Melaniphy’s state of the industry Page 18
IndyGo delivers a Super Bowl performance Page 20
Six ways bus fleets can save fuel Page 22
Transit bus seating expands Page 34
The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry MARCH 2012
www.busride.com • $5.00
Family values support Stallion Bus celebrates six years Blue Lakes Charter Page 12 Page 16 and Tours Prst Std US Postage Paid Bolingbrook, IL Permit #1619
March 2012 cover story
Stallion Bus and Transit celebrates six years The road ahead includes new models for niche market By David Hubbard 12
David Hubbard 6
People in the News 8
Letter from Europe 28
The Backseat 34
APTA on the state of the industry President Michael Melaniphy makes his first assessment 18 Going Green
Six ways bus fleets can save fuel Tires play a critical role in improving mileage By Don Darden 22
How the brakes contribute to green initiatives
There is more to green than emissions and alternative fuel By Ken Kelley 26
Donâ€™t thumpâ€™em, measure that psi A tire pressure monitoring system lowers repair and maintenance costs By Jim Samocki 27 4
Transit Update 16 The Transit Authority How IndyGo won the Super Bowl 20 Marketplace 32 BUSRide
Priceline.com delivers a gut punch to coach operators Priceline.com Inc. has killed off its longtime spokesman William “Captain Kirk” Shatner, otherwise known for the past five years as Priceline’s Negotiator. The TV commercial has Shatner coming to the rescue of passengers whose bus teeters precariously on a bridge. After talking passengers safely off the bus so they can find a hotel for the night, the trapped Negotiator rides to a fiery fate as the bus plunges off the bridge into the ravine below and bursts into flames. Marketing officer Brett Keller says the new ad campaign convinces Priceline.com customers they no longer need the Negotiator to wheel and deal room rates. How funny is this? To anyone in the bus and coach industry, not very. Aside from flying in the face of the horrific motorcoach accidents of the past few years that have claimed real lives and generated public outrage in their aftermath, Priceline. com signed off on a campaign that is totally out of touch with 21st Century motorcoaches and the people who ride them. I am sure this never occurred to the creative director who thought this was the cleverest way to off Shatner. The message this cartoonish concept delivers about the bus industry is totally undeserved. The American Bus Association (ABA) came out swinging with a statement that blistered Priceline.com for its lack of good taste and the damage it does to an already tenuous reputation of the industry, not to mention the hardworking men and women who drive buses and keep them running. The ABA has asked Priceline to take the spot out of circulation immediately. BUSRide concurs for similar reasons of style, insensitivity and lack of understanding. Way to go, Priceline.com. The group in this ad is obviously not traveling in the United States. A vehicle as archaic as this on the brink of disaster can only depict bus transportation as it exists in a third-world country. In these regions sheer poverty forces people
with no other choice to travel in dilapidated and poorly maintained vehicles on perilous roads — and passengers die by the hundreds every year. Where these customers desperately bid for cheap hotel rates, it appears Westwells Bus Lines as depicted in the ad is the only company that could meet their lowest offer for transportation. Priceline.com wouldn’t dare film this spot with these same passengers aboard a Prevost H3-45, Van Hool T2100 or MCI E4500. Moreover, Priceline.com has done nothing more than resort to the macabre gallows humor that ill-tempered newspaper editors attached to the ubiquitous “bus plunge.” Bus plunges have occurred with such frequency over the last 50 years they evolved into a uniquely terse journalistic genre; an inside joke with a life of its own. Back when craftsmen poured molten lead into molds to form hot type, editors could not calculate the precise length of a news story, and those bus plunge shorts inadvertently became perfect fillers between longer articles. They could always count on a bus plunge and always had plenty of accounts on hand. Why bus plunges have managed to provoke such a morbid fascination may have to do with the frequency with which they occur throughout the world or simply the use of the word “plunge.” Either way, whenever a bus somewhere in the world nose dives off a bridge into a river, most news accounts strip the incident of all emotional connections to the actual catastrophic consequences, just as Priceline.com has done. But in the real world of bus plunges no one is laughing. Research shows as many as 60 such accidents occurring in one year, claiming up to 1,300 lives. A bus crash is the industry’s greatest concern, and the fireball that ends this commercial leaves no room for humor. In the spirit of Wile E. Coyote, why couldn’t Priceline.com just strap Shatner to an Acme Rocket, light the fuse and send him back into space?
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7,500 Valley Metro point to NextRide Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ, says its passengers are letting their fingers do the talking once they spot their NextRide sign at 7,500 bus stops or light rail stations, which provides passengers with GPS-generated real-time or scheduled arrival times. Valley Metro says this travel tool takes the guesswork out of riding transit and allows passengers to be timelier getting to their stop. Using the mobile website, texting or calling, the passenger enters the stopâ€™s unique stop identification (ID) number and receive sthe next arrival times. The agency says with the advent of NextRide, nearly 306,000 SMS text messages went out between August and December 2011. From texting to phone calls, the system has handled 626,000 requests in six months, which
resulted in 270,000 fewer calls made to customer service. According to Valley Metro Customer Service Manager Scott Wisner says about 55 percent of calls received by Valley Metro pertain to arrival information, and the goal is to reduce the pressure on the phone lines and
provide quicker customer service to waiting callers. Funding for NextRide was provided by a federal Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) grant and regional public transportation funds from the countywide half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2004.
people in the news International Motor Coach Group (IMG), Tulsa, OK, Chairman Hank Garbee announced in January, the appointment of Bronwyn Wilson as president and CEO to replace outgoing president Steven Klika. She comes to her new position with more than 30 years experience in the domestic and international travel industry and most recently served as president of North American operations Bronwyn Wilson for Australian Pacific Touring, Melbourne, Australia, an international tour and travel corporation she joined in 1982, Wilson has also served on the board of directors for the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) and the California Coalition of Travel Organizations. During his 11 years of leadership Klika was instrumental in IMG working with the United Kingdom and Italy in establishing the Global Passenger Network (GPN) that now has motorcoach operator partners in nearly 30 countries. Fred Gilliam, former president and CEO of Capital Metro, Austin, TX, and 48-year transportation industry veteran has joined the international architectural firm RN, Denver, CO, as
a member of its transportation group. He will lead business development efforts. Charles Arsenault has retired from his position as CEO. Arsenault Associates, Burlington, NJ, a provider of fleet maintenance technology. Jack Betefuer, an eight-year veteran with Arsenault Associates will assume the lead position. Arsenault says he will serve as an advisor to the company he founded and remain an active Fred Gilliam industry observer. Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise, FL, the largest outlet, value retail and entertainment destination named Victoria Ramani as its new director of tourism. Ramani is a bilingual professional with several years of experience in the tourism industry. Navistar, Inc., Liksle, IL, named Kathy Seegebrecht vice president, marketing for its global bus division, making the move from her similar position in the parts group. Prior to joining Navistar, Seegebrecht spent 15 years with BP in a variety of sales and marketing roles. She replaces David Hillman, now with Navistar global truck group.
Van Hool finalizes site for new plant to support North American operators
ABC Companies, Faribault, MN, announced its longtime Belgian motorcoach partner, Van Hool has finalized its site selection for an additional manufacturing plant to support their commitment to meeting increased production demand for their North American customers, part of a long-term strategy to secure its current position in the American marketplace. Based in Koningshooikt, Belgium, Van Hool is planning a capital project in Macedonia, near Skopje to expand manufacturing capabilities beyond its European headquarters. The company says it bases this decision on its commitment to further invest in American distribution of its products and of-
fer reduced cycle time from order to delivery, as well as afford more consistent long-term pricing and greater scalability for North American operators. “We are excited about this decision to expand production capacity, which was solely driven by our shared vision to invest in the North American market,” said Dane Cornell, President and CEO, ABC Companies. “The commitment to increasing their manufacturing capabilities directly correlates with growing U.S. demand for European technology that enables American operators to continuously evolve and innovate fleet operations.”
Eleven members of the American Bus Association (ABA) were among the tourism industry professionals appointed by the White House to serve on the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board. Meritor Inc.and Fras-le S.A.have announced the renewal of an exclusive five-year commercial supply agreement for brake lining for the U.S. and Canadian commercial vehicle markets.
Lancer Insurance Company, Long Beach, NY, named seven drivers for Kingsmen Coach Lines, Conley, GA, as its 2011 Driver Recognition Safety Award recipients.
Prevost announced the latest motorcoach industry report shows the Canadian coach builder holds the industry lead in market share for private sector coach sales in 2011. The Prevost X3-45 was the bestselling coach and the Prevost H3-45 was the third bestselling coach in 4th quarter 2011. Vice President Joe Biden visited the American Seating Company factory, Grand Rapids, MI, to discuss with workers the Administration’s plan to help businesses bring manufacturing jobs back to America by eliminating incentives to ship jobs overseas and offering tax credits for insourcing.
Astro Travel and Tours, Inc. Tallahassee, FL
Astro Travel and Tours, charter took delivery of two 2012 H3-45s to give the company one of the newest fleets in the Southeastern U.S., according to Vice President Matt Brown. The coaches come equipped with Wi-Fi, in-motion satellite DirecTV and 110 outlets. Astro also has an ADA wheelchair-accessible bus. The dark green Astro coaches serve corporate and institutional customers throughout the Southeast and the continental U.S. In addition to the service from the 30 employees, Brown says the up-to-date fleet keeps customers coming back.
Stout’s Transportation Ewing Township, NJ
Stout’s Transportation Inc. took delivery on its first five Prevost H3-45s at the first of the year, bringing the fleet count to 25 motorcoaches. The new vehicles serve the tristate New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area as well as a wide swath of the Eastern seaboard. The new H3-45s come with equipped with standard features and luxurious amenities and technology. Rich Tisone, special project consultant for Stout’s, says the 50-year-old company also appreciates the Volvo D13 engine.
tallion Bus & Transit celebrates six years The road ahead includes new models for niche markets
Stallion Bus and Transit says its 800 Series can carry 40 passengers for about half of what it costs to buy and insure a standard 45-ft coach
fleet — the suspension, the engine and transmission, each component and accessory, as well as the cost involved to operate each coach. Convincing the U.S. motorcoach industry is a whole other challenge.” Rosato says the Stallion product can carry 40 passengers, or two-thirds of an operator’s current capacity, for about half of what it costs to buy and insure a standard 45-ft coach. It also uses less fuel and has a lower maintenance cost per mile. “Stallion Bus went the extra mile and subjected its new coach to the 12-year, 500,000 Altoona Test,” he says. “The published results clearly demonstrate its quality. In addition, we offered through Freightliner a five-year, 200,000-mile warranty. We do this because we want operators to feel safe and secure with a Stallion Bus product they can trust will last and work at a price that makes it all come together to fit into their fleet.” Rosato attributes the success of Stallion Bus to its strong product line and warranty program. He says the California plant was situated in the
By David Hubbard Stallion Bus and Transit, Melville, NY, is celebrating its sixth year in the North American bus and coach industry and says it is continuing to push forward with its innovative approach. Vice President Mike Rosato says the company launched in 2006 with a plan for a midsize coach it believed filled a void in the rear engine midsize market. Stallion Bus entered as the newbie at half the price. “We knew the motorcoach market was both price sensitive and quality conscious,” he says. “It seemed simple enough, given the fact that every motorcoach operator knows and understands the operational characteristic of every vehicle in the
What the new Stallion 40-passenger vehicle offers is coach styling with the ride, look and feel of a big motorcoach.
March 2012 13
STallion Coach middle of the market where the company could interact easily with customers. He says at this time the company was able to provide an update model every quarter. “Luck was on our side and our timing couldn’t have been any better,” says Rosato. “We caught the market right before the economic decline and had a chance to deliver quite a few coaches in 2007 and 2008. However, in 2009 most motorcoach operators saw a decline in ridership presumably from the weak economy.” Rosato responded to what Vice President Mike Rosato he says he kept hearing from operators about suddenly having to transport smaller groups of 30 to 40 passengers, and that their customers specifically did not want to charter a 55-passenger coach for trips of this size. They were concerned about costs, the waste of fuel and also their customers would become scattered throughout a cavernous coach and lose the special intimacy of a small group. What the new Stallion 40-passenger vehicle offered, according to Rosato, was coach styling with the ride, look and feel of a big motorcoach. “So while 2009 was a slower year than 2008 we continued to see an uptick in the demand for our coach of this size,” he says. “This continued right through 2011.” Rosato credits the reliability of the Stallion coach and a service record he finds impeccable to the Freightliner chassis by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation in Gaffney, SC.
continued “Our coaches run day in and day out with very few, if any, issues,” he says. “The Freightliner chassis turned out to be the most reliable chassis we could have gone with. FCCC has 650 service centers nationwide, which means 650 places where an operator can buy parts. Cummins engine and Allison diesel service centers also support the product.” Rosato says he appreciates the wide range of drivetrains FCCC makes available. “If our customer is climbing hills we have a 330HP,” he says. “If he is in Manhattan then the 280HP meets his needs.” In 2008, Stallion introduced its 30-ft rear engine 800 model with a Freightliner chassis to carry 30 passengers. It follows the same construction guidelines and has the same look and feel as the large motorcoach with a similar ride. “Stallion owners often remark about the maneuverability of either length coach in tight quarters,” says Rosato. “We have positioned these smaller coaches not as a replacement for a 45-foot motorcoach but rather as complementary vehicle within the fleet. We do think that in the under-$300,000 price range the customer gets more coach for the money.” Stallion buses incorporate Thermo King rooftop AC, an entertainment system with USB/iPod, GPS and satellite radio and high back seats and a bode-style door. Stallion can install Wi-Fi, satellite TV, and 110 outlets with any order. Rosato sees this as one of the advantages of having assembly plants in the U.S. The company operates two such facilities, one on California for the 800 Series and one in Elkhart, IN. Rosato says the plan for Stallion through 2012 and beyond is continued focus on its two current models and to introduce new products based on both low-floor designs and electric chassis for niche markets. BR
A Stallion bus can carry 40 passengers for about half of what it costs to buy and insure a standard 45-ft coach.
Sun Metro announces its Very Small Start BRT
U.S. Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), the City of El Paso, TX, and Sun Metro announced the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Small Starts pro-
gram will approve Dyer Corridor Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as a Very Small Start project. Reyes calls BRT a game changer for mass transit in El Paso that will connect the community like never before. Over the next five years the Dyer Street Corridor will become the third of four major BRT corridors. El Paso Mayor John Cook says the city was able to secure FTA funding
for 58 percent of the total cost for the project compared to the customary 50 percent. The Dyer Corridor is estimated to cost about $35.25 million, of which $20.4 million would be FTA funding. The project will include procurement of 10 low-floor branded buses, construction of 12 new RTS stations, and the installation of traffic signal priority at 42 intersections.
Fredericton continues with Nova Bus The City of Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada recently took delivery of two clean-diesel 40-foot Nova LFS transit buses. The vehicles come with a wealth of standard features designed to provide high performance at a competitive life cycle cost. Gilles Dion, president and CEO of Nova Bus, says the new order marks the continuance of a long partnership between Nova and the City of Fredericton.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority’s Board of Trustees has named COTA’s 10-story administrative headquarters building in downtown Columbus the William J. Lhota Building, in honor of its retiring President/CEO.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has met with Chinese government officials who could possibly fund his ambitious transit plan to construct a dozen mass transit projects in the next decade.
Four unions representing employees with Detroit’s SMART ratified four-year contracts in January where they take a 6 percent pay cut in the first year and a 2 percent pay cut in the last year.
MV Transportation Inc. was awarded a sevenyear, $186 million paratransit contract by Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
16 March 2012
Sun Tran unveils new bus facility Tucson, AZ-based Sun Tran opened its new 25-acre, $56 million Northwest Bus Facility in late January. The new building will store and maintain Sun Tran’s expanding fleet of buses, while also allowing continued expansion of transit service in the area. Sun Tran’s new facility now has the capacity to operate and maintain 250 buses for the entire Tucson region. Although the facility is complete, Sun Tran will continue to operate approximately one-third of the service from its current location.
“The completion of this facility represents a major milestone for our community,” said Kate Riley, Sun Tran general manager. “This state-of-the-
art complex was built in three phases to accommodate the growing need for transit options in our region.”
D.C. Metro to install clear shields to protect drivers Washington, D.C. Metro will install shields to protect its drivers from dangerous passengers. According to The Washington Post, agency officials may have 250 aluminum and clear polycarbonate shields installed for driver protection. An estimated 100 buses will be fitted with the shields this spring to test the barriers. The shields will be on buses that travel routes that have experienced physical and verbal attacks in the past.
The Post reports that each shield costs from $1,500 to $2,500 each, depending on the type of bus. Passengers can speak to the driver through small holes near the top of the shield. D.C. buses already have a police presence. Some 22 members of special police unit regularly ride buses in uniform and plainclothes.
Chicago’s MPC sets BRT agenda Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council has released its 2012 policy agenda concerning bus rapid transit and green infrastructure incentives. MPC’s 2012 Plan for Prosperity: Innovative Solutions for the New Normal identifies 10 policy, planning and development reforms MPC is pursuing in 2012. MPC’s 2011 report Bus Rapid Transit: Chicago’s New Route to Opportunity envisioned a nearly 100-mile, 10-route BRT network in Chicago. Throughout 2012, MPC will work with a team including the City of Chicago,
Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Dept. of Transportation, Active Transportation Alliance, and local stakeholders to advance potential routes. MPC’s 2011 report was based on a plan that prioritized routes that would be feasible to construct; improve the use of the entire public transit sys-
tem; and help people access jobs, shops, schools, hospitals, and other services and destinations. Throughout 2012, MPC plans to educate local and national policy makers about adapting this comprehensive, results-oriented selection process to their own transportation decision-making.
The future is now for public transit APTA president comments on the state of the industry
By Michael Melaniphy APTA President and CEO
“Americans believe in public transportation and want to invest in it — Democrats and Republicans alike.” – Michael Melaniphy
American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Michael Melaniphy covered a lot of ground in his first state-of-the-industry address, emphasizing the necessity for the U.S. to invest heavily in its overall transportation infrastructure to maintain a state of good repair and prepare for the future. According to the Federal Transit Administration, it will take $78 billion simply to address existing public transit infrastructure needs. Assuming a 3.53 percent annual growth in ridership, a total of $60 billion is required annually for capital needs. Melaniphy says the current level of federal funding does not even begin to address the country’s infrastructure needs. “Since the economic downturn in 2008, many public transit systems have been negatively affected by stagnant or declining state and local revenue,” says Melaniphy. “With less revenue from local and state taxes and less revenue from fares, many public transit systems have had to cut service, raise fares or do both. The economic recession impacted our private sector members as well.” Melaniphy says passing federal legislation in 2012 must be the number one priority of the industry. “Short-term extensions are stifling our industry for both public and private sectors and are not sustainable solutions,” he says. “We need to plan for the future to maintain and expand public transportation Melaniphy pointed to the success of APTA EXPO 2012 in October to exemplify recent growth and strength of the public transit industry, noting the almost 15,000 attendees and nearly 800 exhibitors as the highest number to date. Public transportation is vital to the lives of millions of Americans and offers
an attractive alternative to driving. Demographics show that people of all ages, all incomes, and all walks of life utilize public transportation for daily activities. What is even more significant, according to Melaniphy, is that more people now understand the importance of public transportation. “The image of public transportation has positively changed thanks to the good work of everyone in the industry,” he says. “Twelve years ago APTA launched Public Transportation Partnership for Tomorrow (PT2), which later changed to Research, Communications, and Advocacy (RCA ). APTA research in national media stories, advertising, grassroots efforts, and public transportation has made public transit part of the national dialogue. Through APTA’s ongoing legislative education process, we are at the table when Congress and the Administration work on transportation issues.” Melaniphy says every year local and state public transportation ballot initiatives come up for vote. “In 2011 public transit ballot initiatives passed by a whopping 79 percent; since 2000 transitoriented ballot measures have passed by a resounding 73 percent,” he says. “Americans believe in public transportation and want to invest in it — Democrats and Republicans alike.” He is careful to note this success has not been altogether smooth. “According to the U.S. Census 2009 American Housing Survey, nearly half of all American households have no access to public transportation,” he says. “As a country we need to invest more in public transportation so that millions more Americans have access to public transit services.” However, Melaniphy points to signs that suggest the economy improved in 2011.
“What is particularly striking to me is that despite severe financial challenges, public transit ridership rose three quarters in a row in 2011 for the first time in three years,” he says. “Perhaps public transportation is showing that the economy is starting to come back. Nearly 60 percent of the trips on public transportation are for work commutes.” He says the ridership increases may very well be a barometer that a more positive economic climate is emerging, and the industry needs to be ready for the demand that will occur as employment figures rise. He sees long-term trends favoring public transit and he encourages Congress to quickly enact a well-funded, multi-year surface transportation bill. Melaniphy says the public transportation industry is poised to start new projects as soon as funding is available. “We are ready now,” he says. “The longer we wait for federal legislation to pass, the more costly it will be to update our infrastructure, build new
projects, manufacture new vehicles, and create new jobs. We continue to be disappointed that Congress is not adequately investing in our country’s infrastructure needs. However, we are very appreciative of the access that we do have on the Hill to our nation’s federal leaders. They meet with us, listen to us, and overall, we have bipartisan support. In fact, our industry is one of the few that enjoys bipartisan support.” A growing population and increased congestion are not the only long-term trends driving future demand for public transportation. Transit-oriented development is revitalizing communities as more people of all ages move back into urban areas and seek a lifestyle with easy public transit access. Some of the biggest supporters of public transportation are young people who not only like public transportation, but are also concerned about the environment and take a bus or train to reduce their carbon footprint. Amazingly, driving a car is no longer a must do for younger people. Some recent statistics
show that in 1978, 86 percent of 18 year olds had driving licenses, but in 2008, only 68 percent of 18 year olds had driving licenses. Also our country’s population is aging as people are living longer. Public transportation needs to be available to older Americans who choose not to drive or cannot drive any longer. Technology is taking public transportation to the next level. Technology is demystifying and transforming the rider experience. No one has to wonder when the next bus or train will arrive. Riders are staying connected with public transit through mobile devices. Fare payment is becoming seamless. ”Investment in public transportation not only provides access to jobs, but is a proven job creator,” says Melaniphy. “Every $1 billion invested in public transportation creates and supports 36,000 jobs. And finally, the public transportation industry is a $55 billion industry supporting 1.9 million jobs.” He says workforce development is a top priority for 2012 and the years to come. BR
the transit authority
IndyGo delivers a Super Bowl performance By Mike Terry In preparation for Super Bowl XLVI the first weekend in February, Indianapolis Public Transportation, or IndyGo, dedicated several members of its team to serve on multiple Super Bowl planning committees in an effort to assist the community with transportation planning and gathering information to prepare for the impact on its existing and new riders leading up to the game. Public transportation played a role in the local organizing committee’s “Know Before You Go” campaign as an option for residents, commuters, volunteers and visitors to travel downtown or throughout Indianapolis to various attractions. Since the stadium and most supporting activities took place within the downtown area of Indianapolis, the city planned street closures and restrictions. Knowing this, IndyGo developed a detour plan for its local fixed route, paratransit and Airport/ Downtown Express known as the Green Line. The adjusted routing featured seven designated Super Stops, which were all located on Ohio Street, one of the four streets normally used as IndyGo’s “downtown loop.” At the Super Stops IndyGo provided a variety of visual aids
to assist customers who navigated public transportation for all the activities. The specially marked aids featured signage with a map of the Super Stops, detour service and customer service contacts, in addition to regular service information for people riding before Jan. 27 and after Feb. 5. Three of the seven Super Stops on Ohio Street were designated as time point locations. Extended detours for specific routes and the Green Line Downtown/Airport Express were planned from Jan. 19 through Feb. 10 for pre- and post-event setup. IndyGo did an immense amount of pre-planning for this major event that included a drivers’ book with turnby-turn information for routes that were on detour. It conducted one-hour training for every driver on staff, and e-mailed a daily operational guide to the entire organization. To better communicate with riders during the month leading up to the Super Bowl, IndyGo supplied customers with a specially created rack card available in all buses, downtown hotels and businesses. Super Bowl rack cards provided detour information to customers and guests
visiting the downtown area. In addition to the rack card, IndyGo also accomplished other various promotional tasks. The agency dedicated an entire section of its website to Super Bowl information on detours, how to ride, as well as the more popular destinations on all routes. IndyGo announced information in social media, through paid advertising and on-bus announcements, as well as multiple press releases. Customer service representatives completed online Super Service training as well as learned all detours and special plans in advance. With funding through a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant, the agency was able to offer free rides on the local fixed-route service and ADA paratransit service on the day of the Super Bowl, and the three days leading up to the Big Game (Feb. 2-5). The free rides IndyGo was able to offer added further incentive to reduce congestion during estimated peak days and boosted ridership. While it was an honor to be a host city for the Super Bowl, I am most proud of our agencyâ€™s efforts leading up to and through this yearâ€™s game. The intensity of the crowds required additional planning to better prepare not only our daily passengers, but also volunteers, commuters and visitors who utilized public transportation during the Super Bowl. BR Mike Terry serves as president and CEO for Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation, dba IndyGo, Indianapolis, IN
6WAYS going green
bus fleets can save fuel
Tires play a critical role in improving mileage By Don Darden There is a tendency to think bus and coach fleets generally do not run fuel efficient, that operating a fleet of buses by nature is a high fuel-consumption vocation and there is just not much anyone can do about it. Well, here’s some good news. The worse the fuel economy the more the operator has to gain from taking steps to improve the situation. Bus and coach owners will find they can parlay small improvements into big wins.
Where the fuel goes
at higher speeds. At 55 mph about half of the fuel that turns the wheels is used up pushing against air. At 65 mph it is nearly two-thirds of the available fuel energy. Just about any measure a company can take to make buses to improve performance due to aerodynamics and wind resistance will pay off in fuel savings.
Because of basic energy losses in the engine and drive train, only about half the fuel consumed actually ends up moving the vehicles down the road. Of that, here’s where that fuel goes:
Six tire-related factors that guzzle fuel 1. Driving habits
Speed is one of the biggest factors of poor fuel economy and is largely the result of careless driver habits. Running at high speeds on intercity bus routes guzzles fuel, but so do jackrabbit starts and hammer-down runs between stops in city driving, which also burn up brakes. Driver education and incentives can be very effective in reducing fuel consumption.
2. Tire alignment Tires need to point straight ahead in order to roll with the least possible resistance. Misaligned tires scrub as they turn, which can cut tire life by as much as 20 percent. What’s more, an axle misalignment of just 2.5 degrees can cause enough drag to increase fuel consumption by 16 percent. That’s huge, and something you can correct with an effective vehicle maintenance program.
3. Vehicle aerodynamics Buses and motorcoaches are not the most aerodynamic vehicles on the highway. As with speed, fuel consumption lost to wind resistance gets much worse
22 March 2012
4. Vehicle maintenance Alignment isn’t the only vehicle maintenance item that affects fuel economy. Here are some others:
Maintenance tips for fuel eonomy • •
Check and maintain fluid levels regularly Check for and repair any fuel or fluid leaks
Replace filters regularly Record and track maintenance calls and work
erates the aging process. Improper inflation reduces the traction, making tires a safety hazard. Under inflation wastes fuel, wearing out tires prematurely and reducing their retreadability.
Inflation pressure effect on fuel economy
5. Tire maintenance Tires do not carry the load of the buses; the air inside the tires does the job. Proper inflation is vital to maintain proper stress distribution and to reduce the flexing and heat build-up that wastes fuel. Heat buildup causes tires to wear faster and accel-
Bridgestone Mileage Sales recommends a program to reduce all of these losses by ensuring proper tire inflation: • Check and adjust inflation pressure regularly (when a vehicle has been parked at least three hours and before it has been driven more than one mile). • Adjust inflation pressures to meet vehicle and tire requirements.
Regardless of the tires you use, maintaining correct inflation pressure will optimize tire performance, tire life and fuel economy.
6. Select fuel-efficient tires and retreads The tires manufactured especially for buses can also have a big effect on fuel consumption. Today there are a wide variety of low-rolling resistance new tires and retreads available that can save you fuel.
Tire rolling resistance
Rolling resistance is the force required to roll a tire under load. It can affect total fuel consumption by 9 to 13 percent. With today’s fuel prices, that’s very important. Between 35 and 50 percent of a tire’s rolling resistance is a function of its tread. Tread design and rubber compounding both contribute to fuel efficiency. As tires wear they become more fuel efficient. They weigh less and shallower tread elements tend to squirm less, which reduces fuel-wasting heat losses and slows overall tread wear. Bridgestone
March 2012 23
going green Bridgestone M749 Drive Radial
Mileage Sales offers several new tire options with excellent rolling resistance for both intra- and intercity buses, and can also provide you with Bandag FuelTech® retreads, which combine the low cost of retreads with the fuel economy of the best new tires.
• • •
Firestone FS400 All-Position Radial • • About 35 to 50 percent of tire rolling resistance results from tread design and compounding.
Bridgestone R249 All-Position Radial • • • •
Fuel-efficient, with excellent wet handling and braking Smooth, even wear from optimized crown and footprint shape Cut- and chip-resistant compound fights damage Superior driver and passenger comfort from even wear and low noise
24 March 2012
Low-rolling resistance for excellent fuel economy Long tread life from larger footprint Smooth, even wear from asymmetric blocks and shoulder tie-bars Outstanding wet traction and handling
Specially designed for heavy loads in intercity bus service Shoulder wear protector grooves minimize step-down wear Stone rejector platforms fight retention of casing-damaging stones Groove fences and computerdesigned features for quieter ride
Firestone FD600 Drive Radial • • • •
Aggressive, open shoulder design for superior traction Individual traction blocks with multiple edges for wet handling Straight tread grooves for efficient water evacuation Two-ply nylon plus one steel chafer for superior bead durability BR
How the brakes contribute to green initiatives There is more to green than engine emissions and alternative fuels By Ken Kelley An evaluation of green initiatives within the bus industry typically focuses on engine emissions, alternative fuels and disposal of spent fluids. It may come as a surprise to find with a little further probing into the operation and maintenance of most buses and coaches other systems and components offer opportunities for green initiatives. One such example is how environmental awareness in the purchase of brake components may also contribute to a green initiative. Over the past decade the economy has been brutal on the North American transportation sector. Rising operation costs and shrinking margins have forced many fleets to resort to taking the lowest cost approach in their selection of vehicle replacement components. However, the lowest cost component may actually increase operating cost. Some interesting results can develop when fleets shift their component sourcing strategy from one of acquisition cost to cost of ownership, which also may provide green results. A bus fleet operating with a high frequency of stops will naturally go through more brake drums, brake shoes and brake-related components compared to on-highway vehicles with a lower stopping frequency. The operators of this bus fleet may be tempted to take the low cost route to purchasing
brake-related components. However, they must be very careful in evaluating components based on price alone. The should first consider the original brake drums were designed with a specific weight, construction and metallurgy for that particular bus application to optimize braking performance. Where the main purpose of brake drums is to absorb and dissipate braking energy, a less expensive drum may be available but at the expense of it having less mass or varying metallurgy, or both. This may result in higher operating brake temperatures and higher lifecycle cost. This is where it gets interesting. A fleet operator may choose to purchase lower cost brake drums and brake shoes, which on the surface appears to be a simple way to save money. Savings are very easy to measure: the cost of component-A minus the cost of component-B. The fact remains, not all brake components are created equal. Suppose the lower cost brake components do not last as long, requiring the operator to perform three brake jobs per year on the vehicle as opposed to the normal frequency of twice a year. Consideration of the operating cost of components rather than the acquisition cost creates an entirely different scenario. Not only would this fleet have to bear the extra brake drum and brake shoe costs required for a third
brake job each year, it would also have to purchase and replace other ancillary components such as brake hardware, camshaft bushings and associated labor. In the end these higher lifecycle costs may easily eclipse any savings gained by purchasing less expensive components. How does this relate to green initiatives? Minimizing the frequency of brake jobs also reduces the amount of scrap parts disposal. Still, brake drums can be sold for scrap. Brake cores can be relined and reused, while brake linings and related parts such as bushings and springs must be properly disposed. Nonetheless, the aftermath of a brake job often produces a surplus of oil-soaked rags that require proper disposal. Most suppliers of standard products are more than willing to work with bus fleets and run head-to-head field test programs to evaluate components. It takes slightly longer to develop fleet results, but sound sourcing decisions focused on operation cost rather than acquisition cost will certainly pay dividends in the end. In the end, longer life components not only save operational costs but also generate less scrap material for disposal. BR Ken Kelley serves as president of Webb Severe Duty, Culman, AL. Webb Wheel is a division of The Marmon Group, a Berkshire Hathaway company.
Don’t thump’em, measure that psi
A tire pressure monitoring system lowers repair and maintenance costs By Jim Samocki The dangers of buses and motorcoaches rolling on under-inflated tires are no secret. Tires lose air pressure over time and proper gauging is time consuming, dirty, and often error-filled and sometimes painful, especially on inside duals. Getting the same psi on the tire gauge at different intervals does not always happen. All this has led to the all too common practice of “thumping’em” to feel if tires are filled enough — a very poor substitute for proper psi gauging. Despite their best intentions to manage tire pressures through preventive maintenance programs and tire programs, keeping the air pressure at or near the manufacturer recommended levels continues to be a significant challenge. Fleet managers struggle
to implement a reliable, cost effective solution. The solution lies with the installation of a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to help fleet owners lower their tire-related tire repair and maintenance costs as a result of tire replacement and tire-related road calls. Doran launched its 360HD™ TPMS in 2008. It continuously monitors tire pressure and temperature data received through radio frequency signals transmitted from wireless sensors mounted in place of the valve stem caps on each tire. An indicator light mounted on the dash provides at-aglance assurance to the driver the tires are running at proper air pressure. When the psi in all tires is within
Above: The Doran 360HD™ TPMS monitors tire pressure and temperature data through wireless sensors mounted in place of the valve stem caps on each tire. An indicator light mounted on the dash provides at-a-glance psi assurance.
the specified range, the system gives a Green Means Good™ signal. Highlighting with the directional arrow on the pad checks the pressure in each tire. Doran recently completed an integration project with SafetyTrax to help fleets track vehicles and monitor tire pressure at the same time. The integration between Doran and SafetyTrax allows the monitoring of all vehicles through a website that shows realtime alerts when tire pressure and temperature problems develop. BR Jim Samocki is general manager at Doran Manufacturing,
March 2012 27
letter from europe By Doug Jack The International Union of Public Transport (UITP) is coordinating a major project in the European Union (EU) to develop the European Bus System of the Future (EBSF). The EU has extended funds to the 49 organizations taking part, which include all the main bus manufacturers, component and systems suppliers, as well as universities and research organizations. System is the key word in this project. It is not about the development of a new generation of buses in isolation, but about raising the image of bus services and improving the total transport experience for passengers. Many European cities are old with historic centers and consequent challenges like narrow streets and limited parking for private cars. One of the main objectives is to improve pointto-point journey times for passengers by a combination of features. Buses must be easily accessible, so passengers can get on and off quickly. Other measures, like automatic ticketing, dedicated bus lanes and priority at traffic lights and intersections can all contribute to more rapid journeys.
Volvo launches the prototype European Bus of the Future
A general view of the EBSF prototype outside the offices of Volvo Bus Corporation in Gothenburg.
Volvo Bus Corporation unveiled its interpretation of the EBSF in its home city of Gothenburg, Sweden in December. Volvo already has experience with 60-ft articulated and 80-ft bi-articulated buses running on one of the busiest routes in the city. Those vehicles have an unusual layout, with the engine mounted on the offside, behind the first axle, driving into the second axle, therefore simplifying the articulation systems for the single or double trailers, each of which has a
further non-driven axle. At first sight, the Volvo prototype looks quite unusual. It is based on a standard articulated single deck underframe with the engine mounted offset in line at the rear, driving into the third axle. The prototype uses a standard 9-liter engine driving through a ZF fully automatic six-speed gearbox to a drop center rear axle.
Despite the long wheelbase, the Volvo prototype is quite maneuverable.
However, the front axle is farther forward, and the driverâ€™s seat is located centrally over the front wheels. On a normal Volvo city bus there is usually one double-width door ahead of the front axle and a second similar door just ahead of the second axle, plus one or two doors in the trailer section, depending on customer preference. On the prototype, the two doublewidth single-piece doors slide outward. The front door moves forward, the rear moves backward, creating enough space for four passengers to enter at once, while a passenger in a wheelchair could be taken on and off by a ramp at the forward of the two doors. This layout looks like it could challenge the heating system, especially in the depth of winter in Gothenburg when icy winds blast in from the North Sea. There are also two double-width doors in the trailer section. Volvo, Chalmers University and the local public transport authority, Vasttrafik, carried out extensive trials and found that the novel layout gave a superior and more even flow of passengers in and out compared with existing layouts, thus reducing time spent at bus stops. The contribution by Chalmers University is very interesting. Engineers developed a wooden mockup of the layout of the interior of a bus, with door positions, seats and ticketing equipment. They monitored the behavior of different types of passengers ranging from students to mothers with strollers and people carrying luggage. They applied this research to different potential bus layouts to come up with what they believed was the optimum flow of passengers on and off the vehicle. By relocating the front axle farther forward, Volvo has also been able to provide more seats in the front section of the bus. Total capacity of seated and standing passengers, increased by 25 percent from 116 on a standard articulated bus to 147 on the prototype without any increase in overall length. One novel feature is the use of tip-up seats in the front area that can lock into the closed position at peak periods to create more standing capacity.
letters from europe
The two wide adjacent doors in the front section with the tip-up seats visible behind them.
At the front of the bus a large onepiece windshield is almost vertical and does not look aerodynamic. However, as city buses never reach high speeds, this is probably not a consideration. I have reservations about locating a driver in a separate compartment. Some of the most successful European bus companies are investing heavily in driver training, teaching them to be friendlier to passengers. The Volvo location makes communication more difficult, but not impossible. While the driver is still visible, some might argue the partition gives protection from unruly or unpleasant passengers. The central driving position also assumes the vehicle will operate much of the time on a dedicated right of way, free from obstruction by other vehicles. While the driver could see over a parked car, it would be more difficult to see round an obstruction like a van or a truck. The long wheelbase in the front section of the vehicle will impair maneuverability, particularly on tight turns, which means routes will need to be checked carefully. However, that should not be a problem on a Bus Rapid Transit system where the right-of-way should be able to accommodate the layout. The longer wheelbase should also provide a more comfortable ride for drivers and passengers. The prototype vehicle will enter service on the busiest route in Gothenburg currently served by 20 bi-articulated Volvo buses every five minutes. Seven cities around Europe are taking part in the EBSF project, looking at different solutions and problems. These include passenger information systems, advanced traffic management, lighting which indicates whether there are any available seats, remote diagnostics, preventive maintenance, increased service efficiency, ease of getting on and off the vehicle, and real-time information advising on other modes of transport. The research program is due for completion in September with a full report published thereafter. It should make interesting reading, but with the current deep economic crisis in some European countries, it might be many
years before new systems become widespread. It is also significant that the Volvo prototype can accommodate gas and hybrid drive systems. In Sweden there is strong interest in biogas because it is a renewable source of energy. Neighboring Norway has abundant supplies of natural gas in the North Sea. Most other European countries share an interest in hybrid buses. Volvo has developed its own ISAM parallel system for used not only in buses but also local distribution trucks and construction equipment, giving the company economies of scale in production. More than 350 Volvo hybrid buses are now in service in several European countries, and the company has sent prototypes to India, Brazil and Mexico. Some people see hybrid as simply a step towards all-electric buses. At the moment, batteries do not have sufficient range for a full dayâ€™s work on a large transit bus. Volvo recognizes that challenge and has set up a joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation in China to develop battery technology and allelectric vehicles. Already, buses can connect to overhead power points that provide a fast booster charge at the end of each route and at busy stops along the line. Regular fast charging is helping to extend the mileage range. Because Volvo built the EBSF prototype on a standard platform it will be easier to introduce new technology and drive systems as they become available and at customers demand. BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.
month-only passes. The new fareboxes replaced 17-yearold technology. The transit agency says the Rolling Passes provide greater flexibility by allowing the customer to choose when to start the 30-day pass period by simply inserting the pass into the farebox on the bus. For example, if the customer activates a 30-day rolling pass on March 5, it will be good until April 3. The new 30-day rolling passes are available for the same zones at the same prices as the current monthly passes. Late last year Metro installed new fareboxes on all of its buses, with financial assistance through federal funding for the project. Beginning this summer the new fareboxes also will enable new payment options that feature: • Go SMART “tap & go” smartcards that can be reloaded or re-used • Pre-paid $10, $20 or $50 stored value cards Metro says it also is considering additional pass options to meet customers’ needs, which it will announce at a later date.
Greater flexibility for customers; same prices as current monthly passes. Beginning this month, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) Metro, which serves the greater Cincinnati area, says its newly installed fareboxes will accept new 30-day rolling passes that replace the current calendar-
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Does this bus seat make me look fat? The end of the narrow bus seat By Glenn Swain This just in: The average weight of Americans has increased in the last 50 years, and it’s having an affect on the transit and motorcoach industry. As the butts of Americans get wider, the size of bus seating is also increasing. A study released last August by England’s esteemed medical journal The Lancet predicted that roughly half of American men and women will be obese by 2030 if U.S. eating habits are not drastically altered. So last year it came as no surprise when the Federal Transit Authority announced plans to boost the standard for passenger weight to 175 pounds from 150 and to expand passenger bus floor space from 1.50 to 1.75 square feet. The 150-pound guideline was based on the numbers from the National Health Examination Survey, which was conducted during the first years of John F.
Kennedy’s administration. One could call it the Camelot days of ideal body weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average weight of men 20 and older is nearly 195 pounds and about 165 pounds for women in the same age range. The new numbers will be pulled from the CDC’s 2008 National Health Statistics Report. The move by the FTA is a tip of the fat…er…hat toward the reality of weight gain in the U.S. Currently, transit riders engage in a thigh-to-thigh wrestling match, giving new meaning to the term commuter challenge. Industry experts say the average bus seat is around 17 1/2-inches wide. Grand Rapids, MIbased American Seating now manufacturers a new transit seat that is 18 inches wide and tapered at the top. “We focused on key areas which include comfort, aging population and people with disabilities, people size, vandalism, maintenance, cleaning and style,” says Gary Thompson, marketing manager for American Seating. “The seat width on our InSight and Vision models results in up to a 20 percent larger sitting area.” Expect a lot more butts in these seats. According to an American Public Transportation Association study, there could be an additional 670 million passenger trips per year on transit systems if gas prices reach an average $4 a gallon nationally. At $5 a gallon, the association predicts 1.5 billion more passenger trips. Larger seats pose a problem for transit agencies. A bus only has so much room. Fewer seats could equate in a loss of revenue, not good news for many agencies now operating under the weight of major funding cuts in lean times. One thing’s for certain: It’ll all work out in the end.
American Seating’s InSight® offers more room for bigger passengers.
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T h e u l t i m a t e c l a s s.