Alternative fuels, tech take center stage at BusCon 2012

Posted on January 8, 2013 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Page 3 of 3

Public transit industry
During the Wednesday morning General Session, Halsey King discussed the Bus Service Enhancement program, while Walt Diangson gave a presentation introducing the SWTA’s Operation Vets in Public Transportation (OVIPT) program.

OVIPT is a public-private partnership that will offer recent veterans
opportunities for transportation-specific job development training and job referral services within the public transportation industry, including training, preparation and testing for commercial driver’s license or Automotive Service Excellence certifications.

The SWTA — a non-profit, regional public transit association comprised of eight states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — will partner with public transportation service providers, industrial suppliers, local government, military transition programs, and the transitioning service men and women for the program.

APTA’s Melaniphy provided the morning’s Keynote Address, discussing the state of the industry, including the passage of MAP-21 and the role the transit industry played in helping to shape the bill thanks to its unprecedented role in President Barack Obama’s long-term plans.

“We fought for years to get a seat at the table, and now, we are at the table,” he said. “This is a sea change, and we are all a part of it.”

Melaniphy added that while the bump in federal funding in MAP-21 shows the value of public transportation, it is important for both the public and private industries to reach out to their local congressperson to explain what it is they do, particularly with all the new faces set to take their seats when the new session begins in January.

“We have to influence our next bill,” he said, before adding that now is the time to begin that work, since MAP-21 is set to expire in 2014.

Melaniphy also spoke about the growth in public transportation ridership, including six consecutive quarters of increases; the high success rate for public transit ballot initiatives; and the need for increased training and workforce education.

Meanwhile, the MSBMA recognized the top 10 transit agencies with the most mid-size buses in their fleets. On hand to present the awards was Past President of the MSBMA and Champion Bus President  John Resnik.
Mid-size buses are defined as passenger-carrying motorcoaches, built on a cutaway or rail chassis or on monocoque construction; under 40-feet in length; and having a gross vehicle weight rating of Class 7 (33,000 pounds) or less.

Chicago area-based Pace Suburban Bus was the top agency with more than 1,400 vehicles. The award was accepted by Executive Director TJ Ross. Additional transit agencies honored included Phoenix, Ariz.-based Valley Metro; Detroit’s Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation; Orange, Calif.-based Orange County Transportation Authority; and Dover, Del.-based Delaware Transit Corp.               

An industry association of the NTEA, MSBMA was formed in 1993 to improve professionalism, safety and product quality in the mid-size bus industry. The MSBMA provides a forum for its members, in which they can interact and exchange information with other mid-size bus manufacturers from around the country on important technical matters and issues, including the latest chassis product information, chassis manufacturer quality programs, compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, FTA regulations and development of MSBMA Recommended Practices.

BusCon 2013 will return to Chicago’s Navy Pier Sept. 10 to 11 before moving in 2014 to Indianapolis’ Indiana Convention Center Sept. 15 to 17.

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