The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) its reducing fees for PCV and HGV testing by an average of 3.5%, where the work is carried out at an Authorised Testing Facility (ATF). The changes come as four more ATFs (in Lowestoft, Okehampton, Basildon and Leicester) are added to the 440-strong network, alongside confirmation that 10 more DVSA test sites will close, bringing their number down to 45.â€œThe fee adjustment will reflect the different costs between tests conducted at ATFs and DVSA sites,â€ says the DVSA.To achieve this, fees at DVSA sites â€œwhere the cost of delivering tests is higherâ€ will increase on average by 18.5%. â€œThese changes reflect the real cost of providing our services to ATFs and we will continue to provide value for money for commercial vehicle businesses,â€ adds the DVSA.The fee changes are from 1 October.The DVSA plans to provide at least 85% of annual tests at ATFs by 31 March 2015. Currently, there are 440 ATFs â€œbringing passenger and heavy goods testing closer to the customer,â€ and over 80% of testing is now done at non-DVSA sites. Of these, 343ATFs accept third-party bookings. In addition to the changes to test fees, the DVSA is also adjusting fees for PCV and HGV O-Licences. These will rise by 1% to cover the running costs associated with the National Register of licensed operators.Says DVSA CEO Alastair Peoples: â€œOur strategy of providing testing at third-party sites is already giving customers the choice of using a more convenient, local option. By realigning fees we are now making this even more cost effective for customers.â€œWith no general fee increases since 2009, and reduced theory test fees starting in October, we are demonstrating our commitment to minimising costs for all our customers.â€The next 10 DVSA test stations to close will be Canterbury, Darlington, Exeter, Haverfordwest, Norwich, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Royston and South Molton.ATF list
Three TXs are the first for the UK with six-speed full auto ‘box coupled to 510bhp DAF MX-13 engineThe first Van Hool TX integrals with the recently-added Allison T 525 automatic gearbox option for the UK have been delivered to Richmond’s Coaches of Barley, near Royston, Hertfordshire.Two are 53-seat TX16 Astrons and one is a 61-seat TX18 Altano interdecker, and all are powered by the DAF MX-13 engine rated at 510bhp. Previously, its torque level of 2,500Nm had been too high for any automatic gearbox offered by Van Hool to handle, but addition of the T 525 – announced by Van Hool at Busworld Kortrijk in October – rectifies that.TX18 Altano is among three Allison-equipped Van Hools with Richmond’sPart of Allison’s Torqmatic range, the T 525 gearbox has fifth generation electronic controls for optimised operation and diagnostic capabilities. The three Van Hool TXs delivered to Richmond’s also have Allison’s FuelSense Max software, which is designed to optimise efficiency.The coaches will be used on a variety of work and are expected to cover around 60,000km per annum, says Managing Director Andrew Richmond, who adds that push-button automatic gearboxes are the operator’s preferred solution.“I don’t regard automated manual gearboxes as being as smooth as a fully automatic, and I don’t believe that they are as controllable.“Allison gearboxes deliver a smooth ride for passengers and are easy for drivers to use. It has been a long time since we last experienced an Allison gearbox in a coach – back to the dates of the Volvo B58 and B10M, but we have used them in our Optare Solo buses for years and find them excellent.“The Allison gearboxes in our Van Hools are the ‘next generation’. They are at least as good as the other fully automatic gearboxes in our fleet and our drivers love them,” says Mr Richmond.The new coaches were supplied by Arriva Bus and Coach.
Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses, took to the Master Class stage at Euro Bus Expo to discuss some of the initiatives the company uses to retain and develop its current workforce, as well as ‘attracting the best talent’.Martijn Gilbert: ‘If we have happy staff, we have happy customers’An employee survey was undertaken in 2015, which gave an insight into the areas that the company could improve on.Mr Gilbert referred to the survey results as “the golden nuggets that need to be hovered up to make a company even better and to attract the best talent.”Furthermore, a new mission statement was produced, which Mr Gilbert was keen to emphasise, is the words of the workforce rather than the words in the management team.Mr Gilbert says: “We now try to live and breathe these values in the organisation on a daily basis and we are very clear on what people are required to achieve.”Due to such initiatives, Mr Gilbert says: “We have seen an increase in diversity of our workforce – 20% of staff are under 35 and 20% are women.“We have also seen a huge improvement in employee relations.“If we have happy staff, we have happy customers.”Celebrating success and creating an open and honest working environment is another way in which Reading Buses retains and attracts employees.“Whatever happens in our industry, it is always going to be about people; people as our customers, people as our stakeholders and, most importantly, people as our employees,” Mr Gilbert concludes.
Portsmouth FC players are set to travel in ultimate style next season, thanks to a new deal with Lucketts Travel.The football club has appointed the Fareham coach firm to provide its official team travel and will use the company’s brand-new VIP coach.Portsmouth FC is the first organisation to sign up to use the luxury vehicle, which is currently being adapted at a specialist conversion company to add a number of bonus features. The sleek Irizar i8 provides the ultimate in luxury travel, seating 36 in the amount of space that would normally be used for a 53-seater coach. It features a Neff kitchen, flat screen HD TVs complete with Sky and reclining leather seats.Portsmouth FC players will be well-connected as they travel to and from away games with Lucketts. The coach is fitted with the very latest technology, including wi-fi, USB ports, power sockets, DAB radio and Chromecast for guests to stream entertainment from their phones to the screens.Paul Barringer, group sales and marketing director at Lucketts, says: “The Lucketts VIP coach will provide the ultimate in comfort and relaxation – just what the players will need after 90 minutes on the pitch.“Advanced features such as the Chromecast link-up with the HD screens means they’ll even be able to review videos of their performance together on the journey home.”Portsmouth FC CEO Mark Catlin says: “We are proud and delighted to be able to use this impressive vehicle next season.“Ensuring the players arrive and get home from away matches in the best physical condition possible is a vital aspect of preparation and this coach will provide that.“Our relationship with Lucketts is a strong one and we look forward to working with them closely in the coming season.”Lucketts has a long association with Portsmouth FC. It has been the official away fans’ travel provider for many seasons and is also a sponsor, with its pitch-side board proudly sitting in the north stand of the league one club.Paul Barringer added: “It’s been our pleasure to transport Portsmouth fans to and from away games for several years. Now we’re looking forward to providing that same reliable and friendly service to the players.”
As part of fraud prevention First West of England now requires photo IDs for all new Child, Young Person and Student mTickets.It will reduce the need for separate ID in some cases, although students may also be asked to show college/ university ID if there is any doubt.Customers will be prompted to upload a photo when they buy tickets and will not be able to complete transaction until this has been done.It is also extending the ‘Ticket sharing’ facility to Young Persons and Students to enable parents/others to purchase mTickets.QR codes will also start to appear on mTickets, initially on University student tickets.This is in preparation for the rollout of its new Ticketer machines which will be able to ‘scan’ mTickets.
In an exclusive visit to Wrightbus, the firm lifts the lid on its latest product, its fuel cell StreetDeckThere’s a tough dilemma facing bus operators running into UK cities – what technology do you buy to be future-proofed?Euro 6c diesel is exceptionally clean, yet legislators are not convinced. Three main technologies are in the frame: Biogas, electric and hydrogen.The merits of all three have been picked apart during the last 12 months in routeONE, in our ‘Energy on the move’ articles.The development team is led by William Wright (centre)As yet, no city has mandated a specific technology, although London has set out a ‘zero-emission’ strategy. While this rules out biogas, exactly what zero-emission means is a moot point.Wrightbus is the first to produce a genuine zero-emission battery-electric bus. Its StreetAir, debuted last year, uses electric heating, rather than the diesel-fired heating of most of its competitors.Now it is upping its game in the hydrogen sectorJump to the JiveThis is driven by procurement underway, led under a framework by Transport for London (TfL), sourcing up to 56 hydrogen single and double-decker buses to be used in Birmingham, Dundee, Aberdeen and London. The latter two already run hydrogen buses. Eight Wrightbus single-deckers are now in their seventh year of operation in the capital the RV1 (Covent Garden-Tower Gateway). The daily route runs 19 hours a day with a 10-12 minute frequency.Now, Wrightbus has built an all-new pre-production StreetDeck hydrogen bus, being followed by two more currently in build.In an exclusive visit to the firm’s Ballymena, Northern Ireland, HQ we were able to examine all three.TechnologyInvented in 1838, modern fuel cells were developed as part of space exploration. Now they are being developed for extensive use in vehicles.Hydrogen means a bus can be fuelled, driven in its normal cycle, then at the end of the day, re-fuelled and cleaned the same as diesel buses. This ‘fuel-drive-refuel’ cycle, without the constraints of range limitations, while having a quiet and zero-emission bus is very attractive.The stumbling block is the price. The EU’s JIVE project – like a ‘green bus fund’ for hydrogen aims to make the capital cost commercially acceptable (see panel).In very basic terms, a fuel cell comprises an anode and a cathode, with an electrolyte that allows positively-charged hydrogen ions to move between the two sides of the fuel cell. An electro-chemical reaction of the hydrogen and air produce electricity. The exhaust is water condensate. Colourless and odourless, the vapour can only be seen on cold days.Heart of the machine. The fuel cell is the black box, mounted vertically. In the second installation it is horizontal for better packaging of other componentsAnother benefit is that a fuel cell is compact, contains no moving parts, does not involve combustion and produces electricity for as long as fuel and air are supplied. Fuel cell life has been in excess of that predicted – as London’s in service trials prove – with the expectation that at least 25,000 hours (roughly eight years) life is easily achievable.Clever stuffWrightbus is one of a number of bidders in the JIVE programme. As procurement is underway with bids not yet revealed we can’t share all details, but we were able to have a close look at the first fuel cell StreetDeck and two further under-construction in the firm’s bespoke alternative technology workshop at Ballymena.One of these will be a two-door London-spec ‘decker. Specification of the third example, currently at the chassis framing stage, is yet to be revealed. All use Wright’s standard StreetDeck chassis.With its long history of innovation, Wrightbus has plenty of experience. As this is a commercial project, it is using tried and tested components from respected suppliers in the build.A fuel cell is most efficient (and long-lived) when generating electricity at a constant rate. Therefore batteries are used to store energy, from the fuel cell, or regenerative braking. To maximise engine bay and internal space, ZF’s AVE 130EV portal axle with electric hub motors are used, rather than a traction motor/drivetrain.The batteries are the same as those used in Wright’s hybrid buses – this is a hydrogen electric hybrid. In the pre-production bus they are under the rear seats, ahead of the rear axle. Although these high back seats look unusual, the sharp eyed will spot that they are from the New Routemaster. The second bus has conventional seats on a second set of dummy wheelboxes, containing the batteries. The batteries are accessed from outside.The fuel cell StreetDeck shares the family ‘DNA’ and trusted componentsFor evaluation, one bus uses a Ballard fuel cell; the other is from an undisclosed manufacturer.New designAnd here is a significant difference to the RV1 buses – the size of the fuel cell. With a 60kW constant output, it’s roughly half the size of that used in the RV1 buses.This is achieved thanks to the batteries, along with the use of ‘smart accessories’ taken from Wright’s Micro Hybrid range.With a smaller fuel cell and hub motors packaging is clever. Under the bonnet the fuel cell – a rectangular box – sits in the engine bay, while Grayson smart fans are on the offside. These cool the fuel cell and hub motors; in winter the water-based system heats the bus, topped up by electric heating.The use of smaller gas tanks means these are also in the engine bay (no high temperatures here) while refuelling – taking under 10 minutes – is at the rear offside.Naturally, there’s a remote cloud-based diagnostic system, while the hydrogen system is fail safe – it will shut down if there’s a fault, but the bus can be driven up to 30 miles on battery power, meaning it won’t be stranded.Test drivenWith the use of standard components there’s nothing to worry operators. Wrightbus has drawn on its hybrid experience to ensure that, from a driver’s perspective, you can’t tell it’s a hydrogen bus.The only clue is a dashboard indicator confirming that the hydrogen system is functioning correctly on start-up.At 10.8m the length is not an issue and on our short test drive, kindly organised by William Wright, we found that as promised, the driving experience is identical to a Wrightbus hybrid.Without a diesel engine, at rest there’s no noise apart from a very faint electrical hum, and certainly no vibration.The driver’s cab is the same as a normal Wright’s decker – well laid out and comfortable – while the only noise that’s detectable (if you listen carefully) is from the electric steering.Underway, power comes quickly thanks to the electric drive’s torque. Acceleration is swift and the throttle responsive to input.In the saloon, the design of ZF’s hub motors means that unlike some others, they are very quiet.Braking uses regeneration, and if you pay close attention, you can just about feel the foundation brakes coming into play at low speed.When stuck in slow moving traffic, the bus happily creeps forward and is easy to drive.In short, the driver and passenger experience are on a par with the best, as you’d expect from Wright’s.New Routemaster interior was fitted for speed of production. The next bus has bespoke wheelboxes with standard seatsroutone CommentWrightbus firmly believes in hydrogen as one of the fuels of the future. Its bus uses well-proven components, and it has the experience of running its previous version in the demanding London environment.It is savvy enough to realise that no one-size fits all, which is why alongside its super-efficient diesel (with smart accessories, it calls it Micro-Hybrid), it also offers hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, pure electric, as well as hydrogen.All of these products continue to be developed, and its latest hydrogen bus is a very strong offering.This is good news as hydrogen offers a high daily range (similar to diesel), no need for new street or depot charging and operational flexibility.Ultimately, the aim is for fuel cell buses to push costs to a commercial level, close to hybrids, and with Wrightbus’ long experience in electric drivetrains and innovation, it is well placed to meet this challenge.Find out more: www.fch.europa.eu and hereIN SHORTJIVE: EU’s hydrogen fundTo help commercialise fuel cell buses, the EU’s Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE) project is funding €32m to deploy at least 139 buses, in a six-year project in nine cities.JIVE2, under development, will add another 125 buses.A previous EU fund delivered 56 buses from six OEMs in 10 cities. By 2020 there will be around 400 hydrogen buses in service.
Datik has announced a free 60 day trial to demonstrate to any operator currently running CCTV, wi-fi or infotainment services that iPanel can save them up to 50% on costs.iPanel is a simple, centralised and connected fleet management system that enables integration of transport services, such telematics, CCTVs, wi-fi, infotainment and more.The aim of iPanel is to reduce costs, increase safety and improve service quality of public transport operators, from the comfort of the depot, or anywhere.Datik does this by providing a one-stop shop solution, which means simplifying existing architecture to a single hardware and software platform.iPanel is a future proof solution. ITxPT compliant and highly scalable, it means Datik can develop ad hoc applications and services quickly, maximising the investment.Why iPanel?Coach and bus operators are currently installing more on-board systems than ever before to support their services. Some vehicles may have five, six or even seven on-board systems working and running simultaneously, with several SIM cards, supplier contracts and a number of web and local access points to manage all areas of the business.With iPanel operators simply need one on-board system, one SIM card and one licence contract. It’s that simple. It is estimated that operators can save up to 50% of the costs involved in buying, installing and running all services, while providing a platform to grow the business.Using a single platform it also means operations can be integrated and the business can be run more efficiently, doing more with less.How does it work?The Datik Computing Brain (DCB) is installed in the vehicle with a GPS and a GPRS antenna, connecting it to iPanel. Datik can supply necessary equipment to support the services, such as CCTV cameras, In-Cab Display, etc. iPanel for coach: This solution simplifies the operations to manage any coach operating business. Track vehicles in real time, send messages to drivers instantly or download a video footage remotely are some of the perks. This solution provides CCTV for up to 14 cameras, WiFi for passengers as well as vehicle tracking, vehicle health and driver monitoring applications.iPanel for bus: Keep your passengers informed and happy. This solution enables bus operators install next stop announcement systems together with wi-fi. Get access for free to advance telematics applications, including driver monitoring tools, and punctuality as well as regularity analytics.Meet DatikDatik is an engineering company specialised in Intelligent Transport Systems, working exclusively for the coach and bus industry. It helps public transport operators reduce cost, improve efficiency, and enhance passenger and driver experience.To support iPanel solutions, Datik offers 24/7 customer support by phone or email.Regardless of your size of operations, if you are interested to take part in the trial, please send an email to [email protected] can find more info about Datik and iPanel at www.datik.co.uk
Move forms part of draft transport strategy, with ZEZ for central London also proposedA Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) will be introduced in the City of London ‘within the next Mayoral term’ to ensure 90% of vehicles entering the Square Mile are zero emission by 2030.The measure forms part of the City Corporation’s draft transport strategy, which sets a target of reducing motor traffic by 25% by 2030, and by 50% by 2044, published on Friday (23 May) following a public consultation.According to the strategy, the zone will work through a combination of access restrictions and charging for non-zero emission capable vehicles.It will also become the first area in the UK to enforce a 15mph speed limit for motorists, subject to government approval, which will come into force by the end of 2022.Officials believe the new speed limit will cut the number of vehicles on its streets, which will improve local air quality while minimising the risk of injury for pedestrians.The strategy also proposes a ZEZ to cover the whole of central London, following smaller and more local ZEZs covering the City Cluster and Barbican and Golden Lane.Alastair Moss, Chair of the Planning and Transportation Committee at the City of London Corporation, says: “We are working tirelessly to support the 513,000 workers that commute to the Square Mile every day, and to deliver the forward-thinking City that Londoners want to see.“These radical plans will ensure the continued success of not just the City, but wider London and the UK as a leading global business and cultural destination.”
London-based Commonwealth Coaches has taken delivery of a B11R with Jonckheere JHV2 bodywork, supplied by Volvo Bus (02476 210250).It is the fourth Volvo for the West Drayton operator and it has been purchased on the back of excellent support for the previous coaches, says Director Ajay Sandhu.“As an ever-growing family business, we make it our focus to ensure that every trip is memorable for our passengers. We therefore only invest in the finest vehicles that will offer the best possible experience.“We can’t fault the B11R. Whether providing our transfers to Heathrow Airport or tailor-made shuttle services, our customers have always given positive feedback on the coach.” The Volvo B11R is also popular among drivers, he adds.
Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway has been selected as the new Chair of Business in the Community Northern Ireland (BITCNI).The responsible business network is driving the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ deal which focuses on climate change as a priority.Chris says: “It’s incumbent for business and government to work together to tackle our biggest societal and environmental issues. Businesses in NI can make a real difference to their people, the planet and the places where they operate, and I’m a firm believer that they are obligated to do so.”Kieran Harding, Managing Director at BITCNI, says: “Chris has been a member of the Board of Business in the Community for five years and is passionate about driving the responsible business agenda, not only within Translink, but across Northern Ireland. We are delighted he’s taken up the position of Chair.”