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Busline eNews January 2022

By Rick Mullen,
Busline Magazine Associate Editor

The following import/export categories include motor buses, coaches, trolley buses and gyrobuses.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau trade figures for October 2021 indicated vehicle imports were down in six categories outlined, compared to October 2020. For the first 10 months of 2021, vehicles imports were also down in six categories, compared to the first 10 months of 2020.

IMPORTS

8702103100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Only Comp-Ign Internal Combustion Piston Engine (Diesel Or Semi-Diesel), Designed For Transport Of 16 Or More Persons, Incl

The United States imported 65 vehicles in October 2021, down 63 percent from 177 vehicles for October 2020. For the first 10 months of 2021, the United States imported 862 vehicles, down 33 percent from 1,290 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Canada sent 789 vehicles to the United States during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $295,684, up 5 percent from $283,516 for October 2020. The average price per vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $307,859, up 8 percent from $285,128 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702106100 Public-Transport Passenger Vehicles For Transport Of 10 Or More Persons With Only Comp-Ign Internal Combustion Piston Engine
(Diesel Or Semi-Diesel), Other

The United States received 6 vehicles in October 2021, down 45 percent from 11 vehicles during October 2020. For the first 10 months of 2021, the United States imported 37 vehicles, down 74 percent from 142 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

The United States imported 32 vehicles from Canada during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $60,819, down 42 percent from $104,220 for October 2020. The average price per vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $125,559, up 78 percent from $70,717 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702203100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Com-Ing Internal Combustion Piston Engine (Diesel Or Semi-Diesel), And Electric Motor Designed For Transport Of 16 Or More Persons

The United States imported 21 vehicles during October 2021, down 13 percent from 24 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 132 vehicles were imported, down 32 percent from 195 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

All of the vehicles were imported from Canada during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $229,353, down 18 percent from $280,110 for October 2020. The average price for the first 10 months of 2021 was $259,027, up 4 percent from $249,285 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702303100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Spark Ignition Internal Combustion Piston Engine And Electric Motor For 16 Or More Persons

The United States imported no vehicles in this category during October 2021 or October 2020. One vehicle was imported during the first 10 months of 2021, compared to six vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

The one vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was imported from the United Kingdom.

The price of the vehicle imported during the first 10 months of 2021 was $10,835, compared to the average price of $113,207 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702306100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Both Spark Ignition Internal Combustion Piston Engine and Electric Motor for 10 to 15 Persons

The United States imported no vehicles during October 2021 or October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, one vehicle was received, compared to four vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

The one vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was imported from the United Kingdom.

The price for the vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $24,694, up from $6,922 for the average price during the first 10 months of 2020.

8702403100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Electric Motor Only, For Transport Of 16 Or More Persons Including Driver

The United States imported nine vehicles during October 2021, down 47 percent from 17 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 203 vehicles were received, up 57 percent from 129 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

China shipped 104 vehicles during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $332,252, down 14 percent from $384,857 for October 2020. The average price for the first 10 months of 2021 was $216,638, up 1 percent from $213,973 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702406100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles, With Electric Motor Only For Propulsion, NESOI

The United States imported two vehicles during October 2021, down 50 percent from four vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 92 vehicles were imported, up 24 percent from 74 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

China sent 87 vehicles during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $31,450, compared to $7,115 for October 2020. The average price for the first 10 months of 2021 was $9,953, up 6 percent from $9,372 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702903100 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles For 16 Or More Persons Including Driver, NESOI

The United States imported 88 vehicles during October 2021, up 9 percent from 81 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 1,089 vehicles were received, down 4 percent from 1,136 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Canada sent 1,087 vehicles to the United States during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $86,010, down 6 percent from $91,143 for October 2020. The average price per vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $101,432, up 14 percent from $89,218 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702906100 Motor Vehicles For The Transport Of 10 To 15 Persons Including Driver, NESOI

The United States imported 85 vehicles during October 2021, down 9 percent from 93 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 707 vehicles were received, up 14 percent from 620 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Canada sent 668 vehicles to the United States during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $45,455, up 3 percent from $43,918 for October 2020. The average price per vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $40,864, down 7 percent from $43,862 for the first 10 months of 2020.

EXPORTS

Export totals for October 2021 were down in three categories, compared to October 2020. Three categories also reported decreases for the first 10 months of 2021, compared to the first 10 months of 2020.

8702100002 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With A Compression-Ignition Internal Combustion Piston Engine (Diesel Or Semi-Diesel) Only

The United States exported 575 vehicles during October 2021, down 16 percent from 682 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 5,023 vehicles were sent, down 16 percent from 6,012 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Canada received 2,548 vehicles during the first 10 months of 2021, while Mexico imported 1,590 vehicles.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $50,688, down 10 percent from $56,175 for October 2020. The average price per vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $54,916, down 22 percent from $70,284 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702200000 Public-Transport Vehicles With Both Compression-Ignition Internal Combustion Piston Engine (Diesel Or Semi-Diesel) & Electric Motor

The United States shipped 76 vehicles in October 2021, down 18 percent from 93 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 758 vehicles were exported, up 124 percent from 339 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Canada received 430 vehicles during the first 10 months of 2021, while Mexico imported 207 vehicles.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $35,357, down 34 percent from $53,888 for October 2020. The average price for the first 10 months of 2021 was $44,098, up 7 percent from $42,142 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702300000 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Both Spark Ignition Internal Combustion Piston Engine & Electric Motor

The United States exported 29 vehicles in October 2021, up 21 percent from 24 for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 362 vehicles were sent, down 6 percent from 384 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Mexico received 121 vehicles during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $29,231, up 46 percent from $20,067 for October 2020. The average price for the first 10 months of 2021 was $31,285, up 6 percent from $29,617 for the first 10 months of 2020.

8702400000 Public-Transport Type Passenger Motor Vehicles With Only Electric Motor For Propulsion

The United States shipped 70 vehicles in October 2021, compared to 463 vehicles for October 2020. During the first 10 months of 2021, 484 vehicles were exported, compared to 1,860 vehicles for the first 10 months of 2020.

Canada received 448 vehicles during the first 10 months of 2021.

The average price per vehicle for October 2021 was $51,095, up 41 percent from $36,141 for October 2020. The average price per vehicle for the first 10 months of 2021 was $53,695, up 40 percent from $38,444 for the first 10 months of 2020.



Click on statistics to open .pdf file


There are many ways current and potential customers come into contact with a company. Known as “touchpoints,” these are interactions between businesses and people.

Anne Obarski

Properly recognizing, and understanding, key touchpoints can help improve a company’s chances of success, according to Anne Obarski, founder and CEO of Merchandise Concepts (merchandiseconcepts.com).

Obarski discussed “Customer Touchpoints — What You Need To Know About Delivering Consistent And Enviable Customer Service,” focusing her presentation on the importance of touchpoints.

She explained that: “Clients can stop doing business with a company due to one mistake, one blunt conversation or one slow response — and they may never tell you the reason. A ‘touchpoint score’ is the result of experiences people have as they interact with a company. Those ‘scores’ inevitably create a ‘report card’ in each person’s mind, about the company.”

Business owners/representatives, she added, should regularly “slip on the shoes of their customers,” and look at the ROI (return on investment) of specific programs that their companies have adopted, with the intention of better pleasing clients. That includes reviewing how a company is marketed, what products and services are being offered, and the performance of a company’s employees — those who strategically deliver a “contagious” experience, every day. All of that can influence and improve the touchpoint experience.

Obarski highlighted nine specific customer touchpoints, although, she added, there are many more possible. Of the nine, Obarski focused the most on: marketing and staff. The other seven touchpoints she listed, in no particular order, were: referrals/social group, office/store, billing/invoicing, phone, media, events and internet/social media.

“Those are nine ways people can come into contact with a business, even if business leaders don’t realize contact has actually been made,” she said. “As a business leader, it’s important to recognize the touchpoints within a company. Individual companies can have different touchpoints.”

According to Obarski, the “glue” that holds all customer touchpoints together includes the words: know, try, like, trust, buy, repeat and refer. She noted the latter word in that list, “refer,” as in “referral,” is critical to finding new customers. Getting a referral, however, is usually achieved only after an existing customer “knows, tries, likes, trusts, and buys” from that company, and then “repeats” the process again and again.

TOUCHPOINT NO. 1: MARKETING

One popular touchpoint most companies experience with people involves “marketing.” She added there is a common belief that marketers don’t sell products anymore, they sell relationships.

“Start watching TV commercials. Are they building relationships? You bet,” Obarski said. “The three goals for marketing are: connect, build trust and create a loyal following.”

Obarski discussed the various mediums available for marketing purposes. She added a financial commitment should be made to the marketing process, regardless of how the message is being carried out.

“If a company wants to have an efficient marketing strategy, that company has to spend money. That does not change with social media,” Obarski said. “No matter how a plan is carried out, three main questions must be addressed, and hopefully answered, by a company’s marketing program.”

They are:
• Why should I care?
• What’s in it for me?
• Why should I believe you?


“Those are the legs of a three-legged marketing stool,” she said. “It’s important to focus on what customers are seeing, thinking, feeling and doing, as it pertains to a company’s marketing program.”

Obarski added that the four words — seeing, thinking, feeling and doing — show action, key to reaching out to people in the marketing process.

Obarski also discussed the importance of understanding a marketing program’s ROI, how to avoid a disconnect that can occur between marketing strategy and its execution, and the importance of conducting a SWOT analysis — focusing on “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.”


TOUCHPOINT NO. 2: STAFF

Hiring, training and retaining good employees is important for any company, especially as it relates to quality customer/staff interaction. In short, good employees provide an important touchpoint with customers. Keeping good employees is therefore critical, although not always easy.

For business owners, Obarski reiterated the importance of understanding proper employee motivation.

“Statistically, every third employee is looking for a new job, he/she just hasn’t told you, as the employer, yet. That is scary,” Obarski said. “It’s important those people conducting interviews know, and can convey to interviewees, five reasons great people would want to work in whatever industry involves your company.”

Once people are hired, company leadership is also critical to keeping good employees. Obarski added, “Employees don’t quit companies, they quit leaders.”

In order to improve leadership, she suggested company representatives develop a list focusing on “10 reasons why great people should want to work for us.”

Obarski added that building a good workplace culture is critical — one that allows employees to feel truly appreciated. It’s also important to remember that when it comes to interaction between employees and customers, first impressions count. In short, employees “are the company.” Therefore, being able to retain quality people within a company’s workforce remains critical to pleasing customers. On the flip side, employees who are not good ambassadors can do a lot of harm, especially when it comes to customer interaction.

“How productive are your employees? How are they at making a good first impression? How are they at representing your company?” Obarski asked.

Answering such questions can help determine the ability of a company to provide a strong touchpoint with customers, as it relates to customer/employee interaction.

Obarski also discussed what she referred to as “necessary skills” employees need to develop.

They are:
• Listening;
• Being engaged;
• Being a problem solver; and,
• Being empowered.


With “listening,” Obarski stressed the importance of truly comprehending what a person has to say, not just trying to figure out what to talk about next. It’s also important to make proper eye contact with people, and show “that you truly care” when it comes to building — and maintaining — solid relationships.

Being engaged refers to the act of employees showing customers that they will truly follow through on described needs, rather than conveying an image of “the lights are on, but nobody is home.”

When it comes to building customer relationships, Obarski added, being a problem solver is also a necessity.

“Until customers know your employees are good problem solvers your business may remain stagnant,” Obarski said.

It’s also important employees are empowered.

“The last thing (a current or potential customer) wants to hear when asking a question is, ‘I really don’t know. I’m going to have to ask my boss,’” Obarski said.

Through proper hiring and training, employees can be empowered to develop strong touchpoints with customers, leading to greater customer service opportunities.

“If there is somebody in mind who you are thinking of promoting, don’t you want that person to be good in all four of those areas?” Obarski asked. “It’s also important to think about the best ways to develop new staff members. What is your company’s training program like? Do you have an employee handbook? As an owner or manager, do you spend time with employees as they work with customers? Is there a mentor program in place for employees?”

It’s also important to recognize the value of “emotional intelligence,” which Obarski said involves the act of managing and expressing emotions in a positive way.
She added that many of today’s business professionals feel the combination of “emotional intelligence” and “technical skills” is more important than IQ.

“Emotional intelligence can make you a better leader,” Obarski said.

Just as she did when discussing marketing’s influence on customer satisfaction, Obarski used the “seeing, thinking, feeling and doing” analogy to talk about employee development.

“When looking at your staff, what are you seeing, thinking, feeling and doing (about them)?” Obarski asked. “Also, when a client is working with one of your employees, is he/she thinking, ‘Where in the world did they hire that person?’”

Such analysis can lead to raising a company’s hiring standard. Obarski added the end-goal is to make more customers happy, which can often result in more referrals, leading to even more business.

And just as in marketing, conducting a SWOT analysis involving employees is beneficial, especially when looking for strengths and weaknesses.

“One of the biggest buzzwords in business right now is ‘transparency.’ It’s important to be transparent with employees and customers,” Obarski said. “As a business owner or manager, transparency means asking such questions as, ‘What are our weaknesses as a company? What am I not doing correctly as a boss?’

“Have coffee with some of your people and ask, ‘How could last week been better for you? How can I make this week better?’ Wouldn’t we all love to have a boss who asks those questions? In essence, (transparency) comes right back to you, as a leader.”

An advantage to having high-quality employees is that they allow company leaders to delegate more responsibilities, which helps those leaders find more time to seek out new business. Obarski also spoke on the benefits of a company operating as a “business of experience.”

“Many would say referring to holiday gift giving, ‘Don’t get me something I don’t need, but I would love an experience,’” she said.

Being a “business of experience” can improve customer touchpoints, including those involving service. That is opposite of a new term, found in different segments today, called skimpflation. It means, “Less service for the same price.”

“In today’s growing environment of skimpflation, what would it mean for a company to actually improve its customer service focus rather than reducing it? The answer, customers would be ‘over the moon,’” Obarski said.

She added that
subpar customer service is often the result of miscommunications and misunderstandings among employees.

“It doesn’t take much for an employee to mess up customer service, leading to bad reviews,” Obarski said. “It’s therefore imperative that the lines of communication are open and clear, especially if it involves voice mail, email, text and other non-face-to-face communication. It’s vital that those people in charge of employees make sure all communications are clear and everyone knows what is going on.”

Employees should also know they will be held accountable as it relates to their responsibilities. Accountability can be addressed during the hiring process and employee performance reviews.

Another important step in building a strong touchpoint is knowing how to handle a problem when a customer is upset — something that happens in all businesses. Again, this is where proper employee training can save the day.

“Depending on how well an employee takes care of that upset customer, it can lead to better relationships in the long run, and future business activity,” Obarski said.

She also shared five key words to use when people with unsolved issues contact a new (to them) business, looking for better results than what they received from another company. Those words are: feel, felt, found, fix and follow-up.

“It’s not uncommon for a business to receive a call from somebody who says, ‘I used to be a customer with another company, but they messed up, so I’m calling you for help,’” Obarski said. “A good way to respond to that person would be, ‘Oh Mr. Smith, I know exactly how you feel. I have felt that way to. This is what I have found that helps, and this is how we can fix the issue for you.’”

The process focuses again on emotional intelligence — managing and expressing emotions in a positive way.

“The follow-up is the last part of the process, but one many company leaders fail to properly do, although it’s very important,” Obarski said. “Call that person later in the day, or soon thereafter, and see how well the steps your company took have worked. The follow-up is extremely important.”

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO CONNECT

Although she highlighted nine customer touchpoints during her presentation, Obarski stressed the real number can be much higher, depending on the company.

“There may be some businesses that can identify 150 touchpoints or more,” she said. High touchpoint scores, Obarski added, greatly improve the chances of happier customers. The end-result is often repeat business and increased referrals. Understanding touchpoints also help company leaders better focus on ROIs and the overall quality of their customers’ experiences.

“How much is your company spending to make sure good customer experiences are taking place? How well do you know your customers? What are your customers seeing, thinking, feeling and doing, in regard to your company?” Obarski asked. “Those are all important questions that deserve special focus from company leaders and employees.”


Los Angeles County Metro Requests Riders’ Feedback

Los Angeles County Metro is requesting feedback as it develops the annual budget for fiscal year 2023.

“As Los Angeles continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to make sure our budget reflects the needs and preferences of our customers, riders, and the people of Los Angeles,” according to a press release.

Interested parties can access the survey online to let Metro know their preferences.

After completing the 10-minute survey, participants can enter their contact information for a chance to win a $50 Target gift card or a monthly TAP card.


From BYD
BYD Involved In Special Holiday Activities


“BYD embraced the season of giving this year, partnering with friends in Lancaster and Fresno to bring holiday cheer to families. Holiday season activities included:

Helping pack a BYD 40-foot K9M battery-electric bus with toys as a sponsor and promoter of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s annual Stuff-a-Bus campaign.

Handing out health packs, school bus safety coloring pages for kids, and candy canes at the city of Lancaster’s Magical BLVD holiday celebration, one of several city events BYD sponsors. BYD also introduced its new Type D battery-electric school bus to friends and neighbors at the event.

Traveled to Fresno to join with residents there who collected over 60,000 food items. The food was delivered via a BYD battery electric bus provided by the Fresno County Rural Transit Agency.

Partnering once again with SMART Local 105 to bring toys and masks to the families served by the Penny Lane Center in Lancaster.

“BYD also delivered 20, 21-ton electric heavy-duty trucks to the Mexican beer company Grupo Modelo, making it the largest pure electric logistics truck fleet in Latin America. Powered by industry-leading lithium iron phosphate batteries, these heavy-duty trucks can carry out zero-emission distribution services throughout urban areas. BYD expects to deliver 200 battery-electric trucks to customers in Mexico in 2022,” according to a press release.


John Andoh Hired As Hele-On’s (Hawaii) Newest Administrator

John Andoh has been hired by Hilo, HA, Mayor Mitch Roth to be the mass transit administrator of the County of Hawai’i Mass Transit Agency. He has been serving in the position on temporary assignment for several months.

“John brings a wealth of transportation experience from a variety of communities,” said Managing Director Lee Lord. “I am confident that he can bring new innovations to the agency and rejuvenate our public transit system that has been faced with challenges.”

Andoh was previously the executive director/CEO of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority (The COMET) in Columbia, SC. He held this position since 2018.

He has concurrently performed part-time work with the city of Escalon, CA, since 2000, Burlington, NC, since 2021, and Quartzsite, AZ, since 2013 — on his own time. His duties for these positions are similar and include route planning, scheduling, procurement, contract administration, budget management, customer service, and public outreach and marketing.

He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Phoenix as well as a graduate certificate in transportation management from San Jose State University. He is certified as a community transit manager by the Community Transportation Association of America. He is also a certified public manager through Arizona State University.


SamTrans (San Mateo County, CA) Launches On-Board Wi-Fi

SamTrans has launched a passenger Wi-Fi program, allowing SamTrans riders to use the internet while on board. Wi-Fi is currently being enabled on the 800 series articulated buses, with the entire SamTrans fleet expected to be online by February.

Passengers will be able to use Wi-Fi free of charge by connecting to “SamTrans-WiFi” after boarding the bus. Current bandwidth limits video streaming, however passengers will be able to text, email, browse the internet, access social media and play games.

“The modern world is an interconnected world,” said SamTrans Board Chairman Charles Stone. “Having onboard Wi-Fi will help SamTrans riders to stay connected while riding, making our service even more valuable to those who rely on it."


 






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