Page 1

Prevost Liaison 2.0 delivers connectivity Page 12

WTS steers toward an international audience Page 18

Claim severity in public transit Page 20

Four reasons to employ RTLS Page 33


The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry APRIL 2012 • $5.00

MCI sets the course for business excellence Page 14


APRIL 2012 cover story

Reliability Driven MCI sets course for business excellence Unveils Coach Critical Parts program and still going green By David Hubbard 14

features Prevost Liaison 2.0 delivers connectivity

The proprietary system now standard on Prevost and Volvo coaches By David Hubbard 12

WTS steers toward an international audience

‘Transportation You’ leads young women to the transportation industry mileage By Glenn Swain 18 BR Transit

Claim severity in public transit trends upward Aon Risk Solutions 2011 Public Transit Liability Benchmark Analysis By Terry C. Pfeifer 20


April 2012

Going Green

What fleet managers need to know about propane autogas The Propane Education & Research Council addresses questions about refueling and availability By Steve Wayne 30

A company rebrands to do more

BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award winner J. Alan Thrasher and Reggie Haslam lead the Vectour Group in group coach moves By Steve Wayne 32


Bus and Motorcoach Update 8 Deliveries 11 Transit Update 19

The Transit Authority The solution to Utah’s growth challenges 22 Marketplace 42


BUSRide Maintenance

David Hubbard 6

Real time locating systems save transit agencies time and money By Adrian Jennings 33

Letter from Europe By Doug Jack 26

Four reasons to employ RTLS


david hubbard

Fuel costs spike early with no one simple solution

BUSRide Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane Editor David Hubbard

With the price of diesel fuel escalating faster and earlier this year than most bus and coach operators anticipating and hinting at an alltime high by summer, I had to wonder what everyone is doing to be ready this time. I could not call every company, but the few I did talk with have arrived at pricing methods that are satisfactory to their customers, suggesting there is not one easy sure-fire approach. For example, what works best for Bill Gentry, owner and president of Gentry Trailways, Knoxville, TN, is to keep any accounting having to do with a fuel surcharge as simple as possible. He says the stipulation in his charter agreements covering sudden increases in fuel costs is nothing new. “We have always quoted charters on the current price,” says Gentry. “But we have it in writing that if the cost of fuel should go up significantly at the time of the trip we do have the ability to bill the customer for the difference.” If the contract went out with fuel priced at $3.79 per gallon, but increased to $4.27 per gallon, Gentry simply totals up the fuel receipts for that movement and multiplies the number of gallons by the difference. “While we make it known to our customers we have the ability to make such an adjustment, I have yet to implement this clause,” he says. “I have always been able to anticipate fuel increases for the time of a trip.” Nonetheless, Gentry says the way it is looking right now he is going to have to start sending out the bills. “With where fuel costs seem to be heading, we won’t be able to eat the difference,” he says. “We will probably be spending more time doing the post-trip paperwork.” Terry Fischer, founder and president of Transportation Charter Services (TCS), Orange, CA, drills down a little further into price increases and billing issues. “It starts with our customers viewing the cost to charter a motorcoach as a fixed


April 2012

expense, right along with the hotels and restaurants,” says Fischer. “Anytime we have to add a surcharge it becomes a variable cost. They will accept it, but they want to know what the charge will be, the worst case scenario. Where we can’t be too open-ended, it can get a little scary.” Fischer says he negotiates many contracts as much as two years in advance, in which a maximum fuel surcharge affects about 50 percent of TCS customers. For the smaller accounts and ad-hoc work for the very near future, he says the costs are included in the initial quote. Fischer prefers to decipher fuel surcharges in terms of a percentage-based profit-loss statement, which he says 13 percent of every dollar goes toward fuel. For example, if the cost is $3.80 and spikes to $4.20 a gallon, TCS will add a 2 percent surcharge over the $3.80 and an additional 1 percent for every 10-cent per gallon increase beyond $4.20 up to a maximum of 5 percent. “The way I see it, even if the cost of fuel goes up 20-cents a gallon that does not mean my price increases by 12 to 15 percent,” says Fischer. “Fuel actually represents about 13 percent of my total costs for every dollar generated. When I whittle all this down the surcharge is actually 2 percent. I always calculate it on my actual increases and try to work it as a pass through.” Fischer says his customers accept his math. Like everyone else in the business, while Gentry and Fischer may feel protected on an issue with little consistency among operators across the board, they cannot help but feel a little nervous this time of year. “We may have estimated fuel hitting $4.40 by this summer, but we are already there,” says Fischer. “Where will it end? We can only cover ourselves to a certain point before it cuts into the bottom line.”

Assistant Editor Glenn Swain Director of Sales Jennifer Owens Account Executive Maria Galioto Production Director Valerie Valtierra Art Director Dominic Salerno Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher

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2012 Volvo 9700 boasts new interior features

The new interior of the 2012 Volvo 9700 gives the coach a striking look while emphasizing easier maintenance.

Prevost, Sainte Claire, QC, Canada, says new interior touches to the 2012 Volvo 9700 that include new seat fabric packages, superior lighting, upgraded passenger service panels, an enhanced entry area, improved overhead parcel racks, and advanced modesty panels, improve the look and eases maintenance. touches the new Volvo 9700 also uses a more uniform use of color among the interior components and amenities that provide a pleasing environment for passengers. The LED lighting delivers homogeneous light with no dark gaps and maximizes lighting angles. The decrease in cable harnesses leads to easier mainte-

nance and the prevention of short circuits. A new audio video system features the USB compatible Bosch Professional Line III. The clean interface makes it easy for the driver to operate the controls. New overhead parcel racks come standard with corded sides and can be upgraded to a full door system. Modesty panels now feature matching interior fabric and cup holders for front row passengers. The Volvo 9700 driver compartment is more ergonomic with the Tire Pressure Monitoring System display relocated to the top of the dashboard. Key management is much simpler with one universal key for the coach.

Cummins expands natural gas engine lineup; amends joint venture with Westport Innovations Cummins Inc., Columbus, OH, is expanding its on-highway natural gas engine lineup with the Cummins Westport ISX12 G as part of an amended joint-venture agreement with Westport Innovations. Built on the Cummins ISX12, the ISX12 G is essential the same as its diesel counterpart with Cummins Westport’s proprietary spark-ignited combustion technology with Stoichiometric cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (SEGR), first introduced on the 8.9-liter ISL G. The ISX12 G will feature three-way catalyst aftertreatment packaged as a maintenance-free muffler. Preliminary specifications include ratings up to 400 hp (298 kW) and 1450 lb-ft (1966 N.m) of torque and an optional engine brake. The engine will run

on either compressed or liquefied natural gas. The ISX12 G is expected to be certified at launch to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standards of 0.20 grams per brake horsepower-hour Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and 0.01 grams per brake horsepower-hour Particulate Matter (PM). Additionally the engine is expected to be capable of meeting Euro VI and pending U.S. greenhouse gas and fuel-efficiency regulations. “The ISX12 G is a terrific addition to the Cummins and Cummins Westport product lineup. It is the first heavy-duty sparkignited natural gas engine available in the North American market and builds on the proven success of our ISL G,” says Ed Pence, Cummins vice president and general manager, heavy duty engine business.

“The ISX12 G will be well-positioned to lead in heavy-duty vocational and regional-haul markets. As natural gas production grows in North America and the fuel becomes more readily available, customers are showing increasing interest in natural gas power.” The ISX12 G is entering the final stages of field-testing now. Cummins will manufacture it at its Jamestown Engine Plant, Jamestown, NY with support from the Cummins extensive distributor and authorized dealer network. Production availability is scheduled for early 2013. Partial funding in support of the ISX12 G engine development has been received from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the California Energy Commission in conjunction with the Gas Technology Institute.

Navistar Global delivers 25 buses to Reston Limo IC Bus, Warrenville, IL, a division of Navistar, Inc. has completed a sale of 25 commercial buses to Reston Limousine and Travel Service, Inc., the Washington metropolitan area’s largest limousine and shuttle service provider. “We completed an extensive review of potential partners for the build and selected IC Bus,” says Reston Limousine President and CEO, Kristina

8 April 2012

Bouweiri. “Our decision is based on the fact they collaborated with us on the design process of the body of these new vehicles.” The order includes 14 AC Series vehicles—IC Bus’s newest commercial offering that provides an integrated solution—and 11 HC Series vehicles. Together, IC Bus and Reston say they developed a bus that provides a unique look for Reston

Limousine including front exterior caps, side skirting, rear caps, and interior ducting. Reston Limousine General Manager Tony Simon says the company appreciates the new MaxxForce® 7 with Advanced EGR system, which eliminates the need to make concessions for additional emissions equipment.



Frederick Dunikoski, ABC Companies board member, passes Frederick Dunikoski, el-related organizations an ABC Companies board including the Phoenix, AZ member for the past 24 Visitors and Convention years died in February. A Bureau. legend in the bus indus“Fred’s impact on our try, Dunikoski worked for company and this indusGreyhound Bus Lines try is immeasurable,” says for 45 years starting as Dane Cornell, president a clerk/typist in the New and CEO, ABC Companies, York City dispatch office Faribault, MN. “ABC and retiring as President Companies and numerous Frederick Dunikoski and CEO in 1987. organizations benefited His contributions to from his tireless and widetransportation as a devoted industry ranging leadership over the past two champion are far reaching. Dunikoski decades. He will be greatly missed as also was active in numerous trav- a leader, a mentor and a friend.”


In conjunction with Prevost, the Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy announces its next class April 20-22 to train bus and coach drivers the special skills to handle big name entertainers and crews. The Academy is located in the Prevost Service Center, Nashville, TN.

BR ief

Leonard Bus Sales, Inc., Deposit, NY, (a New York distributor of school and commercial buses, has opened its new 32,000-sq-ft, facility in the W.J. Grande Industrial Park in Saratoga Springs to provide bus sales, service and parts, replacing its former facility in nearby Mechanicville.

Prevost expands service to Alberta, Canada ESP now standard on Setra S 417 and S 407

Prevost has opened a new service center in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

Prevost, Sainte-Claire, QC, Canada, has opened a new service center in Fort McMurray, AB, Canada. The 10,000-sq-ft Prevost Alberta Service Center has four service bays to provide certified maintenance and repair for all Prevost, Volvo and Nova Bus vehicles, including engine and transmission, as well as repairs on any brand motorcoach. Available services include collision repair, electronic and HVAC repairs, frame straightening, mechanical repair, paint and graphics, refurbishing programs, fire restoration and refinishing. Christopher Murgatroyd is branch manager of the new Ft. McMurray facility.

10 April 2012

Daimler Buses North America (DBNA), Greensboro, NC, officially released the Setra Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard equipment on both the Setra TopClass S 417 and ComfortClass S 407 motorcoaches in February during the UMA Expo in Long Beach, CA. Setra says this move strengthens its commitment to safety within the North American coach market. ESP works in conjunction with the Automatic Traction Control system (ATC) and the Anti Lock Braking System (ABS) to help maintain driving stability in critical driving conditions. Both the Setra TopClass S 417 and ComfortClass S 407 are equipped with Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS). When the ESP® system detects a critical condition such as changing lanes quickly, an evasive maneuver it will automatically reduce engine output and/or activate the brakes on specific wheels, until vehicle stability has been regained. “The ESP® feature brings us a step closer to minimizing accidents through technological innovations and ensuring the highest possible safety in our coaches,” says DBNA Chief Commercial Officer Patrick Scully. “The addition of ESP® further demonstrates Setra’s commitment to safety.”


deliveries NOVA




Brown Coach Amsterdam, NY

Stephen Brown says two MI1235s fill a valuable niche in the charter fleet to accommodate smaller groups with no compromise in comfort and luxury. The economical buses feature interiors full height windshields, air ride suspension and Amaya A2-Ten model seats with 3-point belts and added leg room, as well as Wi-Fi, 110 outlets, a video entertainment system with satellite TV. School groups, athletic teams and seniors feel like they are saving both money and the environment by riding a smaller coach



Nada Bus


Brown Coach Amsterdam, NY

Brown Coach acquired one 2012 Prevost H3-45 motorcoach as part of its ongoing update to its fleet, which includes a substantial share of Prevost coaches. Brown made use of a grant from the Over the Road Bus Accessibility Program to help equip its latest acquisition with a Ricon lift to allow two wheelchair passengers. Vice President Stephen Brown says the company purchased its first Prevost in 1997. In business since 1980, Brown offers single- and multi-day tours and charters to a broad range of customers.



Commerce, CA

Kats Saito says Nada Bus took delivery of seven 2012 Van Hool C2045s to ensure Japanese inbound customers the best possible coach experience during their stay in the U.S. He says passengers enjoy the comfortable cabin and great air conditioning. The 57-passenger coaches feature Detroit DD13 engines with Allison transmissions; as well as Alcoa Durabrite aluminum wheels, REI multi-monitor DVD systems, Hi-Fi Audio and CD Players, full fabric interiors, wireless microphones and reclining Amaya Torino seats with footrests, as well as Van Hool’s unique rear passenger window.

St. John’s Transportation Commission St. John’s, NL, Canada

St. John’s Transportation Commission took delivery of nine Nova LFS Smart Buses in February. The order also includes options on up to 21 additional buses from 2013 to 2017, which include the Nova eCooling system. St. John’s selected the 40-ft cleandiesel vehicles, which feature a stainless steel structure that maintenance manager Sean Mooney says is necessary in dealing with the corrosive operating conditions prevalent in Newfoundland. Nova Bus, St-Eustache, QB, Canada, is part of the Volvo Bus Corporation.







Skyliner Travel and Tours Queens, NY

Queens, NY-based skyliner Travel and Tours Bus Company recently took possession of six new Temsa TS35 motorcoaches. Skyliner is a family owned and operated bus company established in 1991. The 40-passenger, 35-ft coaches are the only stainless steel integral designed coach on the market. The coaches were purchased from CH Bus sales, the exclusive distributor of Temsa motorcoaches in the U.S.



Cardinal Bus Lines Middlebury, IN

Cardinal Bus Lines have acquired three new Temsa TS35 coaches from CH Bus Sales. The new coaches will be added to the company’s fleet of 44 coaches for its all-charter operation. The 35-ft coaches are equipped with a Cummins engine, Allison B500 transmission and 3-point seat belts. The new vehicles also come with 110-volt outlets, Wi-Fi and REI audio and video system. Cardinal has been a family-owned bus company since 1923.

April 2012


Prevost Liaison 2.0 delivers connectivity The road ahead includes new models for niche markets

Liaison fault alert screen

By David Hubbard

Prevost Liaison 2.0 is a business tool that allows operators to manage their companies and fleets with greater accuracy and efficiency. Prevost says it is the only motorcoach manufacturer to develop and implement its own integrated telematics system, which now comes standard on Prevost and Volvo coaches. This advanced vehicle management system provides key operating information by means of wireless communications and the Internet to increase fleet efficiency and improve customer service. Liaison 2.0 delivers information to operators on driver and vehicle performance that can help training, and may include data related to adherence to speed ranges; time in the RPM sweet spot, use of cruise control, as well as ESP. “Prevost Liaison keeps operators connected to their motorcoaches and drivers from any computer or mobile device,” says Prevost Director of Marketing Michael Power. “They have password-protected access from anywhere a high speed connection is available.” Liaison 2.0 continuously monitors the electronic systems, which include the engine and DPF emissions, transmission, ABS, tire pressure monitoring system and the Prevost Electronic Stability Program (Prevost ESP). “The system reads fault codes from the various electronic systems and builds a daily report of all faults, together with the ECU hardware and software part number,” says Power. “This report is available from the Liaison Web Page and is useful info to keep track of the


April 2012

condition of the vehicle.” Designed to increase productivity, improve safety and reduce operational costs while monitoring driver and vehicle performance, Prevost Liaison filters the mission critical codes and sends alerts as they occur, which show up as a separate report on the Liaison Web page. The driver uses an easy-to-read Driver Information Display to read and send messages. Critical code occurrences can trigger an e-mail to the office or mobile device. The critical faults come with a snap shot of several parameters indicative of the vehicle state when the fault occurred, such as if the engine is running or not, and vehicle speed and engine temperature. Prevost believes this extra information helps make troubleshooting more efficient.

Liaison monitors the vital statistics for each vehicle randomly at any time or on an established schedule. Vehicle data reports include information on fuel consumption, distance traveled, and resulting MPGs. Power says Liaison 2.0 can help operators determine the rpm sweet spot for each vehicle, as well as monitor driver adherence to the use of cruise control and preset speed ranges and safe driving factors, as well as idling time. It can measure fuel consumption for each vehicle on a weekly basis, which can help to reduce the possibility of fuel theft. Liaison 2.0 utilizes a cellular network to improve signal reliability and provide wider coverage. An application programming interface (API) supports connections to transport management systems, allowing more efficient data transfer with more data, and more often by reporting every five, 10 or 15 minutes. Prevost says the improved real-time fault alerts are now more representative of current vehicle status. The system shows current hardware and software installed in the vehicle for easier troubleshooting, data snapshots of fault alert instances and the status of the coach at time of the alert. Operators can configure fault alerts over the air, as well as customize them for each vehicle and schedule them up to three times per day, while the default is once per week. An access link to existing management systems allows communications and pre-set customized messages to and from drivers and dispatch.

Liaison fuel optimization screen



March 2012 13

Reliability Driven MCI sets course for business excellence Unveils Coach Critical Parts program and still going green Over the last year Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Schaumberg, IL, introduced a companywide business excellence program focused on continuous improvement. It included teams of executives, engineers and plant employees tasked with taking a fresh look at all stages of MCI’s production, sales and service cycles to determine ways to fast forward quality and innovation and better customer response.

MCI — Reliability Driven™ Earlier this year the company set the groundwork with a new campaign called Reliability Driven to anchor the new programs and initiatives that continue to focus on building reliable coaches and delivering dependable support service. The company says the new logo and tagline help sharpen its vision and message for 2012.


April 2012

“Our new campaign communicates what customers and the industry can expect from MCI today and in the future,” says Patricia Ziska, MCI vice president of sales and marketing. “We base it on the principle of continuous improvement, in which teams establish processes to boost product quality and spur innovation.” MCI points to the most recent improvements to its flagship J4500 motorcoach. The company recently celebrated its 6,000th motorcoach to come off the Model E-J manufacturing line, a specially-built J4500 that went to the Shriners of British Columbia and Yukon to serve its Care Cruiser fleet.

Coach Critical Parts MCI says it has invested more than $7 million in parts inventory, including $4 million

in approximately 1,500 critical parts such as windows and brake components, to ensure operators have the parts they need at the time they need them for nearly all coach makes and models. “It is paying off,” says Stan Dzierzega of MCI Service Parts. “Fulfillment rates are at an all-time high.” Dzierzega and Scott Robertson unveiled Coach Critical Parts in February at UMA Expo in Long Beach claiming it to be like no other in the industry. The Coach Critical Parts Program guarantees that critical parts will be in-stock and shipped the same day if ordered before 4 p.m. Eastern time to help keep coaches on the road and producing revenue. MCI says it is making the promise to have one of the 10,000 critical items listed in stock and ready for delivery, or operators will receive 50 percent off the cost of the part up to $150,

Ride BUSRide

credited to their account. All 22,000 unique OEM and proprietary MCI parts are housed in the company’s 365,000-square-foot distribution facility in Louisville, KY, the same location where the MCI team of parts customer service and technical support representatives take customer calls. Operators can also order parts online at any of the MCI Service Centers in the U.S. and Canada. Nearing the 80th anniversary of the company – Harry Zoltok founded a company in his Winnipeg auto repair shop that would eventually become Motor Coach Industries – MCI stands as North America’s leading motor coach manufacturer of what many consider to be the most reliable coaches on the road. MCI still produces its coaches at its state-ofthe-art ISO 9001 certified production facilities in Winnipeg, MB, Canada, and Pembina, ND.

MCI continues to go green Staying true to its green commitment, MCI is also supporting Idle-Free for Our Children, an anti-idling organization associated with the Children’s Clean Air Network. The grassroots group promotes the cost savings and clean air benefits of idling limits. In February during UMA Expo the company and co-sponsor Allison Transmission honored Ambassatours

BUSRide Ride

Left to right) Brian Gillis, vice president at Ambassatours Gray Line, Chato Patterson, OEM account manager, Allison Transmission and Pat Ziska, MCI vice president, sales and marketing join the Children’s Clean Air Network founder Ron Zima in support of cutting emissions and saving fuel.

Gray Line of Halifax, NS, Canada, for its emission-cutting policies in cooperation with Idle-Free and the Children’s Clean Air Network. Since joining the network two years ago Ambassatours has experienced substantial fuel savings and reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to the weight of six motor coaches, says Brian Gillis, Ambassatours vice president of charters. “While drivers sometimes do have to idle coaches, Ambassatours encourages each driver to limit the practice to an average of five minutes a day and uses GPS systems for tracking data,” he says. “It adds up in a company that runs a fleet of 72 coaches.”

MCI recognizes organizational leadership in going green as presenting sponsor of the UMA Green Highway Award Coach USA reinvented intercity travel with the launch of in 2006. The carrier recently earned the 2012 United Motorcoach Association Green Highway Award for its environmental stewardship and green achievements. Established in 2008 and presented during UMA Expo, this award recognizes companies that demonstrate organizational leadership in reducing carbon emissions. Motor Coach Industries (MCI), sponsor of the Green Highway Award, made the presentation in February during the Vision

April 2012




Award ceremonies at UMA Expo 2012. “We congratulate Coach USA on its accomplishments,” said Patricia Ziska, MCI vice president of sales and marketing. “The efforts of Coach USA and benefit the entire industry and the visibility of motor coach travel as the greenest way to go.” Coach USA continues to update its fleet with newer coaches featuring the latest clean-diesel engine technology and emitting near zero emissions. The company is also testing new technologies that offer 4 to 6 percent reductions in fuel usage, and it equips its fleet of 1,642 coaches and buses John Oakman, senior vice president fleet, maintenance & procurement CoachUSA accepts the UMA Green Highway Award with GPS systems that trigger alerts through sponsored by MCI from Patricia Ziska, MCI vice president of sales and marketing. the company’s command center when idletimes are exceeded. Coach USA’s organization-wide communications how motorcoaches when year over year. environmental efforts include upgrading filled to capacity are on average seven times “We’re committed to furthering our its facilities with energy-saving lighting more energy efficient than single-occupancy environmental practices and educating the fixtures and adding LED lights at its parking automobiles, releasing the least carbon public on motor coach travel as a green and lots, moves that are furthering its already dioxide per passenger mile when compared affordable alternative to automobiles and impressive 20 percent reduction in energy to any other mode of transportation. At its airplane travel,” says Dale Moser, president usage. subsidiary, ridership has of Coach USA. “We’re honored to receive Coach USA explains on its website and in steadily increased at a rate of 38 percent this year’s Green Highway Award.” BR

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April 2012 BUSRide

WTS steers toward an international audience ‘Transportation You’ leads young women to the transportation industry By Glenn Swain Last November Marcia Ferranto, executive director of the Women’s Transportation Seminar International (WTS), saw more of the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel conference halls than the beautiful scenery outside her door. Ferranto was in Hawaii for the APEC CEO Summit. The Asian Pacific business event drew thousands of economic and business leaders from around the world, including President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Ferranto met with representatives of APEC economies interested in assembling a networking system in their countries to advance

While Ferranto and her organization have international foresight, she says the bigger challenge lies on domestic soil. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, Ferranto says the biggest hurdle is simply the low numbers of women in the transportation industry itself. “The challenge for women is still to make it into senior management positions,” she says. “It’s not because companies are saying we’re not hiring women; it’s because the women are not out there to be hired. They’re either leaving the industry before they get to senior level management or

“The challenge for women is still to make it into senior management positions.” – Marcia Ferranto women in transportation. Ferranto brings more than 20 years experience to her position of advocating educational and career development for women. She previously held posts with the Delaware Art Museum as acting director, chief financial officer and director of finance and human resources. “What’s interesting is that WTS is not currently pursuing a strategic international plan, says Ferranto. “We are being driven by the countries.” Founded in 1977, Washington, D.C.based WTS is an international organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation. Claiming more than 5,000 members — both men and women — WTS is helping women find opportunities and recognition in the transportation industry through its five focuses: access, networking, education, mentoring and professional development.

18 April 2012

there are 100 men to every woman for a senior management job.” It would be easy for Ferranto to complain of discrimination, but she doesn’t. Instead, she sees WTS as both educating companies to the needs of advancing women and trying to convince women to not only enter the transportation industry but to stay there. And while not having hard statistics, Ferranto says she hears from other women of pay inequity compared to male counterparts. She stresses that the focus is more on women being under-represented in the industry and not the level of salary. “WTS is not representing women being discriminated against,” Ferranto says. “We try to give them access to the highestranking people in the industry so they can network and build connections. We want to inspire women to further their career in

transportation.” Ferranto says the transportation industry has not become women-friendly, believing that it has not adequately addressed the balance between the needs of women in their work and personal lives. She says women in the field tell her the vast majority of industry activities they attend are really geared toward men and not conducive to a gender-balanced workforce. Bonding golf outings are more popular than, say, going to the theater. Many women simply live with the ugly reality that they need to adapt to the male environment. Ferranto and the 48 WTS chapters are working on a remedy she believes will bring more women into the industry. In partnership with the Department of Transportation, WTS recently launched a program called “Transportation You,” which targets young women between the ages of 13 and 18. As a mentoring model the program introduces transportation to women who may not recognize it is a viable career choice. WTS chapters are working locally with the Girl Scouts, high school counselors and others to stress what Ferranto calls STEM, an acronym for how science, technology, engineering and math fit into the transportation industry. “We’re building awareness one state at a time through our scholarship program,” Ferranto says. “We have already given out more than $1 million in scholarships, and the program is growing.” In 2011 WTS gave out about $158,000 in scholarships throughout the U.S. “We are hoping to add another $25,000 to that this year,” she says. “Our ultimate goal is to raise that number closer to the $300,000 annual mark.” Ferranto sees the WTS expanding internationally over the next five years, allowing women from all walks of life to find satisfying careers in transportation. “We’re already in London, and we’re currently working with a group in the Middle East, India and Brazil,” she says. “I suspect we will be in China and Japan, too.” BR



First Transit providing employment opportunities for returning soldiers


The FTA has given AC Transit, Oakland, CA, it highest overall rating of any of the transit projects under consideration across the United States for its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) now in development. Construction is expected to begin in 2014, and the system fully operational in 2016.


B-V Links, Barstow, CA, and Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) began city bus service between Barstow and the Victor Valley area in response from Barstow citizens – many of whom are elderly and disabled – requesting travel to Apple Valley and Victorville.


From left to right are Brad Thomas, president, First Transit and First Services, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Field and Command Sergeant Major Charles Pulliam.

First Transit, Inc., Cincinnati, OH, is partnering with the United States Army’s Partnership for Youth Success (PaYs) program to provide opportunities for soldiers returning from duty to locate and interview for employment opportunities with First Transit. The available positions include maintenance staff, transit drivers and many more within the company’s division.

“With this partnership, First Transit has the ability to choose from a dedicated and professional pool of applicants,” said Brad Thomas, president of First Transit and First Services. “The training our military men and women acquire gives them the tools needed to immediately make an impact within our operations.”

In February the Texas Trails Network awarded San Antonio-based VIA Metropolitan Transit the Great Texas Trail Head award for the Ingram Transit Center Trailhead project.


Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) may soon have a more affordable option for getting to Detroit Metro Airport starting this month, involving a public-private partnership named AirRide with Michigan Flyer, a subsidiary of Indian Trails Bus Company.

Via Primo breaks ground

San Antonio-based VIA Metropolitan Transit has broken ground on the stations for VIA Prímo, the agency’s signature bus rapid transit line (BRT) for the Fredericksburg Road corridor. Construction on eight stations along the corridor will continue throughout 2012.

$7.3 million approved for Chi-town BRT

As promised, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has approved more than $7.3 million in tax increment financing for a BRT line in downtown Chicago. Another $24.6 million will come from the Federal Transit Administration for heavily used routes. The plan includes dedicated bus lines, signal preemption, pre-paid boarding or onboard fare verification, multiple entry and exit points on the buses, limited stops and street-level boarding.


The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) unveiled its first bus shelters on Capitol Square in Columbus. The copper roofing and metal scrollwork, and are inspired by a 19th Century streetcar passenger shelter and maintain a similar architectural style to the structure of the Ohio Statehouse. The $295,000 cost of the shelters came from 20 percent COTA local funds and 80 percent federal funds.

April 2012 19

Claim severity in public transit trends upward Aon Risk Solutions 2011 Public Transit Liability Benchmark Analysis By Terry C. Pfeifer

Occurrence frequency by 100,000 transit trips by transit operation type.

The Aon Risk Solutions 2011 Public Transit Liability Benchmark Analysis provides public transit risk managers with a better understanding of the liability cost of risk. The study found significant differences in both the frequency and severity of liability claims for bus operations compared to those of rail operations. Over the last five accident years public transit liability costs have been increasing slightly. Since 2006 there was a 3 percent average annual loss rate increase, a 1 percent average annual claim frequency increase and a 2 percent average annual claim severity increase.

Findings expressed numerically

Occurrence severity limited to $5 million per occurrence by transit operation type.

Loss Rate per 1,000 transit trips limited to $5 million per occurrence by transit operation type.


April 2012

The Aon study shows that while the average dollar severity of a rail liability occurrence is higher than a bus occurrence, the much higher frequency of liability occurrences associated with bus operations is a key driver of the overall cost of liability claims. • Projected 2011 frequency was one occurrence per 1.075 million rail transit trips, and one occurrence per 170,000 bus transit trips • Projected 2011 severity was $31,300 for rail operations and $21,000 for bus operations • Projected 2011 loss rate was 2.9 cents per rail transit trip and 12.3 cents per bus transit trip A closer examination of the nature of bus operations compared to rail operations further explains these findings. As buses interact with pedestrians and other road traffic there is a greater potential for incidents leading to liability claims. While these claims can sometimes be severe or expensive, many others only relate to minor fender-bender incidents, which drive down the overall average bus liability claim severity. On the other hand, rail operations tend to operate on dedicated tracks with little or no interaction with pedestrians and vehicular traffic. While there are sometimes very severe rail occurrences, these are


relatively rare, but they do drive up the average claim cost of rail occurrences. Additionally, a small number of severe transit claims can result in a very large dollar amount of liability losses. As shown in this study an analysis of the distribution of public transit liability claims by dollar value revealed that 95 percent of public transit liability claims have dollar values of $50,000 or less, while a very small number of liability claims have dollar values of $1 million or larger. If these severe claims can be avoided or mitigated in the future, there is the potential for significant savings in public transit liability claims.

The future of ridership

Effective loss control will become even more important in the future as public transit ridership is likely to continue to increase nationwide. History shows that public transit ridership has consistently increased, not only because of population growth but also because of its advantages during times of economic growth. A strong economy leads to an increase in commuting

workers as well as an increase in the number of riders who use public transit for leisure activity travels. Although public transit ridership growth has been somewhat flat in recent years, the transit industry can expect significant increases in ridership as the economy recovers. BR Terry C. Pfeifer serves as a senior consultant for Aon Risk Solutions, Chicago, IL

Public transit liability trends upward

Several factors are driving the increases in public transit liability. Outside pressures, such as medical cost inflation, have significantly contributed to the increase in the severity of public transit liability claims. Also many insurance experts have theorized that the current economic environment leads to an increase in the frequency of liability claims of all types. Some public transit risk managers also speculate that transit liability claims increase as less-experienced operators begin to replace older, more experienced transit vehicle drivers as they retire. Public transit vehicle fleets and infrastructures are beginning to show signs of aging. While some transit systems more than 100 years old have long dealt with maintaining an aging system, many other transit systems as young as 40 are beginning to deal with the challenges of sustaining an their original infrastructure. Even when transit agencies perform diligent maintenance breakdowns in aging equipment can still lead to an increase in liability generating occurrences. Aging public transit infrastructure and an older workforce underscore the need for effective loss control, training and system and vehicle maintenance or replacement. These measures can help mitigate future increases and perhaps even lead to reductions in liability claim frequency and severity.


April 2012


the transit authority

The solution to Utah’s growth challenges By Michael Allegra When I look to the future for the Utah Transit Authority I see more bus rapid transit. UTA opened its first BRT line in July 2008. The 10-mile line is the first of a number of planned BRT routes that will help our transit system meet the demands of one of the fastest growing populations in the nation. The State of Utah is home to nearly three million people. While that number may seem small compared to many states, 80 percent of our population lives in a string of narrow valleys bordered by the Wasatch Mountains to the east and the Great Salt Lake, Utah Lake and more mountains to the west. Concentrated growth within these natural confines has made this area —known as the Wasatch Front — one of the most urbanized in the nation. With

limited room to expand, more and more people are recognizing that access to good mass transportation is critical to our future quality of life. These factors have helped UTA gain widespread support as we have embarked on one of the fastest growth periods in our history. In spite of the recession, UTA has continued to expand both the amount and type of services we offer, with strong grown in ridership. UTA started as a bus company in 1970, but has since become a truly multi-modal transportation provider, carrying more than 41 million riders per year. While U.S. transit ridership increased by approximately 28 percent from 1996 to 2010, UTA’s ridership

UTA’s ridership increased by 60 percent from 1996 to 2010. Today, the agency operates more than 600 buses and 400 vanpools.


April 2012


increased by 60 percent over the same period. Today, we operate more than 600 buses and 400 vanpools. We are also nearing completion of a $2.3 billion rail expansion that will more grow our system to 48 miles of light rail and 90 miles of commuter rail. By 2015, 75 percent of the population of our service area will be within three miles of a major transit stop. But this isn’t enough. Our goal at UTA is to have 90 percent of the population within one mile of a major transit stop by 2030. That’s a lofty goal, especially given the challenges of a slowed economy. One of the ways we will get there is with more bus rapid transit. Our passenger rail network is comparable to the Interstate system — high frequency, high capacity lines that can move people quickly around the region. Our local bus service functions like neighborhood or collector streets. What we need to do next is fill in the gaps and create a true equivalent to arterial roads that can more efficiently deliver our riders from the “collectors” to the “freeways.” Only then will we become truly competitive with the automobile. Bus rapid transit is one of the best solutions to help us accomplish this. Often described as light rail on rubber tires, BRT moves people through a busy, congested corridor much more rapidly than a regular bus route. UTA’s first BRT line, the MAX, travels along 3500 South, one of the busiest corridors in Utah’s second largest city, West Valley City. The 10-mile line, which initially featured only limited stops, traffic signal priority, and fare payment before boarding, added more than a mile of dedicated travel lanes in 2010, with more


planned in the near future. Improvements in travel time, reliability, and quality of service have resulted in a doubling of ridership along this corridor since opening. While funding continues to be an obstacle, UTA is in the advanced planning stages for the following new BRT routes: • 5600 West BRT will eventually span 25 miles along the west side of the Salt Lake Valley from the Salt Lake International Airport in the north to the City of Bluffdale in the south. It will be the first major north-south transit arterial on the west side. It is designed to complete a multimodal system that includes a new highway, the Mountain View Corridor. • Southwest Salt Lake County BRT will connect Bluffdale and the 5600 West BRT line with commuter rail to the east and TRAX light rail to the north. • Provo-Orem BRT will connect commuter rail stations in the cities of Provo and Orem with the area’s two major universities, shopping centers, and Provo’s core downtown. In the long range plan UTA and the local metropolitan planning organizations show more than 500 miles of BRT routes crisscrossing the Wasatch Front. By making transit convenient, easy, and affordable, they will play a critical role in addressing the challenges of a growing population and ensuring our future quality of life. BR Michael Allegra joined Utah Transit Authority in 1979 and was appointed general manager in April 2010. He can be reached at

April 2012


risk management

Understand safety management and liability relationships By Matthew A. Daecher


April 2012

When I discuss accident investigation and the ensuing results with companies or managers, I sometimes hear, “Well, my driver wasn’t cited, so it wasn’t preventable.” Those who have been involved in any serious claim or litigation and held accountable to some extent even though their driver did not receive a citation will certainly chuckle at this statement, as I do. Indeed, there is a big difference between criminal and liable. A citation handed out to a driver judged to have violated a documented law holds him accountable for his actions. Liability deals more with perceived contribution to an occurrence as opposed to violating a law. The difference between criminal and civil law

is criminal focuses on violations of a specific set of rules, while civil law deals largely with everything outside of the judgment of those responsible for enforcing those rules. Liability is a term that likely means more to some than others, though it should be important to you regardless of your specific situation because you, the carrier, ultimately pays for those liabilities you have incurred. In a traditional insurance arrangement that is typical of most companies when an incident occurs, once an operator submits a claim the assumption is it becomes the insurance company’s problem. From that point, the insurance company settles the claim and ultimately, based upon the liability and resulting cost


of a carrier’s claims, determines what they expect the carrier’s future losses to be, and adjusts the insurance premium accordingly. (Note: While other market factors can influence insurance costs, premiums typically reflect prior losses and other operational factors.) In non-traditional or alternative risk insurance arrangements the liability aspect is usually more transparent to carriers. They have a more vested interest in the outcome of claims submitted given the potential to actually earn back some of their premium. Since increased liability leads to increased claim costs and ultimately a higher cost of doing business, it makes sense that controlling liability is important to controlling costs in the long run. So, what operational concept is inversely proportionate to liability? Safety programs and processes of course. A comprehensive and well-executed safety management program will limit a


carrier’s liability to the extent possible in any given situation. Many operators learn this the hard way as they grow the company, though small operators who understand the concept can get ahead of the game and ultimately reach a level of sophistication that comes with growth and experience. Experience tells me the larger a carrier becomes, the bigger the chance to be bitten by the liability bug and suffer its related costs, and most likely to adopt a more robust safety program. Here are the top liability producers that every operator should address and control. Subjective hiring — Make sure there is a method in hiring. Establish guidelines for the skills and behaviors a candidate must bring to the job in your company and make them stick. Lack of or inconsistent oversight — Review all employee errors, violations of company policies, regulations

or laws and unsafe driving behavior on a regular basis to determine if anyone poses unnecessary or unusual risk compared with other employees. Absence of accountability — When an employee missteps the company should inform the employee of the error and take some type of corrective action, whether counseling, training, etc. A framework for disciplinary action is generally included in an accountability system to deter similar behavior in the future. Insufficient documentation — Without documentation to prove that you routinely conduct liability-reducing measures, you will have a hard time convincing anyone interested that this is a standard practice you actually completed as scheduled. BR Matthew A. Daecher is president and CEO of Daecher Consulting Group, Inc., Camp Hills, PA.

April 2012


letter from europe By Doug Jack

NB4L enters service

A nearside view of the vehicle showing the three doors and the deeper windows on the lower deck so that standing passengers can see outside easily.

NB4L is text-speak for the New Bus for London that Mayor Johnson promised when he took office in 2008. Transport for London is the city authority, which decides the total route network and the types of vehicles that will operate on them. Private contractors provide all the services, most for five-year terms. London had acquired more than 400 articulated buses under the previous mayor, all from Mercedes-Benz. Known to Londoners as bendi-buses they were very good at picking up large numbers of passengers, particularly on busy commuter routes connecting with the main rail terminals. However, they were not ideally suited to London’s narrow streets and many junctions. Too often they could be held up half way across an intersection, blocking other traffic from moving. London’s evening newspaper launched a campaign against the bendi-buses, which mayoral candidate Boris Johnson took up. He promised not only to get rid of the bendi-buses, he would also champion the development of a new generation of buses for the capital. The Routemaster served London for many years. It was an almost indestructible double deck model with a front mounted engine alongside the driver who sat in a half width cab. It had an open platform at the rear that served both decks. They were


April 2012

popular because passengers could jump on and off when the vehicle stopped in traffic. A few still remain on two heritage routes principally used for sightseeing. Boris Johnson won the election in 2008 and set about his promises with vigor. The last articulated buses came out of service

The open rear platform closes off outside peak hours so one person can operate the bus.


towards the end of last year, replaced with standard double decks running more frequently to make up for the loss in total passenger capacity. He also launched a competition for a design for the New Bus for London. With the announcement of the winner, Johnson invited manufacturers to bid for building a prototype fleet of vehicles to the new design. The one catch was that Transport for London would have the rights to the design, as it would pay the full development costs. Some might think this was a reasonable proposition, but it was unacceptable to major international manufacturers contributing many years of their highly valued and closely guarded technical expertise. In the end it came down to a straight contest between two British manufacturers; Alexander Dennis and the successful bidder, Wrightbus, based in Ballymena in Northern Ireland. Transport for London introduced London-based Heatherwick Studio to work hand-in-hand with Wrightbus on the design. At the time Thomas Heatherwick was an unknown name in the automotive world. It may have been tense for the free ranging mind of Thomas Heatherwick and his design colleagues to come up against the rigidity of the strict regulations of the European Union for driver and passenger safety. However, Mayor Johnson was determined to create a new icon for London, as well known as the previous red double deck buses and black taxicabs. Wrightbus garnered a contract worth around $18 million to develop eight pre-production NB4L prototypes. The company and Heatherwick were up against the clock from the beginning, as the next Mayoral election in London is this May. Johnson wanted to have the prototype fleet in service and seen by millions of Londoners before the critical date. NB 4L also had to meet the latest hybrid specification. Working closely with Siemens the company had its own patented light and strong aluminium construction system. Only the low-floor underframe is steel. NB4L features three doors and two staircases. A double-width door is located at the front alongside the driver and ahead of the front axle. The second double-width door opens behind the front axle. One interesting feature is the traditional-styled open rear

platform leading to a second staircase at the rear of the bus and into the lower deck. This door can close off so one driver can operate the vehicle during off-peak periods without a conductor to tend to the passengers and ticketing, which is effectively the same two-door layout as all other double deck buses running in London. To accommodate the door and staircase arrangements the overall length came out to 36-ft 9-in, quite a bit longer than most other double deck buses running in the capital. The cleverly packaged hybrid drivetrain at the rear of the vehicle uses a compact 4.5 litre Cummins ISBe diesel engine that drives a generator to power the Siemens hybrid drive system. The rear axle drives with regenerative braking to recuperate energy stored in compact lithium-ion batteries. I saw the first nearly complete prototype at Wrights factory in the spring of last year. It was certainly different and broke away from the rather square shape of most double deck buses. There is an abundance of glass, particularly around the staircases, and a deep lower front windshield. Its asymmetric styling and prominent round headlights look nearly retro in style. The rear dome is most distinctive, almost totally panelled except for a curved glazing feature over the rear staircase. Unlike any other bus, it must surely meet the mayor’s wishes for an iconic design. Wrightbus has its own well-established reputation for design and styling. Several British prepared to invest in up-market features have demonstrated that by making the passenger area

The interior is of a high standard. A wheelchair passenger parks facing rearwards against the padded board on the right.


April 2012


letter from europe continued more friendly and inviting more people will be tempted to travel by bus. The agency will recover the additional price in revenues. Thomas Heatherwick traveled widely and looked at many buses old and new. His result looks very tasteful and of good quality with not a screw-head in sight. The vehicle has 40 seats on the upper deck, 22 downstairs and space for a further 25 standing passengers. The seat trim is in a warm-looking, hardwearing moquete. The stylish bronzedcolor handrails are for passengers moving or standing in gangways. Some of the interior panelling is in the same traditional burgundy color as the original Routemaster but the lighting uses modern and longer-lasting LED. Before entering service, the first of the prototypes underwent extensive proving at Millbrook testing grounds about 50 miles north of London. The facilities include the ability for test drivers to simulate one of Transport for London’s typical routes. They reckoned to achieve a fuel consumption of 11.6 mpg, which compares to approximately 5.8 mpg for a conventional diesel double deck bus. An imperial gallon is slightly larger than a U.S. gallon. On the other hand, the price of the NB4L is equivalent to $520,000, compared with around $290,000 for a standard diesel bus. It will take a long time to recover that much higher initial cost, even allowing for the high price of diesel in the United Kingdom and other European countries. Major political questions arise with Mayor Johnson standing for re-election in May. It is gearing up to be a very close contest with his predecessor, Ken Livingston who introduced the bendi-buses but also made many other major improvements to bus services in London. If Johnson is re-elected, will there be further orders for Borismasters, as some people call them, despite the higher price? If Ken Livingston wins he is far too shrewd a politician to bring back the bendi-buses, but would he sanction orders for a bus, which was very much a pet project of his predecessor? BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.

28 April 2012


going green

What fleet managers need to know about propane autogas

The Propane Education & Research Council addresses questions about refueling and availability By Steve Wayne Questions arise as popularity increases for the use of propane autogas in buses, shuttles and vans, even though many new models feature the latest technology that has successfully met performance and sustainability expectations. provides some answers to the frequently asked questions and suggests how fleets of any size can easily adopt these vehicles with a refueling approach that makes sense.

What differentiates vehicle fueled by propane autogas from those that operate on other fuels? Buses, shuttles, and vans fueled by propane autogas use a modern liquid injection system, which achieves similar torque and power figures as gasoline engines of the same model — something that not all alternative fuels can achieve. The reuse of the engine’s standard electronic control unit, along with a recalibration process based on the same processes and validation used by the original vehicle manufacturer, ensures the excellent starting and drive feel of modern vehicles. Also, the United

30 April 2012

States produces 90 percent of its propane, making it readily available to help reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

What is the certification status of propane autogas? Low-carbon propane autogas is an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act of 1990 and burns cleaner in engines than gasoline or diesel. Agencies such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have granted certification approval for many buses fueled by propane autogas. Alternative fuel vehicles meet California emissions standards and can be sold and operated in all 50 states. These certified vehicles meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards. Some propane autogas fueled vehicles achieve lower emissions than the required CARB standards, which are lower than the gasoline vehicles.

Where do fleets procure propane autogas for their vehicles? Companies and school districts can facilitate an onsite refueling program at any one of more than 6,000 local propane

providers across the country. Fleets also can refuel off-site at any of the thousands of refueling stations across the United States. Propane autogas is the only alternative fuel with fueling stations in every state. Add to that, there are more propane autogas refueling stations in the country than for any other alternative fuel. Fleet managers and drivers can locate stations through the Energy Department Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Data Center.

How do transit fleets approach refueling? Propane providers can help all fleet managers select the best on-site refueling option, coordinate ongoing delivery of propane autogas and even provide on-site refueling safety and training classes.

What are the costs to implement propane autogas fueling? The cost of installing a propane autogas refueling station to refuel with speed and ease are comparable to that of gasoline or diesel. The infrastructure is relatively inexpensive. Many propane providers across the country will install the infrastructure for


no cost in return for the fueling contract.

How does the use of propane autogas reduce emissions? By improved combustion in the engine, propane-autogas-fueled vehicles emit 12 percent less carbon dioxide, about 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide than gasoline-fueled vehicles and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent. This reduction in emissions helps reduce short and long term health effects in passengers, and contributes to cleaner air.

Which bus manufacturers produce dedicated propane-autogas-fueled vehicles? PERC partners with several leading OEMs to provide research and development support for dedicated liquid propane autogas injection systems. Fleet managers can now choose buses from Blue Bird Corp., Collins Bus Corp. and from Thomas Built Buses. These manufacturers have collaborated with well-known automotive companies to provide liquid propane autogas injection systems. Over the past two years more than a dozen new vehicle platforms fueled by propane autogas have come on the market. Other applications include shuttle bus and van applications available directly from GM dealers or for Ford based products such as Roush CleanTech through a partnership with Ford Motor Co.

Can companies convert fleet vehicles to run on propane autogas? Yes, fleet managers can convert current dedicated gasoline fueled vehicles to run on propane autogas by either dedicated propane autogas or as bi-fuel, meaning that the vehicle can operate on propane autogas or gasoline depending on fuel availability. Aftermarket conversion kits are available from manufacturers such as Alliance AutoGas, Landi Renzo, RGR Alternative Fuels IMPCO and ICOM North America.

Where can operators find more information on vehicles fueled by propane autogas? Feet managers may visit or contact local propane autogas providers, fleet dealers and vehicle manufacturers. BR Steve Wayne serves as chief commercial officer for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), Washington, D.C.


April 2012 31

A company rebrands to do more BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award winner J. Alan Thrasher and Reggie Haslam lead the Vectour Group in group coach moves J. Alan Thrasher, co-owner and president of Thrasher Brothers Trailways and COO of the Vectour Group, Birmingham, AL received the BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award in February during the UMA EXPO 2012 in Long Beach, CA. The award recognized Thrasher for his lifelong association with motorcoaches, inspired by his father, Jim Thrasher and the Thrasher Brothers gospel singing group now honored in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The family coach business began in 1971 and later became a Trailways affiliate. Thrasher’s first job at age 11 was washing buses. He continued in the business throughout high school and college before going on the road for the next 10 years driving entertainer coaches. He returned to Birmingham and launched his own entertainment coach company in 1989. In 2007 he joined his sister Alyce Davidson in acquiring the family business, and in the same year joined forces with Atlanta businessman Reggie Haslam Sr. to create what was then International Trailways, an innovative business model for ground transportation management. Haslam operated his own Haslam Coach in Atlanta for 25 years before moving to Birmingham to work with Thrasher Brothers Trailways. Recently renamed the Vectour Group, the company is now expanding to focus on a wider range of services for more diverse consortiums of operators. The company does not own

By David Hubbard

J. Alan Thrasher’s lifelong association with motorcoaches has put him at the helm of Thrasher Brothers Trailways and the Vectour Group.

32 April 2012

its own coaches. Rather it coordinates with other highly respected motor coach companies around the nation to form large scale temporary operations in any state or country for multiple coach moves. Thrasher says the goal is to not overshadow anyone, but achieve greater results by using pooled resources. Major events have included participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the Democratic Convention in Denver, and the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY. The contract for the 2010 Winter Olympics required just over 500 vehicles, 1,000 drivers, 20 mechanics and 30 staff members. According to Thrasher and Haslam these 58 companies from 34 states under the Trailways banner that served the 2010 Winter Olympics stand on record as the largest move of motorcoaches and drivers into another country from the U.S. “People don’t understand how long it takes to plan really large events,” says Thrasher. “Reggie and I ate and slept in offices, airports, hotels and apartments, flying back and forth regularly for three years. We lived in Vancouver for nearly a year and only came back to Birmingham for Christmas. The buses came in January and left in late March.” Later in 2010 Thrasher and Haslam also contracted with BP Oil for three months along the Gulf Coast during the oil spill clean-up. “Vectour Group targets not only large events in sports, entertainment and commercial events, but also long-term contracts to provide transportation services to cities, municipalities, federal and state government entities, schools and colleges,” says CEO Reggie Haslam. “This company has always been about more than just buses.” This summer the Vectour Group will establish a base in the U.K. to help British coach operators transport spectators to and from the Summer Olympics taking place in London and throughout England. The Vectour team has spent the last two summers in the U.K. visiting and meeting with independent motorcoach operators throughout England and Scotland. Thrasher says the independent operators say they look forward to working together under our new concept. No stranger to events of such magnitude, Haslam had already worked the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and Salt Lake City in 2002. “When we first formed this company we really were two guys with an idea with nothing to lose,” says Thrasher. “We had everything to gain if we worked together, believed in an idea and followed our hearts.” BR


APRIL 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 !

Four reasons to employ RTLS

Real time locating systems save transit agencies time

By Adrian Jennings

BUSRide Maintenance

It is difficult in today’s technology-driven society to imagine large transit operators relying on pen and paper to manually track the location of the buses in their fleet. Nonetheless, for many transit organizations this is still the reality. More transit agencies such as Metro Transit, Minneapolis, MN, are replacing this outdated, errorprone process with advanced real time locating technologies that provide greater visibility for transit yard management, and at the same time realize positive savings in time and costs.

April 2012




Real-time location systems (RTLS) involve a network of tags and sensors that operate automatically in real time to locate specific physical assets such as transit buses. Metro Transit, which tracks approximately 900 buses, replaced its manual markup sheets with electronic versions that incorporate RTLS, making it easier and faster to locate dispatched and parked buses. It even helps in making maintenance and repair assessments.

Find the buses

RTLS provides significant return on investment (ROI) by simply helping a driver, mechanic custodian or an outside contractor locate a bus in a parking facility that needs immediate attention. For example, a contractor may need to access all buses with video monitoring systems. With RTLS installed in the garage the contractor uses a computer to query the database for the location of all vehicles using that particular type of video surveillance equipment. A printable map showing the location of all such buses is instantly generated, allowing the


April 2012

RTLS can help transit operators park buses in a more strategic manner to prevent blockage and departure delays.

contractor to complete his work more efficiently. Since most maintenance contracts are invoiced on a time-onsite basis, removing bus-locating delays can translate into real cost savings. The maintenance staff can leverage similar efficiencies when it is time to locate particular vehicles due for repair. Location systems can annotate a

map view of the parking garage with icons depicting bus status. With one click of the mouse a technician can locate all the buses scheduled for routine maintenance.

Park the buses

In addition to locating buses faster, RTLS can help transit operators park

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buses in a more strategic manner to prevent blockage and departure delays. A bus arriving at the parking garage may have developed a critical fault detected by the onboard monitoring equipment. Without RTLS the maintenance staff may query the system only to find the bus boxed in by several buses that need to be shuffled in order to retrieve the vehicle. With RTLS giving the location and status of all buses in the garage, drivers can be instructed to park their buses more precisely to prevent blockage, of move those in need of service into holding area, allowing the maintenance staff to retrieve a particular faster. In a garage equipped with RTLS the system can alert the maintenance staff when a vehicle with a critical fault enters the facility direct it to the best location before others block its removal. Again, such real time reductions in frustrating delays translate into real savings.

Dispatch the bus Nothing causes greater frustration to transit operators than delayed departures. On-time pullouts are critical in maintaining a set schedule and quality customer service. A computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system ensures the correct buses are traveling the correct routes at the correct time. However, in an indoor parking structure where buses are typically parked in long rows, one mistake in locating a

bus can delay its pulling out on time. RTLS is capable of coordinating the pull out sequence of buses parked in designated spaces. Even with solid bus location data the unexpected can still occur. One flat tire or non-starting bus can block other buses and hinder their pullouts. Such incidents require contingency plans that can be implemented immediately to the affected vehicles on schedule. This may involve significant shuffling

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and assigning buses to other routes, and is only made easier with the information RTLS can offer about the exact location of all the vehicles in the garage.

Maintain the bus

RTLS gives transit operators the exact location information they need. It virtually peels the roof off to provide a real time overview unachievable with a manual process. It allows the chance to identify and rectify issues by implementing more efficient shop routines that reduce downtime due to the movement of vehicles. Let’s say in an operation running both single and articulated buses the articulated buses always leave the oil change station later than planned, which creates issues in getting them back into service. Even though the maintenance staff reports the oil changes are being completed within the allotted time, no one can explain the reason for the delays. RTLS can shed some light. A timeline graphic showing the usage of a particular oil change station points immediately to a probable cause. While the articulated buses are serviced within the allotted time, they are always last in line. Meanwhile, service on a particular class of single buses is taking longer than expected. The articulated buses are not late because of an issue with them, but because their service begins later due to issues with other vehicles. The root cause is with the single buses. RTLS can quickly detect when a bus has remained in the maintenance bay longer than expected or has not arrived at the expected time. This data requires no manual intervention since location updates are automatic. Messages and alerts can be sent via e-mail, text message or digital display on the most current location of all vehicles to expedite scheduling adjustments and avoid costly delays. BR Adrian Jennings serves as vice president of technology for Ubisense Inc., a leading provider of location solutions.


April 2012

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Ultracapacitor update:

Ioxus introduces iCAP™ Series ultracapacitor Ioxus, Inc., Oneonta, NY, a manufacturer of premium performance ultracapacitor technology, announced earlier this year its new iCAP™ 3,000 Farad (F) ultracapacitor, the first size in a new family of cell products. The company says the iCAP ultracapacitors represent the lowest weight, lowest equivalent series resistance (ESR) and highest power density available in the market for energy storage cells. With widespread availability, Ioxus says vehicle and product manufacturers have an opportunity to take advantage of greater durability and adaptability to support a wide array of applications.

Ioxus CEO Mark McGough says as customers push toward greater efficiency and higher performance, the importance of 3,000F ultracapacitor cells increases. Designed for high shock and vibration applications such as heavy-duty vehicles, lowering the ESR and increasing the power density, the product becomes rugged enough to pass the severest shock and vibe tests. He says the Ioxus iCAP 3,000F ultracapacitor is ideal for prototype-to-production support, facilitating low ESR bus bar connections with the largest achievable contact areas.

Maxwell Technologies to open new electrode plant The new ultracapacitor electrode production facility for Maxwell Technologies, Inc. San Diego, CA, will double the company’s current electrode capacity by year’s end and increase internal and outsourced assembly capabilities to meet increasing worldwide demand for ultracapacitor products. President and CEO David Schramm says Maxwell Technologies has produced more than 20 million ultracapacitor cells since setting up initial high volume production, and that sales have grown by more than 500 percent since 2007. The new electrode plant is a 123,000 square-foot facility


April 2012

located in Peoria, AZ. The new large cell assembly line scheduled to come on line later this year will increase current capacity by 50 percent for use in mainly hybrid and electric public transit vehicles Unlike batteries, which produce and store energy by means of a chemical reaction, Maxwell’s ultracapacitor products store energy in an electric field. This electrostatic energy storage mechanism enables ultracapacitors to charge and discharge in as little as fractions of a second.

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