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CAlifornia Bus Association

Representing California's Bus Industry Since 1969

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  • August 18, 2022 11:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As part of its ongoing education and professional advocacy programming, the California Bus Association (CBA) hosted its second annual virtual Earth Day Ecological Expo for its members and the industry at large in honor of Earth Day.

    CBA

    “The focus of the April 22 program was to put sustainable transport ideas in front of members as the industry begins to adjust fleets for an even greener transport future,” said Vickie Cole, President of the CBA board and American Stage Tours in Concord, California. 

    “The industry is still loyal to clean diesel for the convenience and service requirements for long-distance travel, but motorcoach builders and suppliers are ready with electric today. Already, that puts our industry in the spotlight and makes our membership more marketable against other modes of transportation, from trains to planes,” Cole said in a statement.

    CBA invited TEMSA, ABC Companies and Motor Coach Industries (MCI) to give updates on their zero-emissions vehicles. 

    TEMSA: Building on experience

    TEMSA, the major sponsor of the event, launched its first electric version of its popular TS 45E earlier this year at the 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO. The model is already equipped with its third-generation battery pack, shared North America Country Director Fatih Kozan.

     “All the experience we’ve learned with our models in Europe, we carry over into the U.S.,” Kozan said.

    With offices in Orlando, Florida, and Burlingame, California, the 54-year-old company distributes buses in 66 countries and has produced electric models since 2016. TEMSA plans to ship about 80 electric coaches to operators within the next 12 months, he added. 

    The company’s 2024 prototypes will integrate solar solutions, Kozan said, adding operators can expect autonomous vehicles from this manufacturer down the road. TEMSA already has a battery-electric, 30-foot AV low-floor transit bus testing in Adana, Turkey, the location of its factory, and is exploring fuel cell technology.

    ABC: Everyone has to be on board

    ABC Companies has made headlines taking Van Hool’s electric motorcoaches on long road tests.

    The North American distributor for the Belgium-based manufacturer took a Van Hool TDX25E electric double-decker motorcoach on a 2,500-mile, zero-emission road trip over six days using public charging before delivering the coach.

    “The public grid of charging isn’t designed for large buses at this time, and we (in the industry) will have to address that,” says Thom Peebles, Vice-President of Marketing for ABC Companies. “We’re an industry that’s always been green. We love our clean diesel buses, but converting to electric is a lot like quitting smoking — you have to really want to and everyone in your organization has to be on board.”

    He noted that ABC offers a wide range of EV choices, including Van Hool’s 45-foot CX45E and double-decker TDX25E premium motorcoaches, along with electric vans and shuttle buses from leading brands such as Turtle Top and Vicinity Motor Corp. (VMC). 

    ABC also helps operators with their vehicle selections by determining route needs, passenger capacity, operating environment and charging solutions from ABB and ChargePoint, and offers a repowering program, converting diesel vehicles to electric.

    MCI: Moving fast in electrification

    Motor Coach Industries (MCI), which already has 20 D45 CRT LE CHARGE electric coaches operating in Southern California, is planning an electric cross-country trip to New Jersey.

    “Now that MCI is part of New Flyer, which offers six different propulsion systems — including a hydrogen fuel cell on the same body as clean diesel models — MCI is able to take advantage of their knowledge,” said Brent Danielson, MCI Chief Engineering Manager for Product Planning. 

    “Diesel isn’t going away. Yet, we’re moving fast in electrification with the next generation of our batteries already on the horizon — six months to a year — which will increase mileage range,” Danielson said.

    Michael McDonald, Operations Manager at the New Flyer/MCI Vehicle Innovation Center in Anniston, Alabama, added, “Electric brings lower life-cycle costs overall. Our plan was to keep much of the diesel coach alive. We actually designed our platform to replicate diesel parts and placement.”

    MCI utilizes New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions for planning and developing plug-in charging turnkey solutions.

    Clean power sources

    Solar technology, added to fleets in aftermarket, has proven to reduce operating expenses and carbon footprints, according to Venkatesan Murali, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Merlin Solar.

    “We offer A/C charging solutions to reduce idling, and our solar battery charging solution reduces replacement and virtually eliminates jump starts,” said Murali, who reviewed solar-power applications and installation on coaches and other vehicles.

    David Kestenbaum, founder and Director of eRating.org — an educational and idle-free driver training program at the University of Vermont’s Certification for Sustainable Transportation (CST) program — discussed the current state of sustainable motorcoach travel and his involvement in projects in other parts of the world, including Costa Rica.

    He reminded CBA’s members how Earth Day found its start in Santa Barbara, California, becoming a worldwide movement to remind event attendees of the industry’s role in protecting the environment and preserving the Earth.

    He noted the motorcoach has been the most environmentally sound form of transportation since its invention more than 100 years ago.


  • November 13, 2021 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After last year’s pandemic shutdown, West Coast operators finally gathered in person at a busy California Bus Association (CBA) Annual Convention & Trade Show Oct. 24-26 at the Westin Lake Resort Las Vegas. Recruiting drivers and building back business were topics that also attracted operators from Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and beyond to the 47th annual event. 

    However, even the latest innovations and up-to-the-minute education sessions couldn’t trump CBA’s main event —the first face-to-face contact between members, suppliers and industry colleagues after a nearly two-year absence. 

    “I was thrilled to see a lot of old friends,” said Curtis Riggs, President of VIA Trailways with offices in Merced and Fresno, California and Tempe, Arizona. “The sessions were very informative, but for me the most exciting part was reconnecting and seeing our vendors and sponsors join us in Nevada.” 

    Curtis Riggs, of VIA Trailways, left and Juan Lepe, of MCI, at the 2021 CBA Annual Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas.

    Tom Miller, owner of Antelope Valley Express and Santa Clarita Express, remarked, “I was telling others it felt like we were not alone. Everyone had the same stories of what we went through and how we are now all facing the same driver shortage issues.”  

    “We initially planned for a modest 175 attendees and exceeded that number by 25% in same-day registrations and new member registration on site,” said Vicki Bowman, CBA’s Executive Director. “CBA’s annual convention has always had strong regional attendance, but this year, operators in surrounding states were particularly eager to see our program and supplier exhibits as everyone is getting their businesses up to speed.”

    ‘Forward together’

    The meeting’s keynote speaker was Donald Ross, VP Meeting Operations, Caesar’s Entertainment, who explained how the Las Vegas casino giant managed the pandemic and is ramping operations up now.  

    Educational panel sessions covered everything from financial preparedness for regrowth to ongoing advocacy in the fight for greater government funding for the industry. American Bus Association’s Brandon Buchanan and DATTCO Motor Coach’s Pamela Martinez hosted roundtable panel discussions covering a wide range of topics including telematics, driver hiring and recruitment, insurance issues, California regulatory compliance and new bus safety laws.

    Megan White of Prevost, left, and Bob Greene of Amaya Astron Seating, and his wife Erica, catch up in Las Vegas.

    Vickie Cole, CBA President and Co-Owner of American Stage Tours, Concord, California, said: “After 18 months of Zoom calls it was great to be back meeting face-to-face. We put a lot of information out to our membership to communicate how the industry has changed during COVID and how CBA is fighting for national relief and for our members statewide.” Two years ago, the association also began a membership drive for operators in neighboring states. 

    “Many of our surrounding states are without a state or regional association,” said Cole. “Carriers making trips to Disneyland or California’s state parks need to better understand state compliance and can benefit from our ongoing educational and safety programs.”  CBA’s most recent legislative achievement was working with the California State Assembly to refund 2020 DMV registration fees, a valuable part of membership. 

    Awards and more

    Recognizing excellence among its members, CBA honored Best Tours & Travel, Fresno, California as 2021 Operator of the Year.  Steve Tesconi of Royal Coach Tours, San Jose, California received CBA’s Maintenance Technician of the Year award and John Gilb, Royal Coach Tours, San Jose, California was named Driver of the Year.

    Royal Coach Tours, San Jose, CA, co-workers attending CBA’s annual convention celebrate driver John Gilb’s Driver of the Year Award sponsored by Lancer Insurance. From left are Greg Gallup, CEO; Steve Tesconi, Director of Maintenance; Micaela Ward, Director of Operations Las Vegas; Earl Reed, GM; Sandy Allen, President; John Gilb, Driver of the Year; Dan Tomlinson, Safety & Loss Control, Lancer Insurance; and Dan Smith, Vice President.

    CBA made sure members also had plenty of networking opportunities during the convention with evening events sponsored by ABC Companies, Irizar, Motor Coach Industries, Prevost, Temsa and Icomera.

    The annual golf outing also brought many operators back together. Antelope Valley/Santa Clarita Express’ Miller thought this year’s annual golf outing – sponsored by TIB Transportation Insurance Brokers and Republic Indemnity Insurance Company – was especially worthwhile because he was paired with Eric Onnen of Santa Barbara Airbus. “We both run scheduled service into LAX and have sat across from each other in meetings, but this was the first time we got chance to become better acquainted. And it didn’t hurt we won second place.”

    The next two CBA in-person annual conventions are already scheduled — Oct. 23-25 for the 2022 event at the Omni Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, CA and Nov. 5-7 at Silver Legacy Resort Reno in 2023. CBA sponsored Legislative Day and Maintenance Programs also return in 2022.

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