Around the outer walls of the Quebec City Convention Center exhibition hall Canada’s Trans-Expo featured displays of new large and small buses and motorcoaches, and provided visitors the chance to view products, meet friends and network.
Almost 100 supply and service companies, displaying products and ser-vices ranging from hybrid propulsion to engines, transmissions, seats and other components and parts, were on hand at the yearly event that is co-sponsored by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), the Association des propriétaires d’autobus du Québec (APAQ), the Canadian Bus Association (CBA) and Motor Coach Canada (MCC).
Nova Bus introduced its new LFS Artic, which shares its platform with its LFS model and integrates a number of innovations focusing on safety, reliability and productivity.
Nova has already received orders for 322 vehicles by Quebec transit authorities, with the first deliveries to Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM) and Quebec City’s Reseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC) scheduled for 2009.
New Flyer Industries also unveiled its new rapid transit bus model, which will be used by the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s Euclid Avenue bus rapid transit (BRT) system.
Held in conjunction with the CUTA Fall Conference, the show also featured a bus rapid transit forum that updated participants on the latest developments in North America and around the world, including planning and policy issues, design and technical opportunities.
Dario Hidalgo, new business development director/senior transport engineer for the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., gave an overview of successful BRT systems in Latin America, such as TransMilenio in Bogota, Columbia.
The system has had worldwide recognition because of the advantages achieved in Bogota, including reduced congestion, improved environmental impact and an amazing 93 percent reduction in accidents.
Branding and marketing strategies have been considered an important part of BRT successes. Quebec City, the host city for the conference, has a BRT system, which was described by RTC’s Pierre Bouvier. Alma Kelly, AKelly Consulting Inc. reported on the branding of the Quebec City BRT where green trim is used to emphasize the environmentally friendly service. A logo has also been important in the BRT branding.
Rajeev Roy and Mary-Frances Turner discussed York Region Transit’s award winning VIVA BRT, operating the busy corridor north of Toronto. After considerable research, frequent and regular services were key ingredients for establishing VIVA and its success. VIVA has also had key support from local decision-makers.
In the afternoon sessions, several new and proposed BRT programs were discussed. Louise Poirier and Salah Barj both talked about the BRT system being implemented by the Societe de Transporte de l’Outauois (STO) in the Gatineau area north of Ottawa. It will have most elements of a true BRT system with, for the most part, a dedicated exclusive right-of-way following an abandoned railway, 12 stations, 25-minute time savings and five-minute headways for a good portion of each workday. It will be branded as Rapidbus and is expected to be completed by 2010.
Bev Dubois of the City of Saskatoon (Saskatchewan) Transit System enthusiastically explained the on-street BRT service in that area. It is branded as Direct Access Rapid Transit (DART) and will eventually serve four high-frequency corridors. Initial patronage was reported to be up 30 percent.
Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) has been experiencing successful BRT service for ten years on the South Miami Dade Busway. Buses on the route travel on an exclusive busway, which is an abandoned railroad. It crosses a number of main arteries, but grade separation is planned for some crossings and will speed the service.
Larry Foutz, system manager of MDT, explained other area BRT plans. An interesting concept is in the North Miami area where the I-95 corridor will be changed to have two 11-foot managed lanes with five-minute frequencies for buses. Automobiles with three or more passengers will be monitored and allowed on the managed lanes while other automobiles will be allowed with a toll fee.
Attendees also took part in a technical tour of the RTC’s BRT system. In service for 15 years the Métrobus links multiple areas in the City of Québec. The tour highlighted the Métrobus’ attributes such as the different transit priority measures used along the corridors, major destinations and transfer points.