-one. Today, 22 H345 Series coaches comprise the fleet, expressly outfitted with the luxurious two-and-one leather seating for 36 passengers Colborne originally configured for the first Prevost La Mirages. “It was a radical idea back then,” he told BUSRide. ”Several manufacturers wanted nothing to do with it. When I took it up Prevost, the engineers could see exactly where I was headed and helped me come up with the finished product.” A host of onboard amenities include three-point seat belts, foot rests, fold down tables, Wi-Fi, power outlets, satellite radio, onboard movies, overhead compartments and a galley offering a selection of refreshments and snacks. New PWT-branded service The recent Bus Modernization Program in Alberta essentially replaced a regulated system with an open market for inter-municipal bus service. This has allowed Red Arrow Motorcoach to expand in new directions, introducing two Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into the fleet for daily scheduled and connector service to Sylvan Lake and Rocky Mountain House in central Alberta. In another move to further meet emerging public transportation needs and connect with a new generation of passengers, PWT introduced ebus in 2011. “PWT implemented the new ebus brand to better connect with university and college students, who are web and social media savvy, looking for economical, efficient and safe passenger service,” Stepovy says. “In 2013 we added direct service to and from the University of Alberta, and have since added daily motorcoach passenger service to Fort McMurray, Athabasca, St. Albert, Edmonton, Red Deer and Calgary.” “We also have introduced service from Grassland, Lac La Biche and Anzac,” Stepovy adds. “In addition, we initiated direct service from Edmonton to the employee work camps in the Fort McMurray region. Passenger safety is the most valuable aspect of the service. Once aboard,
General Manager John Stepovy has served Red Arrow since 2009. Center: The 35 year-old luxury coach service recently added Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to its fleet.
these workers don’t have to contend with traffic on one of Alberta’s busiest and dangerous highway corridors.” It’s about the team The Red Arrow division of PWT employs 130, including its 50 professional coach operators. In addition to experience behind the wheel and a sterling safety record, high customer service standards are prerequisite to driving for Red Arrow. Stepovy says the Red Arrow employees continually demonstrate the core values of PWT. “Someone, somewhere on a daily basis within the operation is always stepping up,” he says. ”For example, when a passenger arriving at his destination and discovered he forgot his wallet, our driver provided him with the taxi fare he needed.” Stepovy says Red Arrow Passenger Experience representatives are always at the ready to personally deliver luggage, briefcases and lost belongings to homes, businesses and hotels. “Our fleet of Red Arrow coaches may be the trademark, but the commitment and professional talents of our people are what really define the Red Arrow brand,” says PWT President and CEO Michael Colborne. Everyone arrives Safely Home Stepovy believes the Red Arrow operation will continue for years because of the core values of PWT and its special emphasis on safety, most recently proprietarily rebranded as Safely Home. According to PWT, with stringent maintenance policies laid now in operations, maintenance and on the road, this core concept is essentially about making good choices for everyone the company touches — its employees, customers, passengers and the general public — so that everyone arrives home safely.
busride.com | BUSRIDE
Official BUSRide Road Test: The Ameritrans M2 Vista The Shoups, owners of the venerable family-owned Cardinal Buses, Middlebury, IN, test drive the bus built on a M2 Freightliner chassis
By David Hubbard
s Ameritrans continues to grow brand recognition as a subsidiary of ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, the top-of-theline Ameritrans M2-Series is now in the spotlight and following on the heels of the Ameritrans Ford E Series and F Series and the Dodge R Series. Designed and built for operators seeking a feel and passenger experience closer to a full-size motorcoach in the range, the M2Vista model lends an upscale coach appearance utilizing the M2 Freightliner chassis. “We want the M2-Vista to connect with motorcoach operators wanting mid-size buses in their fleets,” says recently appointed Ameritrans General Manager Troy Snyder. “They tell us the midsize bus makes better sense economically for small group charters and contracts, so long as they deliver a comparable level of quality.” Snyder moved to his new position in June to oversee the
Above: The M2 Vista connects with motorcoach operators seeking midsize buses for their fleets.
At right: The redesigned rear cap features a fiberglass bumper and single taillight assembly that utilizes stock parts available at most automotive parts stores. company’s facility, arriving with years of manufacturing and sales experience as president and vice president of sales for Goshen Coach. He says among his immediate tasks, the biggest is to increase the levels of production. “We are marketing to charter tour and shuttle operators, the limousine companies, colleges and universities,” he says. “This requires enhancing our production of the Ameritrans line to add product value for the medium-duty market segment through more features and benefits.” BUSRide met with Ameritrans in July at its facility in Elkhart, IN, to conduct its Official Road Test on the Ameritrans M2-Vista prototype no. 2. Matt and Dan Shoup, owners of the venerable family-owned Cardinal Buses, based in nearby Middlebury, IN, served as the third party reviewers for the ride-and-drive of the new vehicle. Living and breathing motorcoaches since they were kids, working in the wash bay years before sliding into the driver’s seat as company owners in 2001, Dan and Matt approached the Ameritrans M2 Series from a motorcoach operator’s perspective, bringing the objectivity to comment fairly on the midsize product. Ameritrans lead engineer Gavin Strausborger was on hand to discuss the features and improvements that the company believes meets the goal of a luxurious bus experience.
The M2 Vista is named for the panorama the large side and overhead windows provide. 22
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The M2 Vista features a driver-friendly cockpit and dash.
“The M2 Vista Series does offer important motorcoach features in a context,” Strausborger says. “For instance, the HVAC and coach seating are the same as a motorcoach. Riders store luggage overhead in the rear compartment and underfloor.” He cites the most dominant style features on the M2 Vista, including the panoramic window treatment over the cab and windshield, as well as added side skirts that flare out around the wheel wells. The redesigned rear cap features a fiberglass bumper and single taillight assembly that utilizes stock parts available at most automotive parts stores. “The shroud around the three lights is the only custom-made component,” Strausborger says. “It’s a quality look, yet each light swaps out individually for cost efficient maintenance.” The interior features overhead swan racks with individual reading light and air controls for each seat. Matt Shoup was the driver for the Road Test, while Dan stayed behind to look over the Dodge Ram 330 buses. Starting out, Matt chose to first ride the bus to get the feel for what the passengers would experience. “It just made sense to me,” he says. “Our passengers are always my first concern.” While company driver Keith Beers drove the bus over rural roads and down the freeway, Shoup inspected the interior for sight, sound, feel and comfort.
“From my seat all the way in the back, I found the ride very comfortable,” he says. “I never felt like I was getting bounced around, or felt like I was sitting on the end of a springboard. I was, however, aware of the turning radius. This bus has a good wheel cut and will turn tightly.” Shoup says the swan racks above the seats and modesty panel behind the driver definitely give the M2 Vista more of coach feel. “But what I really like about the interior of this bus, and can appreciate from all my years of cleaning buses, is the coved flooring,” Shoup says. “The molded curve between floor, steps and sidewall is certainly a bonus. It makes cleaning so much easier, and keeps the dirt and grime from compacting in the corners — no matter how much it gets swept and mopped.” Sliding into the driver’s seat, Shoup’s initial observations again concerned his passengers as he checked out the HVAC controls. “On some of the cutaways I am familiar with, the AC only has an onoff, high-low control,” he says. “It is either too hot or too cold. Drivers notice this in dealing with passengers. This HVAC actually provides complete climate control — a very important feature in my opinion.”
The luxury interior features seating with threepoint seat belts and overhead swan racks with individual reading light and air controls for each passenger. busride.com | BUSRIDE
The ACC TC96 AC unit allows the driver to set the temperature to the preferred comfort level. “The ducting through the swan racks is much more convenient,” he says. “The blower doesn’t have to work overtime to cool the entire bus and blow papers off the dash. With reading lights and air flow control for each seat, the passenger can take care of their own needs.” Shoup also praised the dash switch that lowers the rear baggage compartment about 3 to 5 inches (by dropping the air from the rear suspension). “This feature makes it much easier to load and unload luggage,” he says. “Drivers are really going to appreciate this function.” On the road, Shoup commented on the feel of the front and back suspension. The coved wall, steps and flooring caught the attention of the test driver for its ease “By comparison, the air suspension in the of maintenance. back lends to a very smooth ride, as it should be for the passengers,” he says. “After all, they are who we want to keep Ameritrans says it is looking into a deeper tint that will filter the light happy. In the driver’s seat, I am finding the springs up front slightly and heat from the sun. choppier. While the difference is noticeable, I don’t find it objectionable. “As a coach operator, I am used to stepping out of out the driver’s seat I could sit here all day and be comfortable driving at 70 mph.” to assist customers at the passenger doors,” Shoup says. “Having to use Shoup also offered his observations on ride quality during his the side door on this bus, I wouldn’t have time to get around and greet test drive. them. My feeling is there ought to be a switch closer to the entrance “The ride is quiet and smooth,” he says. “The visibility from this bus is door. It can’t be easier to find, otherwise passengers will find it and use fantastic, for both the driver and the passengers. The big windows on the it. But it would sure help.” sides, front and over the cab do not give anyone that boxed-in feeling.” Shoup closed his test of the M2 Vista feeling comfortable and However, he did voice a concern about the overhead window above convinced with what Ameritrans has put together. Both Matt and Dan the cab. viewed the Ameritrans M2 Vista, and the F, E, and R Series as well, as “The big advantage is that it lets light in,” he says. “The disadvantage superb midsize vehicles for their intended applications within any bus is that it lets light in.” and coach fleet.
Don’t miss this FREE seminar! PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
SAFETY 2014 SEMINAR
NOvEMBER 3 – 4, 2014
Get the knowledge to enhance your risk management solutions. Hosted by Protective Insurance Company in Indianapolis, Ind., the Public Transportation Claims + Safety Seminar is your chance to hear from industry experts and network with other safety professionals. Seminar topics include, among others: • creating a safety culture • retaining drivers • minimizing vehicle downtime We’ll also have a panel discussion, a networking session, and at least one bus simulator on site to demonstrate how simulators can be used as effective driver training tools. We hope to see you there!
Register today! Space is limited! Contact Stacy Renz for details at (800) 644-5501 ext. 2570 or firstname.lastname@example.org. 24
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
FOCUS ON INNOVATION
Innovation in the details: Product Concept To Commercialization by John McNichols Product Director Crosspoint Kinetics
Only a tiny fraction of product ideas ever get built into prototypes. The prototypes that actually make it to successful commercialization are much fewer still. While we celebrate the inventor (and we should), the truth is that some of the most surprising and important product innovations come during the development process. That process may seem a lot less exciting than the invention stage because of its more rigorous structure, but that same necessary structure provides opportunities to spot potential issues and correct them early. There is no worse feeling than finding out your recently released product has a preventable bug or issue. To mitigate that risk, leading firms employ a well-defined approach including product definition, analysis, design, supply chain planning, construction, testing, production, sales and distribution. Traditionally, the approach was based on tasks or phases, with the next phase beginning only after the last one was completed. The challenge with this old approach, though, is that it freezes decisions early and minimizes the flexibility needed to respond to new research findings or customer needs. As a result, many firms have moved to a Milestone Process for product development, which is process-oriented rather than taskoriented. Individuals or teams are given responsibility for select milestones and multiple teams can be working toward various milestones at a given time. At Crosspoint Kinetics, we adopted the Milestone Process proven successful by larger international companies, including our joint-venture partner Cummins. The process is driven by documented plans, analysis, test results, product documentation, training and infrastructure.
Another key element to success of any structured development process is clearly defined roles and accountabilities. This involves detailed planning, frequent formal and informal communication, and senior executive visibility. Critical development phases are completed when evidence is presented at that phase’s milestone or “gate.” This process assures that the product developed is ready to progress to the next phase. Higher risk components of a project are identified and verified as early as possible. At the point which the design is substantially complete and tested, key product documentation goes under document control. This critical process ensures team-wide concurrence that requirements are being addressed and that the chosen design performs as expected. From this point forward, any change to documentation must be reviewed and approved before it is “released” for use. This process of document control includes everything from product specifications, design documents, supply agreements, test plans, training materials and even sales literature. Innovation does not stop once the initial concept goes to market but, through iterative development and successive releases, continues to evolve along a product roadmap. In this way, the process is more cyclical than linear. This structured approach to product development has been refined over the years by governments and Fortune 500 companies. The iterative approach, milestone achievement, documentation and release processes ensure that innovative products reach a sustainable market while meeting the needs of real customers now and in the future.
busride.com | BUSRIDE
THE TRANSIT Authority
VCTC equips, empowers and keeps Ventura County on the move By Darren Kettle Executive Director Ventura County Transportation Commission
The Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) celebrated 25 years in July as regional transportation planning agency. With this milestone VCTC also marked its 20th year operating VCTC Intercity Transit (formerly VISTA), the county’s popular intercity bus program. These achievements are solid evidence of the agency’s commitment and hard work to keep Ventura County moving; and reflective of VCTC’s continued focus on customer needs. There is much more to our mission to keep Ventura County moving than just providing communities throughout the county with reliable and efficient mobility options. It is about listening to members of the public and empowering them with resources to make their transportation experience a positive one. Intercity bus service
VCTC Commuter Services coordinates and promotes a robust outreach program.
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
In 1994, six Ventura County communities operated independent local transit services. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority had just expanded its Metrolink commuter rail service into Ventura County. However, a key component still missing was a link between communities, popular destinations and Metrolink rail stations to connect with people countywide. That year, VCTC launched the county’s most comprehensive intercity program dubbed the Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority (VISTA). “A new era of transit service,” proclaimed the original service brochure. It was touted as the link connecting all local transit service in Ventura County. VISTA’s original service offerings consisted of four fixed routes as well as general public DialA-Ride service in the rural Heritage Valley. It provided connectivity and a mobility solution desperately needed by local residents and commuters. By its fifth year, VISTA had expanded service into Los Angeles County via its Conejo Connection route. It had also begun offering frequent service to California State University – Channel Islands and a local school-day commuter shuttle in the rural community of Santa Paula. In 2001, a partnership with the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments to the north resulted in the launch of the popular Coastal Express route. Since then, VCTC has expanded to include service to local hotspots, employment centers, educational institutions and intermodal hubs. Each VCTC Intercity Transit vehicle is equipped with free onboard WiFi, and we are excited to be expanding our fleet with additional MCI over-the-road coaches later this year. What is our key to success? Responsiveness. VCTC is constantly retooling its programs and listening to
The VCTC Teen Council developed a “Student Rider Guide,” providing information regarding transit options to and from educational institutions and popular youth destinations.
the people it serves. While this may seem obvious, it is the cornerstone of our mission and our longevity. Open communication, consistent attention to customer feedback, and a willingness to adapt to emerging needs has allowed us to grow VCTC Intercity Bus into a longterm means of keeping Ventura County moving. That’s not to say we have not faced challenges. As Ventura County has no dedicated transportation tax, VCTC must carefully balance customer needs with available resources. Statewide measures such as California’s Proposition 1B have provided funds for capital purchases, thereby allowing VCTC to maximize use of other revenues for operations. Moving into the next 20 years of transit service, VCTC is actively pursuing alternative fuels and testing all-electric solutions from BYD, Proterra, and Complete Coach Works. We’ve taken an aggressive approach to integrating social media and mobile applications into our communications to equip riders with real-time bus arrival updates and schedule information. VCTC has also fostered multimodal coordination by providing comprehensive information regarding local bikeways via a countywide bike map and accompanying mobile application. We are actively searching for and evaluating emerging “green” technologies. Expanding rideshare Integrating into VCTC’s Commuter Services program has further augmented the growth of VCTC Intercity Transit. Formerly, rideshare services for all busride.com
THE TRANSIT Authority
of Southern California were under regional management. However, when that program disbanded in 2002, administration of the local Ventura County ridesharing program fell to VCTC to coordinate and promote. Since then, our Commuter Services program has grown to include close relationships with local employers, the development of targeted resources and annual countywide campaigns such as Bike to Work Week and Rideshare Week. Each component includes information regarding local transit options as well as carpooling and vanpooling. To promote Commuter Services, we have consistently tailored communications and campaigns to appeal to current needs and trends. VCTC provides free worksite outreach events through local employee transportation coordinators who distribute service and program information, distribute promotional items and gain valuable participant feedback. The creation of strategic partnerships and provision to those partners of the education and resources to champion ridesharing has helped make the Commuter Services a vibrant arm.
The next 25 years VCTCâ€™s mission, keeping Ventura County moving, is more than a commitment to transportation. It is a commitment to providing the county with resources. We aim to provide community members with efficient, sustainable, and quality mobility options as well as reliable trip planning and communications tools. It is also a commitment to equipping and empowering current and future generations of transit riders. Through our services and programs we can engage, educate, and glean valuable insight into our community to focus our pursuit of new and innovative ideas. We look forward to another 25 years of rising to this challenge.
The newly rebranded VCTC will expand its fleet with additional MCI over-the-road coaches later this year.
An eye on the future Even with these strong programs in place, VCTC had yet another partnership in mind. Seeking to integrate new perspectives and connect with local youth, VCTC launched its Teen Council program in 2011. Comprised of students ages 13-19 from across the county, the VCTC Teen Council has successfully achieved these goals since its inception. Those who serve on the Teen Council provide insight into the mindset and motivations of the next generation of transit riders while learning about transit and local government. The council is more than just talk. In 2012, the group developed its Student Rider Guide, which it distributed to schools, libraries and youth centers, as well as community events countywide. This resource provided comprehensive information regarding transit options to and from educational institutions and destinations popular with youth. The response was overwhelmingly positive and earned VCTC a first-place AdWheel Award from the American Public Transportation Association. Subsequently, the Teen Council developed youth-focused video addressing barriers to riding and current mentalities and sponsored a highly successful countywide art contest. The art contest, promoted to schools throughout Ventura County, invited students to create artwork depicting what their community is known for, or what they would like it to be known for. The contest engaged youth in discussions about transit and gave VCTC an opportunity to recognize local students by placing winning artwork on the side of VCTC Intercity Transit vehicles. busride.com | BUSRIDE
Small Bus S
mall and midsize buses, the unsung workhorses of passenger transportation, comprise the largest vehicle segment in the bus industry. For small groups on the move, a small bus is the best choice. More than a bus, they are lifesavers for immobile and elderly riders who are dependent on paratransit services. The hospitality industry derives added value from the small bus shuttles to and from airports and popular destinations. Between school sports, church outings, assisted living activities, chauffeured transportation and paratransit, what canâ€™t these buses handle?
Meridian Specialty Vehicles Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Las Vegas, NV
Winnebago Industries Specialty Vehicles Metro Link Forest City, IA
Meridian Specialty Vehicles stakes its reputation on its willingness to customize. The Meridian Sprinter product features 12 standard floor plans, which the company can outfit with up to over 1,400 legal seating configurations and 110 option-content selections. One trademark feature of a Meridian conversion is the proprietary plug-style front door that replaces the sliding or passenger door in the typical shuttle. Meridianâ€™s conversion includes upgraded HVAC, strengthened substructure and flooring.
The Metro Link by Winnebago Industries, Inc. is offered in 25 and 28-foot lengths with multiple floorplan options. The Metro Link was named Best New Product or Service at BusCon 2013. The revolutionary one piece roof and frameless window design are incorporated with Winnebagoâ€™s overlap seam technology for an unmatched ability to shed water and eliminate potential water leaks. The fully welded tubular steel frame and direct body-toframe mounting improves strength, maintainability, and is backed by an industry leading seven year / 150,000 mile structural warranty.
www.meridiansv.com (702) 997-1668
www.wgotransit.com (641) 585-3535
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ARBOC Specialty Vehicles Spirit of Liberty Middlebury, IN The ARBOC Specialty Vehicles Spirit of Liberty, a low-floor, medium-duty 29 to 33-foot rear-engine bus, features an open floor-plan with no steps throughout the passenger area. The Spirit of Liberty incorporates lightweight technologies and proven ARBOC Specialty Vehicles construction resulting in Best of Class curb weights of 15,600 pounds or less. With a gross vehicle weight of 25,500 pounds, the Spirit of Liberty carries up to 37 passengers plus 15 standees. Standard wheelchair zones are a spacious 54x30 inches minimum. Passengers enter on a 34-inch-wide, 1:6 ramp by Ricon up to a 40-inch-wide area between the front wheel wells. www.arbocsv.com (574) 825-6472
Turtle Top Odyssey XLT New Paris, IN
ElDorado National Krystal F-550 Shuttle Salinas, KS Built on the Ford F-550 Super Duty cab and chassis, Krystal’s F-550 Shuttle is offered in two models, K30 & K33. Passenger capacities range from 23 to 32. Optional Powertrains include the standard 6.8L V-10 Triton gasoline engine, 6.8L V-10 Triton CNG/LPG conversion, and 6.7L V-8 PowerStroke diesel. Each bus can be equipped with a wide array of executive upgrades, extreme climate control packages, ADA accessible equipment, and custom floor plans for any transportation requirement. The exterior design showcases a custom paint finish, steel cage and aluminum-skinned construction. www.enconline.com (800) 850-1287
Glaval Bus Titan II LF Elkhart, IN
Turtle Top’s Odyssey XLT shuttle bus, built on the Ford Freightliner FM2 chassis, can accommodate up to 47 passengers. This added capacity has made it a popular choice among churches, colleges, city and county transportation authorities, assisted living organizations, cross-country touring companies, excursion companies and many more transportation customers. The XLT comes equipped with aerodynamic automotive styling, clear view windows, a wide interior with double-row luxury seating, and flexible floor plans including wheelchair capability. www.turtletop.com (574) 831-4340
Glaval Bus, Elkhart, IN, a manufacturer of commercial buses since 1998, first unveiled the prototype of its Titan II LF low floor model in 2011. Based on its predecessor, the Titan II, one of the company’s top-selling models, the Titan II LF totally eliminates the need for steps by incorporating a Ricon or Braun wheelchair ramp with a 1:6 slope, which exceeds the current ADA minimum standard of 1:4. The Titan II LF is available in 24-, 26- and 28foot lengths with various random access configurations to accommodate up to five wheelchairs. Glaval Bus worked with Spartan Chassis, Charlotte, MI, to develop an integrated chassis/floor structure to achieve a level floor surface www.glavalbus.com for all wheelchair positions. (800) 445-2825 busride.com | BUSRIDE
BUS BRANDING & MARKETING
Make your brand improve market share By Ryan Kelly President Terrapin Blue
A memorable logo will provide emotional value, which influences customers’ cognitive evaluations of your company.
It was not too long ago when all you had to do was contact the local phone company and get your bus company or transit agency’s telephone number listed in the yellow pages. If we were really trying to reach our potential customer, we might place an ad in the yellow pages so we would stick out above our competitors or just call our entity AAA transportation. The alphabet was our friend. Those days are long gone. The internet revolution has completely changed the way that we do business and this includes marketing your bus company or transit agency. In this column we are going to focus on one of the most important fundamentals of marketing: establishing your brand. Establishing a brand is one of the most important things you can do to help your bus or transit organization stand out and capture potential customer’s attention. According to a 2011 article in Forbes by Jerry McLaughlin, a brand is simply the non-generic name for a product that tells us the story of the product. In the simplest terms, the brand is what a potential customer thinks of you when they hear the company name. The name is something that can be seen and is factual, but is created in the imagination of the consumer. As someone who has a million different ideas every day, and at one time was running five different companies, I was sitting with a client one day and he looked at me and asked, “Who are you?” After that meeting I reflected on our conversation and over the course of the next couple of weeks I contacted my accountant and attorney and consolidated all of my businesses under one company name. It was the best decision that I ever made. What’s my point here? You do not want to confuse the consumer, which brings me to the next important part of branding: keeping things simple. Choosing your company name is probably the most important step in establishing a quality brand. Your name should be simple and easy to pronounce. You can choose something like I did, using a turtle as my brand identifier. There are so many different ways I can market a turtle in the transportation industry. You want your customer to have some emotion involved around your name. The other day a colleague began 30
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our Facebook conversation by calling me “turtle man.” I am okay with that. It is my brand identifier. The design of a company logo is the next important task that should be completed in the branding process. This is going to be your company’s brand identifier and what the consumer associates you with every time they have the opportunity to receive an impression from print, web, television, or social media advertising. It is critical in today’s world of the consumer being able to openly evaluate you using Yelp and social media outlets. The logo will provide emotional value, which does influence human cognitive evaluation without even knowing anything about you. Creation of a company logo is where I would spend some time and money. There are many graphic designers around that are more than happy to assist you. I tend to find that sign and t-shirt companies have graphic artists on staff that create logos every day and can quickly create some designs for you to review. Take the time to review the different logos provided by your graphic designer. Sleep on it and receive input from peers inside your network. Receive input from peers outside of your circle of friends and get their opinion as well. If you perform due diligence during this process, the hard part will be complete and then you will have the brand identifier necessary to inspire positive emotional response from potential customers. Let’s face it, with reality television and countless products being marketed to us on a daily basis, you have to be touching the same senses to be successful in attracting customers. Once you have decided on the name and logo of your company or transit agency, the fun part begins. Spend some time developing a prospect list. Who are your potential customers going to be and what is the best way to reach them? Do you use direct sales, applying the proven method of cold calling the school district or convention center, or do you rely on social media advertising going after the college student who wants to ride the bus home for Christmas break? Take some time and work on this list. From here you can begin developing a realistic marketing budget around a 12-month strategic plan to reach your target audience. There is emotion involved in the business of people-moving. Whether it is transporting someone to work on a daily basis, chartering a bus to transport the high school football team to the state championship game, or trying to reduce your carbon footprint by influencing society to ride public transportation, branding is one of the critical tools to achieve those objectives. Next month: We will begin talking about creating marketing budgets and implementing an annual marketing plan for your bus company or transit agency in today’s digital media environment.
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THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
Daimler at IAA: Why buses are so attractive By Doug Jack
f all the trade associations representing vehicle manufacturers in Europe, Germany’s Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) is in a league of its own. In years ending in an odd number, VDA organizes a major international car exhibition in Frankfurt. In even-numbered years, it organizes the international commercial vehicle exhibition (IAA) in the vast fairground in the northern Germany city of Hannover. Both are the largest international exhibitions of their kind, certainly in Europe. IAA will run from September 25 to October 2, occupying around a dozen halls with adjacent outside display areas and parallel conferences. It is well worth a visit, but if you book late, you might have to find a hotel up to 40-50 miles away. VDA held an International Press Workshop in June 26, in Frankfurt, as part of the run-up to the IAA exhibition. A number of very senior executives, including the CEO’s of MAN and Scania, the heads of Mercedes-Benz Trucks and Daimler Buses, gave short presentations. Many were trying to influence politicians who seem to think that the answer to road congestion is to shift all freight over to rail.
Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses
Get the word out Unfortunately, few politicians have been brave enough to come to the event, therefore VDA relies on the media to put messages across — in addition to its own influential lobbying and that of the powerful domestic industry.
One of 15 CapaCity BRT buses delivered in July to Granada, Spain.
Call to the media The audience consisted of journalists from the national and international business and financial press, and trade journalists from several countries around the world (as far away as China and Japan). VDA President Matthias Wissmann asked the media to bring the various political arguments being put forward by the speakers to the attention of their readers. An attractive companion Hartmut Schick, head of Daimler Buses and ever the diplomat, delivered a paper entitled Attractive Companion and CO2 Champion. The Bus in Short-and Long-Distance Transport. He opened by saying he wanted to show the bus from a different angle, describing the bus as an attractive companion. “When is someone considered to be 32
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The optional glass roof on the Setra TopClass range.
THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT attractive?” he asked. “The answer is when someone evokes a kind of spontaneous liking or positive attitude, for instance acting with consideration, having a pleasant appearance and manners, and creating a sense of well-being in others.” His attribute of attractiveness fully applies to the bus. Buses give consideration to the environment as well as to people when it comes to the topic of safety, particularly when compared with other modes of transportation. Positive appearance is characterized by innovative bus design. The well-being of passengers is ensured by the extraordinarily high level of comfort and air conditioning in state-of-the-art buses.
A Go Transit Enviro500 visited a recent exhibition in Dubai and created great interest.
Focus on CO2 Schick said that the latest Euro VI emission standards had reached the validation limit. The focus was now on reduction of CO2 emissions. Euro VI can read EPA 13, because the two standards are achieving the same results, but with slightly different test cycles. Indeed, some of the latest generation Daimler diesel engines made in Europe were developed in very close collaboration with Detroit Diesel. Schick said that the bus will play a key role in transporting people in an environmentally friendly manner. Compared to other modes of transport, according to the German Federal Environmental Authority, coaches generated the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger per mile of any form of transport. In contrast, the two worst offenders were aircraft and private cars. Daimler was quick to put Euro VI buses and coaches into service in Europe, and had found that the latest generation of engines was achieving savings in fuel consumption of up to 8.5 percent. No hybrids for now Daimler is not currently offering a hybrid bus, saying it offers little Passenger Trans Ad_BRM.pdf 6/6/14 diesel, 4:34 PM advantage USSC-075 in fuel consumption compared with a1 standard and therefore not economically viable.
Hartmut Schick has longterm confidence in fuel cell buses.
That decision has set Daimler on a direct collision course with Volvo, which is the market leader in hybrid buses in Europe; and will only offer hybrid drivelines in its full low-floor Euro VI city buses. “However, I am absolutely certain that sooner or later this will change, and when the time comes we will not come out with prototype solutions,” Schick said. “We are working intensively on an economically justifiable, mature and highly modular concept. I am convinced that, in the long term, the future belongs to the fuel cell. Through the Groupwide development of alternative powertrain technologies, we will be able to present an economical solution.” Daimler Buses is currently working on the next generation city bus platform, which will be able to take diesel, gas, hybrid, fuel cell and all-electric powertrains. Continuing with the theme of attractiveness, Schick referred to the outstanding safety record of buses. According to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office, the bus had the lowest frequency of traffic accident involving personal injuries, with just 1.5 percent of the total in 2012.
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THE INTERNATIONAL REPORT
Schick concluded his presentation He said while well-trained bus by referring to Bus Rapid Transit drivers are of primary importance, (BRT) as an innovative mobility safety technologies are also making solution, which provided for a major contribution. He listed the separate bus lanes where special many safety features on Daimler vehicles could drive with a higher buses, many of them introduced frequency. They were an incentive before any legislative requirement. to switch from individual transport Buses and coaches are also to public transport, offered rapid attractive because of their design. services, particularly in congested On top-end luxury coaches, he urban areas, and could be described the comfort as “awesome installed without extensive civil interiors reminiscent of first-class in engineering measures. a jet liner.” Mercedes-Benz has experience Attitudes toward city bus travel with BRT operations in several have also changed tremendously countries in South America, and is over the last 30 years —and for Some examples of the Daimler range lined up in Stuttgart. the main supplier to the largest BRT the better. Passengers now see city buses in a much more favorable light, using system in Europe, that of IETT in Istanbul. Schick referred to the comparative cost of infrastructure investments, keywords like “reliable,” “comfort” and “communal.” In contrast, taking as an example a recent study in Bangkok, Thailand. For the same other forms of transport have slipped backwards in perception. capital expenditure, the city could install 4.5 miles of subway, 9 miles Germany cedes to intercity buses of elevated railroad, 25 miles of light rail system, or 265 miles of BRT. Until 2012, intercity express travel by coach in Germany was severely “This makes BRT the ideal solution for public transport in rapidly restricted in order to protect the rail system. Services started to be expanding cities, where numbers continue to rise due to the growing liberalized in 2012 and the number of permits for long distance coach population and increasing urbanization,” he said. services in Germany nearly tripled between 2012 and 2013. Schick said the bus is definitively an attractive companion; Coach services were popular, because they were the most environmentally friendly, safe, comfortable and an important player inexpensive mode of long-distance transport in Germany. Research when it comes to mobility solutions of the future. This was certainly a had shown that almost every third person was interested in taking a presentation that caught the attention of the audience and provoked a long distance coach and half had already used one. This is encouraging lot of thought. for the manufacturers, because companies are investing in new express coaches. It is in fact a new market segment in Germany. Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
Transit committed to sustainability APTA recognizes transportation agencies for environmental accomplishments
he American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized seven organizations last month for their outstanding sustainability achievements which have met specific criteria through the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. Public transit agencies and businesses that voluntarily participate in the APTA Sustainability Commitment program commit to implementing processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Depending on the level of achievement, organizations were presented Gold, Silver and Bronze level certifications by APTA Chair Peter Varga at the APTA Sustainability and Public Transportation Workshop which is being held at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, MA. The organizations receiving Gold Level recognition were ChampaignUrbana Mass Transit District, Urbana, IL; Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Boston, MA; Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN; and the Société de Transport de Montréal, Montreal, Canada. Lane Transit District, Springfield, OR, received a Silver Level Recognition. The two Bronze Level recipients were GO Transit, Toronto, ON, and Stacy and Witbeck, the first construction firm to receive this honor, for the sustainability efforts at its Portland, OR, office and four project field offices. Started in 2009, 121 public transit agencies and businesses have signed on to the APTA Sustainability Commitment Program. Currently, 24 of these signatories have now received recognition, as determined by specific measured achievements. “The public transportation industry is committed to sustainability,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “These new recipients are shining examples of how public transportation organizations are making a difference in implementing processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social, and economic sustainability.” Below are some examples of the sustainable accomplishments that this year’s GOLD Level recipients have achieved.
Metro Transit has taken a comprehensive approach to reducing consumption of natural resources, both within its facilities and on board its buses.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) – Boston, MA The MBTA joined the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2012 and through a strategic focus on sustainability has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent per UPT and increased its greenhouse gas savings by 9 percent. Electricity and fuel use improved by 12 and 15 percent per UPT, respectively, from 2009 to 2012. Since 2012, the MBTA has purchased 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. At the state level, the MBTA participates in the GreenDOT Program, under the direction of MassDOT, which seeks to make all transportation related projects, operations, and policies more environmentally friendly, while at the agency level, the MBTA has committed to all future construction meeting Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) design guidelines. Metro Transit – Minneapolis, MN Metro Transit began its focus on environmental stewardship in 2006 and has adopted environmental responsibility as one of six Guiding Principles. Metro Transit signed the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2013. Metro Transit has taken a comprehensive approach to reducing consumption of natural resources both within its facilities and on board its buses and trains. This includes building automation retrofits, energy-efficient lighting, geo-thermal climate controls and the completion of a 40-kilowatt, rooftop solar array at its Light Rail Support Facility. A 40-kilowat solar array is also included in a 1,000-space Park & Ride opening in August 2014. These efforts reduced Metro Transit’s purchased energy by 40 percent between 2008 and 2012. Metro Transit also reduced its water usage by 77 percent between 2009 and 2012 and saw improvements in fuel efficiency.
Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD) – Urbana, IL
Société de Transport de Montréal (STM) – Montreal, Canada
CUMTD was a founding signatory of the APTA Sustainability Commitment in 2009. The agency underwent Environmental and Sustainability Management System (ESMS) training through the Federal Transit Administration, integrating tracking of sustainability metrics throughout the organization. A focus on transitioning to cleaner vehicles – a shift from 9 percent diesel-electric hybrids in 2009 to 45 percent hybrids in 2012 -- led to a decrease of 46 percent in criteria air pollutant emissions per vehicle mile traveled (VMT) and a 10 percent improvement in greenhouse gas emissions per VMT. A focus on facility energy use, including the installation of a geothermal heat pump in 2010, has reduced energy use at facilities by 20 percent per unlinked passenger trip (UPT).
STM joined the APTA Sustainability Commitment in June 2014. The agency has placed sustainable development at the center of all decisions through its strategic plan, leading to impressive improvements in resource use and energy efficiency. STM has been recognized for its continued commitment to sustainable procurement, clean fuel vehicles, and sustainable construction practices. Among STM’s signature policies are an initiative to pursue LEED certification for all new buildings, as well as a policy to reduce emissions by purchasing only electric vehicles by 2025. Additionally, air pollutant emissions per produced seat mile (PSM) decreased by 43 percent from 2006-2012, coupled with a 17 percent reduction in electricity use and a 7 percent reduction in fuel use per PSM over this period. busride.com | BUSRIDE
Connected travel on the rise A new study by DePaul Universityâ€™s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development reveals the use of personal electronic devices on city-to-city trips continues to rise sharply
A new study by DePaul University reveals the use of personal electronic devices on city-to-city trips continues to rise sharply.
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
Megabus.com, a subsidiary of Coach USA, is one of the largest city-to-city express bus service providers in North America.
“As opposed to airline customers who cannot surf the Internet, email, text or place phone calls during takeoff or landing, which can consume more than 40 minutes of flight time, customers traveling by an express bus service like megabus.com are able to use their devices from the moment the bus arrives to the time they depart at their destination,” Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Travelers want to stay in control and that means staying digitally connected when and where they want.” The study — the fifth in an annual series by the Institute — collected data from 7,034 passengers on 106 bus, train and plane departures during February-June 2014 and made comparisons with a similar sample from 2013. The study found that the use of personal devices among passengers remains on an upward trajectory, noting the following: • E xpress, city-to-city buses services (such as megabus.com) experienced the fastest increase in technology use. More than 59 percent of passengers on low-cost, express bus lines were “powered up”— an increase from 46.4 percent last year — a rate that outdistances Amtrak, conventional bus and air travel by a wide margin. This is the first
time in five years that low-cost, city-tocity express bus service has significantly exceeded that of all other modes. • The ability to use devices continues to stimulate the demand for bus and train travel, which have features highly desirable to those placing a premium on the ability to work or stay entertained while traveling. • Nearly 90 percent of passengers use electronic devices at some point during their trips. • Technology use on airlines remained virtually flat and continues to lag behind other modes, suggesting that the relaxation of the FAA policy on the use of personal electronic devices is having little effect. The new policy allows the use of certain devices during takeoffs and landings but appears to have been greeted unenthusiastically by flyers who are still unable to connect to WiFi or 3G/4G systems, send text messages or place phone calls. “Staying connected with friends, family and co-workers while on the bus has been a priority for megabus.com since we began service in 2006,” Mike Alvich, megabus. com’s vice president of marketing and public relations, said in a statement. “We understand the importance for customers of staying connected while traveling and continue to invest our efforts into improving connectivity. In the past year, megabus.com has nearly doubled the amount of
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customers using Wi-Fi onboard. Data shows that customers surf an average of 90 minutes per trip, using 15 MB per device use despite often traveling through remote areas away from cell towers, which reduces potential bandwidth. Power outlets at every seat are another convenient way for customers to stay connected on the road.” The DePaul University study, entitled “The Personal Tech Tidal Wave: The Rising Use of Electronic Devices on Intercity Buses, Planes, & Trains: 2014 Update (July 2, 2014)” is posted at http://las.depaul.edu/ centers-and-institutes/chaddick-institutefor-metropolitan-development/research-andpublications/pages/default.aspx. “As travelers feel an ever-rising need to stay connected, technology advances appear poised to continue to transform the way Americans move from place to place,” Schwieterman said. “The rising use of personal technology will continue to change the way we travel.” Megabus.com, a subsidiary of Coach USA, launched in April 2006 and is one of the largest city-to-city express bus service providers in North America. In addition to affordable fares, megabus.com says it offers customers state-ofthe-art, green-certified double-decker buses with free Wi-Fi, power outlets, seat belts, restrooms and are wheelchair accessible. Express, city-to-city buses services experienced the fastest increase in technology use.
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Maxwell adds to large ultracapacitor family New 2.85-volt, 3400-farad cell with DuraBlue™ Advanced Shock & Vibration Technology to improve reliability in transportation applications Maxwell Technologies, Inc. announced the latest addition to its K2 series of ultracapacitor cells. Maxwell says the new 2.85-volt, 3400-farad ultracapacitor cell increases the range of available specific power and stored energy in the industry-standard 60 mm cylindrical “K2” form factor, and introduces DuraBlue Shock and Vibration Technology, the newest innovation in ultracapacitor reliability and performance. DuraBlue Technology is tested to some of the most demanding environmental requirements for transportation, increasing vibration resistance by approximately 300 percent and shock immunity by 400 percent when compared with ultracapacitorbased competitive offerings. “The high costs and adverse environmental impacts of consuming petroleum-based fuels are driving development of alternative fuels and higher efficiency automotive powertrains,” wrote James Hines, research director of Gartner. “These systems require a source of electrical energy, and batteries have been widely used for energy storage in these applications; however, while batteries can store relatively large amounts of energy over a long time period, they are limited in their ability to deliver high power to a load. Ultracapacitors are capable of releasing electrical energy at high power levels, and they can accept a high rate of charge, making them an ideal complement to batteries in high-power applications.” “This latest addition to our widely popular K2 Series of ultracapacitor cells reflects Maxwell’s commitment to continuous customer-driven innovation, and delivers superior performance with unmatched reliability and value,” said Franz Fink, Maxwell’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “Our new DuraBlue Advanced Shock and Vibration Technology combines Maxwell’s unique and patented dry electrode formation and manufacturing process with a robust proprietary cell structure design to meet or exceed the most demanding shock and vibration requirements of the growing number of power-hungry applications in global transportation markets.” Unlike batteries, Maxwell ultracapacitor products store energy in an electrical field that is larger than that of a capacitor – meaning ultracapacitors have greater energy storage capacity than capacitors. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in as little as fractions of a second, perform normally over a broad temperature range (-40 degrees to +65 degrees C), operate reliably in hundreds of thousands or more duty
DuraBlue Technology is tested to some of the most demanding environmental requirements for transportation.
cycles and resist shock and vibration. Maxwell offers ultracapacitor cells ranging in capacitance from one to 3400 farads and multi-cell modules ranging from 16 to 160 volts, which have proven to deliver high power, whether used alone or paired with batteries, in a variety of applications from automotive or industrial to consumer electronics, transportation and beyond.
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Arbitrary pricing plagues the industry Fair and profitable pricing comes down to basic business principles By Carmen Daecher
EDITORS NOTE: Recent discussions and comments from owneroperators and industry professionals prompted this rerun of an archived column by Carmen Daecher (BUSRide, September 2009) on this seemingly timeless topic. For years, too many bus and motorcoach operators have practiced underpricing as a means to remain competitive. Such single-minded competitive pricing as a standard operating procedure has plagued the motorcoach industry. This is happening because a great number of coach operators do not fully understand how to price their services. The fair and profitable approach to pricing comes down to some very basic business principles. The fixed costs Successful business owners know the fixed costs â€” the costs to stay in business even if the company does not produce one dollar in revenue. Fixed costs include employee salaries, principle and interest on loans, rent and leases, property and vehicle payments. An established budget Successful business owners operate within an established budget. Whether or not it draws on historical records of all past fixed and variable expenditures, a well-defined budget reveals the most realistic picture of the level of service the company can expect to deliver based on its current size and resources. The budget holds the company to only the most reasonable expectations as it lays out goals and objectives, such as whether to stabilize the current operation or make plans to expand and grow the business. The variable costs and asset utilization Variable costs are the expenses that ultimately produce revenue; i.e., the money expended to put a motorcoach on the road and deliver the service. Asset utilization monitors the number of days in the year
BUSRIDE | SEPTEMBER.2014
Profit does not just happen. An operator must calculate the reasonable profit the business will yield…to return a plausible net gain. each vehicle is in service. Asset efficiency monitors the number of sold seats or the mileage the vehicle travels in the delivery of service. These principles are the key factors in the profitable management of costs and pricing. The assessment begins with the break-even level of service; the point at which business revenue is equal to the total costs to deliver the service — zero net income. Profit does not just happen. An operator must calculate the reasonable profit the business will yield based on the use of the available assets, the fixed and variable costs compared to level of sales and service required to return a plausible net gain. Profits should be reasonable and fair, and allow the business to remain competitive. To meet the desired profit goal depends on the strategy in place to manage costs and cash flow. Pricing concerns specific to bus and motorcoach operations include the issue of recording full-time driver salaries as a fixed or variable cost, or whether fuel purchased in bulk is fixed or variable. The basic unit for variable costs determines realistic and profitable pricing. Operators deal with these costs every day, but too often fail to assess costs strategically as they relate to breakeven expenses and profits. Do the math The variable cost unit directly influences the established price for service whether it is the price per passenger, per trip or per mile. The unit
measure of variable costs and delivered service determine its price. For example, the cost per unit of service delivery must reflect the cost of fuel per mile of service. The pricing plan is a matter of utilization and efficiency, and is the same for all other variable costs. To arrive at an equitable service cost, spread the fixed costs over the number of units delivered during the budget cycle. (Fixed costs per unit + variable costs per unit) + desired profit per unit = service price per unit. $1000 in fixed costs for 1000 variable cost units (i.e. passengers, trips or miles) equals a fixed cost per unit of $1.00. The breakeven point is critical The breakeven point is a critical step in a successful pricing strategy. A business cannot cover its fixed costs until earned revenue equals the volume of its delivered service. The higher the fixed costs, the higher the variable costs and the longer it will take to reach a breakeven point before the company can enjoy a profit. Even though the profit model forecasts a certain amount of income based on delivery of service per unit, of an operator cannot expect one dollar of profit until this happens. Many operators have difficulty understanding that even with lower variable costs, higher fixed costs mean the company has to bring more revenue, perhaps over a longer period of time before the company turns its first dollar of profit.
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Cash flow is not profit Cash flow and profit are not the same— and they are altogether separate from fixed and variable costs. For example, fuel purchased in bulk is an asset until it is used. But in establishing the price for service and calculating potential revenue, it is better to consider fuel costs associated with operating the vehicle as a variable expense. Depreciation of equipment is a fixed cost that has more to do with the purchase of an asset than its use. From a pricing point of view, an operator can build both equipment depreciation and future vehicle replacement into the cost structure. However, doing this can drive up the cost and possibly make the operation less competitive. The more prudent approach is to determine if the current depreciation level will increase with future vehicle purchases. The winning edge The advantage goes to the operator who clearly understands all associated costs and prices the delivery of service accordingly. He knows how to structure his costs and uses the most accurate data available to establish a pricing strategy that is both fair to his customers and to the company. This leaves him in a position to be able to respond and adapt to changing market conditions throughout the year. The financially astute operator also knows to figure in costs associated with running the safest possible organization, which includes all costs involved in risk management, staff training, vehicle maintenance, as well as safety-related equipment and technology. A proper and profitable pricing strategy for a bus and motorcoach operation must never compromise any safety aspect. The benefit of a detailed pricing model that fully supports a fiscally sound business plan far outweighs any inconveniences. It also helps the prudent operator deliver the safest and most reliable service possible at a profit regardless of what the next guy is charging.
Carmen Daecher, chairman emeritus of the Daecher Consulting Group, Camp Hill, PA, is dean of the UMA/ College of Southern Maryland Bus and Motorcoach Academy, La Plata, MD. He holds a Masters of Science degree in Transportation Engineering from Villanova University, Villanova, PA.
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A motorcoach is only as good as the people who stand behind it. Every Prevost is supported by a professional service team with over 500 years of bus and motorcoach service experience, knowledge, and integrity. Our field service experts are dedicated to doing whatever is necessary to keep you on the road. Whatâ€™s more, every Prevost motorcoach is backed by the Prevost Action Service System (PASS) 24-hour emergency assistance line, our eleven Prevost service centers across North America, and more than 150 Prevost-certified service providers who are experts in the Volvo Powertrain. While unforeseen downtime is inevitable, Prevost will have you up and running in no time at all.
For more information: USA 336-393-3929 Canada 418-883-3391 www.prevostcar.com
NOW ARRIVING. The all-new Ameritrans™ M2-Series The Premium Mid-size Coach – Maximized
with panoramic roof shown
Your clients have worked hard for it. In fact, they’ve earned it and are expecting nothing less. Ensure they arrive in style with the comfort they deserve in the all-new Ameritrans M2-Series mid-size coach– loaded with TM
many exclusive features and premium amenities typically found on large touring coaches but at a more economical price.
For more information, call 574.262.8935, email email@example.com, or visit www.ameritransbus.com. © 2014 Ameritrans. All rights reserved.