Page 1

Veolia offers smart option Page 14

Wells Fargo on liquidity crisis Page 18

Transit and social media Page 28

A call for savvy techs Page 33

™

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry JUNE 2012

www.busride.com • $5.00

Arrow Stage Lines

puts refurbishment to the test Page 22


June 2012 cover story

Refurbishment in the crosshairs proves viable Arrow Stages Lines’ refurbished 2001 Van Hool passes muster with Globus Tours By David Hubbard

features IntelliRide™ is a smart option

Veolia’s innovative paratransit model promotes quality of service and cost efficiency By Ron Brooks

departments

Motorcoach Update

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8

Is there a liquidity crisis in the coach industry?

16

By Matt Hotchkiss 18

BR Transit

Warning to transit authorities: Ignore social media at your own peril By Philippe Guittat

Deliveries People in the News 17

Transit Update 26

The Transit Authority 30

28

Marketplace

BUSRide Maintenance

columns

Knowledge is power and job security

The call is out for 21st century technicians who know the technology By David Hubbard 33 Going Green

AC Transit continues down the HyRoad By Clarence L. Johnson 40 4

22

June 2012

45

David Hubbard 6

Risk Management

By Matthew A. Daecher 21

Letter from Europe By Doug Jack 42

BUSRide


Even for the safest operators, accidents are part of the motorcoach business. But recovering from a collision shouldn’t require extensive downtime. Simply count on Prevost Service for bumper-to-bumper repairs for your Prevost, Volvo and Nova coaches. All work is performed by skilled technicians and welders who are committed to the high standards used in factory production. Following ISO-certified protocols, our experts access the latest technical and engineering data for your specific coach. Immediate access to OEM parts means accident work proceeds without delay, and replacement coaches help you meet your passenger obligations. Prevost collision repair. The only way to get your coach back to assembly-line perfection. And the fastest way to get back on the road.

Prevost Service Locator Mobile App. Available for iPhone and Android. Please contact your Prevost Regional Service Manager for more information. USA 1-877-773-8678

CANADA 418-883-3391

www.prevostcar.com

T h e u l t i m a t e c l a s s.


david hubbard

Daimler and MCI agree to share the Setra brand We were all surprised to come into work on a Monday to find two major competitors in the North American motorcoach market had chosen to partner up. By now Motor Coach Industries (MCI) and Daimler Buses will have flushed out more of the details since signing their letter of intent in April to enter into a strategic partnership. If all is going as planned, Daimler Buses will take a minority stake in MCI. In turn, MCI becomes the exclusive North American distributor of the Setra S417 and S407 motorcoaches. At the same time Daimler announced its partnership with MCI, it also released word of its decision to cease production of Orion buses and exit the transit industry in the U.S. and Canada, as well as transferring MercedesBenz Sprinter operations in Greensboro, NC to another Daimler facility. This newest ripple in an industry not prone to sudden changes has everyone shaking their heads — some up and down, some side to side. Speaking to BUSRide, MCI Chief Executive Officer Rick Heller says this alliance is a win-win for both corporations. “It enables Daimler to leverage our extensive aftermarket infrastructure to support Setra coaches,” he says. “With Setra in our product portfolio we can compete in a market segment with a strong offering that MCI has not had until now. Setra brings European styling to our company. We are not changing the MCI product line, we are just adding Setra.” While relying on MCI for much of the heavy lifting in terms of sales and service, Daimler’s ownership in the company allows it to manage the brand on a vastly improved playing field available through MCI’s aftermarket infrastructure and parts availability. What will it take for this to work? For the short term, bringing the stalwart MCI J model and the diva-like Setra S417 under one roof will be similar to the challenge of a second family. It will require their astute parenting skills to meld the temperaments of these stepchildren

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June 2012

as the respective teams get comfortable with the restructuring. Heller says MCI is certainly cognizant of its responsibility to ensure the reputation of the Setra brand, and sees the S417 serving a greater number of coach operators who conduct business within the specialized niche of high luxury coach transport “This is an excellent opportunity for the luxury Setra represents to be more relevant in more places throughout the United States and Canada,” he says. “The brand succeeds in Europe and it is now up to us to make sure it happens in North America.” One mitigating factor could be the extent the majority of motorcoach consumers in this country truly discern the difference between the luxury coach experience Setra purports and their similar perception of any other OEM’s half-million dollar coach comparably-equipped. For most people, the ultimate coach experience seems to be as much if not more about customer service than the vehicle itself. Operators tell me their customers are quite satisfied with a safe, clean vehicle from a trusted operator that arrives on time with a professional, polite and friendly driver behind the wheel. Nonethless the Setra brand expands the range of what MCI can offer. Heller says Daimler’s minority ownership is good for MCI. “We can now draw on Daimler’s far reaching expertise in manufacturing, engineering, advanced technology and a very extensive supply chain,” he says. “With Daimler behind MCI, we are certain to progress much more quickly than we could as a stand-alone organization.” With each company needing something the other had, they have thought through the first steps of this possible solution very carefully. This is no time for predictions. With both companies finding a new and much needed foothold, the industry can only wish the best for this bold and ingenious work in progress.

BUSRide Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane steve@busride.com Editor David Hubbard david@busride.com Assistant Editor Glenn Swain gswain@busride.com Director of Sales Jennifer Owens jowens@busride.com Account Executives Maria Galioto mgalioto@busride.com Sali Williams swilliams@busride.com Production Director Valerie Valtierra valerie@busride.com Art Director Dominic Salerno dsalerno@busride.com Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher

BUS industry SAFETY council

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: www.busride.com

Vol. 48 No. 6 Vice President Operations Valerie Valtierra

Accountant Fred Valdez

Subscription Rates: United States: $39 for 1 year, $64 for 2 years, $89 for 3 years. United States via periodicals mail: $42 for 1 year, $69 for 2 years, $98 for 3 years. Canada. Canadian tax (GST) is included. Rest of the world, via air mail: $75 for 1 year, $125 for 2 years, $175 for 3 years. Single copies: $5 for the United States, $6 for Canada and the rest of the world. All prices are in United States Dollars (U.S.D.). Reprints: All articles in BUSRide are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Valerie Valtierra at (602) 265-7600, ext. 203.

BUSRide


update

Greyhound Express expands service to West Coast

Launched in December 2010, Greyhound Express, the company’s premium, non-stop service, expanded to the west coast in May and added new routes in Texas, to now reach 66 new city pairs and 10 new markets — Greyhound Express says it is the largest network of nearly 700 potential direct-service intercity pairs. Since its launch Greyhound Express has expanded to nearly 70 key markets across North America and reports a 21 percent increase in overall ridership, with nearly 2.2 million customers experiencing the premium service. Aiming to introduce customers to a wholly new, better travel experience, Greyhound Express combines affordable prices with high quality coach amenities.

U.S. DOT announces final rule on medical examiners U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced in April an important new safety rule that requires healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers to be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. The final rule also creates a national online database of medical examiners who have completed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) certification process. FMCSA has posted its uniform training and testing standards for medical examiners at http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/ where health care professionals, drivers, employers, law enforcement officers and the public can review the training standards and sign up to receive updates on the implementation of the rule. FMCSA developed the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule as part of the

8 June 2012

agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers. The rule addresses four National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations on comprehensive training for medical examiners and tracking of driver medical certificates. According to the final rule, by May 21, 2014 all certified medical examiners must be on the National Registry database and drivers must obtain a medical examination from a certified examiner. Medical examiners who fail to maintain federal standards will be removed from the registry. Medical examiners perform approximately three million examinations on commercial truck and bus drivers each year. A Department of Transportation medical exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver’s medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing. To allow time for testing and training centers to prepare curricula and receive FMCSA approval, healthcare professionals seeking to become certified examiners can begin registering on the National Registry website this summer.

BUSRide


update

National Interstate affiliate provides school bus driver training to contractors National Interstate Insurance Company, Richfield, OH, affiliate, Safety, Claims and Litigation Services, LLC (SCLS) is providing the School Bus Safety Company (SBSC) driver training course to insured school bus contractors as part of its loss control services package. “School bus accidents can be tragic, and we continually look for proactive ways to help our clients prevent such tragedies,” says National Interstate Vice President Jim

Parks. “We have analyzed the Driver Training Course and are confident that its use will make children safer while reducing the cost of risk to our customers.” SBSC President Jeff Cassell says six of the eight largest student transportation contractors and more than 2,200 school districts are currently using SBSC training programs.

McDonald Transit to operate Capital Metro buses The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin, TX, has retained McDonald Transit Associates, Ft. Worth, TX, to operate the major part of the fixed route bus network for a three-year term with four optional years. “We are delighted to have been selected,” says Steve Keiper, appointed chief executive of the subsidiary set up by McDonald Transit Associates to operate the network. “This is a fantastic opportunity to work with Capital Metro and its employees to provide a high quality level of service to the community.” With 79 lines, the network of more than 250 buses deliv-

ers a modern urban bus system to 1.3 million residents, carrying more than 21 million passengers each year. McDonald Transit already manages extensive urban transportation networks in the U.S. including Charlotte, NC, Colorado Springs, CO, and Fort Worth, TX. The contract is worth $400 million over the potential seven-year period, which it says is one of the most important urban bus transportation contracts in the U.S. Mathieu Dunant, CEO of Ratp Dev America, says the aim is to provide a smooth transition with the combination of the local knowledge and the expertise of McDonald Transit and RATP Group.

BUSRide Magazine Presents:

Brake Maintenance and Repair COMING THIS AUGUST! This August, BUSRide focuses on brake maintenance and repair, together with preventative safety measures that can help prolong brake life on heavyduty buses and motorcoaches. We look at: • Brake maintenance best practices • Troubleshooting • Brake testing and diagnostic technologies

• Tips and tricks for the safest brake function and vehicle performance possible • Whether to repair or replace • The dangers of subpar or counterfeit parts

DEADLINE FOR THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE IS JUNE 26, 2012. For more information, please call 800-541-2670 ext 211 or email randerson@busride.com.

busride.com 10

June 2012

BUSRide


update

BRief

Kiel, a manufacturer of seating systems for buses and trains, has established a manufacturing facility in Elkhart, IN, which has already supplied seats to over 500 passenger buses currently in service in the U.S.

BRief

MAC Products Inc., Kearny, NJ, has acquired ProTran1 LLC and ProTran Technologies, producers of worker and pedestrian related Safety Equipment and Devices for the transportation industry.

BRief

BoltBus, which has become a staple on the East Coast for millions of passengers, expanded to the West Coast on May 17 with express service from Seattle to Portland.

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June 2012

Dan Dipert Tours & Coaches donates refurbished coaches In celebration of National Volunteer Week in April, Dan Dipert Tours & Coaches, Arlington, TX, held a “Celebrating Volunteers Picnic� at The Ballpark in Arlington to honor volunteers from Mission Arlington and The Salvation Army Arlington. The company surprised volunteers during the event with the donation of a refurbished luxury bus to each organization, a way of celebrating its 40th anniversary as an Arlington company.

BUSRide


IntelliRide is a smart option ™

Innovative paratransit model by Veolia Transportation promotes quality of service and cost efficiency By Ron Brooks With the passage of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) most aspects of our society have become much more accessible to people with disabilities. Greater numbers of people with disabilities are relying on public transit for travel to work, school, and their personal and professional business. Meanwhile, more baby boomers are trading their cars for seats on paratransit. The predictable result is that paratransit demand is on the rise. This rising demand, coupled with the ever-increasing employee, fuel, insurance and capital costs associated with the delivery of these services, are making the funding of paratransit one of the industry’s most vexing challenges, and ultimately, I believe that without a fundamental alteration in the way we deliver service, the current paratransit model is economically and operationally unsustainable. There is an old paratransit axiom that says you can’t have both cost-effective and high-quality service. Focus on cost, and you sacrifice quality. Focus on quality, and the price goes up. In the past, the transit industry had few answers for the “quality vs. cost” dilemma, but new paratransit business models are debunking the “cost vs. quality” myth. Veolia has developed a new model called IntelliRide as a new approach to simultaneously improve service quality and cost.

Introducing IntelliRide™

IntelliRide is a business approach for operating paratransit that encompasses both operational practices and technology to deliver paratransit that is safe, reliable and cost effective. The key elements of the IntelliRide model include: • The use of both dedicated vehicles (such as traditional

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May 2012

paratransit vans) and non-dedicated vehicles (such as taxicabs) in order to promote efficiency and flexibility.Dedicated vehicles are great when there is a sufficient number of paratransit trips to keep the vans busy and when trip patterns and density will allow for trip-sharing. However, dedicated vehicles are not cost-effective to operate at times when demand and productivity are low. In addition, there are typically a few hours during each weekday morning and afternoon when demand spikes. Although these trips can often be routed efficiently, the investment in and use of a dedicated vehicle or vehicles to cover these spikes is costly. The goal of IntelliRide is to use dedicated vehicles for service that is predictable and productive and non-dedicated vehicles for trips that occur when system productivity and demand are low — or to cover peak-hour demand spikes. Non-dedicated vehicles are also very effective for recovering service when a route is running late or for trips which have not been pre-scheduled, such as return trips from medical appointments which are difficult to schedule in advance. Ultimately, IntelliRide not only increases system efficiency and flexibility; it also allows for the operation of more service with fewer dedicated vehicles and a smaller capital investment. The trick is finding the right mix —something that is unique for each system. Proprietary middleware developed by Veolia’s Unified Dispatch, LLC (UDI) seamlessly transmits trip data between a paratransit software system and a taxi dispatch software system and/or GPS-enabled tablet computers used by drivers of non-dedicated vehicles. IntelliRide’s middleware

BUSRide


deliveries MOTOR Coach Industries

Arrow Stage Lines

add

2

Omaha, NE

Keeping its 165-coach fleet fresh, efficient and competitive, Arrow Stage Lines, Omaha, NE, has taken delivery of two new MCI D4505s and four new MCI J4500s; the most recent J4500 arrived April 13. Intended for high-end tours and charters, the newest J4500 has a rear galley with Keurig coffeemaker as well as a host of premium features including three-point seat belts, elegant wood flooring, Wi-Fi, 110-volt outlets for passenger electronics, chrome mirrors and more.

CH BUS SALES/TEMSA

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1

Vandalia Bus Lines

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Minnesota Valley Transit Authority Burnsville, MN

Minnesota Valley Transit Authority has placed an order for seven 40-ft Nova LFX Smart Buses for its BRT services. MVTA has opted for the LFX Smart Bus, which includes the Nova eCooling system and the Nova Bus proprietary integrated electric engine cooling. The stainless steel structure designed for highly variable operating conditions can handle Minnesota’s climate. The selected configuration features disc brakes, composite flooring and all LED lighting options. Nova President and CEO Gilles Dion says MVTA represents a new market for the company and looks forward to providing the distinctive models.

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June 2012

1

St. Louis, MO

Vandalia Bus Lines, Inc., a privatelyowned 75-year-old business that owns and operates the largest fleet of motor coaches in the St. Louis area, recently acquired its third Temsa TS35 coach. Vandalia president Dale Streif says he is confident he can send the Temsa 35-ft coach anywhere the coaches travel. The Temsa TS35 is a fully integral 40-passenger mid-size coach constructed of stainless steel that offers a luxurious and spacious interior. The TS35 comes with a Cummins ISL 345 HP engine, Allison B500 transmission and three-point seat belts.

TUI Bus Services, Inc.

Dallas, TX

TUI Bus Services, Inc. recently purchased a 2012 Temsa TS35 coach from CH Bus Sales. Mel Jackson says his company acquired the Temsa because of sales support CH Bus Sales is able to provide. He was looking for a mid-size coach with plenty of luggage space. The TS35 coaches are equipped standard with a Cummins engine, Allison B500 transmission and three-point seat belts. The TUI Bus Services coach is also equipped with Alcoa Rims, REI Audio-Video system, 110-volt plug outlets and Wi-Fi.

PREVOST

NOVA BUS

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add

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60

Greyhound Bus Lines Dallas, TX

The relationship that began in 2007 between Prevost and Greyhound continues with the signing of a new order for 60 Prevost X3-45 motorcoaches. The X3-45s coaches feature Prevost AWARE, which includes adaptive cruise braking, following distance alert and stationary object alert, as well as the Prevost electronic stability program, Beru tire pressure monitoring system and the automatic fire suppression system. In addition, the coaches showcase the Volvo D13 EPA 2010 engine. Delivery of the X3-45s begins this month and will be complete by October.

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Trinity Transportation Group Wyandotte, MI

Trinity Transportation Group has added three Prevost H3-45s to the fleet, bringing the total to 29 coaches. The familyowned and operated organization has experienced steady growth since Jerry Sheppard acquired it in 1995. Today it boasts over 500 employees, a new dispatch office and luxury motorcoaches equipped with state-of-the-art GPS. Trinity carries tour and group passengers, school teams and senior organizations to destinations throughout the eastern half of the Detroit area. Trinity also attracts corporate business and high profile entourages.

BUSRide


people in the news

Sarah Ahlers

John Sleconich

BUSRide

ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, appointed Sarah Ahlers as marketing manager with responsibilities for company participation in industry events, customer communications, and industry press relations as well as online social media. Ahlers brings nearly 10 years of marketing experience working across a variety of industries, including financial services, technology, and association management. Mary Childress joins the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as chief financial officer. She brings more than 25 years experience in the financial and administrative functions of associations and non-profit organizations that included the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. John Sleconich recently joined Proterra as its new vice president of engineering, bringing over 25 years aerospace experience that includes a stint with Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, KS.

Judy Dennis

David Farrar

Proterra also named Judy Dennis as its new regional sales manager. She has nearly10 years in the transit industry. Trans-Bridge Lines, Harrisburg, PA honored Howard Gruber as a Driver of Distinction for his exemplary safety records. FirstGroup America chose David Farrar as director of real estate. He will handle routine property management responsibilities such as sales and acquisitions of real estate within the First Student and First Transit divisions. The Motorcoach Council, Denver, CO, seated four new members to serve its 2012 Board of Directors. Directors include Lisa Albus, Peterson of Northfield Lines; Peter Shelbo, Tour West America; Steve Haddad, Bieber Transportation Group; Gladys Gillis and Starline Luxury Coaches. Autumn DipertBrown, Dan Dipert Coaches, will serve as President/Chair of the global initiative.

June 2012 17


Is there a liquidity crisis in the coach industry? By Matt Hotchkiss As I work with motorcoach operators and manufacturers around the country, I’m often asked about the “liquidity crisis” that many associate with the recent recession. So what is a “liquidity crisis” and how it is affecting the coach industry and lenders like Wells Fargo Equipment Finance? U.S. economic activity peaked at the end of 2006. Companies were growing, banks were lending and the economy seemed on an endless upward trajectory. However, when the housing bubble burst and the economy started to deteriorate, companies struggled to sell their products and repay loans. The U.S. economy officially entered recession in December 2007. Over the course of the next year, the financial services industry faced unprecedented pressures. It became evident that the growth rate from much of the decade was no longer sustainable. With fewer lenders able or willing to lend, the amount of capital flowing in the system decreased, prompting a fear we wouldn’t have enough “liquidity” or cash to keep the economy moving forward. It was a true financial crisis. The Federal Reserve went to great lengths to inject capital into the markets so that banks could continue to lend and companies could continue to meet their short- and long-term obligations. Now, three years later, many banks have returned to profitability, and in general, have greater cash reserves. In addition, lower demand for goods and services and a high degree of uncertainty about economic conditions can contribute to a slower rate of growth which often decreases loan demand. The lean economic years also produced a great number of companies that were not able to remain profitable, decreasing the number of qualified borrowers. Even if a bank does not change its credit standards for a particular industry, there may be fewer companies who meet

18 June 2012

In spite of the unquestionably difficult times we’ve seen in the broader economy, there are incentives that may make a new motorcoach purchase attractive today.

those loan qualifications. So is there a liquidity crisis today? No. The truth is that many banks have cash to lend and are looking for industries and companies that can demonstrate an ability to remain profitable. Banks make strategic choices about the industries they will specialize in so they can make informed decisions about when and where to lend. However, facing uncertainty in the economy and a smaller pool of qualified borrowers, banks may be lending less and it could feel to some that less money is available or that it’s harder to qualify. Wells Fargo Equipment Finance has not seen a major impact on its business with the motorcoach industry due to this liquidity crisis. While other lenders may have changed their policies or may have been constrained in the amount of capital they could provide, we’ve always had plenty of capital to lend. Through the recession and what has been a very modest recovery, we have continued to offer loans and leases at competitive rates. Our credit review policies remained essentially unchanged and we have continued to actively pursue qualified equipment buyers in a variety of segments within the transportation industry. The economic outlook for the next year remains tenuous. The Federal Reserve has signaled that it will keep rates low “at least through late 2014.” This is good because it provides some certainty about

where interest rates will be, but it also signals that the overall economic growth rate is not likely to be exceptional. The Wells Fargo Economics team’s forecast for GDP growth is painfully slow at about 2.3 percent in 2012 and 2.1 percent for 2013. At this point, the forecast suggests there will be enough momentum to keep the economy from slipping into a double dip recession barring some kind of new shock to the system. In spite of the unquestionably difficult times we’ve seen in the broader economy, there are incentives that may make a new motorcoach purchase attractive today. For example, rates remain near historic lows. If you are in the market to upgrade your bus or coach fleet, you may be able to translate these low rates into a low monthly interest expense that could last for the useful life of your equipment. In addition, you may be able to claim a 50 percent “bonus” depreciation expense if you place new equipment into service before the end of 2012 when this tax credit expires. Talk with your tax advisor to see if this incentive can apply to your company. BR Matt Hotchkiss is the motorcoach equipment finance specialist at Wells Fargo Equipment Finance. Based in Minneapolis, Matt has been working with motorcoach operators for 15 years. He can be reached at (612) 667-4129 or by email at matt.e.hotchkiss@wellsfargo.com.

BUSRide


Walk Score study lists major U.S. transit systems by residents’ accessibility Rankings based on Transit Score index measures Walk Score®, Seattle, WA (www.walkscore.com) helps apartment renters and home buyers find neighborhoods in close proximity to public transit, announced a new ranking of the most accessible U.S. city transit systems based on residents’ access.

New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington D.C. top the list, while cities such as Houston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Columbus, Ohio are among the cities in the bottom half of the ranking. “Heading to the gas pump this season is

about as much fun as getting a root canal,” says said Walk Score CEO, Josh Herst. “As gas prices rise and consumers seek shorter commutes and more sustainable transportation options, demand for convenient access to public transit is growing.” This lifestyle shift is being led by the Millennial generation (those born roughly between 1980 and 2000) that is choosing to own cars and drive less than their predecessors.

Ranking of Major U.S. City Transit Systems

Walk Score’s first ranking of U.S. city transit systems rated by its Transit Score® index measures how well a location is served by public transportation based on data released in a standard open format by public transit agencies. Transit Score is the only national, quantitative rating of access to public transit.

The rankings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

20 June 2012

New York (Transit Score: 81) San Francisco (Transit Score: 80) Boston (Transit Score: 74) Washington, DC (Transit Score: 69) Philadelphia (Transit Score: 68) Chicago (Transit Score: 65) Seattle (Transit Score: 59) Miami (Transit Score: 57) Baltimore (Transit Score: 57) Portland (Transit Score: 50) Los Angeles (Transit Score: 49) Milwaukee (Transit Score: 49) (Denver (Transit Score: 47) Cleveland (Transit Score: 45) San Jose (Transit Score; 40) Dallas (Transit Score: 39) Houston (Transit Score: 36) San Diego (Transit Score: 36) San Antonio (Transit Score: 35) Kansas City (Transit Score: 34) Austin (Transit Score: 33) Sacramento (Transit Score: 32) Las Vegas (Transit Score: 32) Columbus (Transit Score: 29) Raleigh (Transit Score: 23)

BUSRide


risk management

FAQ: How does an illness or extended absence affect driver fitness? By Matthew A. Daecher

All knowledgeable and legal carriers are familiar with the USDOT medical certification and understand the minimum standard regarding physical qualification of drivers. Currently, drivers who pass the physical qualification exam are certified for varying periods of time up to a maximum of two years. However, considering the demographics of drivers and their widely varying states of health, medical changes can and do occur during the period of time for which they have been medically certified. A common question among operators revolves around when they should or need to have a driver re-certified following a prolonged illness or injury. The FMCSA has provided the following guidance under §391.45 that specifically addresses whether a driver returning from an illness or injury should undergo a medical examination.

Guidance

Matthew A. Daecher is president and CEO of Daecher Consulting Group, Inc., Camp Hills, PA

BUSRide

The FMCSRs do not require an examination unless the injury or illness has impaired the driver’s ability to perform his/her normal duties. However, the motor carrier may require a driver returning from any illness or injury to take a physical examination. But, in either case, the motor carrier has the obligation to determine if an injury or illness renders the driver medically unqualified. As with most guidance the obligation lies in the lap of the operator to ultimately determine whether the driver should be re-examined. The truth is the answer to the question on whether to have a driver re-examined has little to do with the length of any illness, though serious health changes are often associated with a significant illness and accompanying time away from work. Rather, the decision should focus more on changes in health and any accompanying physical ability to perform essential job functions. The following list summarizes specific health issues considered to have potential negative effects on safe vehicle operations and therefore are required areas of inquiry and review during the DOT physical qualification exam:

1.

Loss or impairment of an arm, foot or leg 2. Hand or finger impairment which interferes with grasping 3. Diabetes Mellitus 4. Cardiovascular Disease/Heart Issues 5. Respiratory Dysfunction 6. Blood Pressure (High) 7. Motion limitations 8. Epilepsy 9. Psychiatric Disorders 10. Visual Acuity 11. Hearing 12. Drug abuse or illegal prescription drug use 13. Alcoholism Because the outcome of the exam — the eventual driver medical certification — is dependent upon the state of the examinee as it relates to the list above, it only makes sense that any potential significant change in any of the above areas would warrant a re-examination and recertification regardless of when a driver’s previous medical certification is set to expire. Some operators choose to require any driver missing a specified amount of time due to any injury or illness to undergo a re-certification before they are returned to work. The theory being that it reduces the tendency for a driver to miss work for extended periods. This practice is permissible, as long as all drivers are treated the same. In other words, if an operator has such a policy, it must be followed for every driver to prevent any potential discrimination issues. The timeframe for such an operational policy should be committed to writing. Operators may also want to consider adding verbiage detailing whether it will be a physician designated by the company (suggested) and who will be responsible for payment of such an examination. Operators may also require additional drug and/or alcohol testing under company policy as long as it such a policy consistently applies to all employees. Testing should not be performed under DOT authority unless the driver was removed from the random pool for more than 30 days while away from work, in which case the test would be considered a pre-employment test.

June 2012

21


Globus Tours concluded it could certainly use the refurbished Van Hool on some of its tours.

Refurbishment in the crosshairs proves viable Arrow Stages Lines’ refurbished 2001Van Hool passes muster with Globus Tours By David Hubbard As is the history of many of today’s major motorcoach carriers, Arrow Stage Lines, Omaha, NE, also has grown from meager but ambitious beginnings. Carl Busskohl founded his company in 1928 to work a mail contract between Norfolk, NE and Sioux City, IA. When people started asking him if they could catch a lift in his seven-passenger Buick sedan, he obliged by charging them 75 cents each way. Then came the Sioux City Journal newspaper delivery to Norfolk as well as the Old Home Bread contract, and steady business led him to buy a new 25-passenger Superior bus. He took out the 10 back seats to make room for the bread, mail and newspapers and charged passengers for the remaining 15 seats. With demand increasing for passenger service during World War II, Busskohl began purchasing Flexible 25- and 29-passenger coaches with Chevrolet and Buick engines. Eighty years later and still family owned, Arrow Stage Lines has grown to become one of the largest motorcoach companies in the United States with operations in Nebraska, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nevada and more than 170 motorcoaches in service. A top client of Arrow Stage Lines, Globus Tours, is also

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June 2012

an 80-year-old, family-run company that began with one young man purchasing a rowboat to transport visitors across Switzerland’s Lake Lugano. Today, the Globus family of brands is a global company still family-owned and steeped in Antonio Mantegazza’s original vision to enlighten travelers to destinations he knew well. Mantegazza would eventually move onto land and go on to purchase his first motorcoach and create Globus Viaggi, a full-fledged travel business that has evolved from 33 coaches and several more companies into the worldwide Globus family of brands marketed and operated by a network of more than 32 offices around the world, carrying more than 500,000 passengers a year. Another commonality between the two companies is their preference for new coaches. Globus requires five years or newer for its contract carriers. In a recent fleet expansion Arrow Stage Lines purchased a mix of 11 new coaches that include Van Hool, Prevost, MCI and Setra, as well as one 2001 T2145 Van Hool which ABC Companies refurbished. Given its customary buying practices, what possessed the company to go the refurbishment route? “This coach was still in pretty good shape,” says Luke Busskohl, director of marketing, Arrow Stage Lines, Omaha,

BUSRide


(Left) The refurbished driver’s area has a new look and feel. (Right) The refurbed Van Hool features new seats, new wood flooring and modern entertainment amenities.

NE. “With the opportunity to work with ABC Companies we decided to take a little bit of a risk. Until now we had never done anything this extensive to update our vehicles; only the usual renovations such as new engines, transmissions, cosmetic touches and newer entertainment amenities.” Busskohl says in this case the company went “all-in” on a total refurbishment, wanting this old T2145 to come back as close as possible to a new motorcoach stem to stern, which included bringing it up to 2010 EPA emissions standards. Led by operations manager Greg Dotseth, ABC Companies completed the Arrow Stage Lines refurbishment at its Minnesota service facility in Faribault by service technicians trained to handle the full spectrum of coach service and

The total refurb included compliance to 2010 EPA emissions standards.

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repair needs from a simple wheel alignment to a complex, high-end coach refurbishment. When it arrived back from ABC Companies Busskohl showed the refurbished coach to his Globus associates who combed over it carefully and concluded that it indeed passed all its standards, adding that they could certainly use it on some of their tours. “That was the report we wanted to hear,” he says. “But what is so appealing to us is knowing we can refurbish an older coach with new engine, transmission, floors, seating, front cap and windshield end, new windows sides and back all for less than half the cost of a new motorcoach.” Busskohl says viewing the 2012 Van Hool beside the

Arrow Stage Lines went “all-in” on a total refurbishment, wanting this old T2145 to come back as close as possible to a new motorcoach.

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Arrow Stages continued

refurbished 2001, knowledgeable coach operators with a critical eye will notice a few differences that are not so apparent to the average charter customer. “The most noticeable stylistic differences are the windows,” he says. “The windows on older coaches from 1998 to 2001 were more squared out. The glass on the newer models lends a more a streamlined look. But still, through the refurbishment process, ABC Companies has really cleaned up the lines on the older models.” For the sake of comparison, though the refurbed Van Hool has many of the same amenities, Busskohl notes the 2012 coaches equipped with leather seats are certainly more luxurious, adding that he did have the option to go with leather on the refurb. “For all intents and purposes it looks very much like a new coach and operates as well in many respects, and our customers recognize it as a new coach,” says Busskohl. “Nonetheless, we are going to seriously test this vehicle, give it a couple of years to see how it holds up and how it performs against the new 2012 coaches we purchased.” What would swing Arrow Stage Lines to continue to buy new model coaches instead of launching into refurbishment full scale? “Refurbishment is a fabulous option and a logical decision,” says Busskohl. “We can buy four coach refurbishments for the price of one new motorcoach and still deliver the same level of service. I think it might even be the wave of the future. But right now we just don’t know what is going to happen. There are still some unknowns.” Busskohl says the company will most likely do one more refurb in the very near future. From there it will closely monitor the two coaches on the road and with its customers. “If they play out I don’t see why we wouldn’t do more,” he says. “For the price, they would be awesome.” BR

24 June 2012

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update

NYC Nova Artics now feature third door for exiting

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority added a third door to some of its New York City articulated buses..

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority added a third door to some of its New York City articulated buses, making it easier and faster for passengers to exit. The agency recently ordered 328 buses equipped with three doors to supplement its existing

fleet of 90 three-door buses on its Select Bus Service routes. Manufactured in Plattsburgh, NY, the 54-seat Novabus LFS articulated bus is 62 feet long bumper to bumper with room for 112 total passengers.

Metro Nashville fuel-hedging program saves $6.5 million A fuel-hedging program implemented by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean in 2009 to offset rising gas prices has saved Metro Nashville and agency partners nearly $6.5 million in fuel purchases. Fuel hedging is the practice by which large fuel-consuming companies enter into fuel pricing contracts to reduce their ex-

posure to volatile and potentially rising fuel costs. The agencies participating in the program include Metro Schools, Metro Fleet and several regional partners such as the Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) and the City of Franklin. Through February of the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2012, the program has generated almost $2.4 million in savings for the five agencies with contract prices of $2.30 per gallon for diesel fuel and $2.11 for gas.

Capital Metro contracts with McDonald and MV Transportation Capital Metro, Austin, TX, took decisive action in April to change its business model, resolve labor structure challenges and improve its long-term financial sustainability by approving two contracts for fixed-route and paratransit services. Beginning in August, McDonald Transit will assume responsibility for the fixed-route bus service currently provided by StarTran, Inc. The board approved a three-year contract with op-

tions for four additional years for a total amount not to exceed $408,676,961. MV Transportation will assume responsibility for the MetroAccess service currently provided by StarTran, Inc. The board approved a three-year contract with options for three additional years for a total amount not to exceed $111,474,190.

New partnership between Sault Ste. Marie, Nova Bus Sault Ste. Marie, MI, recently added four Nova LFS 40foot Smart buses to its fleet. The new vehicles feature the Nova eCooling system, which the company says can improve fuel economy by up to 18 percent, and also come with a wealth of standard features designed to provide high performance at a competitive life cycle cost.

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June 2012

“Nova Bus has provided us with four very dependable vehicles that are popular with our passengers, operators and mechanics,” said Don Scott, manager of Transit and Parking for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. “The overall quality of the buses, with their stainless steel construction and low maintenance structure, was also a key element in our choosing to partner with Nova Bus.”

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Palm Tran introduces articulated buses on two routes

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The City of Tucson Department of Transportation has awarded incumbent Professional Transit Management/Veolia Transportation, Inc. (PTM/Veolia) a two-year contract to manage Sun Tran fixed-route operations and Sun Van paratransit services.

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St. Paul, MN-based Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority has $1.25 million to put toward public art at the renovated Union Depot, the historic transportation hub in downtown St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood.

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Palm Tran, Palm Beach County, FL began using six New Flyer 61-ft articulated transit buses for the first time in April on two routes that lead the transit system in ridership with heavy boarding during peak morning and afternoon commuting times. The articulated buses are in service for select trips on Route 1, traveling via US-1 from the Gardens Mall to Camino Real in Boca Raton, and on Route 3 via Military Trail between the VA Hospital in West Palm Beach and the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton. The buses can seat 58 passengers and are capable of carrying approximately 80 riders including standing loads.

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Walk Score announced a new ranking of U.S. city transit systems based on residents’ access to public transportation. New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C. top the list, while cities such as Houston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and Columbus, OH are among the cities in the bottom half of the ranking.

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A team of graduating seniors has created a system for public transit that would continually clear the air of pathogens that can lead to tuberculosis (TB), flu and pneumonia. Called The CityBusters, the students have installed a $500 device on a METRO bus in Houston that has proven effective at killing 99.8 percent of the pathogens that circulate through the air-filtering system. The device, called FluProof, incorporates high-powered ultraviolet lamps that sterilize the air on the fly.

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Warning to transit authorities: Ignore social media at your peril Accenture offers seven steps to savviness By Philippe Guittat Accenture

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June 2012

With consumers growing more complex and demanding than ever, brands and services no longer just need to sell something of quality. They must also create trust-based relationships with their customers and open the lines of communications to initiate a dialogue. In short, consumers want to communicate with those who sell them products and services. Despite this growing trend mass transit agencies for the most part still fail to grasp the importance of implementing social media. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are simply far more than communication channels to transit users. They in fact serve as powerful catalysts for changing the ways customers, transit employees and associates use technology to interact with the world around them. With so many organizations failing to catch up, only a very few — if any — take full advantage of the technology. The social media trend has swept around the world with breathtaking speed and astonishing impact and public transit agencies must begin to implement social platforms as part of their communications. Accenture predicts that leading organizations will soon start applying social platforms and social design mechanics to manage interactions across all communication channels to consumers, fostering greater intimacy with their customers, more efficiently, and with better outcomes. Organizations that have successfully grasped the potential of social media can serve as case

studies for those looking to embark on a new program. Toyota Friend is a network that connects owners with their cars, their local dealership, and with Toyota itself. It allows the car to send an alert for required service, just like a tweet. For users, the new features make their interactions with others richer and easier. For businesses they further solidify the value of social platforms as ways in which businesses must interact with their communities of interest, whether those communities are customers or employees. While Toyota understands the benefits of social media, public transportation has not traditionally embraced it particularly well. It is only now that some are beginning to see how they too can gain from increased communication with their customer base. Transit agencies have started to engage with passengers when there are disruptions to services, in which advisers connect with customers online to help clarify a situation and solve problems. There are certainly barriers to social media that put off many public transportation companies. Confidentiality is a big issue, and many agencies are hesitant to part with old ways and share information online. Then there is the issue of frequency of engagement. Often organizations do not believe they have the time to respond to every post or comment from users. Nonetheless, more companies need to attempt to break down these barriers. Many industries have already broken through by taking small steps in the right direction. As they continue for-

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ward they will begin to see the pros clearly far outweigh the cons they perceive. Some operators are struggling to get to grips with analytics, meaning they cannot make predictions on or know who their customers are; they have no view of the consumers of the future or how they should interact with them. Social media gives these the chance to overcome some of the old channels but the opportunity to reach out directly to old customers and adopt new ones. Social media must be seen as much more than a new “bolt on” channel; it has to be viewed as a catalyst for revisiting everything that touches a mass transit company’s customers and, increasingly, other communities of stakeholders. The challenge for IT managers will then be to revisit business processes and the systems that implement them. They will need to look across channels to define interactions. They must look at new forms of data generated by those interactions and evaluate the potential insights they can get from them. It’s also becoming possible to apply useful metrics for greater impact, a key factor in making social media much more relevant to businesses in this sector. Metrics are building blocks that will enable businesses to monetize their use of social media. The monetization of social platforms is embryonic, notable for its isolated examples such as Walmart experimenting today with the “Shopycat” app from “@WalmartLabs.” There is a great deal of speculation about the true size of the commerce possibilities, but Accenture expects an increasing percentage of consumer spending to go through sites such as Facebook, meaning that mass transit companies can only ignore it at their peril. For those that do decide to grasp social media the first 100 days of adoption will be key for mass transit organizations. In our newlypublished Technology Vision 2012, Accenture outlines the key steps they will need to take: Become an active user. Get acquainted with several different social media sites to properly understand the customer experience. Start preparing for the social listening process. Begin to figure out what conversations consumers are already having about the company and where those conversations are taking place.

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Look for best practices in social media in other industries. These “early adopters” can help new entrants understand what is possible. Place IT at the center of conversations. Talk up social media within the organization. Appoint a tech-savvy social media champion. This person can easily demonstrate mastery of the new interaction models. Draft a survey of how business functions with social media. Learn from those within the organization already using social and how observe how their use compares with best practice across industries. Begin discussions about which units are interacting by social media. Work across business units rather than just with marketing. Some organizations have already moved through this process of exploring and experimenting with social strategies and understand the transformations they require. Canadian telecommunications company TELUS is using Twitter as a better and more immediate path to resolve consumer problems. Instead of phoning a call centre and waiting for a human with whom to interact, consumers leave a tweet. In effect, the company is using social media as a new entry point into existing business processes. Early results show that customers who are using the Twitter channel are getting much faster resolution of their concerns and are much more satisfied with the telco’s responsiveness. Its customer satisfaction ratings via Twitter are approximately 85 percent, compared with about 70 percent for its conventional contact centre. Social media can also build levels of trust, and this is what sells products and services, as the TELUS example proves. No business is going to be able to exclude these innovative and disruptive channels. Those that dismiss its rising influence as a fad will be doing their organizations a disservice. It’s clear from aforementioned examples that many other industries are upping their game in terms of social media, and it’s now public transportation’s turn to do the same. BR

Philippe Guittat is global managing director of Accenture’s Infrastructure and Transportation groups.

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the transit authority

RTC of Southern Nevada lends to a faster, cleaner and greener Las Vegas experience By Jacob Snow

Over the past decade RTC Transit has made significant improvements and investments to enhance its transit system, changing the face of public transportation in Southern Nevada.

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June 2012

Public transportation usually focuses solely on moving people. However, here in Las Vegas, a city known for its bright lights, stunning resorts, five-star restaurants, unsurpassed gaming and entertainment and world-class hospitality, public transportation can never be a run-of-the-mill bus run that stops every quarter-mile. At the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTCSN), we pride ourselves on providing fast and innovative transit service to the 38 million tourists and 2 million residents who live, work and play in Southern Nevada. With a relatively young transit service — just 20 years old — RTC has an opportunity to build a world-class transit service that focuses on operating quicker, cleaner and greener to ensure public transit is an important factor in the Las Vegas experience. So what does that mean in a city where image is everything? For the past decade RTC has made significant capital and operational investments that have improved the overall efficiency

and effectiveness of our transit system, which has changed the way our community and visitors view public transportation. The RTC actually began making improvements to the system in 2002 with one of the primary goals being to replace and expand our fleet. In the past the fleet consisted of outdated, over-used, clunky buses. Today, we currently operate more than 200 modern, attractive and fuel-efficient vehicles. In addition to improving our fleet, we also recently installed 300 solar-powered transit shelters built with recyclable materials to make waiting for a bus cleaner and greener. Each one features a bench, receptacle bin, display case for transit information and two advertising panels with room to accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair or other mobility device. In 2013 we anticipate installing another 150 of these solar-powered shelters. These cleaner and greener amenities are only part of our successful transit system. Our most important improvement in the transit experience is the much faster service.

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At one time the system had an on-time performance of 78 percent. Through a renewed emphasis on delivering ontime service we have since modified our routes in an effort to reduce one-way loops, retimed our schedules and reviewed our transit stops. All this enables us to provide more direct and reliable service. Today, our on-time performance stands at 91 percent. We also recently launched new routes designed with speed in mind. We have built three park and ride facilities, a state-of-the-art transit facility, developed and implemented six express routes. These express routes bring commuters from their residential neighborhoods into Southern Nevada’s core business district, downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip. They provide transit riders with faster service with fewer stops that feed into the Bonneville Transit Center (BTC), the central hub for all our transit routes. Ridership on most of our express routes has grown by more than 50 percent with more and more choice riders leaving behind their vehicles and relying on the RTC to do the driving for them. For our millions of annual visitors, we purchased Alexander Dennis double-deck vehicles and launched the Deuce on the Strip service. These double decks provide the best view of the Las Vegas Strip while ferrying nearly 24,000 passengers per day to dozens of destinations on the Strip and in downtown Las Vegas. This is clearly our most popular service.

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We recently launched the Strip & Downtown Express Bus Rapid Transit Service to accommodate travelers who needing to get to their destinations on the Strip quicker. Similar to our other express routes, this service provides tourists with faster service with fewer stops and carries more than 16,000 riders a day. Combined, both services carry over 40,000 passengers per day along the Strip. Today, these two routes not only pay for themselves but also generate additional revenue that subsidizes residential transit routes in our system. Together, they provide fast, frequent and convenient services that link the world-famous Las Vegas Strip with downtown Las Vegas in true Las Vegas style. Despite the economic recession, last year our transit system operating on 39 routes carried more than 57 million riders. Carrying 184,000 people each day, ridership is up eight percent from this time last year. We attribute much of this success to the vision and direction of RTC to provide a quicker, cleaner and greener public transportation system that our community and our tourists choose to ride. BR Jacob Snow recently departed the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada after 13 years as the general manager. He is now the city manager for the City of Henderson, NV.

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JUNE 2012

T h e E x c l u s i v e M a i n t e n a n c e R e s o u r c e f o r t h e Tr a n s i t a n d M o t o r c o a c h I n d u s t r y ! *Signature is required by the United States Postal Service

By David Hubbard

Advanced electronics and digital technology is the new order for 21st century vehicle maintenance. Today’s bus and coach technicians must be as adept at reading data sensors as they are dipsticks as the laptop and diagnostic software has evolved into the principle tools. Hybrid propulsion systems, multiplex monitors, electrification and energy storage, all designed for safety, efficiency and less stress on the environment, stretch the scope of the technician’s skill set. The new maintenance protocol foresees and diagnoses the problems and fixes it before it breaks. Training modern shop technicians to ensure safety, smooth trips and a profitable bottom line requires comprehensive and complex curricula that empower new entrants with the information and skills unheard of even five years ago. Today, as maintenance moves closer to science, maintenance technicians need to be familiar with analytics, multiplex systems and logic charts.

BUSRide Maintenance

Training bus and coach technicians requires comprehensive and complex curricula that empowers new entrants with information and skills unheard of five years ago.

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Rudy Woodward, vice president, Technical Services, Veolia Transportation, Chicago, IL.

The word from the industry is that this new protocol is thinning the employable ranks, while further advancements and updates will only come quicker. The future requires more highly technical training that only comes through industry-wide certified training programs readily available from OEM service representatives, vendor and suppliers certification training and established apprentice programs that lead to ASE certification. But few are as comprehensive as the full-term training specialized for heavy-duty vehicles a technical institute provides. Nonetheless, from an employer’s perspective, every training resource combines to create the fast track in identifying qualified candidates with the requisite skills to repair and maintain today’s complex bus and coach fleets. The modern fleet is in a continual state of change and anyone with the information and skills to keep them rolling is in high demand. The challenge to all maintenance directors in both public and private transportation arena is to find and hire and retain the individuals who can bring the solutions. Rudy Woodward, vice president, Technical Services for Veolia Trans-

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BUSRide June 2012 Maintenance

Lee Loper, vice president/GM, Midwest Region, ABC Companies, Faribault, MN.

portation, Chicago, IL, and Lee Loper, vice president and GM, ABC Companies, Midwest Region, speak for the public transit and private coach industries respectively in their promotion and encouragement of ASE training and certifications necessary to stay abreast of the changes. “Because of the equipment it was much easier to fill maintenance positions years ago,” says Woodward. “The average mechanic could fix about anything with a crescent wrench and Phillips head screwdriver. Today the minimum requirements to even get a foot in the door require a far greater knowledge of electronics and advanced diesel technology” This may come as good news for job seekers with formal training in diesel technology. “It is very difficult to find the individuals who have invested personally in ASE certification and technical training that add value to their employment potential,” says Loper. “Aside from mechanics who can do the basic mechanical work, the tech savvy person who knows how to work off a laptop and study vehicle history to arrive at the correct diagnostics saves us and our customers time and money. We consider him a valuable

asset to the company.” Unfortunately, say Woodward and Loper, not every new hire comes through the door carrying the credentials and certificates of an A-level journeyman technician. They stress the importance of companysponsored training programs that streamline the hiring process through internal developmental programs. They both maintain the traditional C- B- and A-level apprenticeship approach to ASE certification is the foundation of maintenance training throughout public transit and larger private transportation enterprises. “It is very difficult to find the individuals who have invested personally in ASE certification and technical training that add value to their employment potential,” says Loper. “Aside from mechanics who can do the basic mechanical work, the tech savvy person who knows how to work off a laptop, run through the systems, study the vehicle history and come up with the correct diagnostics saves us time and money, as well as for our customers, and is a valuable asset.” Woodward and Loper are not alone in their wish for every maintenance employee they hire to be so qualified.

BUSRide June 2012


They know this is not the real world. On the same hand, both concur that it is just as unrealistic for a recruit fresh out of a technical school or a mechanic with a handful of OEM certifications to expect to step into a top paying position. The key for both the job seeker and the employer hinges on how they approach that first job. “To perform successfully on a daily basis in a shop environment is a difficult transition for most,” says Woodward.

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“The workload is never as controlled as the classroom, and the job requires thinking on one’s feet with regard to scheduling and emergencies that can only come with experience.” To best serve its network of client transit agencies, Woodward says Veolia Transportation is doing all it can to make the entry-level positions more inviting for Class C apprentices. “Our recruits may be younger graduates of a technical institute, diesel training program or automotive

courses from a community college, or experienced mechanics seeking further growth in their careers,” he says. “We want to send a signal to these individuals that our company offers plenty of opportunities for advancement.” According to Woodward this plan at Veolia is ultimately a long-term growth process. “Once an entry-level employee is on board as a member of our team, our intent is to grow the quality of that individual’s knowledge and skill through our internal training program,” he says. “We believe in a few years we will then have the A-level journeymen we are seeking.” He says the biggest advantage to this internal employee development is the very transit-specific training and experience they gain throughout the entire process. At its facility in Nappanee, IN, ABC Companies is under contract with Greyhound Bus Lines to refurbish and update the older vehicles in the fleet. In its first year, the company has already delivered 255 completed vehicles. The company also operates a nearby full-service coach maintenance facility for all operators. Loper says a great number of new hires to either operation come from the trucking industry, and regional delivery services where the economy has taken a toll. “Hiring for the Greyhound project is less complex, as the tasks for each mechanic is more narrowly-defined within the overall refurbishment process, such as engine and transmission, chassis, brakes or interior appointments, and not cross-trained in other areas.” Veolia Transportation manage operations for public transit authorities and private bus companies both say they struggle with hiring and retaining qualified maintenance personnel in light of competing industries that can offer higher pay. According to Loper, it is important to sell the unique aspects of the bus and motorcoach industries, emphasizing the opportunities and challenges specific to vehicles and operations responsible for carrying passengers as opposed to freight and cargo. BRM

June 2012


On the path to

gainful employment How Lincoln Tech bridges the transition between school and shop Lincoln Tech Institute, West Orange, NJ, responds to questions from BUSRide regarding the outlook and viewpoints expressed by Rudy Woodward and Lee Loper in the accompanying article. Key to technical training is the help the organization gives its graduates to cross the bridge from formal training to gainful employment. Such guidance connects these potential employees with specialized and accredited training on a direct path from the classroom setting to the maintenance shop. How does Lincoln Tech work with bus and motorcoach manufacturers to train mechanics to their OEM specs? At present, Lincoln does not have specific partnerships with OEM transportation or coach builders. Lincoln does however have connections with medium/heavy-duty truck builders and utilize training components within our curriculum. Examples include Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Peterbuilt, Kenworth, Freightliner, Volvo Truck, MAC, and International. What approach does Lincoln Tech take to prepare students

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to deal with the complexities of today’s more advanced diesel technology? The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) accredits several of Lincoln Tech’s programs. NATEF is a subsidiary organization of the Institute for Automotive Service Excellence

repair. Additionally, Lincoln ensures an emphasis on diagnostics and service of technologies of modern low sulfur diesel engine and common-rail fuel system repair including training in engine management systems, electronic and digital sensors and actuators as well as emissions after treatment components and devices.

Few maintenance training programs are as comprehensive as the full-term training Lincoln Tech provides for heavy-duty vehicles technicians.

(ASE). Lincoln maintains compliance with all competency-based training tasks as set forth by NATEF, especially in the areas of diesel engine and fuel system diagnostics, service and

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What information and skills do Lincoln Tech graduates come away with that were unheard of as few as five years ago? Graduates of Lincoln Tech come

away with a greater understanding of electronic and digital computerized engine and body control systems and advancements in modern computer controlled emissions related systems. Students are exposed to up-to-date engine manufacturer’s computerbased diagnostic software to assist in diagnosing and servicing emissions and other engine and body-related control systems. Do you see the curricula offered at Lincoln Tech today as moving closer to science in respect to technology involving analytics, multiplex systems and logic charts? Lincoln makes every effort to stay on top of changing technologies and when appropriate, incorporate these technologies within its curricula. At present, students do receive training in the areas of emissions after treatment and multiplexing. We prepare our students to understand analytics and adaptive strategies as deployed in all computer-based engine and body control systems. BRM

June 2012 BUSRide


going green


going green

AC Transit continues down the HyRoad

Solar-powered electrolysis highlights its newest hydrogen production and dispensing station By Clarence L. Johnson

Edited by David Hubbard

AC Transit is one of the largest transit agencies in California, serving over 60 million passengers a year throughout a 364-square mile region. AC Transit, Emeryville CA, and its coalition of regional transit and energy partners operate the latest generation of zeroemission fuel cell buses that serves the seven million people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fuel cells do not burn the fuel they use. Instead, they combine hydrogen with oxygen from the air electrochemically to produce electricity and emit only water vapor. AC Transit operates 12 Van Hool 40-ft hybrid-electric, zero-emission fuel cell buses, each powered by a 120 kW UTC Power fuel cell system and a Siemens ELFA Drive System. The agency unveiled its newest hydrogen production and dispensing station in April, in which the hydrogen is in part the result of solar-powered electrolysis. Federal, state, and local officials were on hand to formally dedicate AC Transit’s newest on-site energy station. For now, the new facility will fuel the fleet operating in AC Transit’s service area, and will expand throughout the region in the coming year.

40 June 2012

AC Transit opened its newest hydrogen fueling station at its Emeryville, CA facility.

“For over a decade AC Transit has been developing the most comprehensive, zero-emission, fuel cell transit program in North America, and operating zero-emission buses in real-world service,” says AC Transit General Manager David Armijo. “Now, with

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increased fueling capacity, we have a greater capability to offer clean, quiet, zero¬ emission transportation to the communities we serve.” With engineering by Linde North America, Jacobs, and EPC, and W.L. Butler Construction building the facility, the station demonstrates the use of “renewable” hydrogen produced by a solarpowered electrolyzer from Proton OnSite. Through its C-Series Fuelgen, the company makes hydrogen on site via PEM electrolysis using part of the available solar energy to do so. Linde constructs and operates hydrogen vehicle fueling systems and is supplying hydrogen and fueling technology for two new stations at AC Transit’s Emeryville and Oakland operations. Cupertino Electric, Inc., an engineering and construction firm, installed a 510 kilowatt DC solar photovoltaic system for AC Transit that will generate the energy to help fuel the transit system’s hydrogen-powered buses. The station also features Linde’s latest advancements in compression and dispensing technology that enables refueling of buses at rates up to five kilograms/minute — comparable to refueling diesel buses. In addition, a major grant from the California Air Resources Board makes one dispenser accessible to the general public for fueling hydrogen fuel cell electric passenger cars, including the MercedesBenz B-Class F-CELL, now on the road in both Northern and Southern California.

Partners on the HyRoad

UTC Power, South Windsor, CT, a United Technologies Corp. company develops and produces fuel cells that generate energy for

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AC Transit operates 12 Van Hool 40-ft hybrid-electric, zero-emission fuel cell buses.

buildings and for transportation, space and defense applications. In recognition of AC Transit’s solar installations across its facilities, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) presented a check, representing what will amount to more than $500,000 in rebate incentives from PG&E through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program, to AC Transit’s General Manager. Additionally, in honor of AC Transit’s HyRoad Program, Tom Sullivan, Chairman of Proton OnSite, presented a $20,000 check to Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley to further youth science education in alternative fuels. Siemens, a global manufacturer and provider of drive systems for public transportation systems, has a long partnership with AC Transit and provides the electric power train, which consists of the traction motors including gearbox, the inverter system and the application software that ties in the fuel cell power plant. BR

June 2012 41


letter from europe By Doug Jack

The trailer section of a Conecto articulated bus under construction in the factory near Istanbul.

I make no apology for writing about the Turkish market and industry for the second time in less than a year. The principal reason for my visit this time was the fourth edition of Busworld Turkey, held in Istanbul in April. Almost 12,000 visitors came to the exhibition, including 1,350 from other countries. Istanbul is major regional hub, and it helped that the exhibition centre was almost in the sight of the main international airport. Turkey has adopted European regulations for the construction of buses and coaches, a sensible move given that it supplies many vehicles to customers in European Union countries. It also has the same Euro 5 emission standards as the EU

and will adopt Euro 6 two years later than the EU in January 2016. With levels of car ownership rising and Istanbul becoming extremely congested the authorities are pushing ahead with investment in city buses. They now require all vehicles larger than minibuses to be accessible, meaning they will phase out the old high-floor vehicles over time. The main cities cannot afford to invest in all the new buses that they need, therefore many routes are contracted out to private bus companies for a five or six year period. Istanbul is a kaleidoscope of colors on buses. IETT, the municipal company, mainly runs older buses in a red and white

The unusual styling of a full size low-floor city bus by Tezeller, one of the smaller Turkish builders.

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scheme, with more recent vehicles in dark green or medium blue. The buses of the private contractors are normally either light blue or purple, and all carry the crest of the Istanbul Metropolitan Authority. Although all the buses in Istanbul appear to be diesel powered, those in a number of other cities including the capital, Ankara use compressed natural gas. Pipelines pass through Turkey from countries further east to a major port on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. They trade for transit fees with gas. Although consumption per mile is about 1.5-1.6 times higher per mile than diesel, gas can make economic sense. MAN, the German manufacturer, has a large factory outside Ankara. It recently secured an order for 250 low-floor articulated CNG buses from EGO, the principal operator in the city. EGO claims to have the largest fleet of CNG buses in the world. Although the government gives no incentive either to manufacturers or operators to invest in hybrid and other advanced types of buses, that has not stopped the manufacturing industry from making significant developments. Otokar is a major Turkish company that makes buses and coaches, semi-trailers for trucks, and military vehicles, including Turkey’s main battle tank. Otokar’s star exhibit was the Vectio Electra, an allelectric low-entry midibus. It uses lithium-

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iron magnesium phosphate batteries that, in ideal conditions, give the bus a range of 175 miles. The Electra is fitted with a six-speed robotic transmission that changes gear according to the demand on the electric motor. Otokar reckoned that most competitors used twospeed transmissions. Temsa had a large stand, including a Safir VIP high specification coach, one of 10 for one of Turkey’s leading operators. Within an overall length of 42-ft 8-in, it has 2+1 seating for 37 passengers on regular express services. Passengers are willing to pay a premium for higher standards of comfort.

More buses

Temsa was also developing a full length 45ft coach for the United States and producing a prototype in August. “We will not rush it,” says Omer Sözütek, Temsa International relations and business development director, “We want to be sure that it is perfect for American conditions. When we bring it into the market Temsa will be the only manufacturer to offer 30-, 35- and 45-foot models.” Mercedes-Benz had a large and impressive stand with a full range of products. One that caught my eye was a high deck Travego coach, described as “Business Class,” with a 2+1 seating arrangement and a built-in infotainment system. Coaches like this cost around 15 percent more than a standard vehicle, but are popular with some operators to take on the challenge of low cost airlines. It is rare to come across a completely new manufacturer in an exhibition, but TCV is a company that founded only 18 months ago by some former executives of Temsa. TCV showed two 35-ft, full low-floor midibuses with Iveco engines and Allison fully automatic transmissions. Built in Ankara in an unusual arrangement, production vehicles will be fitted with MAN engines and built in the MAN factory on a contract basis. Both buses on the stand were attractively styled and very well finished. A variety of door arrangements will meet customer requirements. TCV plans to have a 40-ft bus completed by the end of June and a fullelectric bus is in development. BMC is one of the oldest established manufacturers in Turkey and offers a very comprehensive range of city and suburban buses, including the option of CNG power. Orders for the 40-ft low-floor ProCity included 300 from IETT, and a further 200 from contractors running in Istanbul.

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letter from europe Ashok Leyland of India is now among the top five bus manufacturers in the world. They have subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Czech Republic and United Arab Emirates. At Busworld Turkey, Ashok Leyland showed two 27-ft buses with front mounted Cummins engines, bodied locally by Utikar. The two companies hoped to sell them not only in Turkey but also in neighboring markets and possibly North Africa. A customer in oil-rich Azerbaijan placed an order for 200 units. Guleryuz is a company that has been around for more than 40 years, building a range of city buses including double deck, and midicoaches in a modern factory near Bursa. The most fascinating vehicle on its stand was a 37-ft open-top double deck bus that will debut at the Eurovision Song Contest when it comes to Azerbaijan. A similar vehicle recently sold to the President of Turkmenistan. Tezeller is another company operating in the Bursa area for around 45 years. It had two examples of its distinctively styled AutoBus 40-ft low-floor city bus. These used MAN engines, with ZF gearboxes and axles. Both vehicles were due to enter service in Istanbul after the exhibition. Eastern Turkey shares a border with Iran. That country has quite an extensive automotive industry, but currently suffering heavily because of trade sanctions. Most of the international banking system is unable to process payments from Iran for goods that they want to import. This problem was highlighted by Oghab, an Iranian bodybuilder that works closely with Scania and can build up to 1,250 buses and coaches per annum. The company wanted to display three of its latest products, but was unable to do so because of customs

This 40-ft Temsa Safir gives an indication of the style of the 45-ft coach coming to North America.

difficulties. Instead, there was a large screen showing videos of the impressive factory and the company’s product range. Good quality suppliers who can make practically every component required for a bus or coach support Turkish manufacturers. Their prices are competitive because of the low labor rates, but their quality standards are sufficiently high to meet demanding standards, like those of Mercedes-Benz and MAN. As a final comment, perhaps the strength of the Turkish manufacturing industry can be demonstrated by the fact that not one Chinese manufacturer was present. Nowadays, at a major exhibition, that is most unusual. BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.

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BUSRide JUNE 2012  

The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry! In the June cover story,Arrow Stage Lines puts refurbishment to the test.

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