May 2012

Long Beach Transit Takes Innovative Path

by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

When Larry Jackson, president/CEO of California-based Long Beach Transit (LBT) became GM, as the position was previously called, in 1980, the “sleepy” transit system, carried about eight million people a year, with about 300 employees, he says. Today, the operation carries approximately 28 million customers, with a work force of approximately 800, plus an additional 100 contract workers.  

Operation overview
Current services include fixed-route bus service, including ZAP express routes; Passport circulator service; AquaLink and AquaBus water taxi service; Dial-A-Lift paratransit service; and a seasonal Museum Express service, which combined, spans an area of 98 square miles.

The fleet is comprised of 228 buses total, including 185 40-foot coaches, 30 mid-sized Passport shuttles and 13 60-foot articulated coaches. The Dial-A-Lift paratransit service operates 20 vans, while four vessels are used for the water taxi services. Half of LBT’s fixed-route vehicles are hybrid gasoline-electric buses, with the remaining buses using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel equipped with particulate traps.

All buses have state-of-the-art TranSmart communications systems on board. The system’s features include two-way text, data and voice communication capabilities; automatic stop announcements and global positioning vehicle location. It also enables the display of real-time schedule information on the operation’s website at the recently renovated First Street Transit Gallery and other major stops.

The new Gallery can be likened to a dazzling frame for the transit system’s dynamic bus fleet. Located in downtown Long Beach, the Gallery is a major transit hub that services, in addition to LBT,  Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Torrance Transit buses as well as the Metro Blue Line light rail service. Approximately 50,000 people traverse through the Gallery per day to reach their destinations.

The renovated $7 million transit hub, built using federal stimulus funding made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, features eight bus shelters with wave-like canopies. Other design elements include artwork by local artists (currently murals, poetry and photography with a marine life theme). Amenities include multiple bus benches, electronic real-time bus arrival displays, 24-hour touch screen information kiosks and public restrooms.

Fleet innovations
Taking on innovative projects is nothing new for LBT, as it has long been at the forefront when it comes to greening its bus fleet. More than a decade ago, the transit system introduced ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel to its program and equipped its diesel vehicles with particulate traps. In 2005, the operation moved to gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, of which they have nearly 100. LBT was the first transit agency in the nation to utilize production model gasoline-electric hybrid technology, which they took on even before they needed to comply with California air standard requirements.

When it came time to replace the remainder of the aging ultra-low sulfur diesel fleet, LBT wasn’t sure if there was going to be a marketplace for hybrid-electric technology, as ISE, the supplier of the hybrid-electric drive systems on its current fleet, was no longer in business. “We couldn’t wait, we had to replace coaches,” Jackson says.

Last year, the transit system adopted a compressed natural gas (CNG) technology track and placed an order for 64 40-foot CNG vehicles from bus manufacturer Gillig out of Hayward, Calif. Per the estimated $32 million order, LBT expects to receive the final vehicles by year’s end.


Write a letter to the editor
deli.cio.us digg it stumble upon newsvine
[ Request More Info about this product / service / company ]

  • Joe D. Acosta, WSO-CSSD, CCTM[ May 8th, 2012 @ 2:59pm ]

    This article is commendable for the recognition provided to Long Beach Transit management and all of its employees, especially considering the economics of our time. This type of news is encouraging and motivational. Hopefully, for all those reading this article, it also instills a sense of dedication within each of us to do the right thing and work collaboratively. Transit provides a valuable service to millions of individuals trying to make a living, and at times, such as the financial challenges in recent years and the present, it may be the difference for many between struggling to pay our bills and being able to pay the bills. You may even think of this as stress relief. I also find that riding transit reduces the potential for stress that comes from driving in congested traffic. Transportation costs seem to continue to rise yearly, and transit helps ease individual transportation costs for many riders. It may also be the only means of transportation for those individuals who are dependent on transit. So, thank you to all employees working in transit that show their understanding in dealing with hard times – just like the employees of Long Beach Transit who have not had a pay increase since 2008. You are likely not the only ones having had to sacrifice a little to maintain jobs rather than some individuals being unemployed. I, for one, hope that good times are around the corner again.

E-NEWSLETTER

Receive the latest Metro E-Newsletters in your inbox!

Join the Metro E-Newsletters and receive the latest news in your e-mail inbox once a week. SIGN UP NOW!

View the latest eNews
Express Tuesday | Express Thursday | University Transit

White Papers

Mass Transit Capital Planning An overview of the world-class best practices for assessing, prioritizing, and funding capital projects to optimize resources and align with the organization’s most critical immediate and long-term goals.

The Benefits of Door-to-Door Service in ADA Complementary Paratransit Many U.S. transit agencies continue to struggle with the quality of ADA service, the costs, and the difficulties encountered in contracting the service, which is the method of choice for a significant majority of agencies. One of the most basic policy decisions an agency must make involves whether to provide door-to-door, or only curb-to-curb service.

Mass transit mobile Wi-Fi & the public sector case study How Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority successfully implemented Wi-Fi on its light rail and bus lines

More white papers


 
DIGITAL EDITION

The full contents of Metro Magazine on your computer! The digital edition is an exact replica of the print magazine with enhanced search, multimedia and hyperlink features. View the current issue