Innovators and maintenance directors were honored at BusCon on Wednesday during METRO Magazine's annual Innovative Solutions Awards, which took place in Indianapolis.
In all, METRO honored seven bus operations and their supplier partners for implementing a new initiative that helped them improve training, save money, run more efficiently, streamline operations, or improve safety.
This year’s winners include:
- Sacramento Regional Transit District and TransLoc — Sacramento RT’s SmaRT Ride system uses TransLōc’s free Microtransit app, which creates a flexible route for bus operators to follow as they pick up and drop off passengers on smaller, neighborhood-friendly sized buses. In its first year the service has boosted ridership and allowed the agency to increase efficiencies. Thanks to a 12 million dollar state grant, the agency will continue to expand the program.
- Idaho National Laboratory, Bergstrom Inc., and MCI —INL partnered with MCI and Bergstrom to design a combined solar and battery powered air conditioning system specifically for motorcoaches. By expanding this system across INL's fleet, they project an annual savings of 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, avoiding 87 metric tons of CO2 emissions, with substantial uptick in passenger and driver moral.
- SLO Transit and Gillig — In partnership with Gillig, the City of San Luis Obispo completed an entire reworking of its vehicle specifications to modernize its transit fleet in a way that appeals to the sensibilities of younger riders while simultaneously improving the safety and operation of the vehicles. As of the implementation of the vehicles, ridership amongst middle school and high school students has grown by over 280%.
- Duluth Transit Authority, Proterra, and the Center for Transportation and the Environment — Built on a hillside on the tip of Lake Superior, Duluth experiences some of the most extreme weather conditions in the lower 48 states. DTA teamed with Proterra and the Center for Transportation and the Environment to test the viability of battery-electric buses in extreme weather conditions. Initial testing proved successful and the group continues to test and share its findings, including here at BusCon.
- MV Transportation and 300 Below — Prior to using the 300 Below product, MV’s fleet was averaging 28,000 miles per set of OEM rotors and 12,000 to 14,000 miles per set of OEM brake pads. Now after switching to the TruBlue Braking™ product, MV has significantly increased the amount of miles travelled before replacement. The result has helped increase labor productivity and decrease expenses in the shop and enables the system to provide its customers dependable transportation with a more reliable and safer product.
- TriMet, C-TRAN, and INIT, Innovations in Transportation — The revolutionary open payment Hop system gives TriMet and C-TRAN riders the ability to pay with a regular Hop card, virtual card, contactless bank card, or mobile wallet, and frees them from the worry associated with how many, or what kind of tickets they should buy. INIT have positively impacted the service quality of TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar riders by supplying a revolutionary ITS and ticketing system that conveniently connects millions of passengers across three agencies and two states within the Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area.
- Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, Ga. and Urban Solar — Since Athens started installing solar-powered energy sources in November 2017, the city has expanded installation to the majority of their bus shelters and stops. As a result, the organization and the city’s transit riders benefit. The city can save money, run more efficiently and increase customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, all transit users can stay safe and connected on the way to their destination, making transit an even more enjoyable experience.
METRO also handed out the inaugural Transit Maintenance Director of the Year awards to two people who have gone above and beyond to create a well-run maintenance shop.
This year’s winner in the under 500 vehicle category is Getty Modica of Santa Monica, Calif.’s Big Blue Bus (BBB). Modica manages a fleet of 200 alternatively-fueled buses with an average age of 6.1 years, which is well below the national average. Working his way from mechanic to maintenance manager, Modica is well-respected by industry peers and BBB’s staff.
In the over 501 vehicle category, our winner is Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s (DART) Michael Hubbell. Although he recently retired from DART, Hubbell managed a fleet of approximately 650 buses, as well as 163 light rail vehicles. During his tenure, Hubbell helped transition the agency’s bus fleet from diesel to natural gas and implemented a training and succession program that has been a huge success at the agency.