Archive for the ‘Bus Driving’ Category

Precautions for Driving Your Bus, Motorhome or Other Larger Personal Transport Vehicles Safely in Winter Weather

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Driving any large personal transport vehicle like a bus, RV or passenger van in winter means taking a number of precautions to stay safe on the road.

Even under the best of weather and road conditions, driving any large personal transport vehicle such as a bus, RV/motorhome or passenger van requires modified driving practices for safety. With winter weather in full force, there are a number of precautions that drivers must know and adhere to in order to drive safely in the varied conditions.

Increasingly, more families and groups have purchased our buses for sale such as a school bus, an MCI bus, or even a passenger van to transport members on outings. Still others use them for modified homes on wheels or they own a conventional RV or motorhome. No matter what the large passenger transport vehicle, driving in winter weather requires adherence to a number of driving precautions.

Every trip in winter should start with a pre-trip inspection of lights, mirrors, gauges, exhaust, suspension, and emergency accessories. In addition, windows, headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and the eight (8) light systems of school buses should be cleaned and checked frequently for snow or dirt buildup.

Next, you should move to checking wiper blades and washer fluid levels as well as the heater and defroster units for efficient operation. Of course, fuel level should be kept as close to full as possible and drivers should be sure to pay special attention to water hoses, belts and radiator hoses. In your final inspection be sure tires are in good condition as well as properly inflated. You should also carry a set of tire chains and put them on if the road conditions warrant it (more about this later).

When driving any large passenger vehicle in winter weather, you should always drive a little slower than usual. This applies whether you have a conventional motorhome/RV, passenger van or you converted a school bus for sale into a group transport or your modified home on wheels. Before you leave the curb, check for snow buildup on your roof and when you stop for gas, knock off any buildup of snow on the mud flaps. Always, be sure to start out at very low speeds and carefully test your brakes and steering to get a feel for the conditions.

Never use your cruise control in winter weather and always use controlled breaking with extra distance given between vehicles. Also, be on the lookout for phantom shoulders that snowplows sometimes create. If at any time you begin to lose traction and the rear wheels begin a sideways slide, ease off the gas, don’t make a fast turn away from the skid and don’t over steer. Instead, release the brake and the accelerator, and then steer into the direction that you want the vehicle to go. As always keep a sharp eye out for black ice as well as shaded spots, bridges, overpasses and intersections where ice can form first.

Snow chain requirements vary by state, time of year, as well as vehicle weight and passenger minimums. If you’re in a part of the country where they are recommended, be sure that you get some practice before you really need them as they always require the driver to be highly alert and hypersensitive to any action that they intend to take. Since stopping power and overall control is significantly diminished, it is important to think and look ahead, preplan all turns and stops, and increase your following distance.

It’s best to have someone with experience show you how to pick out and mount snow chains on your passenger transport vehicle. Iron link or cable link chains designed specifically for use on tires are the general requirement, although there are several similar methods to installing them. Some people that have purchased a school bus for sale may happily find that they have automatic tire chain assemblies installed. If your motorhome or RV isn’t equipped with four-wheel drive, you also may want to invest in a set of high quality show chains.

Speaking of motorhomes, their undersides are often exposed to the elements, which means you should seal them up to protect easily damaged electrical systems. Be sure to also protect pipes and tanks with insulation in extreme climates and keep plenty of antifreeze on hand.

Vehicles that run on diesel should utilize winterized fuel when possible which is available at truck stops in areas with very low temperatures. You can also purchase winter diesel fuel additives to prevent diesel fuel from thickening and potentially ruining engine parts.

If you know that conditions are going to be severe and the trip can be postponed, it’s always best to do so. However, for the most part, winter weather does not have to be a deterrent to getting around or traveling with your large personal transport vehicle. By using these and other tips that you can learn from experienced RV and bus drivers, you can still get safely down the road during winter for an adventure, vacation or just an outing.

Cities that are Making Travel Easier for Bus Drivers

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Major cities across the U.S. and further afield are increasingly adopting new practices and technology that make it easier for bus drivers to safely perform their jobs.

Being a bus driver in any major city can be difficult under the best of circumstances as it requires an almost sixth sense to anticipate traffic challenges. Fortunately, many cities are working hard to make navigation on the streets much easier via a number of high and low tech solutions.

As one of the most congested cities for traffic, New York is constantly grappling with traffic increases, finite street real estate and the need for millions to use buses to move around the city. Dedicated bus lanes are nothing new when streets are widened or improved, but many cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are getting innovative by revamping major streets with peak hour and dedicated bus only lanes. Many of these cities such as New York still struggle to provide bus routes to certain areas of the city, which have been filled by a private passenger van underground known as “dollar vans.”

Left turns on busy city streets for a bus driver are particularly difficult due to their size and slower ramp-up speed pitted against short light sequences. The city is currently in the midst of a trial study project whereby Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in concert with the city’s new ASTC traffic controllers and wireless network (NYCWiN) are being used to provide priority left turn lights for city buses.

The RFID sticker tags are installed on the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) buses and are used to activate a protected left turn at the intersection. The technology can be used on a variety of buses from the city’s fleet ranging from the older MCI bus models to the upcoming new Prevost Bus models.

Cities across the country and the world have been slowly adopting priority bus lanes over the last several years to increase efficiency for riders and drivers alike. A 2012 study from the Norman Y. Mineta International Transportation Institute (MTI) took a look at seven cities that utilize bus lane networks including Los Angeles, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, and Sidney. The cities were chosen on a variety of criteria to obtain a broad mix of approaches to traffic and public transportation. The study looked at design and oversight, funding, scope, and enforcement.

The report is geared specifically to city planners and policymakers interested in learning more about the development and implementation of bus lanes in other cities. The hope is that the results of the study will provide the impetus for further expansion and funding of such priority lanes in the cities in question as well as other cities throughout the U.S. and around the world.

MTI was established and funded by Congress as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. The MTI focus is on research, education and information as well as technology transfer. As more cities learn from and adopt these and other practices bus drivers in major cities across the U.S. and further afield will have an easier time safely performing their jobs.

Interesting Bus News from Around the World in September 2013

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

The wheels of the bus still go round and round, but what propels them is often quite different than even the means utilized in the recent past. Countries and cities around the world are making headlines with new bus designs and alternative energy sources. Still, the tried and true of diesel continues to dominate the roads globally, so wide inspections keep passengers, drivers, and others on the roadway safe. Here is a brief look at some of the more interesting news stories involving buses over the last several months in 2013.

U.S. Bus News

Starting close to home in the U.S., BusCon 2013 at Chicago’s Navy Pier introduced four electric vehicles from Phoenix Motorcars, BYD, Proterra, and Complete Coach Works (CCW). The possible applications for each bus are different, but the technology brought a lot of tire kickers and interested parties to the show floor.

The latest all-electric vehicle from Phoenix Motorcars travels up to 100 miles per charge and offers operators payback on their investment in up to three years compared to diesel. Reportedly perfect for airports or hotels, the 14-passenger Phoenix Electric shuttle is available in multiple configurations and can be customized to specifications.

The BYD 40-foot All-Electric Bus made its debut as it gets set for rollout in Long Beach Transit and the Los Angeles Metro sometime in early 2014. The CCW Utah Transit Authority 40-foot all-electric bus uses wireless advanced vehicle electrification (WAVE). The principle is that a charging pad attached to the bottom of the bus derives its power form induction pads placed strategically in the road along the route.

Source: http://www.gizmag.com/byd-schiphol-electric-bus/28404/pictures

BYD 40-Foot All-Electric Bus
Source: http://www.gizmag.com

International Bus News

Down under in the city of Adelaide, Australia they have introduced the world’s first solar-powered electric bus that is recharged using 100 percent solar energy. Very quiet with zero emissions, the air-conditioned bus is recharged using a solar photovoltaic system installed at the Adelaide Central bus station. It also has a regenerative braking system that saves up to 30 percent of energy consumption. So far in more than 34,000 miles of service, the city has saved more than 4,000 gallons of diesel and reduced CO2 emissions by more than 150,000 pounds in its first year.

More than 73,023 truck and bus inspections over 72 hours is a lot in a short time, but that is what commercial vehicle inspectors accomplished across North America with the Roadcheck 2013 event in June. As reported by the Transport Topics newsletter, out-of-service rates fell to an all-time low during the event. The annual enforcement and safety outreach campaign is conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). The inspection event emphasized motorcoach safety, including traffic enforcement, as well as securement of cargo.

Roadcheck 2013 included special emphasis on motorcoaches. More than 10,000 CVSA and FMCSA inspectors participated at approximately 2,500 locations across North America during this year’s Roadcheck. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico participated with inspections occurring either at fixed or temporary inspection locations.

More bus news reports that the double-decker buses of London are getting far more than a facelift with The New Bus for London rolling out September through December of 2013. Inspired by the original double-decker Routemasters, the new buses are powered by a Cummins ISBe 4.5 liter engine and use state-of-the-art hybrid technology. The Cummins engine is connected to a Siemens hybrid transmission. The engine drives a generator, which supplies energy to a lithium-phosphate battery pack, which in turn provides electrical current for new electric drive motors.

The buses use Regenerative braking to feed otherwise wasted kinetic energy back into the battery pack from the electric motors. The end result is the most environmentally friendly bus of its kind, resulting in improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions. The sleek new design is intended to aid speedier and smoother boarding. The new are among 600 production buses due to enter service by 2016 as part of the Mayor’s election promise. The bus rollout is supported by funding from the UK Green Bus Fund promoting low carbon buses.

A recent bus news article in PV magazine talks about the flexible thin film solar cells the Polish city of Lublin installed on the roofs of its municipal buses in September of 2013. The city is working hard to reduce energy consumption and make public transport ‘greener’ with the solar panels. The solar energy is converted into electric energy and used to load the buses’ batteries. The resulting decreased alternator load will lower fuel consumption for greater economic and environmental gains. In fact, they estimate that savings will amount to 1,900 euro per bus per year with payback on the investment in a mere two years.

So You Want to Be a Bus Driver…See What’s Involved

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Full-time or part-time, free summers or continued work – driving a bus is full of options. You can stay local or drive all over your county on school buses, tour buses, sightseeing buses, or commuter buses. What you drive and where is entirely up to you. From 15 passenger buses to the huge 60 foot long articulated (accordion) buses that can hold 100 people, it’s all the same license.

The life of a bus driver is never dull, and there is far more to the job than just driving. Most drivers start their day checking their bus out from front to back to make sure everything is working perfectly and is in order. They’ll check lights, tires, and the oil, and then they’ll start transporting passengers.

Depending on the type of bus a driver operates, a driver will follow a planned route and schedule, or hit the road. They’ll help elderly and disabled passengers get on and off the bus and keep passengers informed of delays.

Different Stokes for Different Folks

Intercity bus drivers regularly transport passengers between cities or towns, which means traveling between two or more states in some cases. This type of route is very diverse, and drivers get the opportunity to test their skills under a variety of conditions every day. Some pick-up and drop off passengers stop exclusively at bus terminals, while others provide a mix of curb and terminal service.

Local transit bus drivers will follow a strict, daily schedule as they transport passengers on regular routes along the same city, suburban, and even rural streets and roads. These drivers make frequent stops and get to meet a wide range of people throughout the course of their busy day. Local transit drivers are often responsible for collecting fares or transfers from riders and providing information about routes and connecting transportation.

Motor coach drivers take passengers on chartered trips on sightseeing buses. Their trips can last from several hours to all day to several days or more and are usually arranged by a trip planner. Motor coach drivers often get to experience a different trip everyday and see huge portions of their region – even cross country.

Their responsibilities include assisting passengers with complaints, ensuring that the bus stays on schedule, and sometimes even acting as a tour guide. Motor coach drivers will also help passengers on and off the bus, load and unload baggage, and perhaps most importantly, account for all passengers before leaving a location.

School Bus

School Bus

School bus drivers transport students to and from school and other activities, like class trips to museums and amusement parks, and, of course, to and from sporting events, like football and basketball games.

School bus drivers often have other jobs and supplement their income with morning and afternoon routes. Many already work in schools as janitors or cafeteria workers. School bus drivers are responsible for the safety of all the children on their bus, including when the children are getting off at school or at home.

Driving a bus, particularly school buses, is a rewarding and interesting job. For more information about school buses visit bargainbusnews.com or call 877-277-7253.