Management & Operations

New Mobility Mindset, Vehicle Innovation on Display at APTA EXPO 2017

Posted on November 29, 2017 by METRO Staff

Discussing his agenda for the year at the opening general session of the EXPO in Atlanta, APTA’s new Chair Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr. talked about a new mobility paradigm and urged the industry to “step outside bus, rail and paratransit and consider all other types of mobility.”

He explained how new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, and artificial intelligence provide a great opportunity for the industry to leverage it across all modes. In keeping with the EXPO theme of innovation and technology, the show floor illustrated these new technologies on a massive scale. We have highlighted some of them here. For a more comprehensive view of the products from the event, visit our photo galleries at

Motor Coach Industries
Motor Coach Industries (MCI) unveiled its new commuter coach model MCI D45 CRT LE featuring improved accessibility. While MCI’s current commuter coach model will continue to feature wheelchair lifts, the new D45 CRT LE is designed with a curb-level ramp and second door that opens directly into a same-level patent pending low-floor entry (LE) vestibule with passenger seating. Additionally, the forward-door entry opens to an ergonomically-designed spiral entryway that’s well lit and features supportive grab rails. This combined ease-of-entry technology is expected to cut the considerable dwell time of traditional lifts.

Motor Coach Industries (MCI) unveiled its new commuter coach model MCI D45 CRT LE featuring improved accessibility.
Motor Coach Industries (MCI) unveiled its new commuter coach model MCI D45 CRT LE featuring improved accessibility.

The CRT LE low-level entry vestibule accessible by a second door at the midpoint of the coach, includes seating for five passengers, allowing for up to two secured mobility devices and an attendant. The model offers a high-capacity 54-passenger seating configuration overall, with seating for 52 when there are two passengers using a mobility device.

The design process for D45 CRT LE involved rigorous analysis and review. MCI engaged a wide range of engineering, design, accessibility experts. Deliveries of the Buy-America compliant, Altoona-tested clean-diesel coach are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2018. An all-electric version is also in development and will be released in 2020.

New Flyer
New Flyer of America Inc. introduced its next-generation, battery-electric heavy duty transit bus: the Xcelsior CHARGE™. The vehicle, available in 35-, 40-, and 60-foot articulated bus rapid transit models, features extended-range battery technology made in America, electric motors with efficient regenerative energy recovery, the highest torque available for steep grade cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, and charging infrastructure compliant with industry standards. The battery-electric Xcelsior CHARGE™ offers passengers improved step height, expanded front door width, an 1:7 entry ramp ratio, and capacity of up to 83 passengers — seated and standing.

Stadler showcased its new FLIRT trains, which are scheduled to become a part of TEXRail’s commercial fleet in December 2018.
Stadler showcased its new FLIRT trains, which are scheduled to become a part of TEXRail’s commercial fleet in December 2018.

Stadler’s FLIRT (Faster, Lighter, Intercity and Regional Train) for TexRail was on display. It is the first Tier 4 final engine to be deployed in the U.S. Lighter in weight; the railcar is able to brake more efficiently and can do both metro and high speeds. The new commuter trains for TEXRail have been designed to reach maximum speeds of 81 mph and boast a coupled length of 266 feet each. Each train comes equipped with 224 seats with side tables and USB ports as well as an accessible lavatory. The train’s ergonomic driver’s cabin, intuitive design and smartly arranged control panels provide onboard personnel with a modern and comfortable workplace. The new FLIRT trains are scheduled to become a part of TEXRail’s commercial fleet in December 2018.

Transdev showcased its autonomous shuttle at the event and talked about its latest venture — the opening of the first autonomous shuttle network in North America scheduled to begin operations in November 2017. Babcock Ranch, a new town under construction in Southwest Fla., will start running multiple Transdev-operated autonomous shuttles, with the long-range goal of working with Transdev to bring on-demand mobility-as-a-service options to nearly 50,000 residents.

Prevost displayed an X3-45 Commuter™ coach equipped with the new electric fan drive — a fully integrated system that eliminates the need for a belt-driven fan. This reduces the engine horsepower required to operate the coach, which results in up to a 4% improvement in fuel economy. The company announced the opening of four new Service Centers; making Prevost’s Service Network, the most extensive in the industry. The new locations bring the total of Prevost- owned-and-operated service centers to 14. The new service centers are full-service facilities and staffed by technicians who are factory trained to work on Prevost, Nova Bus, and Volvo motorcoaches. The centers also service other motorcoach brands. In recognition of the direction in which the industry is headed, the progress both Prevost and Nova Bus have made in vehicle electrification was also highlighted.

Nova Bus’ 100% electric LFSe model, which is currently being operated by the city of Montreal, offers rapid and fully automatic charging.
Nova Bus’ 100% electric LFSe model, which is currently being operated by the city of Montreal, offers rapid and fully automatic charging.

Nova Bus
On display for Nova Bus were the 100% electric LFSe model and the LFS CNG. The city of Montreal is currently running LFSe vehicles, which offer rapid and fully automatic charging to keep the fully electric buses on schedule. The CNG vehicle, which features the latest in clean natural gas technology was on loan from San Antonio’s VIA public transit. The company also showcased its virtual charging station. A cutting-edge virtual reality exhibit gave attendees the chance to see and experience the new Nova Bus driver’s cockpit area with greatly improved driver visibility, which will be available on some vehicles in 2018.

AngelTrax showcased its Vulcan Series V12 mobile DVR unit through a live bus demonstration. The Vulcan Series V12 features 12 camera channels; eight channels that record D1, WD1, 720p, and 1080p, and four channels that record up to 1080p. A driver-operated panic button and signal wires allows the unit to automatically flag recordings for quick review.

BYD unveiled the world’s first 45-foot battery-electric commuter coach bus at this year’s APTA Expo. The company showcased four models of its advanced technology battery-electric buses in addition to a class 5 battery-electric truck and forklift. In response to high demand across North America for its advanced technology buses, BYD recently completed an expansion of its Coach and Bus manufacturing facility in Lancaster, Calif. This expansion will allow the company to build up to 1,500 battery-electric buses annually once operating at full capacity.

Genfare delivered a themed and interactive experience for attendees to promote its fare collection systems. Using a super-hero-themed comic book, the company displayed its mobile ticketing app, on-bus fare validation system, tablet solution for re-routing or adding buses, and analytics reports. Also being promoted was the Genfare Link system, a comprehensive, digital fare management platform backed by Amazon Web Services. This suite of fully integrated, hardware and software-based solutions that can manage multi- media fare collection and customer service across multiple transit authorities and modes of transport.

INIT Innovations in Transportation – INIT demonstrated its automated passenger counting system. The MOBILE-APC passenger counting system features an IRMA 3D sensor, which can differentiate between passengers, bicycles, wheelchairs, and other objects and provide more specific passenger data for transit agencies.

Clever Devices’ Buddy Coleman talks tech to U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao (center) along with U.S. FTA Acting Administrator Jane Williams (far right).
Clever Devices’ Buddy Coleman talks tech to U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao (center) along with U.S. FTA Acting Administrator Jane Williams (far right).

Q’Straint featured the Q’Pod forward-facing three-point securing system with built-in lap, shoulder, and self-tensioning rear belts. The company also featured the QUANTUM securement station, which allows passengers to board a bus or railcar, quickly position their chairs, and simply push a button to secure themselves in a stable and safe rear-facing position without driver assistance — all in under 25 seconds.

Keolis and its partner Navya, showcased its all-electric autonomous shuttle application, which can carry up to 15 passengers (11 seated and 4 standing), and has a maximum speed of about 20 mph. The vehicle can operate 11to13 hours on a single charge and uses sensors and algorithm calculations in real-time to pinpoint the exact position and the vehicle’s surroundings.

Clever Devices
Clever Devices recently announced that it had completed its acquisition of Italian transportation scheduling software manufacturer M.A.I.O.R., which includes a portfolio of solutions for planning, scheduling, rostering, management and analysis for public transport systems. Clever Devices said it will now be able to provide its customers with the same great level of service and partnership for their scheduling solutions that they have always enjoyed with their other market-leading solutions.

Railquip Inc. displayed a model of the DH 1600 telescoping railroad crane. The crane has a maximum capacity of 176 tons, with a maximum hauling speed of 75 mph. Other products included battery-powered rail car movers and cable channel systems.

BAE Systems/ENC
A fuel cell bus on display from BAE Systems, in partnership with ElDorado National for the chassis and Ballard Power Systems for the power plant, is solely powered by hydrogen. The Buy America-compliant bus has 37 seats/19 standing and has a range of about 260 miles under typical urban transit cycles and loads.

Oran Safety Glass showed its ScreeneX line, which takes advantage of large window spaces for use as digital billboards or passenger information. The window features an LCD panel embedded into the glass that is controlled by a content management system, where operators can control their messages, videos, advertisements, route displays and more.

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