Page 1

New Flyer-AD announce MiDi Page 12

Special Section: All-Electric Preview Page 16

ElDorado National talks Krystal Koach Page 30

Cavallo caters to European tours Page 32

APR 2013

BUSRide • $5.00

stays one step ahead

Page 22 March 2013



April 2013 cover story

The family business turns 80 What Peter Pan Bus Lines is doing to stay ahead of the curve By David Hubbard page 22

20 VIA adds three EcoRides to fleet The Proterra-made battery-electric bus fleet began service in late February

30 Krystal Koach is top of the line

ElDorado National Kansas fine tunes its new luxury flagship By David Hubbard

32 The only choice in the central U.S.

Cavallo Bus Lines safety and service attracts an international tour market By Richard Tackett

8 Update 10 Deliveries 11 People in the News 33 Marketplace

Special Section:

ALL ELECTRIC PREVIEW 16 All-Electric Preview

Transit for the future under development with North American bus builders By Richard Tackett

18 Ecoliners seamlessly integrate for full service


April 2013

Foothill Transit sees great success from its zero-emission buses By Richard Tackett

6 David Hubbard 12 The International Report

By Doug Jack

By Matthew A. Daecher

27 Risk Management



March 2013


david hubbard

The BRT Standard sets the bar for quality Almost everyone in the transit industry has a concept of bus rapid transit (BRT), some with a more vague idea than others. According to recent studies conducted through funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, a great number of people remain unenlightened to the chief characteristics of BRT, or that commuter coaches are fully capable of providing quality transit service. For that reason, BUSRide will be giving this intriguing industry segment a thorough investigation in coming issues. Much of the content will emanate from recent important research that identifies and establishes standards and best practices for BRT systems in use and under development. As of now, a BRT Standard is in place to help create and measure efficiency and sustainability and passenger comfort in systems of every size. Undertaken in 2011 by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), New York, NY, and introduced as a pilot program last year, the BRT Standard Committee established standards for the public transit community and transportation professionals to design, build and implement top-quality systems. The purpose of the BRT Standard is to create a singular international definition of best practices. It certifies their efforts as Gold, Silver or Bronze based on results of the BRT Standard Scorecard. The new Standard will be helpful in recognizing and comparing current systems in terms of quality. The standard will help decision makers evaluate how close their vision comes to international best practices and show where certain changes could improve the system. The scorecard awards points only for elements of system design that generally improve operational performance and quality of service, or at least minimize adverse environmental impacts of the traffic system. ITDP says the BRT Standard weighs all systems according to the same criteria. It does not differentiate between high, medium and low-demand BRT systems. It applies easily and equitably to a wide range of operations. The measures included in the BRT Standard will usually tend to improve performance in corridors designed properly for the ridership. The standard also assigns penalty points for systems in service already in service that still do not meet certain baseline criteria. The standard suggests poorly designed BRT systems or corridors create the risk of only worsening congestion. The BRT Standard intends to complement and not replace cost-effectiveness measurements, cost-benefit appraisal tools and system-performance evaluations.


Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane Associate Publisher Sali Williams Editor David Hubbard Managing Editor Richard Tackett Account Executives Maria Galioto Andy Pieri Production Director Valerie Valtierra Art Director Dominic Salerno Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone

BUS industry SAFETY council

Vice President Operations Valerie Valtierra

Accountant Fred Valdez

POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: BUSRide • 4742 North 24th Street • Suite 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 • F: (602) 277-7588 Web site:

Vol. 49 No. 4

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Find the complete BRT Standard 2012 at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy at and BR


April 2013



A record and a first for Nova Bus ATUQ orders 475 LFS HEVs Nova Bus, St-Eustache, QB, Canada, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group North America, has set a record and first in short order. An order for 475 LSF HEV hybrid buses from ATUQ, a consortium consisting of nine Quebec transit authorities, marks the Volvo Group’s largest order ever signed for hybrid vehicles. ATUQ is a longtime Nova Bus customer in a partnership stretching

back to the 1970s. Deliveries will begin 1Q 2014 with an option for approximately 1,200 vehicles. “This order underlines the strong relationship ATUQ and Nova Bus have developed over the years,” says Nova Bus President Jean-Pierre Baracat. “ATUQ has renewed its confidence in our company and vehicles once again, and we are glad to continue to work together to further enhance transit services in our communities.”

ATUQ signs for 475 of the Nova LFS HEVs.

Clemson Area transit gets first articulated bus Clemson Area Transit (CAT), Kingstree, SC, another trusted Nova Bus partner, recently acquired its first articulated bus. CAT dubbed its LFS Artic the “bendy bus” because of its center articulation that allows the bus to corner tightly and handle city streets as easily as a regular bus. “We double the capacity and only use one bus to accomplish as much transportation,” says CAT General Manager Al Babinicz. “The ‘bendy bus’ technology eventually could help solve transportation problems throughout South Carolina.” Nova Bus says the high-capacity vehicle offers the industry’s largest center aisle. It is also equipped with Nova Bus’ proprietary electric engine cooling system.

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April 2013

Clemson Area Transit tries on the “Bendy Bus.”

Gray Line Worldwide selects AirBridge Tours as Las Vegas licensee Gray Line Worldwide, an international sightseeing and tour company operating city tours and transportation in over 700 destinations, has selected Las Vegas-based AirBridge Tours as its new Gray Line Las Vegas licensee. AirBridge Tours specializes in airport transportation and first class sightseeing tours to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and surrounding sites in the desert Southwest. The newly named Gray Line Las Vegas also entered into a sublicensing agreement with Bell Trans, a premier operator of airport transfer and private charter lines and now branded with the Gray Line logo. AirBridge Tours CEO Daniel Nisley says the Gray Line appointment and Bell Trans sub-licensing is part of his company’s transition from a domestic day trip company into a top-tier international travel and tourism provider. “Gray Line Worldwide is the most recognizable name and brand in sightseeing tourism around the globe,” Nisley says. “Passengers enjoy a level of comfort and security when booking with Gray Line, and we are proud to align our exceptional customer service with the prestigious brand. Having the Bell Trans vehicles bear the Gray Line Las Vegas logo will also remind airport travelers of the excellent day trip opportunities available to them in Southern Nevada.”



DesignLine Corporation, Charlotte, NC, announced in February the completion of all phases of the federally-required Altoona testing on its 45-foot CNG EcoCoach. The vehicle is currently running in revenue service on NJ TRANSIT routes. The agency has given DesignLine the go ahead to manufacture 76 buses as contracted. DesignLine says the EcoCoach is the first Altoona-tested 45-foot CNG coach to reach the market. Innovations, creators of Balance BRief Sun-Tech Masters, a self-adjusting wheel-balancing system,

has been awarded a new five-year contract by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to maintain vehicles owned by the Department of Defense and other government agencies. SunTech Innovations has been manufacturing Balance Masters active balancing devices for more than 33 years.


DriveCam, Inc., a driver risk management company, this week announced that Greyhound Lines, Inc. will deploy DriveCam’s driver risk management and fleet management solution across its fleet for a five-year service contract term. Greyhound trialed the DriveCam program in its BoltBus fleet, and based on its success, the company decided to deploy DriveCam across the entire Greyhound fleet.


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Atlanta-based Top Class Bus Company, LLC, to immediately cease all passenger transportation services for disregarding federal safety regulations and putting the company’s own drivers, passengers, and the motoring public at risk. The order prohibits Top Class Bus Company from any type of commercial passenger service and it blocks the unapproved use of its buses by another company or any driver.


New Prevost Service Center opens in Houston Prevost, Sainte-Claire, QC, Canada, recently opened a new service center in Houston, TX. The 5,400 square-foot facility provides a service area with two drive-through bays. The address is 10155 Windfern Road, Houston, TX, 77064. Staffed with fully certified Prevost technicians, the new facility is equipped for bumper-to-bumper maintenance and repair for all Prevost and Volvo Bus coaches, as well as Nova Bus transit vehicles and Volvo engines and transmissions. Carl Boulet serves as branch manager and Theodore Bruning is the service manager. Houston Service Center is equipped with electrical hookups and is open Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

April 2013






Harrison Global Waltham, MA

Harrison Global added four motorcoaches for their Cary, North Carolina, location. The acquisition included two Van Hool C204s and two of ABC’s M1235 mid-sized coaches. The C204s are powered by Detroit DD13 engines coupled to Allison B500 Gen IV transmissions. They’re equipped with Alcoa Dura Bright wheels, ASA Wi-Fi, 110 volt outlets, satellite TV, woodgrain flooring, and Van Hool’s unique rear passenger window. The M1235s also have an REI deluxe entertainment system, and 3-point seat belts. Harrison Global was founded by brothers David and Derek Marcou in 1986.


Tremblay’s Bus Company New Bedford, MA

Founded in 1967 by Leo and the late Claire Tremblay with a single station wagon, Tremblay’s began as an effort to serve factory workers in Southeastern Massachusetts. In Februarythe company acquired six Van Hool C2045 VIP coaches. The coaches feature enclosed Microleather covered parcel racks, woodgrain flooring, Alcoa Dura Bright aluminum wheels, 110 volt outlets and REI’s deluxe entertainment system. The 57-passenger seats are equipped with 3-point seat belts and the coaches have backup cameras and Van Hool’s unique rear passenger window. .




Arrow Stage Lines Omaha, NB

Arrow Stage Lines serves all travel requests with a mixedfleet of high quality coaches. Recent additions include six MCI J4500s, two Setra S 417s and a MCI D4505. From its base in Omaha, the company operates in Kansas City, Denver, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Luke Busskohl says each market has its own equipment needs, and a mixed model fleet provides a competitive advantage. The Busskohl family founded Arrow Stage Lines in 1928. The privately held charter company now ranks as the 9thlargest motorcoach company in North America.


April 2013



Cyr Bus

Old Town, ME

Cyr Bus enters its second century in business with the delivery of one more Setra Top Class S 417. When Germanbuilt Setra made its U.S. debut, Cyr was its very first customer and remains a devoted customer. Mike Cyr says the company Setra put the company on the map. Cyr now operates four Setra models in its 22-coach fleet. Standard features on the Setra S 417 include GPS, Wi-Fi connectivity and outlet; and the energy-absorbing Front Collision Guard (FCG) system, advanced rain-sensing wipers and auto-on headlight assistance for safety.


people in the news

Stephen R. Banta

The South West Transit Association (SWTA), Ft. Worth, TX, gave its unanimous member approval members to name Valley Metro CEO Stephen R. Banta as secretary/treasurer for

industry since 1998. From his base in Las Vegas he will focus on expanding First Transit shuttle services, including university and airport services. Double Coin Tires and CMA, Monrovia, CA, announced the addition of Valentino Faraone as Double Coin’s Northeast regional sales manager. At Michelin North America, Faraone estab-

lished and developed long-term partnerships and provided fleet personnel training as value added services for the transportation industry. Most recently, Faraone was regional sales manager for Action Tire Services. At Double Coin, Faraone will be responsible for sales and management in 11 Northeast states.

the 2013 term. The SWTA membership pointed to his experience in leading a multi-modal, multi-city organization. Banta will serve on the executive committee and present financial reports to the board and members. Also elected to the Board are Fort Worth Transportation Authority Executive Director Richard Ruddell as president and Fort Smith Transit Director Ken Savage as vice president. Stertil-Koni, Stevensville, MD, announced Brian Myles as its Sales Manager, Eastern Region. Myles served previously as a manufacturer’s representative for 18 years with McIndoo Brian Myles Associates – a leading automotive and petroleum equipment representative. Myes will be working with distributors and focusing primarily on the sale of a line of vehicle lift products.

Jeremy Brown


First Transit, Cincinnati, OH, announced the appointment of Jeremy Brown as director of business development. Brown has been with First Transit since 2002 and has worked within the transportation

April 2013


the international report

Alexander Dennis and New Flyer to launch MiDi bus in May Prototype to be unveiled at APTA Bus and Paratransit conference in Indianapolis, IN By Doug Jack Alexander Dennis (AD) is one of the fastest growing bus builders in the western world. Since Chief Executive Officer Colin Robertson took the helm in 2007, earnings have risen from $250 million in his first year to more than $700 million last year. He has led the company toward new product development, closer relationships with customers and dynamic expansion of its export activities. Alexander Dennis and New Flyer have decided to brand their latest joint venture as the MiDi bus. I was impressed with the amount of work that has already gone into the project. The two companies are set to launch the MiDi bus in May at the APTA Bus and Paratransit conference in Indianapolis, IN, as well as several other transit and shuttle conferences in North America throughout 2013. I began by asking Robertson how it all came about.

“Toward the end of 2010 we had a management meeting,” he says. “We were already supplying double deck buses to North America and wanted to sell our popular midibuses there as well. We could either do it alone in fairly small numbers or talk to the best potential partner to achieve higher volumes.” Early in 2011, Robertson and AD Commercial Director Robert Davey flew to Winnipeg, MB, Canada, to meet with New Flyer President and CEO Paul Soubry and Paul Smith, EVP sales and marketing. “We gave them a presentation about our Enviro200 midibus range and found that they had made their own strategic review to consider the development of a lighter bus range to complement their heavy-duty transit buses,” says Robertson. “We got on well and soon decided that if New Flyer took on the Enviro200 and built it in North America we would achieve much higher potential

volumes and easily meet Buy-America rules. For New Flyer the attraction of taking on a proven design was the opportunity to significantly reduce development costs and the time to the market.” New Flyer will offer the Enviro200 at two overall lengths — 30 and 35 feet. The Cummins ISBe 6.7 liter engine meets EPA13 standards and couples to the automatic Allison gearbox. DANA supplies the front and rear axles. Thermo King air conditioning is standard. All of these units are obtainable in the United States. The vehicle has a double-width entrance ahead of the front axle with a wheelchair ramp. Two wheelchair locations immediately behind the front wheelboxes feature tip-up seats when the space is not required. The floor in the front half of the vehicle is 12 inches above the ground and can kneel to curb level. Alexander Dennis will deliver the

The Enviro200 is popular on rural routes as seen here in central Wales .


April 2013


fully built prototypes from the United Kingdom. New Flyer will establish an assembly line for MiDi buses in St Cloud, MN, where the plan is to start volume production in the fourth quarter of this year. Although AD has supplied buses in kit form for assembly in Hong Kong and more recently in New Zealand, the New Flyer venture is quite different. Using North American sources to supply the materials and components not only ensures the desired quality, but parts and service support as well. However, AD may have to initially supply some parts from the UK. Teams from New Flyer and AD are working in parallel across design, production engineering, purchasing and engineering support. I asked Jennifer McNeill, AD director of sales and business development, to explain the main challenges on the project. “Moving the steering wheel,” she says. “The teams have been crosschecking regulations between European requirements and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Therefore, although the basic structure is pure Alexander Dennis design, there are important alterations like emergency windows, U.S. standard external lighting and vertical roof-level exhaust discharge.” Talking about how New Flyer plans to position the MiDi bus in the North

The interior of an Enviro200 looking rearward.

American market, McNeil says this product is quite different from the fullsize transit buses and cutaways. She thinks some existing public customers will be attracted to the MiDi bus because of its accessibility, manoeuvrability and fuel economy. McNeil thinks the shorter vehicle also has potential at larger airports where van conversions shuttle between hotels and terminals. Such is the case at London Heathrow where Enviro200 buses now run on regular routes, serving several hotels on each journey. McNeill says the New Flyer sales team will promote the MiDi bus direct to existing public transit authorities, with selected dealers promoting the MiDi bus with potential private customers.

Jennifer McNeill, AD director of sales and business development, took the wheel at the test circuit in Chobham.


She says that while the MiDi bus will carry the New Flyer name, its promotion would be quite different from the existing heavy-duty range. After our meeting, we drove a few miles north of Guildford to Chobham to visit a major automotive test center with high-speed circuits, rough road surfaces and steep test gradients. We boarded a prototype North American Enviro200 carrying Alexander Dennis and New Flyer staff and made a number of circuits of the track. The front axle has four-bag air suspension, compared with the standard British specification of two bags and that was a noticeable improvement. The lively Cummins engine was audible but not intrusive, while the shifts in the Allison transmission were smooth. Climbing a 20 percent test gradient prompted one comedian in the group to suggest the bus would sell well in San Francisco. The prototype MiDi we rode will soon be shipped across the Atlantic to go through an Altoona 10-year, 350,000mile test program. The decision to opt for the 10-year test was to differentiate the midibuses from heavy-duty transit buses, although the Enviro200 is capable of a longer life than 10 years. Midibuses have become very popular in the United Kingdom. Bus companies have many routes that do not generate the numbers of passengers needed for heavy-duty single deck or double deck buses. In some cases, midibuses provide services that are

April 2013


the international report continued

more frequent. If passengers can rely on a bus arriving every ten minutes or less, they do not need a timetable. Midibuses can also go into residential areas that are too restrictive for full size buses, such as the London suburbs. They often feed into the underground rail network and serve long-term parking facilities at our main airports as well as hotels. While initial price is still important to bus companies over here, they are increasingly focusing on whole-life operating costs. This is where the Enviro200 scores very well, using premium components well supported in the aftermarket. The patented Alexander aluminium body construction has been around for many years. It’s stood up to very demanding operations, such as around-the-clock service in 40-foot double-deck buses in Hong Kong. The structure is easy to repair and fully recyclable at the end of life. The two companies see great potential for this new MiDi bus in North America, built and backed by New Flyer through proven service, support, spare parts, training and warranty infrastructure. The final word from Colin Robertson: “If we can take 10 percent of the cutaway market, we will be very happy.” BR

Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.


April 2013


Transit for the future under development with North American bus builders NEW FLYER Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Consortium builds all-electric propulsion from Xcelsior New Flyer Industries and its consortium partners received CAD $3.4 million in funding through Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) in 2012 to further enhance rapid-charge battery-electric bus propulsion technology. The consortium partners contributing to this innovative vehicle include, the Government of Manitoba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), Manitoba Hydro, Red River College and Winnipeg Transit. The SDTC project involves the development and implementation of four rapid-charge battery-electric transit buses and a high capacity charging station. Based on its highly successful 40-foot Xcelsior heavyduty transit bus, New Flyer has modified battery-electric prototype to integrate advanced lithium ion batteries from MHI that charge from the utility electrical grid as opposed to electrical power from a conventional diesel engine. These buses are targeted for delivery to Winnipeg Transit in 4Q 2013 for revenue service over a four-year period. This project will examine the integration of electric vehicle technology into transit service and evaluate key operational performance characteristics including the charging system, battery capacity, component life, reliability and the assessment of both operational and life cycle cost savings. BR

First to develop a prototype all-electric transit bus In conjunction with its North American partners and the Volvo Group, Nova Bus stepped up its Electro Mobility strategy in 2011 to develop a fully electric transit bus. Unveiled in 2011, Nova Bus lays claim to being the first established bus maker to present such a prototype all-electric vehicle. The Quebec government is investing $30 million in the $73-million public-private project to develop electric buses for the international public transit market. According to a statement from Quebec Premier, the intent of funding is to become an innovation leader in the burgeoning global electric-vehicle industry. Along with Nova Bus, the non-profit organization, Consortium Bus Électrique, a clutch of Quebec companies includes lithium battery firm Bathium Canada; electric vehicle component maker TM4; software firm Giro, manufacturing firm René Matériaux Composites; and engineering company Précicad. The goal is to put a demo vehicle in service in coming years.


April 2013

NOVA BUS St. Eustache QB, Canada


EcoRide™ BE35 battery-electric bus passes Altoona Proterra specializes in the manufacture of 100 percent battery-electric zeroemission commercial transit buses, with more than 80 percent of the components sourced within the United States from 33 states. Proterra, Inc. recently added San Antonio, TX to its list of service cities. The new threebus battery-electric fleet, the Arc, went into service in February. The company says its 35-ft EcoRide™ BE35 made of lightweight composite materials is the first heavyduty electric transit bus ever to pass Altoona bus testing conducted through the Larson Institute at Pennsylvania State University. The Federal Transit Administration mandates an analysis of all new model buses purchased with federal funds to ensure reliability and in-service perfor-



PROTERRA Greenville, SC

mance. The Altoona test simulates the use and strain a bus will undergo during its 12-year durable life cycle. Proterra says the 54-72 kWh lithium-titanate battery packs recharge in less than 10 minutes.

Eco-Smart 1 delivers 120 miles on a single charge DesignLine, a manufacturer of environmentallyfriendly transit buses, unveiled its first all-electric bus in 2007. The Eco-Smart 1 is completely emission free and light on maintenance. The company reports its electric bus is capable of operating up to 120 miles on a single charge under high-density, stop-and-go, urban transit route conditions. The Eco-Smart 1 incorporates the same drivetrain and other key configurations as the hybridelectric EcoSaver. The company notes the primary

technical difference between the electric bus and the EcoSaver IV is the replacement of the auxiliary power unit (APU) with additional battery packs. DesignLine says while the purchase price is approximately $600,000 to $700,000 higher than a comparably-equipped standard diesel bus, it does promise a 10 percent savings in fuel costs and certain other operating costs over the life of the vehicle.

April 2013



Ecoliners seamlessly integrate for full service

Foothill Transit sees great success from its zero-emission buses

By Richard Tackett Three Proterra 35-foot EcoRide BE35s, dubbed the Ecoliners by Foothill Transit, West Covina, CA, have been running a busy route in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys since September 2010. It was Proterra’s first major deployment of the zero-emission bus. Felicia Friesema, marketing and communications manager at Foothill Transit, says that fuel savings and air quality had a lot to do with the agency’s order. “The agency was looking for new technology, but it had to make sense,” she says. “When this technology presented itself, it presented a great way to test the viability of electric vehicles.” The buses currently service Line 291, which Friesema says is a heavyduty route that includes a hospital, a few schools and a major shopping center. She says the agency chose this line because it would showcase the vehicles’ durability and charging power. While feedback has been positive, Friesema says the agency’s goal is seamless integration. The best case

scenario is that customers hardly notice what they’re riding. “We did initially receive positive feedback, but it fit very seamlessly into our system,” she says. “Most of the time when we hear from customers, it isn’t because we’re doing a great job. There haven’t been any major complaints about the Ecoliner. The compliments we did receive were about how it looks. It has a more modern and advanced shell design. It’s really quite an interesting look. It provides more positive visibility for public transportation in our neighborhoods.”

Green on the street

The bus requires a 10 minute charge at a transit center’s docking station before it’s ready to run for a full 24 hours. Friesema says that the first and sometimes only thing customers notice is how quiet the bus is. “The loudest thing on board is the air conditioner,” she says. “We were hoping to seamlessly integrate it into our regular service without a customer

really noticing any difference in quality. That has been a success so far. As long as people are getting the same quality of service they’ve always received, it’s a success.” The city is seeing benefits from the environmentally-friendly aspects of the vehicle. This is a bonus for Foothill Transit, as a California regulation in 2012 began requiring large agencies to purchase 15 percent of annual bus orders as zero emission buses. “The bonus to the city is we reduce local pollution by having a zero-emission transit vehicle,” Friesema says. “Plus we end up saving money on fuel costs.” Lauren Festner, director of maintenance and vehicle technology for Foothill Transit, says that Foothill’s fuel economy has improved with major costsavings thanks to the Ecoliner buses. “The easiest way to compare the ‘fuel economy’ of an electric bus to a conventionally- fueled vehicle is in standard miles per gallon (MPG),” Festner says. “By comparison, our CNG fleet averages 3.5 MPG (Diesel Gallon Equivalent) and our Electric buses average about 18 MPG.” Aside from fuel savings, maintenance costs are also way down for the vehicles. “We’re paying less in fuel, but also in maintenance,” Friesema says. “There are fewer moving parts in the electric motor, so we’re seeing that the cost for maintaining the bus is lower than that of a conventional vehicle.”

More vehicles ahead

The Proterra EcoRide BE35 was dubbed the Ecoliner by Foothill Transit.


April 2013

Friesema says that Foothill Transit is preparing the procurement process for an additional nine vehicles. After testing the Ecoliner buses on Line 291, she says the agency is keen to continue improving service on that route. “Putting the buses on that line really tested the technology,” she says. “We’d like to fully electrify Line 291, and hopefully we can do just that.” BR



April 2013


VIA adds three EcoRides to fleet The Proterra-made battery-electric bus fleet began service in late February Proterra Inc., maker of the world’s first battery-electric fast-charge transit bus, the EcoRide, has added San Antonio, TX, to the list of cities currently operating its buses. San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan’s Proterra-made 100 percent battery-electric bus fleet, called the Arc, went into service in late February. The three composite body buses will operate on VIA’s downtown circulator routes, and they will be recharged at the Robert Thompson Transit Station at the Alamodome. As the batteries are charged, they will receive energy that is generated either by solar panels installed

VIA METRO San Antonio, TX


April 2013

as part of the project or by turbines in West Texas wind farms as part of VIA’s Windtricity agreement with CPS Energy. “VIA is excited to have the opportunity to bring electric buses to San Antonio,” said Jeffrey Arndt, VIA’s interim president and CEO. “The Arc service marks a first for VIA as we introduce a completely emissions-free way to provide transit service to the central business district.” Proterra executives have worked closely with VIA Metropolitan and the San Antonio community on this new electric bus project, and Proterra’s CEO David Bennett and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ian Shackleton attended the official launch ceremony on Tuesday, February 26.

“As the cleanest, most fuel efficient and lowest total cost of ownership option in the transit market, Proterra’s batteryelectric buses are the natural choice for transit agencies struggling to balance budget constraints, ever-increasing fuel costs and mounting sustainability pressures,” said David Bennett. “We are thrilled to see our buses go into service in another community and proud to have worked closely with VIA Metropolitan to take this critical step forward. We look forward to having our buses in service there for many years to come and to pointing to San Antonio’s success to lead other agencies to take similar steps toward the future of transit.” BR


The family business turns 80 What Peter Pan Bus Lines is doing to stay ahead of the curve By David Hubbard Peter Carmine Picknelly started with a small transit operation in East Orange, NJ in 1920 and eventually founded Peter Pan Bus Lines in 1933. No guessing about the name, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie was the favorite bedtime story of the Picknelly children, who grew — and are growing — to keep the dream and the family business growing successfully through four generations for 80 years. Upon his death in 1964, he left the company to his son Peter L. Picknelly. He opened the Springfield Bus Terminal, current headquarters of Peter Pan Bus Lines, and his son Peter A. Picknelly serves as chairman and CEO. President and CFO Brian Stefano began his career with Peter Pan Bus Lines as a controller 23 years ago and served as chief financial officer. Last year


April 2013

the company promoted him to president and CEO, the first time in the 80-year history that someone from outside the Picknelly family has served as president. BUSRide spoke with the principals, who also include Joe Picknally, director, inventory control and fleet maintenance, and Christopher Crean, vice president, safety and security, on the state-of-thecompany and how Peter Pan remains a vibrant industry leader.

Fleet operations and services

Peter Pan Bus Lines runs an all-MCI fleet of 200 modern motorcoaches. The relationship between Peter Pan and Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Schaumburg, IL, an 80-year old company as well, dates back to the 1970s. As a partner with Greyhound since

1998, the two companies launched BoltBus in 2007 with 85 Prevost X3-45s. Northeast Express came four years later, a first class bus service with guaranteed seating, custom coaches with specially designed interiors and special guest services in private waiting areas in the terminals. This past December, Peter Pan and Greyhound took a lesson from the street corner operators to introduce YO!, a Chinatown-to-Chinatown service operating out of New York City. “These operators showed us a niche that needed to be filled, but they went about it so poorly, with no regard for safety,” says Peter Picknelly. “YO! applies the model correctly. We offer modern coaches and remove the chaos from the curbside experience. Customers can buy


a ticket online and board in groups of 10 in an orderly manner.” Brian Stefano says obtaining a permit for curbside service has become more stringent. “We worked over a year to secure our curbside location for YO!,” he says. “That is probably not bad in the long run. It was getting out of hand with so many shadowy carriers not properly permitted.” Peter Pan is using web-based technology to analyze customer demands and equipment needs in real time and implementing dynamic pricing. “For instance, a few years ago we left ourselves open to provide unlimited seating at one price,” says Picknelly. “We have since moved from one regulated price into internet-based yield management.” Stefano adds that Peter Pan is operating much more like an airline, where the price of a seat can fluctuate with every trip by the day by the hour. He attributes the success to smart shoppers who purchase tickets well in advance. “But not every area is the same,” he


says. “While the Boston internet market is strong, Philadelphia still caters primarily to walk-up customers who pay at the counter. Our policy is to let the customer tell us how they want to buy, and we accommodate their preferences.”

Safety and security Christopher Crean attests to the power of the internet in the search for the most qualified individuals to hire as Peter Pan coach drivers, saying the new system actually delivers higher quality candidates. The process begins with an onlineonly employee character analysis and initial testing. “We make our selections and invite them in for a face-to-face interview,” says Crean. “Those who score high and make it through the interview enter our training program.” He says the initial screening eliminates those with only the mechanical skills and who are unfamiliar with the technology required in modern bus operations.

The interview is more personal. The conversation assesses the candidate’s comfort level and preferences such as availability for work weekend work and holidays, and typical reactions in stressful situations — traffic congestion, schedule delays and irritable and irate passengers. “Our HR professionals have been conducting these interviews for a long time,” says Crean. “Anyone can put on a good show, but my team knows what questions to ask a candidate to draw out the true response and present the most accurate profile.” Crean says Peter Pan drivers come from all walks of life. Some have years of driving experience, some have none. “We can teach the requisite driving skills, but we are looking for the individual with the potential to become a professional Peter Pan motorcoach operator,” he says. “That person is a quality individual who is not only the safest driver possible, but also an affable tour host, parent and psychologist who can do it all with a smile.”

April 2013


Peter C. Picknelly (founder)

Peter Pan

Peter A. Picknelly


Training for Peter Pan

The six to eight-week Peter Pan performance-based driver training program prepares drivers to for all conditions and circumstances, and thoroughly verses them on the rules and regulations for passenger carriers and public roadways. “We operate in a generation that relies heavily on technology such as GPS,” says Crean. “We train our drivers not to become too dependent and to do their own homework on the routes they travel. We want Peter Pan drivers to know all the landmarks and to be especially aware of all clearance restrictions such as bridges and tunnels. The old fashioned way will always work.” “Problems arise when they fall into bad habits or the habits of others,” he adds. “Then we have to work to correct them.” Crean says the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) system has changed everything. “What was acceptable five years ago is no longer,” he says. “No variance, no tolerance. Every aspect of an operation is now coming under greater scrutiny” He says the company is updating its onboard surveillance with the installation of six-camera systems on each of the 200 Peter Pan coaches by the end of this year.

MCI maintenance training

“As everyone knows, motorcoaches has evolved into more of a process of electronic diagnosis as opposed to mechanical,” says Joe Picknally. “Our mechanics and technicians must show their commitment learning and relearn-


April 2013

Brian Stefano

ing new technologies through continuous training and education.” Peter Pan will be sending five of its top mechanics to the MCI Technical Training Institute in Louisville, KY. “MCI is able to teach and train in areas our mechanics can’t get anywhere else,” says Picknally. “They will come back as our ‘super trainers’ to share what they learned with the rest of the crew in the six Peter Pan maintenance locations.”

Social media in play

The power of social media is not lost on Peter Pan. Case in point: the drivers, who in Picknelly’s mind are the most important people in the company. “The number one compliment we receive on Facebook, Twitter and our website concerns our drivers,” he says. “The number one complaint is for our drivers. It shows how important they are in the mind of the customer.” Peter Pan marketing and HR monitor all social media sites daily and respond, taking action in real time when a situation needs immediate attention. “Every senior manager receives a weekly social media report revealing the good, bad and ugly,” says Picknelly. “They use the comments to gauge trends positively or negatively and shore up customer relations. Social media is a powerful indicator if used properly. If a business is not on top of this phenomenon, it can sink the company.”

Future just ahead

Picknelly says the focus is just ahead at what Peter Pan is doing at this time. “Our company is perfectly sized for our geographic location,” he says. “There is so much opportunity in our current footprint. We will simply continue to refine our efforts and see where they take us.” BR


From a Buick Jitney to its lasting partner in MCI, the Peter Pan fleet features recently updated 2013 J4500s.

How the Picknellys’ passion became their legacy Peter Carmine Picknelly found his passion for commercial transportation in the early 1900s as a chauffeur. By 1920, he was in business for himself running a Buick Jitney as Orange Valley Bus Company in East Orange, NJ. Five years later, Peter and three other Jitney operators pooled their resources and relocated to Hartford, CT to start a larger transportation service, Interstate Buses Corporation. He sold his interest in the company to his partners in 1932 and again formed his own bus company, which opened in 1933 in Springfield, MA as Peter Pan Bus Lines with a handsome fleet of four 1933 Buick Jitney vehicles.


April 2013

Peter Pan’s first route, Northampton to Boston via Stafford Springs, CT, was a circuitous route that took over three hours with a round trip fare of $3.50 In January of 1964, founder Peter C. Picknelly died leaving the company to his 33-year old son, Peter Louis Picknelly. Peter Pan Bus Lines grew and thrived over the next several years, due in part to the 1964-1965 staging of the World’s Fair in New York City, NY, which the company served dutifully with all-expenses-included charter tours from western Massachusetts and Connecticut through its newly formed Peter Pan World Travel Service.


risk management

A mistake fuels a remedy By Matthew A. Daecher As children we learn from our mistakes when our parents scold us or an otherwise undesirable outcome presents itself. It is the same for adults. We are just more aware that an undesirable outcome may occur if we act in certain ways or follow a specific course of action. Learning from mistakes is time-proven and certainly beneficial if the undesirable outcome alters our behavior. It is a concept incorporated into both basic and advanced safety programs. In the most basic safety programs, the simplest compliance with


regulatory requirements can reduce errors that cause poor results. Any safety training program is no doubt designed and shaped by an effort to correct previous experiences and mistakes. In more advanced safety programs that utilize technology such as accident event recorders, companies use the data to identify mistakes and correct them. Most commercial carriers are pretty good at figuring out their mistakes because they have to deal with the consequences, whether it resulted in vehicle damage, a thirdparty claim, injury treatment costs, worker

April 2013


risk management


compensation claim, or lost employee productivity. Actually learning from the mistake, however, is sometimes an afterthought. Sometimes an operator chalks up an accident to an unusual circumstance and may assume that the driver or employee would know what to do differently next time.

A thorough investigation and analysis of an incident reveals what led up to the incident, what happened during the incident and what happened afterwards. Reviewing all of these timelines with an open mind to all of the causal factors may help shed light on more than one area where changes may

be made to reduce the effect of future occurrences. U.S. Senator and acclaimed comedian Al Franken wrote: Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from. This phrase is comical so long as you are not at the wrong end of the fatal mistake. It is also very true. While the seriousness of a fatal event is more likely to cause intense investigation, it should not be the only impetus for such an investigation. The final step in learning from mistakes is sharing what we’ve learned. Often management will explain all that went wrong to the person involved, especially if that person’s actions were a causal factor. The opportunity is often missed to review these same teaching points with other employees who may one day find themselves in similar circumstances. Going back to Senator Franken, we also sometimes have the opportunity to learn from serious mistakes of others. While we may not be privy to the relatively minor incidents by our peers, or even those with serious injuries, we sure are privy to the fatal accidents that receive plenty of press these days — particularly incidents involving government investigations. When this occurs, companies learn of the causal factors and have the opportunity to review both their practices in similar areas as well as the knowledge base of their employees. They can make adjustments to try to avert a similar occurrence within their operations, but many simply read these items and thank higher ups that it wasn’t them. What does your company do? BR Matthew A. Daecher is president and CEO of Daecher Consulting Group, Inc., Camp Hills, PA.


April 2013


In the Months Ahead: Church Executive Magazine p r e s e n t s :

As part of the 3-part “Summer Safety Series� BUSRide focuses on special interest topics for well-informed transit and motorcoach operators: JUNE



Driver and Passenger Safety

Vehicular Safety Technology

Safety Training and Compliance

Editorial highlights restraints, surveillance, bus stop safety, better driver behavior and safe practices in order to showcase what your business needs to protect drivers and passengers.

We address key bus and motorcoach safety features including onboard monitoring technology, fire suppression systems, electronic stability control and more.

We review the need for proper training and compliance when it comes to keeping passengers safe, as well as new mandates from regulatory agencies that are of the utmost importance to maintaining a legal carrier business.

If you would like to advertise your products or services in these targeted issues, please contact Sali T. Williams at 1-800-541-2670 Ext 209 or email




April 2013


ElDorado National Kansas fine tunes its new luxury flagship By David Hubbard ElDorado National Kansas, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Thor Industries, now based in Elkhart, IN, had in mind for quite some time to round out its product offering. The goal was to develop or secure a high-end retail unit that would complement the company’s core commercial and transit bus products: the Aerolite, Aerotech, Aero Elite and Advantage lines. The company learned late last year that the bus division assets of limousine manufacturer Krystal Enterprises were available for purchase. Founded and headquartered in Orange County, CA, Krystal Enterprises had developed its stylish luxury flagship, the Krystal Koach. In 2010 the company moved all its production to Mexicali, Baja, Mexico, where it was turning out 10 to 20 Krystal Koach buses per month. This continued until it closed the production line in June 2012. Once the sale closed, Thor Industries moved quickly to acquire the Krystal Koach brand and assets for $3.9 million in cash, and ElDorado National immediately relocated the production plant from Mexicali to its headquarters in Salina, KS. “Once the determination was made to buy the Krystal assets, we saw it as the perfect opportunity for us to establish this model as the high-end luxury product line for this company,” says ElDorado Kansas President Jeff Montgomery. “With our acquisition, we take pride in announcing that Krystal is once again Made in America.”


April 2013

The transaction and relocation required far more than moving physical property. According to Montgomery, it meant a total inundation for ElDorado National to become oriented with its new brand. The company invited John MacKinney, former Krystal sales manager, to join in the move. Thoroughly versed on the vehicle, he is now on board with ElDorado National in the same capacity. ElDorado also contracted with Greg Beck, the former head of engineering, to come out to Salina and help with the transition to a new production line. Dan Heintzman, Krystal’s bus purchasing agent of over 15 years, also made the cross-country move to add material stability to the new line. “We wanted to first ensure we would be building the same bus, not allowing it to morph into something completely different than we purchased,” says Montgomery. “To do that we had to be sure we purchased

the same materials, components and parts that Krystal Enterprises was using before. Only then we could move forward with any determinations as to the changes ElDorado might want to consider.” Former product manager Rob Jasper had worked in the Krystal bus division for 10 years, overseeing the inception and full life of the Krystal Koach. He came out to Salina for a week to help the new owners to build the bus the way Krystal first built it at the Orange County, CA, facility. “Once we were able to achieve that with the help of their consultations, we could move ahead with our own subtle changes,” says Montgomery. “We want to clearly demonstrate to operators that ElDorado is building to the same high quality standards that operators had come to expect from the Krystal brand.” ElDorado says that rather than build the Krystal on its existing production line,

The Krystal Koach will target the luxury shuttle market.


The Krystal Koach is now the luxury model for ElDorado National.

it has elected to dedicate an independent line that shares only three stations with the Aerotech and Advantage brands. “We needed to create a slower moving Krystal line in order to keep the Aerotech and Advantage lines flowing smoothly,” says MacKinney. “This arrangement accommodates the additional labor and building time necessary to maintain the fit and finish and the quality and design synonymous with the Krystal Koach brand.” ElDorado National has provided its own enhancements. Namely, the company incorporated its own transitproven heavy-duty electrical system that provides more consistency than before. ElDorado National says it also provides unique opportunities to service the product through Thor’s vendor resources, continuous parts availability, and manufacturing efficiencies. “What Thor Industries and ElDorado National bring to the table in this transaction is our capability to partner with so many vendors and suppliers in the bus market and certify installations,” says Montgomery. “Now the aftermarket support for the Krystal Koach is stronger because our vendors and dealer network not only work with supplying the parts but are working with us on the service of those parts after the sale.” With the acquisition, ElDorado National is able to make Krystal parts more available to operators than had been over the last few years.


“We also are carrying many parts for older Krystal buses,” says MacKinney. “Operators who have had difficulties maintaining their Krystal buses should find that, because of parts availability at the factory and with their local dealer support, the overall serviceability of Krystal buses will improve.” Local support is yet another major improvement in the brand. Before Krystal buses were mainly purchased direct from the factory or through a few regional representatives on the East Coast. “Factory direct sales offer a few shortsighted advantages,” MacKinney says, “but by distributing nationally solely through our dealer network, Krystal operators will experience the benefits of dealing with a locally operated dealer that can offer 100 percent sales, finance, service and warranty, and parts supply.” In fact, according to Montgomery, ElDorado National has what it feels is one of the stronger dealer networks in the industry. “To start off, we are convinced Krystal owners will receive better service because they are not dealing with everything coming out of one location,” he says. “They will have much more local support” Additionally, Montgomery credits the Krystal Koach for bringing a great number of limo companies into the bus business beginning in the 1990s, and again during the past recession when many limousine operators were beginning to realize the shortcomings of a strictly

stretch limousine service. He says because of shifts in perceptions for group transportation, small to midsize buses and even motorcoaches in some cases have played a larger role in corporate and special occasion transportation usually afforded to limousines. “Because of this shift in the industry, we are starting to see more executive style minibuses being produced,” says Montgomery. “The new look is more businesslike and luxurious. The limousine industry has driven this evolution to a higher-end product. Not everyone is ordering Tower blue fabrics for their buses. Instead it’s now black exterior buses with seamless windows and simulated hardwood flooring, leather and leatherette seating in the interior.” “We have also seen a shift in group travel needs with many tours operators booking only 25 to35 seats,” MacKinney added. “Coach operators have told us that is too few passengers to operate a large motorcoach, so they have expanded into the luxury shuttle market to accommodate this market.” ElDorado National Kansas currently has new Krystal shuttle buses rolling down the assembly line that will begin arriving to dealers in the very near future. However, the company says the Krystal LS limousine style buses will take a bit longer to develop. It hopes to debut a limousine interior at the Atlantic City limousine show in October. BR

April 2013


tour business

The only choice in the central U.S. Cavallo Bus Lines’ safety and service attracts an international tour market

By Richard Tackett

Europeans and domestic group tours will not accept coaches older than three years. In fact, they even stipulate 110-volt outlets and Wi-Fi on board.” He says European and international tour operators doing business out of Chicago credit the drivers for and the central U.S. location for choosing Cavallo Bus Lines. “In-bound travelers typically gravitate towards the east and west coasts,” says Cavallo. “However, we have been seeing a steady increase of tours visiting throughout the Midwest from Chicago to New Orleans, and along the old historic Route 66. That’s something different for this market.” The all-MCI Cavallo fleet stands at 94 and features both E4500 and J4500 coaches, none older than 10 years. Cavallo says that based on the replacement history, his company

Cavallos Bus Lines serves a host of international tour market from its base in Gillespie, IL, a downstate Illinois community 50 miles north of St. Louis with a population fewer than 3,500. According to Cavallo President Larry Cavallo, many of the world’s most distinguished global tour operators such as Globus and leading tour operators in Europe book coach tours throughout the central United States exclusively with his 70-year old company. Cavallo says it has everything to do with his mirroring the European experience. Cavallo describes his basic business strategy as following preferences rather than trying to create demand. “We run a modern coach fleet, maintain a spotless safety record and our staff is dedicated to delivering quality customer service,” says Cavallo. “Upscale tour companies catering to


April 2013


expects to be operating completely emissions-free fleet by 2020. Paul Cavallo founded the company in 1942 for trucking coal miners in Macoupin County. At the outbreak of World War II, he contracted to establish a 40-mile route to drive women war workers in school buses to and from an ammunition factory servicing three shifts a day. The women paid for the transportation using their fuel ration cards, which paid for the fuel. Cavallo eventually developed a daily bus route for workers at the Illinois state capitol in Springfield with a $.66 round trip. This 100-mile round-trip continues at a stillreasonable $7.20 fare. “The primary reason Cavallo Bus Lines attracts international tour packagers has to do with our consistently top rat-

ings in government compliance audits,” says Cavallo. “We’re always looking for ways to improve passenger safety, and we’re not afraid to invest in anything that make our coaches more reliable.” The all-MCI fleet stands at 94 E4500 and J4500 coaches, none older than 10 years. The most recent delivery came in December 2012. Each coach is equipped with Drive Cam and has cell phone capability. The company also transports many professional sports teams, most recently adding the St. Louis Rams to the client list. Cavallo Bus Lines continues to grow its business attracting fly-in tour entertainers and playbill performances out on tour, such as the Les Miserables touring company. BR International tour operators appreciate the Cavallo safety record and a handsome fleet.




April 2013





April 2013 SHELTERS




We at Pace Suburban Bus, Arlington Heights, IL, have worked hard to size our fleet to the levels of demand and the operating environment of the areas we serve. Our success is due to diligence at identifying rider needs and allocating the proper resources to fulfill those needs. Pace was extremely pleased for the Mid-Size Bus Manufacturers Association (MSBMA) to have recognized our transit agency during BusCon 2012 for operating the nation’s largest fleet of small buses under 40 feet. Pace began operations in 1984 after the Illinois State Legislature called for the conglomeration of several independent, disparate bus agencies operating throughout the Chicago suburbs. The prevailing logic at that time was to apply urban transit methodology, which meant the exclusive use of 40-foot buses. These served us very well for many years. However in a service area comprising urban, suburban, exurban and even rural environments, we needed to develop innovative solutions that involved smaller vehicles. We began Pace dial-a-ride operations before they were required by the Americans with Disabilities Act

Peter Carmine Picknelly founded a small transit operation in East Orange, NJ in 1920. His successive ventures led to the creation of Peter Pan Bus Lines in 1933, launched with four 1933 Buick jitney vehicles. No guessing about the name, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie was the favorite bedtime story of the Picknelly children, who grew — and are growing — to keep the dream and the family business growing successfully through four generations for 80 years. The founder passed away in 1964 leaving the company’s helm to his 33-year old son, Peter L. Picknelly, who opened


the Springfield Bus Terminal, current headquarters of Peter Pan Bus Lines. Today, his son, Peter A. Picknelly serves as Chairman and CEO. President and CFO Brian Stefano began his career with Peter Pan Bus Lines as a controller 23 years ago and served as chief financial officer. Last year the company promoted him to president and CEO, the first time in the 80-year history that someone from outside the Picknelly family has served as president. BUSRide spoke with the principals, who also include Joe Picknally, director, inventory control and fleet main-

April 2013


BUSRide April 2013  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry, In our April 2013 cover story, Peter Pan Bus Lines turns 80.

BUSRide April 2013  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry, In our April 2013 cover story, Peter Pan Bus Lines turns 80.