BUSRide Road Tests: MCI; Supreme Pages 14; 42
Transit can pay it forward Page 16
Five steps to the connected bus Page 38
London transport wins Olympic Gold Page 46
The most trusted resource in the bus and motorcoach industry www.busride.com • $5.00
DesignLine rolls out CNG Eco Coach
SPECIAL SECTION: Fare Collection Systems: Part I Page 25
October 2012 cover story
Buses made in the U.S.A. With Joseph J. Smith at the helm, DesignLine builds under all-electric, hybrid and CNG power By David Hubbard
features BUSRide ROAD TESTS:
14 2013 MCI J4500
Peter Pan Bus Lines first to opt for improvements By David Hubbard
42 Supreme Friendly Bus
Variations on the Senator SII Low Floor By David Hubbard
16 Pass the torch to
A transit data exchange program would pay it forward By Jared Schnader
30 Smart Card Alliance
guides the industry
Association is open to any company with interest in fare payment By Glenn Swain
31 Redundancy eliminated Michael Nash of Xerox Services explains the concept of open fare By Richard Tackett
32 The future of
Cubic modernizes fare payments for the 21st century By Richard Tackett
Fare Collection Systems: Part I
38 Five steps to the
25 Distance-based fares
change the game
Utah Transit Authority pioneers open payment fare collection By Glenn Swain
28 INIT: E-fare solutions
INIT helps Sacramento coordinate services By Ann Derby
Are your buses moving in the right direction? By Michael J. Wilson
53 No substitute for
a good plan
Have a proactive HVAC maintenance plan By Steve Johnson
56 Information is a
Proper documentation requires better use of computers By Robert Buchwalter
departments 8 12 13 36 59 64
Motorcoach Update Deliveries People in the News The Transit Authority Products & Services Marketplace
columns 6 David Hubbard 46 The International Report
By Doug Jack
Correction: BUSRide, September 2012, p 28 Hearing Loop Systems, based in Holland MI, is a division of Ascom Inc., Grand Rapids, MI. BUSRide
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Safety above all — air and ground
BUSRide Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane email@example.com Associate Publisher Sali Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
I talked to Steve Predmore shortly after he joined MV Transportation, Dallas, TX, as senior vice president of Safety. The fact that he was previously the chief safety officer for JetBlue intrigued me, as I consider the airlines industry the gold standard of transportation safety. I was curious to hear the contrasts and comparisons on his descent from air to ground, where the rubber meets the road. Predmore connected the dots in an interesting journey that has led him from his doctoral studies in human performance at the University of Texas to his work with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the move from planes to buses.
ally well, while others in the same scenario not so well. That led me into aviation, where the cockpit is a great laboratory. From there I worked three years for the NTSB, which, of course is multi-modal, and then with the airline for the last 20 years.
You’ve come from 35,000 feet to ground level. What’s that like?
Safety, of course, is the common denominator in every operation and function. MV Transportation will always provide the best available tools and to protect our employees, and the drivers and technicians out there taking care of the customers. At the same time we need to be sensitive to the characteristics of each agency, and how its particular environmental challenges differ from the next.
Aviation is certainly an industry I was proud to serve for what all it has accomplished over the years. But by no means has anyone in the airlines ever assumed we had it all figured out, or that we did it any better than other modes. Each industry as its own set of challenges and safety parameters. As a safety director I had responsibilities for airport and facilities operations, a diverse workforce and various types of vehicles and equipment. There are plenty of similarities between ground and air operations in those respects. While I have only been at my new position a very short time, one sharp contrast I have experienced is the degree of regulation on aviation. Flight operations in particular are so highly regulated that all the major carriers appear very similar where they are operating the same types of planes. From that standpoint, surface bus transit from agency to agency seems much less regulated and more variable than I am used to seeing.
How did you find your way into transportation safety? As a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in psychology, my interest was small group dynamics. I was particularly interested in why teams in certain environments perform re-
What is your early assessment of public transit?
Overall I think all transportation modes throughout the U.S. are very safe. I would not hesitate to put my family on an MV transit bus, or any one of our competitors for that matter. It is a safe industry, but we always want to be safer tomorrow than we are today.
How will you approach safety within MV Transportation?
Have you set any immediate goals for your new position? Going forward I am hoping to apply much of the available technology more proactively as opposed to crisis management; to use it in a more preventative fashion. Our Drive Cam system being deployed on 90 percent of the vehicles throughout our client agencies is a good example. We can rely on its potential for training, rather than reacting and analyzing events after the fact. I look forward to working on ways we can raise the bar for safety this industry.
How do we do that? We have a saying in the airlines that there is no accident for the individual airline, only for the industry. I would like see the same philosophy apply for all bus operations. If we are willfully sharing information, operator to operator, on the hazards and the risks, we will all be better advised and able to do our jobs better and safer.
Editor David Hubbard email@example.com Assistant Editor Richard Tackett firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Sales Jennifer Owens email@example.com Account Executive Maria Galioto firstname.lastname@example.org Production Director Valerie Valtierra email@example.com Art Director Dominic Salerno firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Writers Doug Jack, Matthew A. Daecher, Christopher Ferrone
BUS industry SAFETY council
POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to: BUSRide • 4742 North 24th Street • Suite 340 Phoenix, Arizona 85016 Phone: (602) 265-7600 • F: (602) 277-7588 Web site: www.busride.com
Vol. 48 No. 10 Vice President Operations Valerie Valtierra
Accountant Fred Valdez
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Omnitrans, San Bernardino, CA, received an image branding makeover in August, unveiling a new logo, slogan and fleet graphics on its New Flyer Xcelsior 2012 40-foot transit buses to replace the previous design developed in 1985. This is only the third logo and branding in Omnitrans’ 36-year history. 20 of the new buses went into service this summer and fall to replace retiring models.
Xata Corporation, Minneapolis, MN, is now XRS Corporation, or Xata Road Science, after introducing an all-mobile platform of the same name for compliance, performance and fleet optimization to help fleets and drivers capture data for two essential needs: fleet compliancy and costs.
The Bonneville Transit Center, Southern Nevada RTC earned its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum green building certification from the U.S. Green Building Council; becoming only the third building in all of Southern Nevada to achieve Platinum certification, the highest level of recognition from LEED, the preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
North American Bus Industries, Inc. (NABI) West Coast Service Center will host its Third Annual Transit Appreciation Day and Reception on Wednesday, October 17, 2012. The event will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The event showcase NABI’s latest generation LFW product and an update on its Anniston manufacturing facility recently expanded to build the LFW and BRT lowfloor products entirely within the USA.
8 October 2012
AC Transit gives hope for employment
Demetrius Jones wanted to have first chance for a job as an AC Transit bus operator so he woke very early Saturday, August 25th to attend the AC Transit Job Fair at the agency’s Training Facility in Hayward, CA, arriving two hours early. A smart move by Jones. He beat the rush of more than 700 attendees earnestly seeking work in a tough economy. The agency says this was its first job fair in decades. The line for interviews during the five-hour event stretched around the Training Facility until noon. The public response was especially noteworthy in that 800 people had pre-applied online. AC Transit General Manager David Armijo has refocused the agency’s efforts on improving service reliability, which he says a chronic shortage of bus operators is hampering. AC Transit Human Resources Recruitment Administrator, Duc Le, says organization was key to the success of the job fair. “We required those who wanted interviews to prequalify online so we could verify their driving records and backgrounds,” he says. “AC Transit had 860 applicants apply online
prior to the event and we interviewed more than 200 of those who applied in advance.” During the Job Fair, walk-in applicants and those applying for positions other than Bus Operator received briefings on job requirements and responsibilities, completed and submitted applications online and spoke one-on-one with AC Transit staff members about employment at the East Bay transit agency. AC Transit had meticulously mapped out the route to the facility, posting street signs to direct the way, and having staff at key points around the facility to direct, answer questions and process applicants as quickly as possible. Armijo hopes the AC Transit Job Fair will spur other agencies to hold similar events of their own. “I know first-hand that many transit agencies have lots of jobs to fill,” he says. “It would demonstrate the important economic impact that transit has on local economies, and also give promise to thousands of people who are searching for permanent employment.”
Greater Dayton RTA training bus hits the road Greater Dayton RTA, Dayton, OH, debuted its long-awaited RTA on the Road mobile training bus in August in its first in a series of RTA on the Road Fridays, a monthly event sponsored by the Downtown Dayton Partnership. RTA offers inside-out learning experiences for new and long-time customers through this program. The agency says the RTA on the Road bus and training team will make it easier for visitors to learn how to make the most of their RTA riding experience. Greater Dayton RTA worked over two years to develop this outreach and educa-
tional vehicle. It is a floor-to-ceiling learning environment with specially designed features, including interactive training kiosks for customers to connect to RTA’s website, onboard LCD video monitors to provide visual training support, a 46-inch video monitor mounted outside the bus, and a complete outside station to ensure that everyone who attends an RTA on the Road event can be involved and discover all there is to know about riding RTA.
Escot Bus Lines earns IMG Operator of the Year
Escot Bus Lines President Brian Scott and his sister Pam Claxito, vice president, were not just acting surprised as the two accepted the honor of “Operator of the Year” from the International Motorcoach Group (IMG) on behalf of their company, Escot Bus Lines, Largo, FL, with offices
in Orlando and Saratoga. IMG caught the two totally off guard during its 15th Annual Awards Banquet at the Nicollet Pavilion in Minneapolis, MN, sponsored by Prevost and Allison Transmissions. Scott and Pam were so moved they called their father, Lewis Scott to the
stage to share in the recognition. He and his wife Diane founded Escot Bus Lines in 1983, providing a shuttle service between St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, Florida using just two mini-buses. IMG bestows this honor to a motorcoach operator who has exemplified community involvement, active IMG involvement and exceptional customer service. IMG says “Operator of the Year” is the most prestigious honor given within the organization. Over the years, Escot Bus Lines has established a reputation for excellent service with an ultra-modern European style, running clean and safe equipment, earning and maintain long-standing relationships with several professional sports organizations, domestic/international tour operators, corporate accounts and universities in the Tampa Bay area. The Escot fleet includes 16 transit buses and 45 motorcoaches.
Riteway Bus Service acquires Degnitz school bus operation Thanking its employees, the Random Lake school district and friends after 40 years of service, Degnitz Bus Service, Random Lake, WI, sold in August to Riteway Bus Service, Inc., Richfield, WI. The Degnitz management and drivers will continue in their roles as part of the Riteway team. “The Bast Family looks forward to welcoming the employees of Degnitz Bus Service into the Riteway Bus family,” says Ronald Bast, president of Riteway Bus Service. “We will continue providing the same quality service to the Random Lake School District that the family-owned school bus company, Degnitz Bus, has been known for.”
deliveries TEMSA/CH Bus Sales
Jak Rabbit Lines/County Coach Rye, NY
Looking for something different, Jak Rabbit Lines took delivery on a 2012 MCI D4505 to appeal to professional team clients that include the NHL. David Kucera, president of the 57-year-old family business, says his company has had MC-8s over the years, and likes the move to electronic stability control, Smartwave tire pressure monitoring and a fire suppression system, along with an optional drive cam and GPS tracking. The charter division became Jak Rabbit Lines in 1978 and now runs 12 coaches, with business growing every year, says Kucera.
Jak Rabbit Tours Purchase, NY
Jak Rabbit Lines, Inc., a family-owned business established in 1955, in conjunction with County Coach Corporation, purchased a Temsa TS35 from CH Sales for in Westchester County and the New York Metro region, and cross country charters. Greg Kucera, son of owner, Joe Kucera, says the company finally has 35 foot vehicle that rides and drives like a full size coach. The TS35 comes equipped with a Cummins engine, Allison B500 transmission and three point seat belts, REI Audio/Video, Alcoa rims, 110 volt plug outlets and a rear camera.
people in the news
MV Transportation, Dallas, TX, hired Steve Predmore as senior vice president of Safety. Predmore brings more than 20 years of safety experience to his new position. He previously served as chief safety officer for JetBlue Airways, cultivating a culture of safety that resulted in accident-free performance as well as industry-leading safety performance by significantly reducing employee injuries and aircraft damage rates. Veolia Transportation appointed Rahul Kumar to vice president of Business Development, who will be responsible for business proposals for new and existing Veolia clients, as well as for developing new product lines and business initiatives. Rahul has worked in public transportation projects for 12 years across the nation ranging from service restructuring projects in New York, Georgia, and Florida, as well as the development of bus rapid transit in Southern California.
Rand D. Johnson
Stertil-Koni, Stevensville, MD, named Rand D. Johnson as sales manager for GSA and U.S Military customers. He brings a comprehensive background combining sales, electronics, hydraulics and extensive U.S. Military service to his new post. Proterra, Charlotte, NC, recently hired Michael Hennessy as regional sales director. Hennessy joins Proterra with 40 years of experience in the transportation industry in both public and private sectors, with extensive knowledge in bus operations, maintenance and sales. He spent 29 years at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in senior level positions including superintendent of maintenance and general manager of bus garage operations. He most recently worked as a vice president for Stertil-Koni.
October 2012 13
Significant stylistic and mechanical changes to the 2013 MCI J4500 lend an up-to-date look and heightened curb appeal.
The 2013 MCI J4500
Peter Pan Bus Lines first to opt for stylistic and mechanical changes By David Hubbard
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Schaumburg, IL, made significant stylistic and mechanical changes this year to its stalwart MCI J4500 model for 2013. The redesign lends an up-to-date look and heightened curb appeal. MCI engineers collaborated with BMW Group Designworks USA, Newberry Park, CA, to make several key improvements to the lighting, body bumpers and serviceability. BUSRide invited safety and maintenance expert Christopher Ferrone to test drive the new and improved J4500 and offer his comments. Based in Chicago, IL, Ferrone is president of Americoach Systems, Inc., and oversees maintenance and logistics for his family’s 106-year old bus transportation company, American Sightseeing. “It’s natural to assume a new coach such as the MCI J4500 is going to look good and ride well, so I typically take a more a critical view,” he says. “My interests are in the engineering and construction, safety and maintenance elements, as well as ease for the driver, the mechanics and the passengers.” The most pronounced changes are
the redesigned front and rear fiberglass caps. The LED headlamps are now set in stainless steel to resist corrosion and sealed to reduce wind and air intrusion. The ID, clearance and marker lights are higher as well to enhance visibility and the coach’s nighttime profile. “The change in the configuration of the bumper marker lights is notable,” says Ferrone. “I like the individualized lights. The giant bar that went across was hard to deal with and extremely expensive. Not only is this a better look, it is now possible to change out lights individually.” The front RIM-injection molded highenergy bumper is now in three pieces, a center section and the two corners. “I see this as an improvement,” says Ferrone. “As the corners of the bumper receive the greatest damage, they can be replaced with less expense.” Electrical junction boxes front and rear house the ACTIA multiplexing. “The new multiplex system in the J4500 is simple, well labeled and easy to read,” says Ferrone. “The clutter is gone with the number of boxes reduced to the fewest possible. Here’s the best part: This bus comes with its own hand-held
diagnostic tool for the engine and transmission, which diagnoses the multiplex system as well.” In the walk-around discussion before taking the coach on the road, something very simple caught Ferrone’s attention: the hinge on the front-left service door underneath the driver’s window. “This is without doubt the coolest hinge I have ever seen,” says Ferrone. “To me this shows in a nutshell the cleverness and high-quality construction of MCI engineering. This is just an access door to the air tanks; only a mechanic would use it. Nonetheless, MCI custom built this hinge. It is not as if they went out and bought it. It has five different arms — all greaseable with ball bearings. That took some engineering, and to me this says a lot about the entire bus.” Ferrone also commented on the baggage bay doors. “I believe the average operator has to have components that are cost effective to repair and replace,” he says. “Where the bottom of baggage doors always seem to get take a beating. I noticed the replaceable rub rails on the door are now all one piece; meaning the entire panel
LEFT: Safety and maintenance expert Christopher Ferrone, president of Americoach Systems, Inc., Chicago, IL, test drove the new and improved J4500 and offered his comments. BELOW: Ferrone says the hinge on the front-left service door is the coolest he has ever seen, and speaks volumes for MCI engineering.
improves curb appeal has to be replaced if it is hit or damaged. By keeping this a sacrificial panel, it wouldn’t be as expensive to replace.” The J4500 has a great deal more access to the engine compartment than earlier models,” he says. “This is a big positive for technicians needing to work inside. They can get to a lot more components, which are more visible and reachable than before.” From MCI headquarters, Ferrone and the MCI engineers boarded for a run to O’Hare International Airport as if to drop off passengers. “Driving through a mixed residential and business area, I found this coach to be very stable,” he says. “I was able to make a fairly high speed lane change without what would be a lot of discomfort to the passengers or the driver. This coach has a good center of gravity and is very responsive, very maneuverable.” Ferrone says the Cummins engine in this coach felt slow to respond and feels the Detroit Diesel is the better engine option. He commented positively on the response of the Allison Transmission. Side-view cameras integrated into the review mirror’s head are another new option. “A backup camera in each of the mirrors is great for the open highway, but I
can see where they could be an expensive risk when driving several hundred miles a day in tight traffic,” says Ferrone. “I would be worried for the driver becoming distracted when seeing himself on the monitor. The TV screen in the driver’s area covers a portion of the windshield where it attaches, which I think impedes vision. I suppose it has advantages and disadvantages.” Peter Pan Bus Lines, Springfield, MA, one of the largest privately owned coach operators in North America, runs a modern fleet of about 300 vehicles. The redesign of the 2013 J4500 impressed the company enough to be the first to place an order. Every spring, Peter Pan replaces buses to maintain a modern fleet and finalize the next order. “We’ve always liked the curb appeal of the J450, and even more so when MCI made us aware of the new features and options for the 2013 J4500,” says Peter Pan Chairman, Peter A. Picknelly. “We were able to weigh-in on what we liked and did not like and came back with what we saw as a go. The new design is a great fit into our existing 125 MCI J4500 coaches.” Peter Pan takes delivery on the first of two coaches this fall.
“We are very pleased with the new look, particularly with the new headlight design,” he says. “I also think the wood trim in the entranceway will have strong customer appeal.” From an operations standpoint, Tom Picknally, Peter Pan senior vice president, Maintenance, had a few practical observations. “Running regular scheduled bus service in large metropolitan areas, the durability of our equipment is a continual challenge,” he says. “Graffiti is a fact of life. Graffiti invites more graffiti, it never ends.” While the interior finish of the onboard restroom may not a glamorous improvement, it did get Picknally’s attention. “This is what I mean by durability,” he says. “We can brush over graffiti with a slightly abrasive material and the markings wipe clean. It does not mar or harm the finish.” Anything Tom Picknally would like to see? “Something very simple,” he says. “While we are really pleased with how the new J4500 turned out, I would like to see an adequate trash receptacle in the front of the bus. It would greatly help the cleaning staff and make it more convenient for the passengers as they leave the bus.” BR
Pass the torch to the Millennials
A transit data exchange program would pay it forward By Jared Schnader
Over the last 20 years, the American transportation industry has seen steady growth in new public transit systems, which is a $55 billion industry, according to the American Public Transit Association (APTA). With industry trends seemingly pointing in a positive direction, APTA says we could reasonably expect to see an increase of over 200 million new trips on public transportation this year alone, citing a recent study by the Transportation Research Board. However, despite this growth, America’s transit infrastructure received a “D” rating on its report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This is a very poor report for an industry growing at such a clip. In 2010, the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. as having the 23rd best infrastructure; a far cry from where it should be. Despite its wide highways and freeway systems, America has one of the highest average commute times
relative to European commuters, which generally have narrower roads with higher population densities. Even with the data stating there are problems with our transit infrastructure. One in particular is a pressing problem that needs serious attention. According to APTA, 50 percent of the public transportation workforce will retire in the next five years. There are over 400,000 people currently working in transit. That means that over 200,000 people will be exiting the work force in half a decade. This will be a massive loss of experience and knowledge in the industry.
Enter the Millennials
Meanwhile, the Millennials, the demographic born between 1980 and 2000, are moving into the workforce, albeit slowly due to the economy. Currently, the number of unemployed Millennials fluctuates between 13 percent and 26 percent older to younger respectively.
If St. Louis MetroBus mechanic Antonio Floyd should one day move on or retire, the agency will be looking for a trained individual to replace the loss of his knowledge and experience. Photo courtesy of Metro St. Louis
This demographic represents the most educated generation of Americans in the history of this country, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. There is no reason for the transit industry not to tap into this large pool of educated, motivated young adults at this time to fill the vital roles in the future. Doing so might mean there could actually be a glut of highly educated, though inexperienced, transit professionals entering the workforce. The challenge is to put practices in place that not only attract and retain this talent, but also disseminate the experience and knowledge of the retiring Baby Boomer generation. APTA conducted a survey in 2007 that still holds true in terms of desires and wants of the Millennial generation, which APTA broke into Gen X and Gen Y. In the study, Benefits and Work/Life Balance outweighed attributes such as Salary, Advancement Opportunities, and Vacation Time. This new generation of workers craves stability, something they say that the current economic environment has not afforded them. Transit can offer them all the above attributes, which should be its primary focus in personnel recruitment and retention. Besides retaining this new workforce, the transit industry as a whole must work to harness and shape the experiences of the retiring workforce into educational programs before all the wisdom disappears to the golf courses and fishing boats across the country. Programs need to be put in place to expedite such a learning process. As the Millennials are the most educated generation, the ability to learn is not a skill they lack.
enter into an international database as part of a global exchange assessment. A member agency with a weakness in a particular area could accept an offer for training from another agency professing stronger skills in that area. Seeing such a need for a fully developed workforce, APTA is pushing its own agenda to address this foreseeable problem. “Workforce development is a critical issue for the public transportation industry,” says APTA President and CEO Mi-
chael Melaniphy. “To ensure our workforce is ready to meet the challenges in the decades ahead, APTA has a comprehensive five year plan that includes a broad range of initiatives designed to reach multiple audiences.” Mark Aesch, CEO of TransPro Consulting Services, Tampa, FL, and author of Driving Excellence, his account of high-performance public sector management, believes any opportunity to share information helps everyone improve.
Data exchange program
While the following idea might sound far-reaching for the moment, transit could invest in something along the line of a development exchange program, in which participating member cities domestically and internationally would have the opportunity to exchange skills and experiences with other agencies across the country and around the world. This would require member cities to conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats assessment (SWOT) of their own agencies, which they would
Pass the torch continued “Everyone working in this industry should have opportunities to learn from transit executives who are achieving over-performance,” he says. “For example, an analysis of strengths, weakness-
Categorizing such member exchanges by geography, size and demographics would ensure greater accuracy from their sessions, as well as being more affordable. This exchange training could help lessen the impact of the experience depletion the industry is set to face. There are more young minds entering the workforce every day. Each one has the potential to take the next step in leading the industry into the future. All the
This new generation of workers craves stability, something they say that the current economic environment has not afforded them. es, opportunities and threats (SWOT) is a proven tool in signaling where the next executive talent and leadership must come from.”
acquired knowledge and wisdom over decades of work will soon head off into retirement. Developing programs, such as a development exchange program
to strengthen the skills within agencies, will help this new generation to succeed. They receive the tools to help solve the problems originally outlined in this piece that previous generations have not been able to yet overcome. It is not too late to work towards the easing of the workforce retirement. Groups such as APTA, TCRP, APTF, and more acronymic organizations are working to make a difference through grants, networking opportunities, and leadership development. However, each year brings about further loss of experience and an increase in the number of inexperienced yet educated workers. The transit industry must take every possible measure to ensure quality development and sustainability for the future. BR Jared Schnader serves as a market research consultant for the Zero Emissions Transit Bus Institute. Previously, he was a founding member of Foton America Bus Co., Inc., director of marketing and strategic planning.
The CNG Eco-Coach in production for the New Jersey Transit Authority has a range of over 600 miles.
Buses made in the U.S.A. With Joseph J. Smith at the helm, DesignLine builds under all-electric, hybrid and CNG power By David Hubbard
Established in and CEO for DesignLine. Shortly after Basing his judgment on his worst New Zealand in retiring in 2010 from the Metropolitan maintenance nightmares, Smith says the 1985, DesignLine initially manufactured Transportation Authority (MTA) for the DesignLine buses appeared to hold the standard diesel vehicles. Nonetheless, state of New York, Smith served as a solution. He says his positive experiences its visionary leaders were already consultant for Cyan Partners, LP, the the hybrid buses carried into his transition marching to the beat of a distant drum to sole arranger of DesignLine’s debt and as a DesignLine executive. pioneer cleaner, greener modes of bus equity capital raises, and took a seat on “I have always looked at buses from transportation. Five countries and 21 the Board of Directors. The corporation a preventative standpoint,” he says. ”My years later, the company entered the U.S. named him interim CEO this past March headaches were always with batteries, market in 2007 and introduced its first and made his appointment permanent in radiators and belts.” hybrid transit buses for demonstration. July. DesignLine solves those problems DesignLine USA opened its first North Smith joined MTA NYC originally as a with ultracapacitors and EMP fan cooling American production facilities in Charlotte, bus operator and mechanic and worked systems. NC, in 2008. through the ranks to hold three executive “Our engineering begins with the Transit industry veteran Joseph J. positions of president, MTA Bus Company; premise: If an agency is to operate this Smith, formerly senior vice president, president, MTA Long Island Bus; and bus for the next 12 years, what must we Department of Buses, at MTA New York senior vice president, Department of implement to keep the costs down?” he City, watched this move very closely. Buses, MTA New York City. says, “In doing so, we provide customers “When I ran the largest transit operation During his tenure with MTA in New a quiet, clean and comfortable ride in inCenter North aisle America, I was on cap thesteel York, Smith says the life costs that werecomplement a stylishthebus theand general public can stiffeners builtalways of reverse C-channel (photo andcycle aesthetics quality style. Steel corner lookout for such a vehicle,” he says. his biggest concern. accept.” 3) prevents the aisle from sagging after years of operation. The seat window gussets (photo 4) add perimeter sidewall strength and “DesignLine caught on myreverse attention “I washave always what we could tracks also mounted captoward steel C-channels beenasking create a solid built frame for the windows that prevents window the end of my tenure, the moment the do differently to keep maintenance costs The DesignLine products tested and certified to exceed DOT Standards. sags and water leaks. All welds are made with a continuous bead company arrived in the U.S.” down,” he says. “Was there another way DesignLine manufacturers three enThe contoured walls add strength, aerodynamic wind advantages as opposed to spot welding. Today, Smith serves as president to skin this cat?” vironmentally sensitive transit vehicles
The Eco-Saver IV is a full series hybrid that employs a relatively small APU as opposed to a full-sized diesel engine.
— an all-electric bus, a hybrid dieselelectric vehicle and a CNG commuter coach — constructed with advanced extruded aluminum technology similar to that employed in light rail cars, which the company says achieves greater strength and frame life while substantially reducing vehicle weight. Operating with a simple 4-cylinder engine, DesignLine believes its diesel buses to be the most fuel efficient on the market. “Horsepower pushes the bus down the road,” says Smith. “Less horsepower equates to fuel cost savings.” The vehicles also are available in super low floor design to facilitate elderly and physically challenged passengers.
All-electric Eco-Smart II
DesignLine says its all-electric EcoSmart II is capable of operating for up to 120 miles on a single charge under highdensity, stop-and-go, urban transit route conditions. The electric bus replaces additional battery packs in place of the auxiliary power unit (APU) found in the hybrid Eco Saver IV. DesignLine says while the price of the Eco-Smart is approximately $600,000 to $700,000, they cost less than a comparably equipped standard diesel bus. The savings on a REEV amount to 100 percent of traditional fuel costs, including certain operating costs over the life of the vehicle. The Eco-Smart II is not
presently running in the U.S. DesignLine Corporation and Liberty Automotive announced in 2011 a $30 million joint venture to open a production facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), to specialize in zero emission allelectric buses. The company anticipated this new facility to manufacture 300 buses annually with projected revenue its first year in excess of $80 million. As the world leader in the application of green technology, DesignLine UAE enters is now in its second year running zero emission Eco-Smart II buses, while other Middle Eastern countries are in negotiations with DesignLine to convert their diesel transit fleets to either all-electric or hybrid vehicles.
The Eco-Saver IV is a full series hybrid that employs a relatively small APU as opposed to a full-sized diesel engine and is capable of operating on battery power only, capturing benefits from regenerative braking. The electrical system drives all the parasitic loads that include HVAC and power steering, radiator and air compressor rather than by a large internal combustion engine with hydraulics or belts. The hybrid bus includes the proprietary DesignLine vehicle management system, battery management system, pack design, the APU turbine; as well as the re-
generative braking system. DesignLine says its hybrid Range-Extended (RE) Eco-Saver IV is capable of operating in a zero emission mode up to 40 percent of normal transit service. The bus uses a Capstone 65kW or 30kW turbine generator with the proprietary software and hybrid control system. This bus is compliant with California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards and according to DesignLine, already meets the proposed 2014 mandates without relying on an after treatment device. Hybrid RE Eco-Saver IV buses are in service at transit agencies in Denver, CO, Charlotte, NC, Arlington, TX, and Baltimore, MD. “This bus addresses everything that kept me awake nights when I ran bus operations in NYC,” says Smith. “The frame is stainless steel, the body is aluminum. Because of corrosion from the salts and grime over six to eight years, it was all we could do to keep up with the damaging effects. Even though we tried to maintain the undercoating as best we could, there was always massive cracking and rusting.”
CNG Eco Coach
The CNG Eco-Coach is a commuter vehicle currently in production for the New Jersey Transit Authority. The contract calls for 76 such buses at a total
value of over $45 million. In this initial application, the Eco-Coach is essentially a motorcoach to carry transit commuters from southern New Jersey to the Port Authority in New York City, and could easily apply to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The CNG Eco Coach has a range over 600 miles, one of the longer ranges on the market according to DesignLine, which CNG covers at a much lower cost than a diesel-powered vehicle. Smith speaks to how the rough duty cycles the MTA NYC buses had to endure have influenced the development of this product. “I lived with this torture of buses breaking down on a daily basis, and trying to answer all the questions on why we would buy a particular bus,” he says. “For that reason, the New Jersey coach is perhaps the most tested model in the history of the bus industry just to validate that this coach can do everything we say it can do.”
DesignLine says it can build the Eco Coach in 40- or 45-foot versions, without changing any component or design characteristic. Smith says either length incorporates the same chassis and very easy to customize.
Transit industry veteran Joseph J. Smith serves as DesignLine President and CEO.
In addition to mandated testing at Altoona, DesignLine has subject the Eco Coach to shaker table and climate booth testing.
The company says because it builds the Eco Coach entirely in Charlotte, NC, it has more U.S. content than any motorcoach operating in this country, and keeps over 100 parts suppliers and vendors in the Carolinas busy. It recently purchased another building to build the frames, water test booth and paint booths. Smith says between the capitalization from the joint venture with Cyan Partners and increased demand for 30-, 35-, and 40-ft hybrid-electric buses, DesignLine expects to create new employment opportunities. “We doubled our workforce at the beginning of the year,” says Smith. “And we are going to double it again by the end of the year, so we are definitely going in the right direction.” BR
Get to Blytheville for Ghosts of Highway 61-Dixie Tour Save the date: April 4-6, 2013. Blytheville, AR, is hosting the â€œGhosts of Highway 61-Dixie Tour 2013â€?, a national historic exhibition of antique coaches and motor home conversions in operation up to 1980. This event will take place at the former Greyhound Lines Terminal at 109 North 5th Street, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1939, the Blytheville depot is but one of a few depots
of its kind still in existence. The building has been totally restored and now houses the local tourist information center, a mini-museum and is headquarters for Main Street Blytheville, where super-rare antique buses and memorabilia are on display. contact: Tom McNally at email@example.com for more details, or visit www.tomsgarageonline.com.
S P E C I A L S E C T I O N : BUSRide presents this S special editorial FareICollection and Revenue Management, P E C A Lsection, S E C O N : F A focusing RE C OI varying LLE C TT Iand O N S YSTE M evolving S as a four-part series on the aspects critical components in this
BUSRide presents Fare Collection Systems as a fourpart series that highlights benefits and addresses the downside of each mode of fare collection. Over the next four issues, leading companies, professionals and transit leaders lend their expertise in each category:
PART ONE: Open-LOOP Fare
Open fare represents the cutting edge of fare collection, in which smart card technology allows commuters to pay for transit with credit, debit or prepaid bank cards. With this system, buying a bus ride is as simple as buying any other good or service with a contactless card. Customers tap their card on a reader at a turnstile or electronic farebox to charge the cost of the trip to the card or an exterior account. As “digital wallets” in near field communication-enabled (NFC) cell phones become readily available, open-loop systems will allow riders to pay in this manner as well. Open fare is the future of transit fare collection.
PART ONE: Open-loop fares PART TWO: Proprietary cards PART THREE: Non-reloadable tickets PART FOUR: Cash and tokens
Distance-based fares change the game
Utah Transit Authority pioneers open-loop payments By Glenn Swain
Seven years ago, seeing the future of transit fare collection moving from cash handling to electronic technology, Utah Transit Authority (UTA), Salt Lake, UT, was at a crossroads. Choosing correctly from the menu of emerging technologies to serve a 1,400-square-mile area that takes in Salt Lake, Box Elder, Davis, Tooele and Weber counties would be no easy task. According to UTA General Manager Michael Allegra, in its investigation of open payment systems, the agency viewed fare collection no differently than any other credit card purchase for a product or
service. Instead of a closed system that requires the customer to buy a medium from the agency or another source for use only by the transit system, UTA became one of the first transit agencies in the country to subscribe to an open payment electronic system using proximity readers, as well as the first transit system to consider a fee-per-mile approach to fare collection. The open payment pilot program ended in 2008 and was fully implemented in January 2009. “In my 35 years with UTA, we have tried every possible means of fare collection — time of day, distance-based, quality of
UTA became one of the first transit agencies in the country to subscribe to an open payment electronic system using proximity readers.
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service and zonal payments,” says Allegra. “I think this is a game-changer in our business. Frankly, I think our industry is stuck in the past with always charging a simple and easy flat fare.”
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UTA retained the consultant firm, CH2M HILL, Englewood, CO, to sort out the options for a distance-based system. The staff agreed that it must be easy for riders to understand and at the same time make transit service more attractive and convenient to use. The technology would also have to complement the GPS system already in place on each of the 500 UTA transit buses. Once implemented, the tap-on/tap-off system will record the location where the customer boards and exits the bus and charge a fare based on time of day and distance traveled. Riders will no longer pay a flat fee to get to their destination. “Unlike UTA’s current flat fare, the fee-per-mile will allow riders to pay for exactly what they use, and no more,” says Cyndy Pollan, director, Fare Strategies at CH2M HILL. “It is very different from what anyone else has implemented and clearly gets at some of the agency’s key objectives, one of which was to combine the idea of a distance-based fare with a
significantly lower fare for someone only taking a short trip.” “From a policy perspective this is the right thing to do,” Allegra says. “Comparing transit to a utility, users pay for electricity, gas and water by what they use. They should be able to view transit in the same light.”
Pick a card, any card
UTA partnered with an entity called Isis, a consortium of major credit card companies and the major telephone companies, that essentially turns a cell phone into a mobile wallet. As a proximity reader, it does not require any new devices to read the phones. According to the consultants at CH2M HILL, the UTA open fare system is not without its challenges. “To the extent that UTA has rolled out the open payment system, it only works for somebody who wants to pay an adult cash fare,” says Pollan. “If I’m a senior entitled to a discount and I want to pay with my credit card, it will still charge me an adult cash fare. The system currently does not associate that card with a rider who is eligible for a discount.” She sees this as a perfect example of what it will take to get this system to the next level. Alan Cheng, program manager, Payment Systems at CH2M HILL, says other large transit agencies like New York, Washington DC, Chicago, and Philadelphia who are planning similar systems are fleshing out these issues. “While there are problems to be ironed out, UTA still
Rider data is of tremendous benefit to planning and finance departments, and in establishing routes, schedules, fares and fare products.
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embraces the open fare system as its future,” says Cheng. “The vast amounts of data the agency can retrieve from each rider allow the agency to adjust routes as needed and provide better service.”
Data in; service out
According to Brin Owen, regional director, Payment Systems at CH2M HILL, a paper-based, cash-based system does not provide a lot of information about the riders; where they got on, get off and how long they ride. “The amount of data from a given transaction is quite limited, whereas a smart card system provides extensive data,” he says. “Some agencies say a smart card system gives up so much information it is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Quite often, they turn to a consulting firm to understand how to best use and manage this data.” Owen says more data gives a better picture of who is riding, and is of tremendous benefit to planning and finance departments, and in establishing routes, schedules, fares and fare products. “Many institutions such as universities, businesses and organizations are subscribing to this electronic fare collection system,” Allegra says. “Our goal is to be totally cash-less by 2030.” UTA says the reaction from customers has been positive thus far. “We have been very accommodating,” Allegra says. “We initiated a grace period for the first three months in which we educated the community. We went to hard enforcement in late 2011. It is working fine. People love it because it’s simple.” BR
Fare readers will record the location where the customer boards and exits the bus and charge a fare based on time of day and distance traveled.
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E-fare solution for Sacramento, CA By Ann Derby
INIT’s contract with Sacramento outlined the implementation of smart card passenger terminals on approximately 500 of the agencies’ buses.
Background The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) is an association of local governments in the six-county Sacramento, CA, region that provides transportation planning and funding for the region, and serves as a forum for the study and resolution of regional issues. Its members include the counties of El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba, as well as an additional 22 cities within the Sacramento region. In addition to preparing the region’s long-range transportation plan, SACOG assists in planning for transit, bicycle networks, clean air and airport land uses.
Challenges Finding an e-fare solution to successfully connect several area transit systems using one
simple fare card was the primary goal of the Council. For this reason, a consortium of six different transit operators was formed, including Sacramento Regional Transit District, Yolo County Transportation, Yuba-Sutter Transit, Elk Grove Transit, El Dorado Transit and Folsom Stage Lines. The task of the consortium was to find a provider that could integrate the multi-client, e-fare solution while ensuring the individual requirements of each agency. The aspects of the proposed fare solution that were critical for the success of SACOG’s new “Connect Transit Card” smart card started with the architecture of the system. SACOG wanted it build around a new Regional Service Center (RSC) which would serve as the central nervous system and data hub for the e-fare project. The RSC would connect to system garages, vehicles and light rail platforms though
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fiber optics and Wi-Fi connections. Next, the Council wanted to give passengers the ability to easily purchase fares on their smart cards for any of the participating transit systems through multiple outlets. This would include online, by phone, at vending machines or at storefront locations. The new solution had to make it convenient for passengers to establish a cash purse for different fares based on time, trip or unlimited rides and allow users to register their cards for loss protection, as well as to track their balances or usage. The most important aspect however was the backend system. The job of managing fare details, including clearing processes and revenue sharing between agencies, was critical due to the structure of the multi-agency project. This would require a software system that could also handle all fare structure while maintaining individual property requirements.
will be realized through the ability to increase efficiency and on-time performance. Customers will be able to conveniently transfer between the various transit systems due to the convenient new fare system. Using INIT’s back-end system for handling all fare collection and clearing processes will benefit the Council by allowing them to streamline those time con-
suming tasks and increase efficiency. Overall, the innovative solution perfectly aligns with SACOG’s mission to offer an efficient area-wide transportation system within the Sacramento region. The e-fare project is expected to be complete by the end of 2013. BR Ann Derby is the marketing and events manager for INIT, Innovations Inc. Transportation, Inc.
In the final analysis, SACOG judged that INIT was going to give the Connect Transit Card Consortium the best overall value. The agencies partnered with INIT to provide the state-of-the-art electronic fare collection solution for the Sacramento region. The contract outlined the implementation of smart card passenger terminals on approximately 500 of the agencies’ buses, Add Fare Machines (AFM), and validators at more than 80 locations on rail station platforms. All of the new fare terminals were designed for use by visually impaired passengers with Braille and audio features. Additionally, top-up and sales terminals would be installed at more than 42 retail sites and 28 various rail platforms. The terminals provide additional convenience for passengers by accepting credit or debit cards, as well as the new standard, EMV (Europay, MasterCard and VISA) cards which is the global standard for inter-operation of integrated circuit cards. The new e-fare technology project is expected to bring new life to the region’s transit providers while streamlining fare processes for SACOG’s six county consortium. The main benefits of the project
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Smart Card Alliance guides chip technology Association is open to any company with interest in new forms of fare payment By Glenn Swain
Mass transit agencies worldwide have been cept bank-issued debit and credit cards and using prepaid value cards for electronic ticketing pre-paid cards.” says Vanderhoof. “Speed is an since the 1970s and have since begun transi- important factor for transit because passengers tioning from magnetic stripe technology to con- need to quickly get through the turnstiles and get tactless smart cards in automatic fare collection loaded on buses. Over the last few years, we’ve (AFC) systems. U.S. transit agencies have made seen the technology evolve from closed loop significant investments in systems to open payment contactless smart cardsystems.” based automatic fare colMost major U.S. metlection (AFC) systems, ropolitan areas now have with over $1 billion in conclosed-loop, stored value tracts awarded for new contactless smart cardsystems that incorporate based AFC systems, the latest developments which include Washingin information technology ton, D.C.; San Francisco; (IT). Most of these sysOakland; Los Angeles; tems use agency-brandChicago; San Diego; Seed contactless smart attle; Minneapolis; Houscards as the primary fare ton; Boston; Philadelphia medium. and Atlanta. The Smart Card AlliIn addition to these tranance, a non-profit assosit-specific fare payment ciation representing a vasystems, transit agencies riety of industries, formed in the U.S. are moving to in 2000 to promote underopen bank card payments standing, adoption, use for fare payment at the and widespread applicapoint of entry to subways, tion of smart card techtrains and buses. In Janunology through education, Randy Vanderhoof, Smart Card Alliance Executive Director. ary 2009, the Utah Transit research and advocacy. Authority implemented one “Smart Card Alliance is open to any company of the first complete open bank card payment syswith an interest in adopting chip technology and tem for transit fare payment in the United States. new forms of fare payment,” says Smart Card Transit operators in the New York–New Jersey Alliance Executive Director, Randy Vanderhoof. region, MTA New York City Transit, Port Author“Smart cards give us a vision of the future so com- ity Trans Hudson (PATH) and New Jersey Transit panies in all industries can develop products and collaborated on a pilot to test the concept of open services to meet market needs and demand.” payments on two subway lines, several connectHe says members join the Smart Card Alliance ing bus routes in New York, and bus routes and to participate in work groups, conferences and connecting service to the PATH system in New webinars to stay abreast of the changes result- Jersey. Currently, transit agencies in numering from the move from tokens, paper and cash- ous locations, including Philadelphia, Chicago, based payment systems to open payment tech- Washington, DC, Dallas, and Toronto are actively nology. pursuing open payment solutions. BR “Transit operators are looking for ways to ac-
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Michael Nash of Xerox Services explains the concept of open fare
By Richard Tackett
Xerox Services, Dallas, TX, a Xerox brand formerly known as Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), has been in the fare collection arena since 2006. From developing smart card technology for various transit systems, Xerox graduated its practices to open-loop technology with key open payment pilot programs in New York and New Jersey. NJ Transit, with the help of Xerox, began allowing riders in 2010 to simply tap or wave their bank cards to purchase rides. Using the “contactless” routes, which expanded to six last year, customers are charged based on distance traveled. For Xerox, it’s all about coordinating fare payments and retail transactions under the same umbrella. Buying a separate card for a specific kind of payment, in this case a transit fare, is a redundancy that open-loop technology can eliminate. “When we say open payments, the ‘open’ really refers to open standards,” says Michael Nash, senior vice president, Transportation and Local Governments - Americas at Xerox. “When you move into the Visa and MasterCard world, both organizations work very hard to make sure that you can use their products anywhere in the world. Those standards ensure that fare payments follow all of the standard protocols and rules of payment.” Nash came to Xerox, then ACS, six years ago after stints with Visa and American Express. Because his previous work focused on bringing card payments to new industries, Nash is particularly qualified to coordinate bank card payments with transit. “I don’t know how many people have spent their careers in both payment cards and transit fare collection,” he says. “The industries have converged, with the transit industry wanting to be much like a restaurant or retail establishment and accept payments from the cards that people are already carrying. In looking at the kinds of challenges a transit agency would need to overcome to make that a reality, it was good to have a fundamental understanding of how the other side worked.” In addition to his responsibilities at Xerox, Nash holds a vice-chair position on the Smart Card Alliance’s (SCA) Transportation Council. The SCA advocates for the proliferation of smart cards in all retail payments, with special emphasis on transit fares. The non-profit has brought together some of the industry’s foremost thinkers to devise open payment solutions for transit. “The Smart Card Alliance was a hotbed of thinking,” Nash recalls. “We debated about how convenient it would be if you went into McDonald’s and they required purchasing a McDon-
ald’s card before purchasing a hamburger. It was that kind of thinking that prompted people to ask, ‘What would it take to have that machine taken out and have people just walk up, tap a card on a gate, and off you go?’” That line of thinking, Nash says, is behind the core concept of open-loop payments. He’s not sure, however, if the transit industry will ever enforce 100 percent cashless transactions. “I’ve spent my career looking for ways for people to not use cash, but it’s my belief that there will be some percentage of riders that will use money,” he says. The main benefit of open fares, Nash says, and the main goal of Xerox Services, is to push fare collection into the sophisticated world of revenue management where companies like Visa and MasterCard reside. The method is already established, he says, and now it’s just a matter of integrating that method with the logistics of the transit industry. “By moving into the open payments world, transit can take advantage of all of the efforts and infrastructure that the financial industry has supported to create global interaction,” he says. BR
Open-loop technology eliminates redundancy in buying agency-specific fare cards.
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The future of fare collection
Cubic modernizes fare payments for the 21st century Cubic Transportation Systems, a division of Cubic Corporation, San Diego, CA, is making bold strides to carry fare collection into the Information Age. Sensing years ago that open payments were the future of not just fare collection, but financial transactions in general, the company set a plan into action to deploy
By Richard Tackett
open fare systems across the globe. With major fare collection installations launching or installed in Chicago, Philadelphia, southern New Jersey, Vancouver and London, Cubic is moving the international conversation toward new technologies and streamlined collection practices. Pradip Mistry, Cubic vice president of engineering, sees the current state of open payments as a stepping stone to-
ward the high-tech future of fare collection — and not the final product. “Open payment is not a new concept,” says Mistry. “It has just taken time to get into the market. It is actually the technology catching up. If you talk about open payments, you’re talking about the ability to use your credit or debit card. We see that as just a step to what’s going to happen in the next few years. You’ll be using your smartphone as your primary instrument for payments, traveling, ticketing and other applications.” Mistry says smartphones with near field communications (NFC) similar to mobile boarding passes at the airport will increase in their relevance to transit operations. “By the end of this year, I think there will be at least 100 different phones with near field communication,” he says. “The volume of NFC phones will increase over the next few years.”
Until the NFC market takes off, Cubic remains in the business of deploying multiple forms of open fare payments. More and more agencies are trying to move away from cash payments because the logistical costs involved are too high. Running “money trains” to collect cash from fare boxes requires plenty of manhours, additional security and a whole set of employees to count the money. Open fares and other kinds of cashless payments reduce the need for those overhead costs, and Mistry says that consumers consider it a more convenient method.
Agencies large and small
Open-loop allows the use of a plastic contactless Visa, MasterCard or Discover card, or a virtual card in a mobile wallet, to make secure transit payments.
If a transit agency is interested in Cubic’s services, Cubic will either work directly with them or through transit consultants. “Typically, these are open procure-
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ments,” says Mistry. “The agencies come out with a request for information followed by a request for proposals. That’s the standard process.” Mistry says that most of Cubic’s customers tend to be larger agencies. He thinks open fares are certainly an option for smaller transit agencies, but there isn’t as much demand. “As for getting everyone to use the same medium, the chances are low,” he says. “There is a significant trend (toward open fares), but you have to ask the smaller agencies if their ridership is big enough, and that’s a decision the agencies have to make for themselves. If they went to an open payment, it may be viable from a cost perspective.” Mistry says that Cubic’s open fare projects are under development in Vancouver and for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and that Transport for London (TfL) experimented with open fares during the 2012 Olympic Games. A fully functional open fare project went live last year at the Port Authority
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Transit Corporation (PATCO) system in the Philadelphia/New Jersey region. Cubic partnered with PATCO to offer riders the world’s first transit agency-branded contactless Visa prepaid card for transit and retail purchases. The Cubic/PATCO partnership represents one of the world’s foremost “openloop” payment systems, where the contactless Visa card can be used anywhere the card is accepted.
The latest step by Cubic has been toward integrating the open-loop method with a new interface called NextAccount, in which, in addition to open-loop bank card payments and transit-issued passes, riders will have the option of paying fares from an account. Traditional smart card technology records payments via a computer chip inside the transit pass. The fare’s value is within the card itself. With NextAccount, Cubic places the fare’s value in an account. Customers can authorize their
bank cards or traditional transit-issued smart cards with their “digital signature,” so their account is charged whenever they swipe their card of choice. “If, for example, you have a Visa card, you can with NextAccount associate a monthly pass with it,” says Mistry. “Likewise if an agency has a weekly or monthly pass, a product that the customer is familiar with, they can still continue to use them. The only difference is the medium.” The convenience of open-loop payments has many transit agencies wishing to go completely cashless. Though the logistical cost savings would be great, Mistry thinks differently. “I know that’s what the agencies would like to do, but I just don’t know if that’s going to happen,” he says. “The passenger has the right to pay with cash, and the passenger is always right. As long as there are passengers who want to pay with cash, the agencies have to accommodate them.” BR
Nassau County revamps bus operations Private sector partnership serves as a model for cost savings By Ken Westbrook
On New Year’s Day 2012, Veolia Transportation made transit history Veolia President and COO when it launched service for Nassau Transit Division Inter-County Express (NICE), Long Island, NY, the largest private transit contract in North America. Already known as America’s first suburb, Nassau County is gaining further recognition for its innovation in management of public transportation, which serves as a successful public-private model for other transit systems facing rising costs and dwindling revenues. Breaking from a 30-year history when the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) operated the system, NICE now operates under a public-private operating partnership (PPOP) between Nassau County and Veolia Transportation, Lombard, IL, North America’s largest private sector operator of public transportation. This hybrid approach allows Nassau to maintain control and oversight of its bus and paratransit system while it benefits from the experience, innovation and resources of a private operator. “NICE now operates at approximately $43 million less than the $156 million the Metropolitan Transportation Authority projected for 2012,” says Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano. “Yet it still runs every route the MTA did.” Under the PPOP, Nassau County continues to own all
hard assets, its 400 buses and paratransit vehicles, garages, transit centers, and equipment. It also retains ultimate policy control on budgets, fare structure and quality and quantity of service. Veolia is responsible for almost everything else — operations, maintenance, service design, scheduling, grants management, marketing, finance, passenger information and care, and overall management.
Reduce costs, maintain service quality
Nearly 100,000 daily riders in Nassau rely on bus transportation. Like many communities, Nassau has faced unprecedented fiscal challenges to maintain services with rising costs and inadequate revenues. In 2011, MTA chose not to renew its contract with Nassau County due to shortfalls in funding the bus system. Instead of drastically cutting service, placing an additional burden on taxpayers, raising fares or assuming the huge task of operating the system itself, Nassau decided it would partner with a private, professional transportation management company and work jointly to modernize its underperforming system to make it affordable and sustainable. Following a six-month competitive bid process managed by the county, the internal review committee selected Veolia from three bidders. Months of contract negotiations between
Nearly 100,000 daily riders in Nassau rely on bus transportation from NICE.
Successful rollout and start-up
In two months, Veolia interviewed, hired and trained about 1,000 employees who had applied and were qualified for available positions.
the county and Veolia followed and in December 2011, after a seven-hour public hearing, the 19-member county legislature unanimously approved a five-year contract with a five-year renewal option with Veolia to begin on January 1, 2012.
Transition to NICE
Converting a large public bus system with 300 fixed route and 97 paratransit vehicles to a new management entity in a compressed timeframe was a massive challenge. The transition process to NICE began earnestly in early summer of 2011. First steps included appointing CEO Mike Setzer and COO Roger Chapin, who have over 60 years of combined urban bus transit experience, to lead the transition effort and oversee the system. More than 130 Veolia staff members from around the country who are experts in multiple disciplines traveled to Nassau to incorporate their operational best practices and best-inclass technology in the Nassau plan. In only two months, Veolia interviewed, hired and trained about 1,000 employees, most from the MTA, who had applied and were qualified for available positions. The company assigned a position and issued a uniform to every union worker who applied with NICE. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Veolia designed and distributed 12,000 pieces of clothing. Preparing the facilities and the fleet was another challenge. The State DOT had to fully inspect the entire fleet and MTA needed to correct all reported failures before Veolia could take possession, all while maintaining normal bus service. The plan included the creation of a new name and complete rebranding package using Nassau County’s blue and orange colors. NICE published new timetables, maps and schedules for 48 routes created from scratch, along with a new website, new transit center signs, new uniforms and new building signage. In early January, after three years working without a contract, members of the Transport Workers’ Union voted 450 to 58 to ratify a five-year agreement with Veolia. The contract provided raises for employees in exchange for some important productivity improvements. Mark Joseph, CEO of Veolia Transportation, praised his company for accomplishing this transition in record time while simultaneously increasing quality and reducing costs for Nassau County.
It all came together on January 1, 2012 and NICE began to roll. During its first year of operation many improvements focused on meeting the county’s goals for the PPOP. The first is cost savings. Through a series of measures, including bulk purchasing, centralized administration, improved maintenance and operational practices, and more, Veolia has been able to reduce system costs by tens of millions of dollars. At the same time, fares for 2012 were not increased. Fares now cover 48 percent of operating costs. The system is also performing better with fewer missed runs and late buses, in no small part to Veolia’s strong emphasis on managing service quality. Customer satisfaction, which was very low in 2011, has made steady progress through the first half of 2012. Today, Veolia has its focus squarely on improving the rider experience. Veolia has also successfully made NICE a more efficient system, maximizing the funds available to run the operation. A successful long-overdue service redesign in April allowed NICE to make adjustments to improve the most heavily routes by riders and to establish new service where demand called for it, including new express service to and from New York City. These carefully considered adjustments provide the greatest benefit to the largest number of riders, while impacting the fewest passengers possible. There were no route cancellations. The vast majority of cost-saving changes were frequency adjustments, particularly in off-peak time. Though its contract did not require it to hold public hearings, Veolia hosted six hours of community meetings to personally discuss the proposed changes and gather rider input. While there have been many improvements, as well as challenges, Veolia and the county have additional improvements planned for the remainder of 2012, including the purchase of 45 new fixed-route buses, new on-board electronics, and communications technology to improve system performance.
Contract supports all interests
The contract with Veolia provides numerous safeguards and advantages for the county, especially in the financial area. For example, Nassau now has a legally binding contract that defines performance expectations and guarantees a cost for operating the service that is enforceable by law. In fact, Veolia’s contract with the county requires that NICE operate with a balanced budget, which must be established annually by April 1. Receiving pay in part for platform hours actually incentivizes Veolia to increase and improve service. “NICE bus has both the latitude and the responsibility to manage costs and please customers,” says Setzer. “We are incentivized in exactly the right ways to efficiently manage the county’s transportation system, and provide the highest quality of service the county can afford. We are only eight months into our contract and we will be delivering many more improvements as time goes on.” BR Ken Westbrook serves as president and COO for Veolia Transportation, Transit Division, Lombard, IL, and is a member of the BUSRide Editorial Advisory Board.
the transit authority
MARTA finds a way Despite the recession, Atlanta transit makes strides to improve service By Dr. Beverly A. Scott MARTA GM/CEO Manager In the wake of the economic recession, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and transit systems throughout the country have endured significant service cuts, staff reductions and fewer available resources which have forced us all to evaluate how to provide the highest quality transit service during lean financial times. While we face with what seem like insurmountable odds given the ongoing financial downturn, transit professionals have risen to the challenge, leveraging the creativity and talents of employees and engaging our customers and community stakeholders to maintain safe, reliable and courteous transit service. At MARTA, the economic crisis has certainly taken its toll. We’ve weathered a sharp and sustained decline in our sales tax receipts – our largest source of revenue – forcing us to raise fares twice over the past four years and reduce our bus network from 131 to 91 routes. We were extremely disappointed to have to make these changes and recognized the devastating impact to our customers. In response, the MARTA team has identified ways to direct our limited resources toward maintaining and improving quality service to our customers. Staff focused on how we could address areas that were significantly important to our customers including on-time performance, service reliability and customer service. We also continued to work hand-in-hand with customers to gather input and respond accordingly whenever possible. As part of the bus service reductions, we recognized that consistent and careful analysis and feedback from customers
were critical to ensuring that routes performed on schedule. Our Planning, Communications & External Affairs and Bus Operations Departments joined together to create the Service Improvement Team (SIT), charged exclusively with enhancing system-wide and individual bus route performance. This team analyzes the worst-performing routes and identifies the key factors that contribute to diminished on-time performance including traffic congestion, heavy passenger boarding, equipment problems, lengthy routes and running time allocation. Corrective actions are taken to fine tune routes, modify route alignments and adjust running times, trip times and headways. In consultation with customers, 55 service adjustments have
recently been implemented to better facilitate on-time performance. Overall, thanks to diligent work by these departments, MARTA’s bus on-time performance has risen from 66 percent in FY 2008 to 74.3 percent in FY 2012. That’s a 12.7 percent improvement since the economic downturn began. On the maintenance front, we have zeroed in on innovative ways to preserve the performance of our bus fleet and improve overall reliability. Using our Maintenance Management Information System (MMIS), we are better able to detect and correct patterns of failure fleet-wide by clearly communicating inspection instructions and performance expectations while using the highest quality parts available. In addition, we’ve focused on
MARTA has identified ways to direct their limited resources toward maintaining and improving quality service for customers.
finding patterns of failure in components and systems in specific fleets and have engaged our engineers and inspectors to address these issues. Through these efforts, weâ€™ve increased our Mean Distance Between Failures (MDBF) by almost 60 percent from Fiscal Year 2008 to 2011. Finally, MARTA continues to improve the transit experience by providing excellent customer service. In another interdepartmental effort, the Training and Bus Operations teams have combined their expertise to roll out a Customer Service Impact (CSI) training program that offers operators communication skills and tools to achieve excellence in service delivery. Operators are provided with guidelines on how to work with customers to diffuse difficult situations and achieve resolutions. The program also establishes clear lines of accountability. Once operators complete the training, they start with a clean slate on their customer service records. At the same time, new guidelines hold operators accountable for their actions. Customer complaints are often deemed non-valid due to a lack of objective evidence. This initiative establishes that the fourth non-valid customer complaint an operator receives may be deemed valid due to the fact that it indicates a pattern of behavior. As a direct result of our teamâ€™s ongoing commitment to providing excellent customer service, bus complaints per 100,000 boardings have been reduced by 51.5 percent since 2008. While the severe economic downturn has significantly impacted how we do business, it has also reminded us that we can still do great work with very limited resources. As we move forward toward what we hope are better financial times for transit, we must continue to apply the lessons weâ€™ve learned during these difficult years. By working together, leveraging the talents of our staff, communicating regularly with employees and customers and maintaining an unwavering commitment to excellence, we can always find ways to maintain high-quality transit service to our communities. BR Dr. Beverly A. Scott is the general manager and CEO of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.
Five steps to the connected bus Are your buses moving in the right direction? The concept of a connected bus has grown in support and exposure in recent years, in which the bus or fleet vehicle serves as an integral part of a comprehensive transportation delivery environment incorporating next-generation bus technology. Essentially, the purpose in establishing a connected bus system is to ensure the optimal technical solution deployed onboard is operating at its highest level with great efficiency. A critical step in building an automated connected data environment is to create a platform from which to generate, transmit, analyze and act upon valuable data. With the basic platform deployed, the operator can then move forward with implementing specific criteria to keep the fleet moving in the right direction. There are five key areas to address in this journey:
By Michael J. Wilson
Create environmentalfriendly mobility
Urban expansion continues with a less than desirable impact on the environment. Effective transportation solutions can ease this burden, such as purchasing new assets that deliver cleaner exhaust, and reduced carbon emissions with less noise. Given the continuing economic constraints at the local and national levels, appropriate retrofitting of legacy assets can accomplish similar goals. With an integrated data transmission system in place, transit authorities can constantly monitor their upgrades, improvements and intended impact on the environment, and make adjustments accordingly.
Implement effective asset management
Enterprise asset management (EAM) helps in realizing the value of the data. EAM methodology is built to optimize labor, parts and materials to improve fleet and business performance. Adding a reliability-centered maintenance (RCM) methodology assists in developing a maintenance program aligned with the EAM processes to fine-tune the need for maintenance with a defined technician response time and then predict parts availability. When the monitoring device detects an issue with the braking system, it sends an alert to the operations center to contact the bus operator and have him proceed to the repair shop. In the meantime, operations knows the bus is going out of service and the exact time and location for Enhancing the transit experience with real-time multimodal arrival information has a backup bus to roll into its a positive impact on revenue. Photo used with permission by NextRide technology. place to maintain the route is fulfilled.
Provide real-time transit information
Enhancing the customerâ€™s travel experience has a positive impact on revenue. Three ways to use connected bus data to enhance the customer experience include providing next bus arrival information, real-time multimodal arrival information and mobile alert systems. A number of major cities have already deployed real-time next bus arrival information utilizing data generated from GPS and other location-based solutions, which transmit information
38 October 2012
back to a centrally located application. Cross-referencing this data with real-time data available from other regional service providers creates an effective solution for delivering valuable travel information to the riders. Delivering both of these applications represents a mobile solution. Possibly even more important to rider satisfaction is aggregating all of the data and offering a mobile alert system to notify customers of various transit related issues, including traffic delays, unexpected maintenance issues, travel alternatives, station updates, and fare policy changes.
Offer e-ticketing technology
If the bus system is not prepared to move to open fare payments in the short term, consider taking other steps in the right direction. Transit providers can offer pre-paid monthly cards valid on all system properties for regular commuters, offer multi-day pre-paid passes for tourists and convention visitors, and allow customers to replenish the fares electronically. After fare machine retrofits and data privacy concerns, one of the most common barriers to entry is planning for the customer interface. This is an area that must be addressed.
Connected bus continued
If a customer’s bank card is not working, for example, they will need a connection point to resolve it. A station employee is not equipped to resolve this problem and bus drivers are not able to cease bus operations to respond to questions about invalid transactions. Therefore, building a back-up plan for various scenarios of customer engagement and communication is critical for the roll-out. Additionally it is important to add this element to your bus operations training. A well-trained team of customer-facing employees goes a long way in advancing your technology initiatives. To be successful, e-ticketing fare management systems must be able to: • Establish a reliable and robust platform • Gain the trust of travelers • Offer payment choices • Manage the complexity of diverse fare structures between travel modes • Manage the complexities of governance between and among operators
Think beyond basic surveillance
The safety and security of the customers and bus operators is paramount. An onboard data collection system in place makes it more efficient to add video and voice functionality. The agency can also use that data to enhance other elements. For example, implement surveillance systems to reduce crime, aid in responding to medical emergencies and document incidents. That same video data can be a valuable tool in developing ridership analytics to validate fare pricing, analyze usage irregularities, and adjust seating or design elements based on documented usage and preferences. Addressing these five areas will help to maintain current customers and attract new ones through a coordinated, integrated technology platform is a win-win solution. BR Michael J. Wilson serves with Accenture as North America Public Transportation Lead.
The Supreme Senator SII Low Floor features front wheel drive by Dallas Smith.
Supreme rolls out the Friendly Bus
Variations on the Senator SII Low Floor By David Hubbard
Claiming Equal Access for all, the Supreme Corporation, Goshen, IN, calls the newest iteration of its Senator SII LF the Friendly Bus. Built on the Ford F-450 front-wheel drive platform, this vehicle can function as a shuttle or paratransit bus. The Friendly Bus builds from a Ford 450 chassis, which is rear-wheel drive before Supreme ships it to its manufacturing partner, Dallas Smith Corporation, Greencastle, IN, for the conversion to front-wheel drive to accommodate the low-floor passenger cabin. The company says its IntelliSYNC速 four-point air-ride suspension system by Parker Hannifin is at the core to produce a ride quality comparable to the best low floor vehicles. This is a complete front and rear air-ride suspension package for on-demand kneeling at a complete stop. Dallas Smith says this technology can bring a vehicle frame rail height down to as low as 18 inches in a matter of seconds and return it to the standard ride height just as quick. Dallas Smith notes that the system has completed Altoona 7-Year/200,000-mile testing, as well as the STURAA test and encountered no Class 1 or Class 2 failures. The fully independent suspension Axleless速 suspension systems provide extreme low floors by eliminating the rear axles
in cab chassis vehicles and trailers. With GVWR ratings maintained, Axleless provides a smooth ride, which Dallas Smith says was previously unachievable with conventional, straightaxle suspensions. As an air-ride system, the Axleless also offers kneeling capabilities as a bonus. The paratransit version can be equipped with either a manually deployed or fully mechanical wheelchair ramp with nine passenger seats plus two wheelchair positions for the paratransit bus. The shuttle version carries up to 15 in forward facing seats in customized configurations. For a firsthand review of this particular Friendly Bus destined for an unnamed operator in Canada, BUSRide called on Royal Excursion, a locally owned and operated motorcoach company in nearby Mishawaka, IN, and recipient of the 2010 BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement. Veteran driver Tom Taylor, director of interurban routes for Royal Excursion, consented to meet with the members of the Supreme engineering team at its headquarters for a road test in the Goshen area. Taylor primarily drives motorcoaches for Royal Excursion, but says he is very familiar with buses of this size, and occasionally drives a 29-foot shuttle for a Royal Excursion contract. He shared his impressions beginning with the walk-around in the parking lot.
“I see a lot of these cutaway-type buses, and they always look nice when they are new,” he says. “With the harsh cold wet winters in northern Indiana and the slush and salts, I am interested in how they hold up over two or three years; even six months to a year.” Specific to the Supreme bus, he continued: “I was really pleased to see the materials Supreme is using in this bus, namely the stainless steel construction,” he says. “With all the slush and salts that can get tracked into the vehicle, this one won’t be rusting out soon. The rubber strip on the entrance doors is much sturdier than most and seals better when the doors close. It helps keeps the elements and the heat in.” The Supreme body connects to the fiberglass cab from the manufacturer. “I have noticed a lot of rattling and squeaking in these type buses after about six months as the cab moves one way and the body the other,” says Taylor. “But from what I saw and experienced while driving this model, I wouldn’t expect that to be the case.” In this case, instead of attaching the body directly to the cab, Supreme has connected the two units with a heavy accordion rubber sleeve sealed around the sides. “I didn’t see where there would be any interference as the body and cab flex differently,” says Taylor. “There is no overhang over the cab. It looks very nice.” He drove the bus into a WalMart parking lot where he could put it through a series of tight turns. “I noticed the smooth handling right off,” he says. “The front wheel drive has a very nice tight turning radius, and I Taylor appreciated the dual sided and rear entrance and would opt for an even wider back door to accommodate scooters and oversized wheelchairs. didn’t detect any rattles.” Looking at the transfer case, Taylor commented on the durability of the rubber boot, noting it seemed sturdy and leak proof. The group then headed to the Goshen Airport. “The airport is small and not too busy, so they let us take a few runs up and down the taxi way,” says Taylor. “I wanted to feel how the gears shifted and check the stability, particularly for the passengers in the back. I was actually somewhat surprised. The independent suspension makes all the difference.” Did Taylor see anything he would change? “Not really,” he says. “However, I wouldn’t mind seeing several of the optional features become standard components; namely the duel entrance. It makes accessibility and handicapped loading much easier in more situations.” Taylor says if he were to buy the Supreme Friendly Bus, he would ask the company to widen the back entrance to make clearance for scooters and oversized wheelchairs. “We hear comments and suggestions from our engineers,” says Bill Danner, director of Supreme bus sales. “But to ride on the Friendly Bus and visit with such an experienced driver Tom Taylor, veteran coach driver for Royal Excursion, test-drove the Supreme as Tom Taylor, who sits behind the wheel eight hours a day, Friendly Bus. and get his impressions is valuable information.” BR
Training changes behavior TAPTCO aims to standardize comprehensive driver training Transit & Paratransit Company (TAPTCO), Macedonia, OH, developed comprehensive training courses for both transit and paratransit bus operators, as well as a trainer certification process. Jeff Cassell, TAPTCO president, says the company can customize these highly effective video-based presentations for any type of transit or paratransit bus. Cassell says 35 transit agencies throughout North America have signed on with TAPTCO. Investing more than $500,000 to create the courses — Transit Operator Development, Paratransit Operator Development, and Trainer Certification Process — resulted in high-quality video presentations that include classroom facilitator guides, behind-the-wheel instructor guides, operator study guides and operator training progress charts. “These courses fully prepare drivers with the basics they need to provide safe and efficient service,” says Cassell. “The focus this training places on drivers makes a significance difference in their daily behaviors.” The Ohio Transit Risk Pool provided copies of the Transit Driver Training Program to its members. Loss Control Services Manager Ken-
neth F. Reed says he found the transitspecific training material to be professional and effective. “It is comprehensive and systematic,” he says. “It integrates a continual safety message into every module.” Dedicated to producing meaningful strategies that lead to enhanced human performance in all walks of life, Mark G. Gardner is the founder and CEO of TAPTCO, which he says is the first and only company dedicated solely to improving human performance in the ground passenger transportation markets. The development staff includes transit professionals, performance improvement experts, industrial psychologists, curriculum designers and media producers. Prior to forming TAPTCO, Gardner held executive-level positions with Progressive Casualty Insurance, where he created and managed the national Share The Road With Trucks Campaign, devised comprehensive organizational analysis protocols, underwriting standards and on-site safety surveys and consulted to more than 200 transportation companies and agencies, including 35 major transit agencies. Jeff Cassell has been developing
transit training programs for more than 20 years. He served as vice president, Corporate Risk for the Laidlaw group for nearly 21 years. Cassell holds the FCII, Fellow of Chartered Insurance, Institute of England. “Our goal was to standardize all our training processes to the same high level at every location,” he says. “We looked at all the available training materials and could not find anything being even close to high quality comprehensive, systematic, integrated materials we required. That is until we came across the TAPTCO performance improvement company in Macedonia, which we ultimately contracted to create all our own materials.” Cassell, who would eventually join the company, recalls it being well ahead of anything else available. “Its programs helped reduce our accident frequency rate by 72 percent,” he says. “Our annual accident savings across all of Laidlaw was $58 million per year.” When First Group acquired Laidlaw, First Transit Services adopted the programs Laidlaw was using, asking they be changed to the First Group name for continued use. Cassell says with the training programs currently in use at every location, First Transit Services reported the lowest DOT accident rate he has ever seen — 0.29 DOT accidents per million miles. TAPTCO has also created the training programs currently in use for the transit management companies Veolia Transportation, MV Transportation and Keolis, as well as for Greyhound Bus Lines. The sister company of TAPTCO, School Bus Safety Company, has created all the training materials currently in use by over 2,600 school districts plus seven of the eight largest school bus contractors. BR
Materials for TAPTCO’s Paratransit Operator Development course. The company also offers courses in Transit Operator Development and the Trainer Certification Process.
the international report
Transport wins at the London Olympics By Doug Jack The United Kingdom took great pride in the outstanding success of the London Olympics. We were delighted at the favorable reviews in the international press and take credit for the fact that when it comes to staging major events, we have the people and the skills to do it very well. When London was awarded the 2012 Olympics five years ago, planning started immediately. The government opted to build the main arena, several smaller venues, the village for the athletes and a major media center in a run-down part of East London â€” not a glamorous part of the capital. The site was close to the main railway line linking London to the Channel Tunnel into continental Europe. Most of the events were held in London but not all at the Olympic park. With Transport for London being responsible for all the services in the capital, one of the objectives was to make London
A coach painted in the colors of one of the sponsors.
2012 a model for sustainable travel. The authorities wanted as many spectators as possible to use public transport and made provisions for people traveling by car from outside the capital to reach large temporary park-and-ride sites. Transport for London calculated that on the busiest days it would make an extra three million journeys in the capital, a 25 percent increase on normal demand. As a result, the underground rail net-
All buses on Olympic services carried this prominent notice on the rear panel.
work maintained the normal peak period service levels throughout the day with extensions into the evening to enable people to return from events. All the regular bus services in the vicinity of the Olympic venues were reviewed, with frequencies increased during the Olympics in quite a number of cases. High capacity double deck buses replaced the regular midibuses. Transport for London also made special supplemental arrangements to transport nearly 15,000 athletes and around 21,000 journalists and broadcasters to and from events in a dedicated fleet of buses. The contract went to Stagecoach, which employed 500 of its own vehicles and another 500 subcontracted from other fleets across the country, with quite a large contingent coming from Ulsterbus of Ireland. Only the United Kingdom and Ireland drive on the left in Europe, apart from Malta and Cyprus, so all the additional vehicles had to be located within the country. Stagecoach normally orders around 600 new buses each year for its British operations.
A brand new Alexander Dennis E400 on hire to the London Organizing Committee Olympic Games.
In preparation for the Olympics, Stagecoach asked its fleets around the country to contribute vehicles and drivers for the Olympic services. They were told to ready their vehicles in reserve for use during the Olympics, covering for newer vehicles, including some delivered to London straight from manufacturers. This required some very careful planning and route training for drivers drafted in from all over the country. With very few exceptions, the United Kingdom does not have dedicated buses solely for school and student transport. Regular bus fleets, including the subsidiaries of Stagecoach and the companies that they brought in to help with the contract, provide these services. Because schools, colleges and universities were on summer vacation, most fleets around the country could spare a few drivers each. Some came from as far as northern Scotland, where the main road hazard is usually stray sheep. They
must have found London quite a different place. Accommodation was another potential problem, with many hotels hiking their rates in anticipation of an Olympic bonanza. As it turned out as the Games approached, bookings were low and hoteliers actually had to slash their prices. Stagecoach solved the accommodation problem in an ingenious way by hiring cruise liners, which it moored on the Thames close to the main Olympic transport hubs. FirstGroup also secured major contracts. One was for 300 coaches to provide express services to transport hubs in London and at various regional centers. For instance, sailing was at Weymouth on the south coast. FirstGroup provided some of its own vehicles, but also hired in from other companies. FirstGroup also secured a contract for 500 buses to provide transport between park-and-ride sites and the vari-
ous events. Just like Stagecoach, it took newer vehicles from many of their fleets around the country, temporarily replacing them with older vehicles due for withdrawal. About two weeks before the Olympics opened, I heard a traffic news item on the radio advising motorists that a convoy of 60 double deck buses was progressing along one of the main motorways toward London. As the Olympics approached, many special lanes were marked out on London’s roads to speed the journeys of official cars and Olympic buses. Unauthorized vehicles faced heavy fines if they strayed into those lanes. In many cases, congestion was less than usual, helped to some extent by Londoners going on holiday during the Games or opting to work from home. The International Olympic Committee is very protective of its main sponsors, to the extent that official contractors had to remove fleet names from their vehicles. Many of the FirstGroup double deck buses ran in a corporate livery with a large “Shuttle” brand on each side. There were even reports that some had to temporarily cover over the manufacturers’ badging. One week before the Games started, Transport for London was confident that it could get everyone to and from the Games on time and also keep the rest of London moving. It placed additional information on many bus stops in the capital and temporary stops for the media, along with staff on the streets acting as Olympic ambassadors and helping the traveling public. Transport for London already had CentreComm, a control center for buses running in the capital, along with a Transport Coordination Centre on the same site at a cost of $15 million. It brought together the bus fleets, Games organizers and other relevant authorities to ensure a coordinated response to any incident which caused disruption to the transport system, including re-routing if necessary. Fortunately, everything ran remarkably smoothly and everyone learned valuable lessons in cooperation. At the time of this writing, the Para-
Stagecoach buses on one of the extensive lanes reserved for Olympics traffic.
lympics are still to come. Though on a smaller scale, they will make their own unique demands on public transport. All the buses used to carry athletes will have low floors only one step above the ground with ramps to the adjacent sidewalk. Around 400 buses are being adapted with tracking in the floor to enable clamping and securing six wheelchairs safely in place — a major logistics exercise carried out in a remarkably short time between the closure of the Olympic Games and the opening of the Paralympics. After the closing ceremony for the
Olympics and all the athletes and visitors had gone home, Transport for London and its contractors were delighted that their plans had worked so well. It was a major boost to the credentials of the bus industry, which is often in the shadows of our heavily subsidized railways. Regrettably, the strict rules of the International Olympic Committee prevent any contractor, other than an official sponsor, from generating any publicity about its participation in the Games. The bus industry needs a higher public profile and should be able to make more of its great
success at the Olympics. Nevertheless, the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics issued a press statement, saying that the logistics and transport industry was able to demonstrate its ability to operate efficiently, economically and with a highly effective service to industry and consumers. It announced its moving record numbers of passengers during a period complicated by increased demand, road and traffic restrictions and heightened security. “The challenge now is to ensure that the operational lessons learned during this period are consolidated into future best practice for the benefit of London’s businesses, consumers, road users, residents and visitors,” said the chief executive. “All such best practice learnings should also be applied to other parts of the United Kingdom.” BR Doug Jack is with Transport Resources in the United Kingdom.
Batteries that deliver
BCI Group 31 AGM-VRLAs By Kalyan Jana
Diesel engines used in commercial vehicles such as transit buses and motorcoaches generally require a heavyduty 8D lead-calcium 12-volt, six-cell acid battery for starting. The 8D designation is in accordance with standards set by the Battery Council International (BCI), Chicago, IL, a trade association promoting the interests of the lead-acid battery industry. BCI is recommending the BCI Group 31 absorbed glass mat, valve-regulated lead-acid (AGM-VRLA) battery as a substitute for the 8D leadcalcium acid battery. The sealed BCI Group 31 AGM-VRLA battery eliminates the need to refill the electrolyte and prevents corrosion of the positive terminal and surrounding area, leading transportation operations in the United States and Canada to convert from the conventional BCI Group 8D lead-calcium flooded-electrolyte battery. The ODYSSEY® 31-PC 2150 from EnerSys, Reading, PA, is such a battery, named for the 2,150 amps it delivers in five seconds. PC stands for pulse crank in an engine cranking application. The design
of an AGM-VRLA battery eliminates acid spills, which helps improving the overall level of fleet safety. The company says this battery properly charged will deliver 400 cycles to 80 percent depth of discharge (DOD). In 2006, Burlington Transit, Burlington, ON, Canada, became the first convert in Ontario to the 31-PC 2150 following a fire in the engine compartment of one of its 40 transit buses. The city council mandated the agency to convert to safer batteries. Burlington Transit was the first company in Ontario to use this battery. According to John Giordano, a consultant for Great Northern Battery Systems, Hamilton, ON, Burlington Transit tested this battery on two buses for nearly a year, which led to changing the batteries on the existing fleet of 40 buses to the Odyssey batteries, as well as specifying 31-PC 2150 batteries for all new buses. Giordano says Ottawa City Transpo has retrofitted about 1,300 buses with Group 31 AGM-VRLA batteries. In the U.S., Metro Transit in King County, WA, converted to Group 31 AGM batteries in 2008 after a period of preliminary testing. “We’ve found the Group 31 AGM batteries have a longer life and a greater reserve capacity,” says George Stites, superintendent of Fleet Engineering, King County Metro Transit. “These batteries have a higher cold cranking amps (CCA) rating. The dry-cell design is better. Being sealed, gases do not escape, making them safer to use. There’s also no corrosion on the battery trays.”
A BCI Group 8D battery from a bus in Ontario, Canada that exploded.
Another benefit of this battery is its excellent performance with parasitic loads, created when electronic devices such as communications equipment draw energy from the same battery used for starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) functions. Typically, the small current drains from parasitic loads will deeply discharge an over-discharged battery that has been out of operation for a while. Conventional batteries such as the BCI Group 8D lead-calcium battery do not recharge as the BCI Group 31 AGMVRLA. For example, four 12V Odyssey 31-PC 2150 batteries inadvertently overdischarged and left in that condition for at least three weeks, showed a reading of the open circuit voltage (OCV) between 5.0V and 5.6V. All four batteries recovered by simply charging for 16 hours at 14.7V. It is highly unlikely a conventional leadcalcium battery would recover. This battery’s capability to power both parasitic loads and SLI functions effectively led two Canadian bus manufacturers to install BCI Group 31 AGM-VRLA batteries, in place of the BCI Group 8D lead-calcium batteries. BCI Group 31 AGM-VRLA batteries can withstand harsh shock and vibration conditions. The Odyssey 31-PC 2150 battery also operates at temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius) and as high as 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius). A variety of tests, such as those specified in the Caterpillar 100-hour test, the U.S. Navy’s MIL S- 901C test and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61373 standard have validated these characteristics. BR Kalyan Jana serves as project manager for AGM batteries for EnerSys, Reading, PA.
An ODYSSEY® 31-PC2150 battery installation on one of the buses in the King County Metro Transit fleet.
52 October 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 !
No substitute for a good plan
A pro-active HVAC maintenance strategy prepares the team to respond ahead of time By Steve Johnson It was a long, hot summer across much of the country, turning up the heat on transit operators and their maintenance teams to keep bus air conditioning systems working reliably and efficiently. Severe operating conditions can put a lot of strain on transit bus heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. They also underscore the importance of having an effective and proactive HVAC maintenance strategy. The best maintenance strategies enable maintenance teams to respond quickly if an HVAC system fails to ensure passenger comfort and get the bus back in service. More importantly, an effective approach to maintenance includes a well-designed and well-executed preventive maintenance program to keep transit bus HVAC systems running efficiently and prevent system breakdowns. Fixing problems after they occur is invariably more expensive and disruptive than avoiding them in the first place. BUSRide Maintenance
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning units tend to work harder in warmer climates. It is a good idea to inspect the compressor clutch and belts more frequently.
A/C Maintenance continued
Delaying preventive maintenance
Transit system budgets are under enormous pressure with operators striving to do more with less and stretch every dollar as far as it will go. Every budget line is subject to scrutiny, including operations and maintenance. The temptation to forego or delay preventive maintenance may be overwhelming. This is seldom a wise decision in the long run according to the Federal Transit Association (FTA).
The FTA-sponsored Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) concluded that performing preventive maintenance helps ensure that buses run on time, protects taxpayers’ investments, promotes passenger satisfaction and public safety, and enables buses to reach their expected service life.
Mileage-based intervals not ideal for HVAC systems
Operators usually perform preventive maintenance inspections and routine service on their buses based on the number of miles driven. For example, many transit companies change engine oil, lubricate the chassis and go through an inspection checklist at 6,000-mile intervals, adding other maintenance tasks at multiples of 6,000 miles. Thermo King recommends that preventive maintenance inspections and services on HVAC systems at scheduled intervals. The recommended schedule to aligns time intervals with typical bus mileage, recognizing the fact that the HVAC system works just as hard — maybe harder —while the bus is idling in traffic than when it is in motion. The company uses the common industry “A-B-C” approach to maintenance, recommending that basic or “A” inspections and tasks such as changing return air filters, checking compressor oil color and level and checking condenser coils for debris be performed monthly. “B” inspections and tasks such as checking refrigerant levels in the spring, testing heaters in the fall, and inspecting and lubricating the clutch should be performed seasonally. “C” level inspections and tasks such as testing the compressor oil for acidity should be performed once a year. Operators may want to consider modifying the recommended preventive maintenance schedule to reflect their unique operations. For example, they may need to change air return filters more frequently in regions known for having high levels of dust or other particulates in the air. Units tend to work harder in warmer climates, making it a good idea to inspect compressors more frequently.
Regular HVAC maintenance improves reliability The FTA-sponsored Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) study Preventive Maintenance Intervals for Transit Buses, published in 2010, concluded that performing preventive maintenance helps ensure that buses run on time, protects taxpayers’ investments, promotes passenger satisfaction and public safety, and enables buses to reach their expected service life. Thermo King, Minneapolis, MN, a brand of Ingersoll Rand, has reached a similar conclusion following years of research and experience. As a global leader in transport refrigeration and Thermo King strongly encourages transit maintenance teams to adopt a robust preventive maintenance program for their bus climate control systems and to service their HVAC systems at regular intervals.
5454 October 2012 BUSRideMaintenance
During this time of year, warm temperatures are over for most of the country, which makes this an ideal time for bus maintenance professionals to think about preparing their fleets’ HVAC systems for the winter ahead. It is also a good time for maintenance managers to review and update their maintenance policies, processes and checklists to make sure that they reflect the changing needs of the organization. There is no substitute for a well-planned, well-executed and proactive HVAC system preventive maintenance strategy to reduce operating costs, improve system reliability and provide passengers with a safe and comfortable ride. BRM ___________________________________________________ Steve Johnson serves with Thermo King, Minneapolis, MN, as product manager responsible for HVAC marketing and product management for United States coach and transit buses.
BUSRide October 2012
Information is a power tool
Proper documentation requires better use of computers By Robert Buchwalter Which tool is used more than another when it comes to bus maintenance? I would argue that information is a tool in itself, and is becoming increasingly critical with every passing year. Factors like environmental regulations and improved fuel mileage have led us to require information that is more technical in order to keep them serviced. As manufacturers introduce new models, the systems become more capable and more complex. This means maintenance technicians must have the capability to access proper information to accurately diagnose, analyze and make repairs on the various systems. At Prevost, schematics, pneumatic diagrams and manuals are readily available on our website. While there is a limit as to how many years this information goes back,
for assistance on this project. In addition to the OEM information, information from their suppliers is often included on the websites. At Prevost, we include a wide range of supplier documents to provide greater depth and clarity to the OEM manuals. After selecting and storing the proper service information, the second action item is to identify which technicians have access. While access to shop computers may be rightfully limited, one or two people should receive training in how to obtain all such information and provide it to everyone on their shift. Decide how to present this information â€” paper or paperless. Clearly, some of my generation are uncomfortable with computers and prefer paper copies of whatever info
Maintenance technicians must have the capability to access proper information to accurately diagnose, analyze and make repairs on the various systems. there is no excuse not to have data for a coach built in the last 10 to 15 years on the shopâ€™s computer system. The first action item is to ensure the shop has the proper documentation on the fleet. At minimum, this should include the maintenance manuals, parts manuals, electrical schematic and the pneumatic diagram; all dedicated by fleet number or by VIN. Contact a regional service manager
they need. There are several problems with this. Pages can be lost, smudged, blown away or torn to shreds. Paper copies can go uncontrolled. Once documents are printed, individuals might keep them and improperly apply the information to other coaches. In the service seminars I conduct with my colleague Robert Hitt, we have limited the paper documents we provide because we have often found
technicians relying on this information to troubleshoot coaches that are not appropriate to the information. We stress that the material students receive in class will sometimes illuminate only a portion of their fleet. We also show students where to obtain information for other vehicles that a particular seminar may not cover. For these reasons, blending paper and electronic information can provide the best method of limiting the paper documents floating around in the shop while providing technicians with the information they need. For example, when faced with an electrical issue, I review the schematic on the laptop to gain the context of the circuit and then begin to focus on the suspected problem area. When we actually begin the troubleshooting process, I might print out one or two pages of the area we will concentrate. Then we can begin fixing the problem. When we
are done, the pages can go into the recycling bin. What about the various notes we might have made during the repair, jotted along the margins of the paper document as we progress? Do these valuable annotations also end up in the recycling bin? No. We can keep them electronically. The computer program provides a solution for making such notes One such program, Adobe Acrobat, display electronic documents in a PDF format, in which a technician can also edit, add notes, highlight text, add pictures, link to other files and perform many other tasks while the document is open. The PDF saves with all annotations for future use. This program, as with others that are similar, makes electronic documents more controllable controlled and active, and adds considerably to their value as a diagnostic tool.
This is the third action item: Get familiar with the document processing programs on the shop computers. Play around with a document and enter a world filled with callouts, highlighting tools, hotlinks and outlines. It might be intimidating at first, but push ahead. Read the manuals and the online help, or ask a grandchild for assistance. Information is critical. The computer provides us an incredibly valuable method to access, store, manipulate and apply that information. I hope this column will prompt a review of shop methods for obtaining, storing, accessing, and employing this incredibly valuable tool. BRM Robert Buchwalter serves as one of two Prevost technical field instructors conducting seminars at the Prevost factory in Quebec, customersâ€™ shops, and transit agencies. He is a member of the BUSRide Editorial Advisory Board.
h t n o M e h t f o Tip A-Z Bus runs a tight shop by following its list of procedures.
Colton, CA, offers its surefire list of organizational chores to ensure a safe, clean and operationally-ready bus garage.
and filters Recycle oil, coolant er to water property at w ey gr e us re ; ck Clarifier for steam ra easy access and r fo op sh of er nt ce ll tools stored in A and out must be signed in op ery job; sweep and m ev r te af up n ea cl e Spac ch maintenance bay Weekly cleaning of ea lights to maintain rterly cleaning of sky ua Q brightness in shop so mechanics can go op sh in bs jo to c ifi Parts racking spec opposed to standing as — r de or g in ac pl r back to work afte r parts oon around waiting fo g with all tech; aftern tin ee m n tio uc od pr ly morning Dai te status meetings to upda shop equipment – of ce an en nt ai m d uarterly inspection an Q , welders, ladders ds an st ck ja s, ck ja t annually nt all shop equipmen ai ep R order, ork orders, parts on w en op — rs de or b jo kept in centralized — et All bl su n, io at iz or holding for auth ss aff location for acce shop for all service st of er nt ce in d ar bo hicle status Ve d know current status an ew vi to rs be em m
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products & services
Oil Eater drum top pad keeps it clean
The new Oil Eater drum top pads from Kafko International keep slippery, dangerous chemicals off the floor by catching and absorbing oil, coolants and solvents. The pad fits a 55-gallon drum top perfectly with pre-cut circles for fill and breather holes. The pad is made of natural plant by-products that feature woven construction. The company says it will send a sample Oil Eater drum top pad on request. Kafko International Skokie, IL
Polyurethane foam alternative to plywood 3M has introduced new polyurethane foam, a lightweight and rot-resistant alternative to plywood for use in structural and semi-structural applications. Available in five densities from 15 pounds to 26 pounds per cubic foot, these boards with fiberglass reinforcement provide high strength in applications including marine, transportation and general construction with a weight savings ranging from 30 to 60 percent versus plywood. 3M says its reinforced polyurethane foam in 4x8-foot sheets has no risk of warping. Unlike plywood, which can chip or pop loose during construction, this product foam can be easily shaped with tools and secured to substrates with screws. 3M Corporation St. Paul, MN
September 2012 59
products & services
O.P.T. for diesel engine performance Since the introduction of ULSD in 2006, Advanced Fuel Solutions says sophisticated high-tech diesel engines has been plagued by a number of issues such as injector failures and filter plugging. The company introduces a new fuel additive technology it says optimizes ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel for use in modern diesel engines employing high pressure common rail (HPCR) and high pressure fuel injector (HPFI)
technologies subjected to waxy deposits due to the higher pressures and tighter tolerances. The company offers Optimum Performance Technology (O.P.T.), a diesel additive that restores flow and rated power by eliminating deposits in the injector. O.P.T. is made with a next generation detergent, dual stabilizers, corrosion inhibitors and moisture dispersants that work together synergistically to protect and perform in the tank, fuel lines, filters and injectors. Advanced Fuel Solutions North Andover, MA
K.E.I. Alternator for small bus chassis K.E.I. Products, a high-amperage alternator manufacturer, has introduced iModel KGV240HI, its newest OEM replacement alternator for the GM/Chevrolet Truck/ Van Chassis. This is a Plug & Play 240 Amp alternator with 180 amps at 700 engine RPMs presently being installed by many shuttle bus manufacturers. K.E.I. Products Dallas, TX
September 60 20122012 60 October
BUSRide Maintenance BUSRide
products & services
Tire bead breaker easy to use The new ESCO Model 20425 pneumatic tire bead breaker handles two beads at a time, eliminating the need to lift and turn the 200 lb. heavy tire/ wheel assembly over to break the second bead. Powered by standard shop or tire service truck air at 100psi to develop a bead breaking force of over 5,000 pounds, the tire technician simply rolls the tire/wheel assembly into the bead breaker. The unit will handle all tire/wheel sizes 19.5â€? through 24.5â€? including all super singles and X-One type wide base tire/wheels. ESCO Portland, OR
Aerosol cleaner is back Back by customer request and reformulated due to industry concerns on VOC levels, Sparkle Clean, an aerosol spray cleaner from Herkules equipment corporation, quickly spot-cleans all painting equipment. Its lower VOC content supports a safe work environment, and is effective with solvent and waterborne paints. Sparkle Clean gets at paint guns immediately before a more thorough gun cleaning at the end of the day. An attached straw easily sprays Sparkle Clean into small paint gun crevices. Herkules Equipment Corporation Walled Lake, MI
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