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  Busline News April 2020
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By Harrell Kerkhoff,
Busline Magazine Editor

Like most industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the North American private bus/motorcoach and public transportation industries. Ridership and revenue from all modes of transportation have greatly decreased due, in part, to canceled events and social distancing practices.

Second only to the U.S. airline industry, the nation’s motorcoach industry provides nearly 600 million passenger trips annually and is made up of more than 3,000 mostly small, family-owned, often multigenerational, companies. Nearly 100,000 employees in that industry are facing, or have been, laid off. That includes drivers, mechanics, cleaners and office staff.

The American Bus Association (ABA) and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) estimate the industry will lose nearly $8 billion in the next five months alone. There are worries that this number will only increase if the crisis worsens, or if the recovery is delayed.

“The impact (of the pandemic) on (the bus/motorcoach) industry is huge; almost unimaginable,” UMA Board Chairperson Jeff Polzien, of Kincaid Coach Lines - Red Carpet Charters Division, Oklahoma City, OK, said. “90 percent of motorcoaches are parked, and more than 100,000 of our team members are out of work. Our industry is used to being the one to help others in times of emergency, and even in the face of a virtual shutdown, I am proud to see operators stepping up to help their local communities.

“UMA is totally focused on supporting our members, and, in fact, all motorcoach operators in every way possible. Our members have waged a tech-enabled advocacy campaign that has brought together more than 6,000 individuals reaching out to make nearly 25,000 contacts on Capitol Hill. We’re launching a similar campaign in Canada as well. That has all been instrumental in bringing voices together with a powerful message: our industry needs economic relief to survive.”

The pandemic has come at a particularly bad time for bus/motorcoach operators, as spring is often the busiest season for the industry. Additionally, scheduled service operations, under normal circumstances, provide essential transportation for people traveling between cities and in rural areas.

Ridership declines are a direct result of government and public health officials directing Americans to reduce, or eliminate, nonessential travel. Further, the commuter market, which connects workers to larger urban centers, is down more than 60 percent as of March 18. That service continues to drop as more employees stop working from company offices.

“The strongest message I can share with our members, and all other operators, is to focus on basic areas,” UMA President & CEO Larry Killingsworth said.

“Contain costs wherever possible. Also, try to cross-train team members in vehicle cleaning and maintenance. It’s important as well to reassure your customers that you will be there when needed, and with equipment that is clean, safe and disinfected. Keep customers informed, and aware, that their business is important to you.”

 

Contain costs wherever possible.

Cross-train team members in vehicle cleaning and maintenance.

Reassure customers that you will be there when needed.

Keep equipment clean, safe and disinfected.

Keep customers informed, and aware, that
their business is important to you.

FUNDING RELIEF PROGRAMS

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (H.R. 748), also known as the CARES Act, was signed into law by President Trump in March to address the U.S. economic fallout from the pandemic.

UMA held an online town hall meeting April 9 to address many questions from bus/motorcoach operators, including what this federal aid means, and what is truly available to help them stay in business.

Federal programs discussed included the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for employers of 500 people or fewer; the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL); and the Main Street Lending Program that is currently in development.

Killingsworth noted during the town hall meeting that the U.S. Small Business Adminstration (SBA) has reported 411,675 approved PPP loans under the CARES Act thus far. The value of those loans is $107 billion, involving 3,759 lenders.

“The scope of that is huge,” UMA Vice President of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO Ken Presley said. “I’ve learned that SBA typically processes around 60,000 applications a year, and they are probablly getting that per hour right now. They have quite the mountain to climb.”

Presley noted the maximum amount of a PPP loan is $10 million and tied to payroll costs. Allowable uses of the loan are: employee salaries, paid/medical leave, insurance premiums, mortgage/rent and utility payments. However, at least 75 percent of PPP proceeds must be used to cover payroll costs with no more than 25 percent being used for non-payroll costs. There is no collateral required or a personal guarantee. Operators can also apply for, and receive, an SBA EIDL loan. However, money from the EIDL and PPP may not be spent on the same things. There is eligibility for PPP total loan forgiveness if requirements are met. Lenders are required to provide payment deferment relief for one year.

“(The PPP) is focused on your employees’ compensation by keeping their health insurance intact and providing money for their pockets. Another benefit is that employees remain linked to your business. Company owners who meet the standards of (PPP) can have their loan forgiven after June 30. They can apply for forgiveness,” Presley said. “The original funding for (PPP) was $349 billion. Congress quickly figured out that this was not going to be enough, and they are debating, as we speak (April 9), to add more to the fund.

“I have had a number of (company owners) contact me and ask: ‘I don’t have any work, so why would I put my people back on the payroll?’ My response is, basically Congress is looking at you (the company owner) as an unemployment agency. If you don’t have work for them, it’s still a good idea to keep your employees on the payroll. It’s basically free money from the government.

“(PPP) is set to end June 30. You can apply up to then, but I would not wait that long. There is some discussion of it being extended, but nothing is final.”

Regarding the EIDL loan, Presley said it involves $10 billion in funding with an advance of a $10,000 emergency grant within three days of applying. It also does not have to be paid back if requirements are met. Despite this, EIDLs are still referred to as “loans” of up to $2 million, with an interest rate of no more than 4 percent. There is also no collateral required or a personal guarantee (less than $200,000).

The EIDL may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating bills. It may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintaining payroll and pay business obligations. That includes debts, rent and mortgage payments. Eligible recipients must have been in operation on Jan. 31, 2020. The EIDL is available to small businesses, private nonprofits, sole proprietors, independent contractors, tribal businesses, cooperatives and employee-owned businesses.

Presley also discussed the Main Street Lending Program. Currently in development, it’s designed for firms with between 500 and 10,000 employees. It could involve at least $100 billion in federal funding and may go to $1 trillion. It’s reported that interest rates would be 2 to 2.5 percent, with a five-year repayment window.

“That is something we (larger companies within the bus/motorcoach industry) may be able to use in the immediate future for more of a long-range plan,” Presley said. “It’s in the earliest stages of planning.”

FEDERAL FUNDS FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT INDUSTRY

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced a total of $25 billion in federal funding allocations have been made available to help the nation’s public transportation systems respond to COVID-19. Funding was provided through the CARES Act.

“This historic $25 billion in grant funding will ensure our nation’s public transportation systems can continue to provide services to the millions of Americans who depend on them,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

FTA is allocating the $25 billion to recipients of urbanized area and rural area formula funds, with $22.7 billion allocated to large and small urban areas and $2.2 billion allocated to rural areas. Funding will be provided at a 100 percent federal share, with no local match required. The funding will be available to support capital, operating and other expenses. That includes operating expenses incurred beginning on Jan. 20, 2020, to pay for administrative leave for transit personnel due to reduced operations during the emergency.

“We know that many of our nation’s public transportation systems are facing extraordinary challenges. Those funds will go a long way to assisting our transit industry partners in battling COVID-19,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams said. “The funds will support operating assistance to transit agencies, including those in large urban areas, as well as pay transit workers across the country who are not working because of the public health emergency.”

In addition to the $25 billion funding allocation, FTA has taken a number of other steps to support the transit industry during this public health emergency. That includes expanding the eligibility of federal assistance available under FTA’s Emergency Relief Program, to help transit agencies respond to COVID-19 in states where the governor has declared an emergency. All transit providers, including those in large urban areas, can now use federal formula funds under the Urbanized Area Formula Program and Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program for emergency- related capital and operating expenses. That includes personal protective equipment and special-purpose trips.

FTA also established an Emergency Relief docket that allows transit providers in states where the governor has declared an emergency related to COVID-19 to request temporary relief from federal requirements under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53, as well as any non-statutory FTA requirements.

Additionally, FTA recently announced that it would provide a 30-day extension of the deadline for current competitive grant program funding opportunities, including: FTA’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program; Passenger Ferry Grant Program; Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) Challenge Grants; and the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Program.

The U.S. DOT is also working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal partners to provide guidance to the public transportation industry in response to COVID-19.


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 January 2020 indicated vehicle imports were up in seven categories outlined, compared to January 2019.

IMPORTS

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 239 vehicles in January 2020, up 52 percent from 157 vehicles imported in January 2019.

Canada sent 156 vehicles to the United States during January 2020.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $311,532.42, down 18 percent from the average price for January 2019 of $379,197.70.

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 96 vehicles in January 2020, down 37 percent from 153 vehicles for January 2019.

The United States imported 94 vehicles from Germany during January 2020.

The average price of the vehicles for January 2020 was $48,869.14, up 17 percent from $41,596.70 for January 2019.

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

The United States imported 25 vehicles during January 2020. There were no vehicles received during January 2019.

All the vehicles imported came from Canada.

The average price for January 2020 was $250,443.04.

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

One vehicles in this category was received by the United States in January 2020 from Canada, down 50 percent from two vehicles for January 2019. The average price for January 2020 was $323,237, compared to $15,200 for January 2019.

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 one vehicle from the United Kingdom at a price of $8,357 during January 2020. No vehicles were imported during January 2019.

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

The United States imported 18 vehicles during January 2020, up 157 percent from seven vehicles for January 2019.

Canada shipped 12 vehicles during January 2020.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $60,720.89, down 66 percent from $178,000 for January 2019.

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

The United States imported 17 vehicles during January 2020, up 143 percent from seven vehicles for January 2019.

China sent all of the vehicles during January 2020.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $12,572, up 68 percent from $7,489.71 for January 2019.

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

The United States imported 87 vehicles during January 2020, up 45 percent from 60 for January 2019.

Canada sent 85 vehicles to the United States during January 2020.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $139,371.70, up 108 percent from $67,161.52 for January 2019.

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

The United States imported 95 vehicles during January 2020, up 73 percent from 55 vehicles for January 2019.

Germany sent 56 vehicles to the United States during January 2020, while Canada exported 32 vehicles.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $44,830.67, up 3 percent from $43,531.42 for January 2019.

EXPORTS

Export totals for January 2020 were up in two categories, compared to January 2019.

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

The United States exported 332 vehicles during January 2020, down 9 percent from 363 vehicles exported in January 2019.

Canada received 166 vehicles during January 2020, while Mexico imported 104.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $70,710.95, up 20 percent from the average price for January 2019 of $58,760.63.

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

The United States shipped 25 vehicles in January 2020, compared to 282 for January 2019.

Mexico received nine vehicles during January 2020, while Honduras imported eight vehicles.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $6,115, down 78 percent from $28,422.24 for January 2019.

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

The United States exported 20 vehicles in January 2020, up 1 percent from 19 vehicles for January 2019.

Mexico received eight vehicles during January 2020.

The average price per vehicle for January 2020 was $40,300.50, up 66 percent from the average price for January 2019 of $24,205.95.

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

The United States shipped 104 vehicles in January 2020, compared to two vehicles for January 2019.

Canada received all of the vehicles during January 2020.

The average price for January 2020 was $37,027.79, up 23 percent from $30,203.50 for January 2019.




Click on statistics to open .pdf file


• Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority • California's Victor Valley Transit
Following Are Some Of The Ways That Transit Is Meeting The Challenges Of COVID-19

RTA

Ultra Violet Technology

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has added ultra violet technology (UV-C) to its disinfectant procedures.

“This unit is lightweight and mobile, so our staff can easily transport it to any site. It is safe and plugs into a standard wall outlet. The UV-C rays can disinfect a bus in less than an hour,” said Flounsay Caver, RTA’s deputy general manager of operations.

Protective barriers and face masks

RTA also installed plexiglass enclosures for booth attendants at its Tower City Station to ensure distancing between customers and staff.

RTA operators began to wear face masks at their own discretion in early March. Now staff is volunteering time to make face masks for front-line staff.

Physical distancing reminders when on board vehicles

RTA has also issued an urgent reminder to the community about the extensive safety measures they have put in place to help keep riders and employees healthy in the fight against COVID-19’s spread.

RTA has enacted measures to create physical distancing on board buses.

Information posters are now on all vehicles stressing these physical distancing measures. RTA also has begun airing an audio message on all buses and trains asking riders to observe the following guidelines:

• Maintain a distance between passengers of at least 6 feet;

• Limit conversations with others and the operator. If you must speak with the operator, please stand behind the yellow line; and,

• Exit from the rear of the vehicle.

RTA was one of the first transit systems in Ohio to enact new, enhanced cleaning protocols to limit the spread of COVID-19 on buses, trains and paratransit vehicles.

“We are unrelenting in our daily bus and train disinfecting protocol. We continue to disinfect every bus and train every 24 hours, but now, we’ve added the UV-C technology, which offers an additional measure. We continue to use a cleaning agent recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at all our properties, Transit Centers and all RTA public facilities, bus districts, train stations and office buildings,” India Birdsong, CEO, said.

___________________________________________

Victor Valley Transit Implements New Procedures During Coronavirus Outbreak

In response to concerns over COVID-19, California’s VVTA has implemented enhanced cleaning in all transit vehicles including high touch and traffic areas such as floors, seats, handrails, and belts.

Precautions include that fixed route passengers are now asked to enter and exit buses using the rear doors exclusively. Only wheelchair users and passengers with mobility limitations are allowed access through the front doors. In addition, a temporary barrier is set up inside each bus to encourage social distancing.


Jersey City, NJ
ABC Companies Facility Expansion Adds More Service, Parts And Equipment Sales Expertise To Northeast Region


“A major renovation and expansion at ABC Companies' Jersey City, NJ, facility is attracting customers throughout the Northeast Corridor. Featuring eight service bays, two paint booths, portable lifts, full dump and wash area, and onsite equipment and parts inventory, the newly redesigned facility sits on five acres and offers customers full equipment sales and service/body shop services. In addition, a new 20,000-square-foot parts warehouse with parts-sales counter offers OEM and aftermarket options for Van Hool and other popular makes and models,” said ABC.

“Backed by ABC Parts Source, over 200,000 individual parts are available for transit and coach needs. An inventory of new Van Hool coaches, including the restyled 2020 Van Hool CX45 and CX35, as well as an expansive inventory of popular preowned motorcoach makes and models will be available on site for inspection, test drives and sale, including new ABC Express Van Hool models for fast customer delivery.”

ABC recognized the need to expand this location based on market demand and fast-tracked the build-out, which included numerous site upgrades and facility modernization of the centrally located operation.

“We are excited to expand our service offering in a key market area,” said Mike Laffan, senior vice president/Eastern Region at ABC Companies. “Our facility expansion doubles the size of operations in this region, and can support virtually any service, parts and sales requests customers have to keep their fleets performing at peak levels. We welcome all operators to find out how we can support their fleet requirements at this location.”

In addition to creating new jobs within the local labor force, he anticipates exponential growth in equipment, parts sales, and service contracts as a result of the expansion.

ABC Companies is a provider to the transportation industry with product and service offerings that cover a full spectrum of operational needs including new and pre-owned full-size highway coach equipment along with transit specialty vehicles. For more information, visit www.abc-companies.com.


BYD K11M 60-Foot Articulated Bus Passes Altoona Testing

BYD’s American-built K11M 60-foot battery-electric, articulated public transit bus has successfully completed the Federal Transit Administration Model Bus Testing Program in Altoona, PA.

BYD said, “The K11M, which exceeds all Buy America requirements, became the first articulated bus to successfully complete the new FTA ‘Pass/Fail’ protocol and is the only five-door model to do so.

“As a result, U.S. transit agencies can use FTA funding to buy the BYD K11M. Several agencies, including the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, based in Lancaster, CA, Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and IndyGo in Indianapolis, have already deployed the model.”

BYD North America President Stella Li said, “This is a milestone for battery-electric buses, and clearly highlights the style, innovation and safety features that are hallmarks of the BYD brand. Not only are these American-built buses safe, they are quiet and comfortable and contribute to better air quality and a higher standard of living in our communities.”

In September, BYD’s K11M became the first battery-electric transit bus of its size to complete the full 15,000-mile durability test in 106 days while requiring a minimum amount of maintenance.

BYD’s 60-foot articulated transit bus is recommended for high-volume passenger operations, providing service with less noise and vibration. Depending on the configuration, the bus can accommodate up to 89 passengers. It has a range of up to 220 miles and can be fully charged in three to four hours.

The K11M is built at BYD’s coach and bus factory in Lancaster. All of BYD’s zero-emission buses not only meet, but also exceed, FTA Buy America requirements, incorporating more than 70 percent U.S. content.

For more information, visit www.byd.com.


9 New MCI D4500 Commuter Coaches For Greater Cleveland Regional Transit

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) recently completed delivery of nine MCI D4500 Commuter Coaches to Ohio’s largest transit agency, Greater Cleveland Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).

RTA has added the coaches to its Park-N-Ride fleet, operating on RTA’s three direct routes to downtown Cleveland. RTA said the new MCIs are replacing older vehicles which have significantly surpassed their 12-year useful life, and that it plans to add three more new D4500 coaches later in the year.

“The MCI D4500 is North America’s best-selling commuter coach, known for comfort, safety and reliability. Features include forward-facing seating, overhead parcel racks, individual reading lights and air-flow controls at every seat,” said MCI.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and Buy America certified, RTA’s newest Commuter Coaches come equipped with wheelchair lifts/bike racks, and feature the newest technology and safety systems, including RTA’s first free Wi-Fi connectivity, USB ports at every seat, three-point passenger seatbelts, backup cameras and onboard surveillance cameras.

“This delivery also showcases several technical improvements MCI has made to the model. In total, RTA operates 38 MCI commuter coaches.”

Tom Wagner, MCI vice president of Public Sector, said, “We’re proud to have our D4500 serve the leading transportation system in North America. Our relationship with RTA began in 2001, and we’re dedicated to optimizing the ridership experience for RTA, while providing the best technical and parts support.”

In 2019, RTA received the Bus Safety & Security Excellence Award from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). RTA has also received the Certificate of Merit for Safety from APTA for creating and implementing a top-safety and security program.

For more information, contact www.MCIcoach.com.


Egg Harbor, WI
Door County Trolley Takes Delivery Of New American Heritage Trolley

Door County Trolley offers over 15 types of tours, such as the Lighthouse Tour, The Haunted Pub Crawl and the newest, the Margarita and Martini Tour, all within the Door County area. The 20-year old company also offers private tours, charters and wedding rentals.

“Trolleys offer a very unique and fun look compared to other passenger vehicles and fit well with the Door County feel,” said AJ Frank, the owner of Door County Trolley.

The “Jack VIII” trolley, named before it was even delivered, was manufactured by Brown Industries in Lawrence, KS, and is equipped to seat 35 passengers. The 32-foot trolley has a Ford front engine, brass stanchions, red vinyl seat cushions for passenger comfort and a solid red exterior.

“We receive compliments about how nice our trolleys look from people who see them on the road throughout Door County,” said Frank. “They stand out and you wouldn’t believe how many people wave.”

For more information on the American Heritage Trolley, distributed exclusively by Specialty Vehicles, contact Nancy Munoz at 702-330-5229 or visit www.specialtyvehicles.com.



Coming in the May/June 2020
print issue of Busline
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