Financial solutions for 2013 Page 19
BUSRide Road Test: DesignLine CNG EcoCoach Page 22
MCI and Setra move forward Page 30
Safety and comfort foam to frame Page 34
The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry JAN 2013
www.busride.com • $5.00
ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC ABC & Van Hool celebrate 25 years Page 16
January 2013 cover story
Mission 2013: an empirical approach ABC Companies and Van Hool rely on third-party study to quantify customer satisfaction By David Hubbard page 16
features Financial solutions for 2013 19
Motorcoach operators should prepare for new lease accounting standards By Ray Sullivan
22 Road Test: DesignLine
This CNG transit vehicle earns its stripes crisscrossing the country like a full-fledged motorcoach By David Hubbard
30 A plan is in motion
Theyâ€™ve made their move; the MCI and Daimler partnership forges ahead By David Hubbard
34 Safety and comfort
foam to frame
Vertical integration ensures safety and durability in motorcoach and transit bus seating By Don Simpson
Special Section Fare Collection Systems: Part III
24 History drives innovation
26 Look to the future
Accenture advises agencies to embrace Open Payments and Open Architecture and offers steps to modernize fare management By Michael J. Wilson
departments 8 12 20 40
Update Deliveries The Transit Authority Marketplace
columns 6 David Hubbard 32 Risk Management
By Matthew A. Daecher
36 The International Report
With roots dating back to 1880, SPX Genfare pushes forward with digital fares By Tara Farnsworth
By Doug Jack
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BUSRide cranks up the twittering machine Twitter, as everyone knows by now, is a free online social network where people keep in touch through tweets — abbreviated messages to friends and followers limited to no more than 140 typed characters. Think haiku; short verse that reduces the keenest observation to its purest 17 syllables. I am all for communicating thoroughly in as few words as possible, but I haven’t taken readily to Twitter. It reminds me of the twittering machine the artist Paul Klee imagined. Crank it up and his strange, mechanical birds sing their hearts out to no avail. I prefer the thoughts and ideas of my friends and associates, and strangers alike, expressed fully and completely. Nonetheless, I am beginning to at least understand the value of work-related tweets and I’m taking social media more seriously these days. I owe my enlightenment to our managing editor Richard Tackett, and Kevin Dixon, sales and marketing coordinator, for significantly raising the BUSRide profile on Facebook and Twitter in the short time they have been on board. I stand corrected. The twittering machine is giving everyone an opportunity to participate and be heard. “BUSRide on Twitter allows us to communicate directly with our readers and customers on breaking news, product updates and industry advisories,” says Tackett. “In the past month, our Twitter page has covered changes to Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scoring, the breakdown of talks between UMA, NTA
and ABA, the New York MTA’s preparation for Hurricane Sandy, Prevost’s 2013 service school program and many other breaking topics.” In this respect, social media is an essential and indispensable tool for the BUSRide franchise. Feel free to join the conversation at www. twitter.com/BUSRideMag. Follow us. Chime in with your thoughts. Bring us up to speed. We are as anxious as anyone to hear what you have to say. “Check in on BUSRide on Twitter with news from your company, achievements by your staff, and responses to what you read in BUSRide,” says Dixon. “We’re eager to continue our conversation with you each month through our new and improved social media.” BUSRide on Facebook delivers the best BUSRide has to offer — editorial highlights, product spotlights, industry news, and words from our sponsors — directly to your News Feed. Our Facebook page is where bus and motorcoach enthusiasts can interact with one another, as well as our editorial and marketing staffs. Look for posted photos and video coverage from the trade shows and events we visit, including our newest videos from BUSRide TV. “Liking” us on Facebook will get you all of the latest updates from the BUSRide brand, and we make it a point to answer every reader question we receive. Please visit www.facebook.com/ BUSRide and click the “Like” button.
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Maxwell Technologies, developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor products, and Exide Technologies for stored electrical energy solutions, have joined in a strategic alliance. The two companies will work together to develop and market advanced, integrated, battery-ultracapacitor energy storage solutions for a wide array of transportation and industrial applications.
METRO Cincinnati will build an Uptown Transit District to better serve the thousands of people riding to and from jobs, education, medical services, and entertainment. The transit district will serve as the major connection and transfer point for 10 Metro routes and several University of Cincinnati Uptown shuttles. Amenities include distinctive, sheltered boarding areas; real-time information; integration with other employer and UC shuttle services; wayfinding and rider information kiosks; and enhanced streetscaping and sidewalk improvements in some areas.
Stertil-Koni has been awarded a major competitive bid with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to produce and install 54 of its high-capacity, inground ECOLIFT vehicle lifts. The company says this model is the first ultra-shallow, full-rise in-ground axle engaging scissor lift. The ECOLIFT uniquely combines high pressure, low-volume hydraulics and only requires 3.5 gallons of fluid per scissor. It fits into existing workshop pits and is suitable for locations with high water tables.
ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, Middlebury, IN, delivered its 1,000th bus to Dynamic Specialty Vehicles in Surrey, BC, Canada. ARBOC President Don Roberts was on hand to personally hand off the keys to the milestone bus, a Spirit of Mobility, as part of a contract awarded to Dynamic.
Pictured with NTA Chairman Jim Reddekopp Jr and NTA President Lisa Simon Meeting are younger Pennsylvania travel professionals and NTA members Abby Howard, Pennsylvania Association of Travel & Tourism; Alyssa Rader, Dutch Apple Dinner Theater; Nicole Sutton of American Music Theatre; Reddekopp; Simon; Sheila Contento, Crowne Plaza Reading; Kelsey Dixon, Heritage Hospitality; and Jenny McConnell, Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau.
When the Millenials speak, NTA listens Millennials, or Generation Y, are young citizens born between 1980 and 1995 who according to projections will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. NTA President Lisa Simon says this impending generational shift is important for associations to understand as Baby Boomers pass their torches to this group. Cathleen Johnson of Edelman, a global public relations firm whose research on Millennials has powerful implications for the travel and tourism industry, notes the following: • Millennials travel in groups but don’t think “group travel”; rather seeking shared experiences.
Millennials travel focuses on how they will change the world; good works is a way of life. • Millennials regard sustainability as not only important but absolutely necessary. • Millennials want two of the most common components packaged travel offers: camaraderie and value. Johnson will address Millennials at Travel Exchange, the NTA annual convention to be held in concert with the United Motorcoach Association UMA in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 20 -24.
The industry mourns the loss of Jon Hobein Bus industry veteran and Trailways operator Kingsland “Jon” Hobein, Jr. passed away December 2012 in Winter Park, FL at age 69 following a lengthy illness. Born in Seattle, WA in 1943, Jon’s lifelong fascination with buses began at age 10. Hobein attended Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, where he drove charter buses part-time for Lake Shore Motor Coach Lines. After graduation from BYU, he served in the U.S. Army as a disc jockey for American Forces Radio. At the same
time, he managed to drive part-time for Southeastern Trailways. Following his military service, Hobein worked for a number of Trailways carriers that included American Buslines, Pacific Trailways, Capital Trailways of Pennsylvania and Tamiami Trails. He and his family eventually acquired a bus company in Asheville, NC, that would later become Blue Ridge Trailways, which the Hobeins operated from 1979 to 1997. Hobein continued in Florida as a consultant for other bus companies and he continued to drive both charter buses and big rigs. Jon Hobein is survived by his adopted son and brother Lauren of Marshall, NC.
The Haleys see that Grand Avenue gives back The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Nashville Chapter, chose Carl and Connie Haley, owners of Grand Avenue, the leading ground transportation company in Middle Tennessee, as its 2012 Philanthropists of the Year for their charitable contributions. The Haleys’ charitable giving spans an array of organizations, including the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum, the Heritage Foundation, the Nashville Symphony, the Tennessee Wildlife Foundation, Boy Scouts of America and Mercy Ministries. In addition to personal giving, in 2011 Carl established “Grand Gives Back,” a program that gives nonprofits a portion of the proceeds from every trip Grand Avenue books.
OMCA’s new branding says Better Together The Ontario Motor Coach Association (OMCA), Toronto, ON, Canada, unveiled an all-new look during its annual Conference and Marketplace held in Buffalo, NY. The re-branding by Radonic Rodgers Design helps conveys the message “Better Together” to emphasize all aspects of the group travel industry that includes members from across North America. “We’re very excited about the new look,” says OMCA President Doug Switzer. “It’s
been over 17 years since we last updated our branding and we felt strongly that we needed to bring our branding back in line with who we are today.” Switzer says they now have members from not only every province but from 34 U.S. states as well. Nearly 50 percent of OMCA supplier members are from the U.S. He says the message stresses that OMCA members came together to achieve things that they couldn’t individually, to grow their business and their industry by working together.
Siemens to support all-electric bus order for Montreal Transit Authority Siemens Industry, Inc., Drive Technologies Division, Atlanta, GA, will provide electric drive propulsion system components for DesignLine, Charlotte, NC , a designer and manufacturer of commercial all-electric, range-extended electric and CNG buses. Siemens will provide Permanent Magnet Excited Motors (PEM), inverters and voltage protection modules to support the rear-axle drive systems of seven new all-electric buses being manufactured by DesignLine for the Montreal Transit Authority (STM). DesignLine will fulfill a $5.9 million deal with STM for the purchase of its allelectric 30-foot Midibus EV “midi buses”
with delivery scheduled by mid-2013 for operation in Old Montreal. Within the next months, Siemens will localize the manufacturing and assembly of its hybrid traction drive components at the company’s Alpharetta, GA, plant.
Chalk Hill Telecruiser needs lift to Blytheville While organizing the upcoming “Ghosts of Highway 61-Dixie Tour 2013” National Antique bus show April 4-6 in Blytheville, AR, Tom McNally has come across an amazing and truly rare 1949 Flxible DuMont Television Telecruiser (Model B, Number 101). Chuck Conrad, founder and president of Chalk Hill Educational Media, Inc., Kilgore, TX, has restored this vintage vehicle. He says this coach was sold new to KBTV Dallas channel 8 TV and was one of the very first mobile TV production vehicles ever built. When new, it came outfitted with state-of-
the-art broadcasting equipment of the time. This Telecruiser is believed to have been used during part of ABC TV/WFAA coverage of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas. This is believed to be the last survivor of 12 ever produced. McNally believes this Telecruiser should be on exhibit when the show opens in the restored former Greyhound terminal in Blytheville. Conrad also has a large collection of vintage TV broadcasting equipment to accompany the Telecruiser display.
Here’s the rub
Conrad says due to the questionable reliability of the original Buick straight-8 engine, he must treat the Telecruiser as a static display. He will have to transport this vehicle by truck rather than drive it on its own. Due to the limited resources of the not-for-profit museum, McNally and Conrad are asking for financial assistance from all bus enthusiasts throughout the industry. Visit www.telecruiser.com/donate The goal is $5,000 to make the roundtrip. Chalk Hill accepts cash donations and credit card payments of any amount through Paypal. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send donations payable to: Chalk Hill Educational Media, Inc. P.O. Box 1008 Kilgore, TX 75663 NOTE: Please select “gift” within the Paypal menu, so the museum receives the full donation without any fees from Paypal. If the Paypal link from the Telecruiser site does not cooperate, log into https://www. paypal.com/ to send a donation. Each donor will receive a thank you letter for tax deduction purposes. Send your email or mailing address to email@example.com.
deliveries MOTOR COACH ARBOC INDUSTRIES
MOTOR COACH ABC COMPANIES - VAN HOOL ARBOC INDUSTRIES
National Trails Southfield, MI
National Trails recently took delivery of three Van Hool T2145s with three more ordered for delivery in 2013. They feature a Detroit DD13 engine, Allison B500 automatic transmission and Electronic Stability Control, as well as the Iteris Lane Departure Warning System, Alcoa DuraBright aluminum wheels, 110 volt electrical outlets, wood grained flooring and Van Hool’s exclusive contoured parcel rack with an REI luxury entertainment system and 22-inch LCD. Company president Al Frank says switching to Van Hool was a big decision, but credits the amenities and reliability in aiding his choice.
Transportation Charter Services Orange, CA
Terry Fischer’s Transportation Charter Services (TCS) took delivery of two new Van Hool T2145s, expanding his fleet to 25 vehicles. The two new Van Hool 57 passenger T2145s are powered by Detroit DD13 engines driving through Allison B500 Gen IV transmissions. They offer passengers leather seats with three-point belts, 110 volt outlets, parcel rack iPod connections, REI luxury entertainment system with 15-inch flat screen TVs, Alcoa DuraBright aluminum wheels and Van Hool’s unique rear passenger window.
Premier Alaska Tours Anchorage, AK
Premier Alaska Tours took delivery on two H3-45s as part of a major push to expand and upgrade its sizeable fleet of 75 motorcoaches and support vehicles. When complete, the Anchorage-based company will have over 50 Prevosts for use primarily for tours of “the Great Land,” run year-round in conjunction with tour operators in the Lower 48. Premier Alaska Tours owners Peter Grunwaldt and Tim Worthen say it is not unusual for the average Premier motorcoach to put on 25,000 miles a year, with road conditions always a challenge.
Howard Bus Service Athens, ON, Canada
Dale Howard enjoyed the golden opportunity to drive the first redesigned MCI J4500 coach for 2013 delivered in Canada. The occasion was appropriately a four-day fall colors tour through the Adirondacks. In addition to the new styling, Howard notes the noticeable brighter all-LED lighting. He is also enthusiastic about moving to the greener powertrain, though he says he hasn’t had the coach long enough to evaluate OEM claims for improved fuel economy. Howard Bus also was the first in Ontario to take delivery of the MC-9 back in 1979.
Southern Coaches, Inc. Dothan, AL
Southern Coaches, a premier coach company in the South, added two 36-passenger Temsa TS35s to its mixed fleet. They feature a Cummins ISL engine, Allison B500 transmission and three-point seat belts, plus state of the art sound and video systems, 110 volt plug outlets and Wi-Fi capability. The late G. Milton Adams and his sons, John and George, started the business in 1989 to provide its customers with late model luxury coaches and excellent motorcoach drivers. Southern Coaches is a member stakeholder in the International Motorcoach Group (IMG).
David Thomas Tours and Travel Philadelphia, PA
David Thomas Tours and Travel recently added a Temsa TS35 coach to its fleet. The 40-passenger coach with a restroom comes equipped with a Cummins ISL 345 HP engine, Allison B500 transmission and three-point seat belts. The David Thomas Tours coach is also equipped with REI audio/video, Alcoa rims and 110 volt plug outlets. Established in 1997, David Thomas Tours has grown into a premier motorcoach company in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Opportunities abound in a niche market Tour West America keeps Arizona winter visitors on the move and coming back By David Hubbard
The 250,000 retired winter visitors, otherwise known as snowbirds, who reside in southern Arizona four to six months out of the year are busy looking for entertainment and travel opportunities. Arizonabased Tour West America has been filling their needs for 29 years. Company representatives work lights-out November through February answering requests from the expansive menu of tour programs. In spring and summer the focus turns to charters and no one in the tour division is on from May to August. Founder and President Peter Shelbo continues to build on the business he and his wife and company vice president, Bj Brooks, started in 1983 with one bus from Yuma to Laughlin, NV, the West’s newest gaming resort destination at the time. His plan took off and the business grew. On the busiest days, every bus in a growing fleet would be in Laughlin. “For the past 29 years, our tour division has marketed tours solely to winter residents,” says Shelbo. “This is our niche and it has evolved significantly over
the years. We are continually adding new programs, destinations and packages that keep our tour operation interesting and entertaining.” Shelbo says the proliferation of Indian casinos in so many communities throughout southern Arizona had necessitated the company to search out tour opportunities in all travel and leisure areas. It is safe to say no other motorcoach company in this region offers a seasonal tour program as varied as what Tour West America has put together. Shelbo and Brooks moved their coach operations from Yuma to Phoenix in 1999, where they now run a mixed fleet of MCIs, Prevosts and Setras, as well as minibuses. Today, Tour West America serves Arizona’s winter visitors from three departure communities: the Sun Cities and the East Valley communities in metropolitan Phoenix, as well as Yuma, where the call center is still reservations central for seats on all coach tours. “The winter visitor market is a perfect scenario,”
Peter Shelbo, founder and president of Tour West America, serves Arizona’s winter visitors with a mixed fleet of motorcoaches and minibuses.
Charter demand is off peak during the winter season, allowing the packaged tour department to keep bus utilization up at good margins.
he says. “Our customers have come to Arizona to relax and enjoy themselves. Some have traveled long distances to get here and want little to do with additional driving. Our vast array of quality tours covers a broad range of interests and offers convenient, affordable fun vacations-within-a-vacation. We handle all the arrangements.” Customer choices include many day trips for shopping, quilting and crafts fairs, sporting events, theater, agricultural excursions and sightseeing. Tour West America typically offers overnight jaunts and threeday excursions throughout Arizona, southern California and Nevada. Tours into Mexico take in the Sea of Cortez and Baja California. Longer outings include a seven-day trip to San Francisco and a 10-day tour to Branson, MO. “Only a few tours run longer than three days,” says Shelbo. “We find this to be the comfort zone for the majority of our customers. They are already on vacation and mostly looking for entertaining and interesting side trips with opportunities to explore different points of interest.” Scrolling the menu on the Tour West America website, customers could hardly want for more. A sampling includes the favorite attractions in San Diego such as
the USS Midway and Balboa Park as well as Hollywood for live tapings of TV game shows. Shelbo says National Parks tours are popular, as well as the Tournament of Roses Parade package in Pasadena, CA. He says Canadian winter visitors are especially keen on catching their NHL home teams in action against the Arizona Coyotes. Operating in conjunction with Tour West Travel, a full service travel agency, group cruise vacation and FIT packages include bus transfers. “We are always open to suggestions and new ideas that help us maintain flexibility in our itineraries,” says Shelbo. “In many instances our representatives and customers pass on ideas for a particular outing that eventually finds its way onto our list of scheduled trips. We are able to adapt quickly to market demand, and we take pride customizing our itineraries for larger groups.” The company will arrange special pickups for groups of 10 to 20 passengers. In some instances minibus or shuttle service is available for delivery to the motorcoach departure. The Tour West America seasonal tour staff consists of several full and part time operations and reservation specialists
working out of the Yuma reservations center. Additionally, the company employs a cadre of approximately 60 affiliates in the departure communities who arrange and coordinate trips on a commission basis. Most Tour West America programs are escorted tours employing certified guides with International Tour Management certification. “We simply are not interested in a year round tour operation,” says Shelbo. “After 27 years, the winter tour season has clearly become our unique tour market niche.” He says charter demand is off peak during the winter season in the Southwest. During this time the packaged tour department keeps the bus utilization up at good margins. “We have looked at this from every angle, including whether we would be better off discounting the fleet for charter service throughout the winter and drop the tour program,” says Shelbo. “But we have come to understand our niche so thoroughly, and because we have honed our approach to this niche service, this operation clearly creates more value for our customers and boost to the bottom line.” BR
Mission 2013: An Empirical Approach
ABC Companies and Van Hool rely on third-party study to quantify customer satisfaction By David Hubbard Clancy Cornell purchased the Faribault Bus Company in 1957 from his brother Eddie, planting the seed for the family legacy that would grow into ABC Companies. The Van Hool legacy dates back to post-war Belgium, when the young entrepreneur Bernard Van Hool applied his keen business sense to what he saw as a growing need for public transportation. Partnering with his brother-in-law and engineer Frans Van Bouwel, Bernard Van Hool started with building coach bodies and eventually complete vehicles. This family operation included significant roles for all eight of his sons. The Cornell family met the Van Hools for the first time in January 1987 when these family businesses almost inevitability melded into a partnership. Combining
the sales and marketing expertise of ABC Companies with the flexible manufacturing of Van Hool, both companies had written and signed their first distributor agreement by April. Soon after, ABC accepted its first Van Hool T815 motorcoach. “Our cultures may be a little different as we are from different parts of the world,” says Filip Van Hool. “But our partnership seemed so natural because of all we value in our families and our businesses, and our mutual interest in the same industry.”
The future begins
The relationship has lasted 25 years. For ABC Companies the time spent invites both a reflection on the journey and a look ahead. This reassessment falls under what the company is calling Mission 2013. ABC Companies President and CEO Dane Cornell shares his thoughts with BUSRide
on the plan to connect past with present and move the partnership forward. “Our solid relationship with Van Hool has endured well,” he says. “Both companies spent the first few years getting to know their new partner. We have learned a lot about one another through good times and bad, weathering our financial ups and downs.” Cornell says the first 25 years meant trying to keep abreast of the evolving motorcoach industry in North America. He points to the continual advancements in technology and the drastic changes that have taken place in the way operators do business. “Nothing has remained constant,” he says. “However, we have a good idea how each company will react in certain situations, which allows us more flexibility to connect with sudden shifts in the mar-
ket. Fortunately, we are operating from a platform of trust and understanding to make adjustments. Both partners have remained committed to continuous product development introducing equipment enhancements and upgrades by listening to customers. Van Hool’s flexibility in manufacturing has been a critical success factor for the North American market.”
Mission 2013 launches
According to Cornell, Mission 2013 is a timely, empirical approach that spells out how ABC Companies and Van Hool differentiate themselves in the motorcoach industry. He maintains that, to a certain extent, all OEMs are equal. “For the most part they all have their proprietary design features, but they all build to the same regulatory and safety standards and offer similar onboard amenities,” he says. “Our intent going forward is to concentrate more on how operators truly benefit from purchasing a coach from us. We have heard from operators of mixed fleets who track expenses on parts and labor for the various models. They claim their Van Hool coaches are less expensive to operate cost per mile.” Cornell says the objectives of Mission 2013 are to drill down to qualify these reports, to understand precisely how ABC Companies and Van Hool motorcoaches offer significant savings while increasing customer satisfaction. The company says Mission 2013 expands live technical support for operators, with the option to use such programs as Facetime and Skype during business hours. Technicians and drivers can expect more specialized training workshops, tech tips, driver’s guides and online Van Hool
Clancy Cornell and Alfons Van Hool sign the papers that seal their successful partnership in 1987.
manuals, as well as engine regeneration and other instructional videos available via the web and mobile devices. “We recognize that an efficient fleet is key to operator success,” he says. “We are committed to partnering with our customers to help them reduce their total cost of operation.”
Feedback put to the test
Jon Savitz, ABC Companies vice president, Business Development, says the recently commissioned major third-party research determines the actual costs of maintaining Van Hool vehicles. ABC Companies engaged Joel Sears, an independent consultant with experience in fleet maintenance software and data analysis, to conduct an analysis of maintenance records across several mixed-fleet operators who shared their data. Sears says the maintenance records they provided covered more than 75 million miles. In addition to the mixed-fleet
A T2140 bus arrives in America. The relationship between ABC and Van Hool in Belgium begins to reshape the American bus market.
operators, his research included one Van Hool-only operator as a control group. Sears analyzed the life-todate parts and labor costs, excluding collision repair, tires and fuel. He kept the individual customer data confidential in accordance with agreements with the participating operators and aggregated the findings of his research for purposes of confidentiality. “Perhaps the most surprising or revealing piece of information indicated in the research was a significant difference in the average maintenance cost-per-mile between comparable coach models,” says Sears. “Overall, the average maintenance cost for Van Hool coaches was 10 cents lower per mile.” According to Sears, 10 cents per mile translates into an average of 33 percent lower maintenance costs for Van Hool coaches against competitive models. According to the research, an operator running a Van Hool motorcoach 70,000 miles a year can expect a projected maintenance cost savings of $7,000 annually. “ABC Companies plans to continue and expand upon this maintenance cost research,” says Cornell. “Our goal is to identify specific components, parts change intervals, and maintenance best practices that may help further reduce total cost of ownership for operators.” Sears is a 36-year veteran of the fleet management industry. He began as an operations research analyst for PHH Arval, the nation’s largest independent fleet leasing company. He eventually founded Fleet Technologies, Inc.
ABC /Van Hool continued
Three generations of the Cornell Family– from left to right; Dane Cornell, President & CEO; Roman Cornell, VP of Sales; Clarence Cornell, Chairman of the Board; Ashley Cornell, VP of Customer Care; Ryhan Cornell, Account Executive ABC FL.
to provide technology-based services to fleet managers. He presently oversees AssetWorks, the world’s largest supplier of fleet maintenance software. Sears says he tries to combine rigorous mathematical and data automation techniques with a common-sense approach that allows operators to save money and improve fleet productivity. His company employs analytical methods for filling gaps in data as well as simulation techniques. He says this demonstrates the impact of change prior to his customers implementing new and costly management strategies. Where a lagging economy has challenged the industry, Cornell says Sears’ research provides a way to communicate with operators and help keep money in their pockets. “Operators are changing their business practices and purchasing patterns,” he says. “It is no longer business as usual. They are keeping vehicles longer, and we have had to make changes in our approach to support their efforts.” He points to the refurbishing operations in Nappanee, IN, and Winter Garden, FL. “As operators learn more about managing their fleets in the current economy, they may buy one new coach and choose to refurbish one of their older vehicles,” he says. “Our ability to diversify within our own operations is helping customers get more value from their fleets.”
Van Hool in lockstep
Van Hool announced early last year its plan to build an additional manufacturing facility to support its commitment to increased production to meet demand from its North American customers. The new plant in Macedonia near Skopje will enable the manufacturer to reduce cycle time from order to delivery. “Our manufacturing partner is in total lockstep with Mission 2013 and our shared vision to invest in the North American market,” says Cornell. “With the new plant, our customers will come to rely on a consistently shorter lead time for their new coach deliveries.” BR
Financial solutions for 2013 Motorcoach operators should prepare for new lease accounting standards By Ray Sullivan Motorcoach companies preparing for 2013 will need to be ready for new FASB/IASB lease accounting standards , as well as anticipated cuts to bonus depreciation. Accounting changes are expected to be finalized sometime next year and implemented over the following few years. This will significantly impact the income statements and balance sheets of motorcoach companies that use leases as a financing solution, as the new rules will call for the capitalization of lease payments on the balance sheet. These changes could reduce the ability to expense depreciation and further affect TRAC lease accounting. Although leasing will remain a convenient and innovative financing offering for fleet owners to secure upgraded or additional equipment, motorcoach company finance officers are encouraged to meet with their legal and accounting advisors to start the necessary preparations to ensure smooth compliance when the changes take effect. Regarding financial advice for owners: 1. Invest in a professional accounting firm and good accounting software to prepare your financials. Quality,
accurate financials will speed the underwriting process and will allow you to have a better understanding of the true profitability and financial condition of your company. 2. When seeking financing for your business, provide the bank or finance company with a well-defined reason for your new purchase. Are you replacing an older coach to reduce maintenance costs? A well laid out justification will help the bank or financial institution make a decision and provide financing structure that meets your specific needs. 3. Keep your personal and corporate credit as clean as possible. In this highly automated world, banks and financial firms can instantly tell if youâ€™ve been making your lease/loan payments in a timely manner. A clean credit history provides the ability to borrow during tougher economic times. Poor pay history is a blight for many years and will make borrowing during downturns very difficult. BR Ray Sullivan is the national sales manager of EverBank Commercial Financeâ€™s Industrial Platform.
January 2013 19
the transit authority
Lessons learned in one year at the helm By Curtis Stitt I took the reins as president and CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) in February of 2012 following 13 years in various positions that included general counsel and chief operating officer. We were in the midst of a service expansion plan, a capital program to renovate all our facilities and build a new state-of- theart paratransit facility, as well as strategy to expand and transition our fixed-route transit bus fleet to compressed natural gas. While this was going on, COTA experienced its greatest yearover-year ridership increase in our recent history. Our 10.2 percent increase in ridership was the highest among large and mediumsized bus agencies in 2011. Along with this, our focus on continuously demonstrating the value public transportation provides to every resident and visitor in our community was among our general initiatives for 2012. During 2012, however, we experienced several potentially
devastating and unexpected events. Upon reflection, these crises revealed the strength of our people and the importance of our service to our community. In July, our represented workforce went on a three-day strike while one of our communityâ€™s largest events, a downtown fireworks celebration, took place. One week after the strike ended, a freight train derailed and burned on the property of one of our two fixedroute bus facilities. COTA typically provides 65,000 fixed-route passenger trips each weekday. During the strike, our community had no public transit except for paratransit service. Downtown streets were noticeably absent of the usual bustle of buses and people. Most significantly, however, was how so many people could not get to work, school and other destinations important in their daily lives. Joe Blundo, a columnist for the Columbus Dispatch, described
how as a regular bus rider he had the option of simply driving downtown during the strike, while a man he offered a ride to had no such option. He wrote: “The unemployed West Side resident was standing in vain at a COTA bus stop in front of a Family Dollar on Sullivant Avenue. All he wanted to do was get to the Arena District, 6 miles away, to apply for a job as a dishwasher at Ted’s Montana Grill.” One of our customer call center representatives paused between calls to tell me personally about a call she had received during this crisis. A woman phoned to thank COTA for helping her husband lose his job. These and many other stories immediately drove home the importance of public transit to our community. Exactly one week after our employees returned to work and service was fully restored, a freight train carrying flammable liquids derailed a few hours before the morning rush adjacent to COTA’s Fields Avenue Operations facility. Due to the ensuing fire and risk posed by the volatile situation, officials ordered the facility closed. This left COTA unable to operate its full weekday rush hour service. Nearly half of our morning service was unavailable. Once again, the consequences of our service suddenly becoming unavailable reverberated throughout the community. This isolated yet significant event forced thousands of customers to find other ways to get to their destinations. For my staff and me, these events validated the need for a robust and responsive public transit system in our region. I have been meeting continuously with community leaders and our conversations often turn to drafting a comprehensive economic development strategy for our region. Much of the strategy focuses
on the following: business development, job creation and retention, workforce development and making the region attractive to younger people who have the mobility, not to mention proclivity, to choose where they will sell their skills and invest in their futures. Logistics — moving goods — is a key component of the regional economic development strategy. However, we also need to plan how we will move people. A robust and efficient public transportation system is an essential component of a vibrant community, especially one with a vision and plan for significant job and population growth. COTA will be working closely with community leaders to plan a comprehensive transportation system that must be in place to support and sustain the population, workforce and development projected for this community. The transportation system in place today simply will not support what we envision for this region in the future. I am encouraged by the positive reception we’ve received as we discuss these ideas. While we are currently planning for 2013 and beyond, I reflect on my first year as president/CEO of COTA. It has been everything a transit leader might expect and included many things I did not anticipate. I am grateful for the support that our community leaders provided during our notable challenges this year. While it is unfortunate that it sometimes takes a crisis to sharpen our focus, it is truly gratifying when the entire community recognizes how important public transit is for every resident and visitor in Columbus and Central Ohio. BR Curtis Stitt serves as president and CEO, Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), Columbus, OH.
January 2013 21
DesignLine CNG EcoCoach This CNG transit vehicle crisscrosses the country like a full-fledged motorcoach By David Hubbard DesignLine, Charlotte, NC, took its compressed natural gas (CNG) EcoCoach on the road late last year to introduce public transit agencies and private coach operators to its new commuter vehicle. The highly adaptable EcoCoach can transport transit riders and easily serve Bus Rapid Transit. The New Jersey Transit Authority has ordered 76 units of this CNG model, now in production. DesignLine builds the EcoCoach in 40- or 45-foot modular versions without altering any component or design characteristic. While the interior of the 45-foot demo model is better suited for transit commuter service, the vehicle is nonetheless proving itself as a fullfledged motorcoach by crisscrossing the country. With a range of over 600 miles, it’s doing so at a much lower cost than a standard dieselpowered vehicle, according to DesignLine. Following the California Bus Association Expo in Santa Barbara, CA, in early November, the company brought the vehicle to Phoenix, AZ, to meet with BUSRide and representatives from Valley Metro Regional Public Transit for a review and test drive. The group convened at the BUSRide offices and boarded the coach for a tour up the expressway and through the streets of Phoenix and on to the East Valley Maintenance Facility. For most, this was their first experience with DesignLine. Retired New York City Transit drivers Ronald Ethridge and Kenny Grieb have been behind the wheel for DesignLine these last few months. Delivering the coach to Indianapolis, Houston, Santa Barbara and Phoenix, they have become well acquainted with this vehicle and offered their impressions after several thousand miles. “It’s a hell of a bus,” says Grieb. “I have never driven a bus quite like this one.” Once retired from NYC Transit, Grieb moved to Florida and started making an assortment of
bus and motorcoach deliveries for the OEMs. “I have handled a lot of buses in my 72 years, from transit buses to Van Hools, MCIs and Prevosts,” he says. “I know a good bus from a bad bus, and this DesignLine is fantastic in my book. This is a transit-type vehicle that handles extremely well.” Grieb admits to being a little apprehensive at first about taking the EcoCoach out on the open road. “I was a little nervous coming through the mountains in New Mexico,” he says. “This bus does not have a jake brake, but she did fine. I hit the brakes to lower it down, and it slowed without a problem. It really holds the road.”
Ronald Ethridge says this is his first experience with any type of CNGpowered bus. “It handles beautifully in every situation and it’s very enjoyable to drive,” he says. “I can say, without hesitation, I am comfortable driving this bus anywhere it needs to go for any distance.” Both Grieb and Ethridge expressed amazement with the CNG fuel economy, which they reported to be averaging approximately 30 cents per gallon. Though veteran Valley Metro transit driver David Smith had only enough time for a short spin on the freeway and streets in the Mesa area, he was able to put the CNG EcoCoach through enough grinds to form an opinion.
“I have never driven a bus that handles as well as this,” he said. “This is a pleasure, for sure.” The EcoCoach features ZF axles all around and uses an independent front suspension setup, which may explain the drivers’ positive responses to the smooth handling and stability. Ian Macpherson, director of product engineering for DesignLine who lead development on the CNG EcoCoach, was on hand to explain the technical aspects.
“The higher roll center of the independent front suspension, along with anti-roll bars at the front and rear, improves cornering at speed,” says Macpherson. The EcoCoach enjoys a 43-foot turning radius, two feet shorter than the length of the bus. Macpherson says for any operator needing something tighter, such as for narrow city streets, the company also offers a ZF steerable tag axle as an option. The reinforced stainless steel chassis and aluminum body frame make for a rigid frame that is also light weight. The custom-designed extrusions bolt together rather than welding which Macpherson says allows for tighter tolerances in their manufacturing process.
Experienced bus and coach drivers are expressing amazement with the CNG fuel economy, which they report to be averaging approximately 30 cents per gallon.
Experienced bus and coach drivers are expressing amazement with the CNG fuel economy, which they report to be averaging approximately 30 cents per gallon.
The 320 HP Cummins ISL-G CNG engine fits into a very open rear compartment designed for easier access and service. “The idea was to keep all the most serviceable components curbside, like the fuel filters, air compressor and air dryer, while keeping as much open space as possible to enable work on the engine,” says Macpherson. The ZF Transmission runs the most upto-date software that includes Automatic Idle Shifting (AIS). When the vehicle comes to a complete stop under certain pre-set conditions, the transmission will actually disengage the driveline to save on engine drag on the transmission torque convertor. The Vehicle Acceleration Control maintains equal performance of the engine and transmission, whether the coach is loaded with passengers or running empty. “This helps with lowering the fuel consumption,” says Macpherson. “With the performance always identical under any circumstance, the coach uses only as much power as it actually needs at the time. In any situation, the performance of the coach will always feel the same to the driver.” The coach features six-wheel antilock brake systems with Bendix/Knorr-Bremse disk brakes all around. Having a common brake setup on each wheel means a reduction in the number of spare parts required, like brake pads. The EMP miniHybrid Thermal Kit mounts above the engine compartment. The fans blow through the front of the highmounted radiator, drawing from both sides and from the top of the bus. “This configuration allows a cleaner airflow,” say Macpherson. “The higher suction points are out of line of the spray from the tires. This keeps the radiator cleaner for longer.” DesignLine says it gave a lot of attention to aesthetics and cosmetics inside and out. “We put a high degree of emphasis on styling this coach,” says DesignLine Director of Sales and Marketing Steven Justice. “Most notable are the enlarged flush mounted windows that evoke a European look. It’s a little different. It expands the view and lends openness to the interior.” BR
Ian Macpherson, director of product engineering for DesignLine, was on hand to explain the technical aspects to David Hyink, Valley Metro’s fleets and facilities supervisor.
FA R E
History drives innovation BUSRide presents the third in a four-part series on “Fare Collection Systems.” Each segment highlights the benefits and addresses the downside of various modes of fare collection -- from openloop fares to prioprietary cards, non-reloadable tickets, cash and tokens.
PART THREE: Non-reloadable tickets
The limited use smart ticket system is essentially a disposable smart card. Its chip is placed between paper instead of plastic. Non-reloadable tickets also include magnetic strip and plain paper tickets. This month spotlights SPX Genfare and Accenture. Genfare makes a number of ticketing systems with self-service ticket vending, ideal for transit centers and BRT service. They accept coins, bills and bank cards as well. Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company that offers insight on the decision-making process of a city adapting to a new fare system.
The Vendstar-e ticketing machine records individual sales and events with cumulative totals, uploaded to central offices in real-time.
With roots dating back to 1880, SPX Genfare pushes forward with digital fares By Tara Farnsworth SPX Genfare, Charlotte, NC, builds from roots that date back to 1880 and the invention of the first farebox by Johnson Farebox Company, which acquired Cleveland Farebox in 1938. Both companies eventually folded into Keene in 1960, which another older company, General Signal, acquired, along with another of its competitors, Duncan, to form GFI Genfare in the early 1980s. SPX then acquired GFI Genfare in 1998 as part of the General Signal acquisition. Today, SPX Genfare’s transit clients reach more than 3 billion commuters and
collect approximately $5 billion in revenue annually. The company says its proven experience sets it apart and makes it uniquely qualified to continue partnering with transit agencies for many years to come. “Genfare is continually looking to advance the state of the art in fare collection products and systems,” says Genfare President Kim Green. “With the long life-cycle of a fare system, what we are developing today must anticipate and allow for the addition of new features.” One of Genfare’s marquee services is the e-GO™ interface, a web-based smart card sales and management system to assist individual passengers and large organizations by providing a user friendly interface allowing riders to buy fares, upgrade service, establish autopay functionality and even report a card lost or stolen. There’s also a guest option for riders who want the convenience of the card but do not want to establish a permanent account. “The simplicity of e-GO is self-service,” says Tony Sharma, Genfare vice-president of Business Development. “It allows riders to buy and upgrade smart cards online using anything from a personal computer to a tablet or a phone.” The e-GO website provides organizations and corporate partners with a dedicated website to purchase, issue, manage and track large volumes of cards for students or employees. The improved partnership between the transit agency and organization provides a more streamlined experience for riders. The agency and customer service portion of the website provides the transit agency complete control. It gives agencies the freedom to run reports, providing a comprehensive picture of ridership and operations. e-GO improves cash flow by crediting daily receipts to agency accounts. Genfare says
COLLECTION SYSTEMS encouraging smart card use builds rider loyalty and decreases boarding times. Additional e-GO Highlights include simple integration with an agencyâ€™s existing website, upgraded fare media, improved security for credit and debit card processing and comprehensive back-end reporting and analysis. Genfare is in the process of launching three new e-GO web-based systems, one with SunTran in Tuscon, AZ, another with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Jacksonville, FL, and a third in Winnipeg, MB, Canada. Genfareâ€™s automatic fare collection system consists of fare collection devices, fare media and reporting systems. Its farebox has been a benchmark in the industry, and the company says that systems installed more than 20 years ago are still functioning efficiently through proper maintenance and upgrades. Genfare has an internal team of software and technical support to answer transit agency questions and troubleshoot any maintenance issues. They also offer
a wide variety of training to agencies as part of, or independent of, the initial installation. The company has maintenance leaders and team members in their corporate offices on a regular basis, expanding knowledge and cross-training on products. They then bring that information back to train their internal workforce. The newest product development at Genfare is the Vendstar-e ticketing machine. This innovative ticket vending machine accepts and securely processes credit and debit cards and then conveniently issues smart cards and/or magnetic cards for quick and easy passenger travel. The machine debuted at the APTA Annual Conference in Seattle, WA, in September. The machine boasts a three-step userfriendly process for fare purchases and a 10-inch diagonal color display. Users can select up to two types of tickets, printed and encoded for flexibility and security. The machine validates purchased tickets and recharges previously purchased
smart cards with a 300-millisecond processing time. The Vendstar-e ticketing machine records individual sales and events with cumulative totals, uploaded to central offices in real-time. It communicates via Ethernet (copper or fiber optics) or mobile broadband. An uninterruptable power supply permits transaction completion during power outages. Built-in diagnostics allow for continuous monitoring of all modules Genfare will be delivering the Vendstar-e in early 2013 to New Orleans, LA, and Rochester, NY. Genfare says it is always working on new designs and features in fare collection systems. It is currently in the final stages of pre-production design on a new farebox product that will incorporate all of the current fare technologies and become a platform to add new features and functionality in the years to come. Genfare will begin to offer this yet-unnamed product in 2013.BR Tara Farnsworth is the marketing manager for SPX Genfare.
FA R E
Look to the Future
Accenture advises agencies to embrace Open Payments and Open Architecture and offers steps to modernize fare management By Michael J. Wilson With electronic fare management systems now commonplace in transit, many are asking, “Where do we go from here?” In the past 15 years, transit agencies have invested in new fare management systems to enable their customers to carry reloadable contactless transit cards or reloadable magnetic stripe cards. Today many of these fare management cards are well known brands such as Breeze, Clipper Octopus, Oyster, OV-chipkaart and SmarTrip. But 15 years is an eternity in technology. Fortunately, many of the card brands have already started embracing new approaches in fare management. Nonetheless, some authorities remain paralyzed by their earlier technology decisions. So what is next for fare management and how can a transit agency make the transition to modern, flexible platforms
that allow them to keep ahead of customers’ preferences? Today the big buzz in fare management is open payments, defined as a fare management system that allows transit riders to use an existing bank-issued contactless card in their wallet to tap onto transit. Many of us carry these cards and don’t realize it. Just look for the payWave, PayPass or ExpressPay symbol on your credit card. Having open payments capability sounds as seductive as contactless transit cards did 15 years ago. However, the reality is that customers hold deep preferences for how they wish to pay for goods and services. For many cash is still is the preferred option. Regular transit riders may be used to having their own transit cards, while PayPal is increasing in popularity as a non-bank payment option.
There is also the growing allure of a future where everything is mobile with options on smartphones to make payments using the handset. This means that transit companies need to plan for a future of multiple payment choices. Agencies need to consider how they can enable customer choice now and in the future. It’s clear that agencies need to invest in fare management solutions designed for long-term flexibility and innovation. When we look at the technology implementations of the last 15 years, the usual approach has been to implement turnkey solutions. But as they attempt to embrace innovative payment approaches available today, agencies realize the shortcomings of turnkey solutions when they involve a single vendor providing an integrated set of fare management hardware and software. Turnkey is initially an attractive
COLLECTION SYSTEMS option as it simplifies vendor selection, delivery management, risk transfer and can lower upfront costs. Over the long-term, however, transit agencies are discovering that they have only one choice when buying technology upgrades or new equipment. Fortunately the transit industry can take lessons from other industries, where modern systems built upon open architectures are able to achieve flexibility and adapt to change and growth. In this context, “open” is a position that’s hard to achieve without being non-committal to specific vendors. Authorities face a raft of confusing messages that equate open payments with open architectures, the underlying technology. Open architecture specifically refers to hardware and software architectures that allow for independently adding, upgrading and swapping components to meet changing business needs. In today’s technology landscape, it usually means the use of a service-oriented architecture to integrate fare management and customer relations software, station and bus hardware and external systems — all potentially supplied by multiple vendors, each with their own data standards. This is important because it allows software to be easily upgradeable and device suppliers become interchangeable and effectively commoditized. The result is a fare management system today that can be fully adapted to tomorrow’s needs. So how can a transit agency make the transition from a closed payment scheme and a rigid closed architecture to customer choice and a flexible open architecture? Fortunately, there are a number of options. For example, one region in North America has introduced new customer payment choice through open architecture and the integration of multiple device vendor options. Another region of local and state transit agencies has been examining a partnership that gives each agency the flexibility to establish its own fare management preferences. The partnership would still enable regional integration. Finally, another region is pursuing a procurement that will result in a new electronic payment program. It would establish a new account-based, open architecture, open payment solution enabling customer choice in payments and multi-vendor device integration. The journey to customer choice and
Accenture provides integrated ticketing solutions for many transit agencies and municipalities.
flexibility begins with an assessment to help the agency determine the state of the current technology and if incremental change is possible. Even agencies that require full replacement need a transition plan. With its current situation understood and the end state established, the agency has a variety of options to analyze for the best route to get there. From an agency perspective, a clear business case will
determine the necessary quantitative and qualitative outcomes of this journey. The future needs of the customer should be the foremost goal. One key driver of the business case might be the possibility of its devices and technology becoming obsolete. An agency facing significant expansion of its network may want to assess alternative sourcing and more modern solutions. In appealing
FA R E C O L L E C T I O N S Y S T E M S
Look to the Future continued
to new and existing customers, an agency may additionally be facing technology obstacles that prevent the introduction of innovative fare products and payment approaches. Finally, it could be that their current fare vendor is not performing and can’t keep up with an agency’s needs. Achieving a common view of the business case is a critical step in securing internal alignment and support. Transition options can vary. The agency could introduce a new layer to the customer account system or establish a competitive environment to introduce new equipment in all or some parts of the operation. Alternatively, expansion into a new region could create an opportunity to introduce a new fare management approach. New features may create a new opportunity, such as a mobile ticketing implementation. An agency could also replace new fare management components based on the end-of-life situation. The key is to establish choices that benefit the customer as well as the agency’s goals. These choices lead to an
overall plan that can provide clear direction. Planning can seem easy, however, while execution presents the greatest challenge. In Accenture’s experience, continuing momentum is achievable only if someone from the agency’s leadership team acts as the champion who drives consensus within all departments. This requires ongoing commitment and clarity in how decisions are made. Success will often mean supplementing traditional transit insiders with retail, payment and technology industry experts. It will also mean new contracting approaches that value supplier diversity and the use of commercially available software. Getting to the next stage of fare management requires a unique journey for each transit agency, but the good news is that examples exist today that can guide everyone through the available approaches and choices. The key is to seize the opportunity to establish a clear vision and direction to get there, starting with a thorough understanding of open payments and open architecture. With the right planning and support, a transit agency can successfully make the transition to modern fare management solutions that will enable customer choice and flexibility, not only today but for the future. BR Michael J. Wilson serves as head of Public Transportation Practice for Accenture in North America.
A plan is in motion
They‘ve made their move; the MCI and Daimler partnership forges ahead Coach operators came to work on a Monday morning last July to hear that two leading competitors in the North American motorcoach market were choosing to partner up. Since then, Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Schaumburg IL, and Daimler Buses have worked to flush out and implement the details of their strategic partnership. By this time, it has become common knowledge MCI is now the exclusive North American distributor of Setra motorcoaches. In addition to sales of the S 417 and S 407 models, the partnership gives MCI responsibility for service support and the distribution of genuine Daimler Buses and Setra parts, as well as the operation of the Setra service center in Orlando, FL. With the deal inked later in the year, Daimler assumed a minority ownership position in MCI, forming an engineering, technology and manufacturing alliance as part of the agreement. The logistical challenges to make it happen then lay ahead.
By David Hubbard
The partnership has essentially entailed moving Daimler Bus in Greensboro to the MCI distribution center in Louisville, KY and MCI melding with the Setra Division in Neu Ulm, Germany. Wolfgang Winzer, vice president and general manager, Aftermarket Business, says the move required trucking $4 million worth of parts inventory consisting of approximately 8,500 different parts numbers to the Louisville facility. “MCI and Setra parts are now sitting side by side on the shelves,” says Winzer. “However, 95 percent of the Setra parts will still come from Germany. This creates an excellent opportunity for Daimler to bring in all the experience we have in supply chain management. Even with the distance, our parts distribution system allows us to make the correct product available to our
customers from the Louisville facility when they need it.” MCI Vice President, New Coach Sales and Pre-Owned Coach, Jon Yarusso is pleased to report that both teams have come a long way in a short time. “It helped that many of the Setra staff in Greensboro transitioned to MCI,” he says. “This has brought stability and confidence to this endeavor.” While the two companies were working to integrate all internal operations, which has included the consolidation of all the aftermarket support functions, Setra organized orientation and training sessions in Louisville for the MCI technicians to service the Setra coaches. Winzer says at least one, if not more, service technician who has gone through the training is now
Under the new plan, the Setra S 417 will feature far more options for customization than previously seen in North America.
on staff at each of the MCI-Setra service centers. The merger entailed closing two of the North American Setra service centers (Secaucus and Greensboro) and merging the MCI and Setra faciliies in Orlando, FL. Coaches arriving from Germany will undergo prep. All this shuffling of parts and training techs is in advance of the question at the forefront: How will MCI position, market and sell the Setra S 417 and S 407 coaches so as not to compete with its E and J model 4500s? “We asked ourselves what we were going to do with all these vehicles,” says Jon Yarusso. “We have thought this through from both sides and have come to a clear idea of what we intend for the Setra S 417.” Generally, MCI sees the S 417 serving a greater number of coach operators who conduct business within the specialized niche of high luxury coach transport. He says that the plan will be to offer it as very high-end luxury brand it has always been, but with a few new wrinkles. “As long as Setra has been marketed in North America, operators have not seen the levels of customization that is available the coaches in Europe,” says Yarusso. “There are some unbelievable options.
MCI is the North American distributor of the Setra S 417 (back) and S 407 (front) positioned for specialized markets.
Until now, Setra has not pushed these aspects in this market.” Yarusso says Setra buyers can now choose from a menu of custom features that includes assorted seating configurations, onboard office amenities and service galleys. With the exception of a few demo coaches, Setra will essentially “build to suit” each S 417 for North American operators. “This higher end approach is possible only through this new partnership,” he says. “It requires the economy of scale
MCI and Setra parts sit side by side on a factory line in Louisville, KY.
Setra gains through the larger support network of MCI. Selling 75 to 100 units annually, Setra could not support this lower sales volume on its own.” Additionally, MCI says it can customize the S 417 because of Daimler Buses’ capability of building any model of any bus at any time on its unique factory assembly line in Neu Ulm — and deliver it to the U.S. conveniently and efficiently. In contrast, while the MCI J4500 edges closer to its sibling in styling and amenities, the MCI E4500 will continue as the stalwart luxury choice for over-the-road the charter service, but without as much customization as is available with the S 417. MCI says it has not fully flushed out its final positioning of the Setra S 407, originally imported to North America as Setra’s answer to the J model. “Separating the S 407 from the J model poses a challenge,” says MCI Vice President Private Sector Sales and Marketing Pat Ziska. “Operators can use this coach in a similar way as the J4500, but all considered the S 407 hasn’t been as successful in this market.” Yarusso says that at this time MCI sees the S 407 better serving operators in corporate and airport shuttles, and charters of shorter distances. “This is an excellent opportunity for the luxury Setra represents to be more relevant in more places throughout the United States and Canada,” says MCI President and CEO Rick Heller. “The Setra brand succeeded in Europe and now MCI is committed and prepared to ensure it happens in North America.” BR
All eyes on driver fatigue By Matthew A. Daecher As I reflect back on recent safety initiatives while also looking ahead, two topics stand out in my mind: distracted driving and fatigued driving. Distracted driving has been a hot topic for several years. The issue hit its peak in the motorcoach industry when safety regulations related to distracting cell phone use by commercial drivers and carriers came into play in late 2010. Long before these regulations were enacted, however, most companies understood that distracted driving was a serious safety issue. As is typical, some carriers
which is all we can ask for. This brings us to another safety concern — fatigued driving. Fatigue is one of those moving targets difficult to pin down. A lot of questions that can be asked about the concept of fatigue come with, unfortunately, a lot of vague and uncertain answers. Some of the questions I’ve heard from operators: What defines fatigue? When does it occur? How will I know someone is fatigued? How can I prevent fatigue? Is fatigue the same as sleepiness? We should probably already know the
Healthy sleep, medical fitness, scheduling practices and awareness are all keys to attacking fatigue. took steps to counteract it while others waited to be told what to do. Has the danger associated with distracted driving gone away? No. To the contrary, vehicle and personal mobile electronics continue to enhance the opportunities for distracted driving. While many newer cars now have Bluetooth phone systems to limit hand-held phone use, some newer cars are also their own mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. New research shows that surfing while driving (webbing) is on the rise. As carriers, however, we feel more comfortable that we’ve done what we can to control distracted driving by our drivers and for our customers,
answer to these questions since we certainly understand that fatigued driving contributes to accidents. Part of the problem is it is tough to quantify exactly when fatigue was a causal factor in an accident, especially when not indicated by a driver. Nonetheless, many safety agencies have attempted to quantify fatigue-related incidents, including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). It estimates fatigue is a factor in up to 80 percent of all crashes. In fact the NTSB considers fatigue such an issue in transportation that they have issued over 200 fatigue-related recommendations. Fatigue has been on their top-10 “Most
Wanted” list for over two decades. So with fatigue being such an issue, why no additional regulations to combat it and why has it been pushed consistently to the back burner? The reason: There is no black and white — only shades of gray. The medical definition of fatigue is: “lessened capacity for work.” Fatigue can be mental, physical or both. Fatigue affects individuals at different times and in different ways. Fatigue is not sleepiness, which is defined as “difficulty maintaining wakefulness.” Fatigue can – and does – lead to sleepiness. Fatigue symptoms vary, and can be mistaken for other afflictions. Confused? Me too. What we know about fatigue should raise eyebrows and sound familiar for any transportation operator: 1. Fatigue negatively affects situational awareness, attention, and reaction time. 2. Fatigue results in increased irritability, attention lapses, and micro-sleeps. 3. Physiological factors, such as sleep, sleep disorders, hours awake and circadian clock are factors in levels of fatigue. These factors should also suggest that solving this issue takes a multi-faceted approach. Healthy sleep, medical fitness, scheduling practices and awareness are all keys to attacking fatigue. It’s time for operators to start assessing where they stand with regard to managing these risk factors and addressing any nagging fears. All indications are that regulators are seriously reviewing the issue and will propose changes to hours of service rules among other items. The bigger question is whether to wait for any required changes or take proactive steps to counteract fatigue on your own. BR Matthew A. Daecher is president and CEO of Daecher Consulting Group, Inc., Camp Hills, PA.
Safety and comfort foam to frame Vertical integration ensures safety and durability
By Don Simpson
Innovative design and metallurgical research combine to build light weight and high strength into bus seat frames.
The motorcoach and transit industries know it takes sophisticated manufacturing, design, testing and research to create safe, comfortable and durable seating. The components in the ideal seat — foam, wire, matting and tubular steel — might be obvious. The research, innovation, quality manufacturing and product testing that go into effective seating is sometimes overlooked. The focus today is on integrated seat manufacturing.
The fruits of R&D
Chemists are developing stronger, lighter, cooler and more durable foam, fiber and covering material. Their research and development has environmental implications as well. Some seating components made from recycled polyurethane foam and even soybean-based polyurethane foam reduce the need for petrochemicals. Improvements to the shape, size and fabrication of a seat often come through new techniques applied to existing materials. For instance, a molded rebond seat back developed by Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company requires fewer fabricated parts, fewer glue seams and helps promote manufacturing consistency. Metallurgical R&D helps suppliers select the optimum fabrication or joining
34 January 2013
mendous versatility as suppliers provide quality components made from metal stamping, tube forming, wire drawing, foam production, as well as woven and non-woven fibers. An in-house tempered steel wire drawing operation, for instance, allows new spring designs to go into production right away, and reduces the need for outsourcing, which can drive up product costs to OEMs. All seating elements can be created from a single source. Seat suppliers can implement and monitor quality systems. They can implement such programs as lean manufacturing, continuous improvement and kaizen as means to optimize production.
The value of quality control
The ability to fabricate innovative solutions in-house is a key element in bringing innovation, such as the integration of new foams, fibers, wiring or metal components into the manufacturing processes. For example, the use of only two glue seams makes the seat back more durable, because it won’t soften over the frame. Rebond construction is beneficial because it resists materials breakdown, even under heavy use and in extreme temperatures. Innovative metal-forming techniques allow the quicker and more efficient manufacture of lighter, stronger frame components, which reduces the both the cost of manufacturing and the finished product. Because of R&D, a company such as Hickory Springs can offer more than 300 foam formulations nationwide for a wide variety of applications.
Dedicated testing facilities evaluate strength and durability, randomly selecting production seats for testing the frame’s ability to absorb impact and bend but not crush under stress. Some manufacturers require seats to pass a 250,000-cycle corner-flex fatigue test that simulates years of heavy use with no sign of breakdown. Stringent testing programs help ensure that seats meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, including FMVSS-222 for strength and crush resistance and FMVSS-302 for fire resistance. Test results can also provide feedback for R&D, as when testing showed that rebond seat backs are more durable than fabricated ones. Vertically integrated product development and manufacturing has already proven its effectiveness in producing safe, durable, comfortable vehicle seating. Even as technology, materials, safety standards and the motorcoach and transit industries continue to change, vertical integration will ensure that the benefits of R&D, innovation, quality manufacturing and quality testing are built into the durable seating motorcoach operators and transit administrators need. BR
The scope of manufacturing
Don Simpson is general manager of diversified products for Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company.
technique for seat components: stamping, rolling and welding. Facing a number of challenges from stricter safety standards to the need to control costs and reduce environmental impact, quality R&D helps seat manufacturers and motorcoach OEMs deliver solutions.. .
The benefits of innovation
In-house manufacturing provides tre-
the international report
The future is here at Hannover By Doug Jack Every two years, the northern German city of Hannover stages the IAA Exhibition, which typically occupies several very large halls and covers all kinds of commercial vehicles and components. This year, while a very strong German industry dominated by Mercedes-Benz and MAN was present, there were exhibiters from around 50 countries with China and Turkey strongly represented. Fuel economy and alternative energy were two recurring themes. All the major manufacturers exhibited engines to comply with Euro 6 emission limits that come into force in 2014. Mercedes-Benz can already offer Euro 6 engines in its new Citaro 2 city bus. Although the price is higher than the previous model, customers should benefit from superior fuel consumption and from higher residual values. Many more European cities are considering low emis-
sion zones which will effectively prohibit the use of older vehicles. Most European manufacturers meet the Euro 6 limits by a combination of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR). The latter process involves injecting urea into the exhaust system to virtually eliminate NOx. EGR systems require much larger radiators, typically adding around 300 pounds to the weight of a vehicle. This also leads to packaging problems on city buses where designers are trying to minimize the intrusion of the drivetrain into the passenger compartment. Where designers have worked hard to save weight in their vehicles to offset the heavier cooling systems, there was a notable trend towards smaller engines to save weight and improve fuel economy. The most extreme was the decision of
Volvo will only offer hybrid drivelines of its 7900H city bus from the start of 2014.
Volvo to fit a 5.1-litre engine in its next generation of double-deck chassis for the United Kingdom and Ireland. It will be interesting to see how that concept can work in some of the hilly cities in the north of England. These vehicles are around 30 to 35 feet long on two axles. Volvo will use a larger and more powerful 8-litre engine in its tri-axle 40-foot doubledeck buses for Singapore and Hong Kong. The new Mercedes-Benz Citaro offers the option of a super-capacitor which sits in the battery compartment. This collects currents generated when the engine is on overrun to power electrically operated equipment, like the main doors. This can give a saving of 1 to 2 percent in fuel consumption, which adds up over a year.
Hybrids trend upward
Hybrid buses are now running in most European countries. They need the stimulus of government funding to bridge the difference in price compared with a standard diesel vehicle. However, with the upward trend in the price of diesel and the savings in consumption by the best systems, some operators are now looking at the purchase of hybrid buses. Volvo said it had delivered or taken orders for more than 800 hybrid buses, mainly in Europe but also in Brazil and Mexico. The Swedish company made the very bold statement that with the introduction of Euro 6, it would only offer a hybrid driveline in its full low floor single deck transit bus. Volvo will undertake a project in its home city of Gothenburg where hybrid buses will receive a fast boost of electricity at each end of a route. Volvo reckons that the vehicles will be able to operate up to 70 percent of the route solely on electrical energy.
Solaris of Poland had a 40-foot full low floor all-electric bus on its stand. The company reckons it will have a range of at least 150 miles on a full charge with the batteries topped off by fast charging during the day.
All-electric on display
An all-electric midi-bus was available for demonstration. On a circuit of the internal roads in the exhibition grounds, the acceleration was rapid, step-free and very silent. It was too fast for normal service and people milling around on the roads could not hear it coming. There was a small outdoor area for demonstration of all kinds of electric vehicles. Bombardier had installed its Primove system in a very stylish transit bus built by the small German specialist, Viseon Bus. The Primove system is contactless and relies on electric charging plates beneath the surface of the road at busy bus stops and at other strategic points, like each end of the route. These plates or coils take their electrical charge from the main power grid through a convertor. When the bus comes to a stop above the charging point, electric current is passed quickly to a coil on the
A detail of the battery pack and super capacitor on the Mercedes-Benz Citaro 2.
underside of the vehicle, giving the batteries a fast charge. It also means fewer batteries, saving weight and increasing capacity for passengers. The Primove system is not confined to transit buses and could adapt to other suitably equipped electrically-driven vehicles that would pay for each charge of electric-
ity. It might sound rather futuristic, but it could well be the shape of electric buses to come. The Chinese are investing heavily in the development of more powerful batteries with extended range. One of them, Zhuhai Yintong Energy, acquired a bus manufacturer, Guangtong, so that it could build and
International Report continued promote complete all-electric vehicles. One was shown by an importer from the Netherlands who had successfully obtained certification under European regulations. AMZ-Kutno, a Polish company, showed an all-electric 35-foot midibus using lithium-ion batteries and electrical equipment by Cegelec, a Czech supplier. Their next development will be a fullsize 40-foot bus using lithium-titonite batteries, originally developed for the U.S. military and said to have a 15 year guarantee.
Eurozone in crisis
The financial crisis in the Eurozone was another recurring topic of conversation. Generally speaking, demand for new buses and coaches remains quite strong in the Northern European countries, but sales have fallen sharply in Southern Europe, with Greece being extremely low. In Northern Europe, demand for city buses and interurban vehicles is healthy. The main weakness is in high specification luxury coaches. Smaller family companies who buy most of those are finding it more difficult to obtain bank financing. On the other hand, demand for express coaches is encouraging, as people look to get value for their money in these difficult times. SNCF, the French state railways, bought more than 40 coaches from Setra and Iveco to start international express services.
Germany touts express service
The German government has recently introduced legislation to deregulate long distance coach services. This will bring competition to Deutsche Bahn, the state railway company. A study by one of the German universities reckoned a demand for up to 4,000 express coaches over the next four to five years in Germany alone. The challenge will be to establish a network, because there is no one obvious hub city. Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hannover, Hamburg and Berlin are all major centres of population. Services might start first on routes which are not well served by the rail system, but where there are good highways (for example, between Stuttgart and Munich). The German authorities have decreed that all express coaches must be capable of carrying at least two passengers in wheelchairs. One of the MAN exhibits was a high deck coach with a wheelchair lift behind the rear axle. People in wheelchairs are often vulnerable and must be apprehensive about being hoisted several feet into the air to be put on board a coach. It seems an archaic arrangement, compared with the very neat installing of wheelchair lifts in the main passenger entrance of express coaches in the United Kingdom. Itâ€™s not often that we can teach the Germans anything. BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.
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