Riding in Style: Buses Designed like Trains

Riding in Style: Buses Designed like Trains

Here’s good news: the number of passengers who use Amtrak train services in the state of Nevada has increased 19.9 percent from 2015. Here’s even better news for our industry: public bus transportation is still reigning king, with a 48 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled between 2000 and 2015, the largest upsurge in the nation. This statistic added to our thought pool of imponderables: would these numbers climb even more if buses were designed like trains?

The idea has been done before. In the 1990s, architect Doug Suisman took a dig at the social stigma surrounding public transportation by introducing the Metro Rapid 720 to Los Angeles County. He redesigned the conventional look of public buses, giving the Metro Rapid a sleek red coat of paint, broadened windows, and wheel covers, almost to resemble that of a passenger train. His theory was that if he could clean up the cold, often boorish-look of buses, more people could picture themselves riding around in them. It didn’t take long before the Metro Rapid 720 became the first rapid transit bus system in Los Angeles, and the trendy mode of travel spread to places like the San Fernando Valley.

Even still with this transportation breakthrough, buses are still perceived to be a choice of necessity and not much more. But there are those few who still see a buses’ inner beauty, like fashion designer Trina Turk, who was quoted saying she could envision herself in a futuristic spaceship flying down the highway, like a bullet train off in space.  So how do you make a bus look cool? You make it a choice of social influencers, who normally travel by way of train or airplane. Red is eye-catching, but what about black with graphite black flooring and all-black seating? How about a less cramped floor plan so passengers can stretch their legs?

With a new millennial class eagerly making grandiose car purchases (these leads to overcrowding of roads and highways which will eventually lead to an increase in train and plane travel), now is as good a time as ever to “bite the bullet” sort-of-speak and hop on the bus-train trend. See what we’re talking about at Northwest Bus Sales, where you can design your very own bus with the help of our trusted technicians, or browse our fleet of mighty passenger machines today!

The “Skoolie” Trend in Bus Conversion America

The “Skoolie” Trend in Bus Conversion America

Mobile adventurers are putting their spin on an antiquated version of the American dream; they’re opting to live by way of school bus. This “skoolie” trend lifestyle is making its rounds through America, with couples and families purchasing used buses and converting them into tiny homes.

The tiny home aficionados over at Midwest Wanderers may have topped any decked-out school bus we’ve seen up to this point. Purchased for the pocket change sum of $4,000, the couple transformed an old school bus into a mini utopia, equipping it with a four-burner stove, skylights, and two beds.

Another couple from Arkansas transformed their 2001 Thomas HDX school bus into a solar-powered dream. They remodeled their bus with a composting toilet and 24-volt solar panels for eco-friendly measure. After decking out their mobile paradise, they hit the road on a cross-country tour. Their journey lead them to the dusty trails of Yellowstone, through New Mexico, Colorado, and into the warm and rocky landscape of Arizona.

But school bus living isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, according to the people over at The FrugalRVer. The couple was thwarted by hefty campground fees, eventually paying $700 per month to squat, in addition to the insurance costs for converting their big rig. Most people end up paying $20,000-$30,000 to convert old clunkers into the mobile homes of their dreams. For many, the decision is life altering and well worth the investment, and for others it remains a half-attempted pipe dream.

Living in a school bus full-time might be a bit of a stretch for you, but maybe a road trip isn’t out of the question. Cheap, sturdy, and powerful, these big rigs make for perfect camper homes, and Las Vegas Bus Sales invites you to explore some of their picks.

Five Accounts Bus Geeks Should Follow on Instagram

Five Accounts Bus Geeks Should Follow on Instagram

Buses are cool, just ask any social media influencer on Instagram; they have both nostalgic and new wave appeal, lending the savvy users of Instagram some creative inspiration. Check out our list of five must-follow Instagram accounts for the autobus-loving geeks of the world.

 

LA Metro (@metrolosangeles):

LA Metro links everything from trolley rides through Venice to bus routes toward Dodger Stadium. Each backdrop is beautifully tinged with the colors of a Californian sunset.

SEPTA (@septaphilly):

This is the official Instagram account of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, and they pride themselves on providing a glimpse into the shared travels of others. You’ll also get a glimpse of some stunning architecture, too.

Hauntrod (@hauntrod):

Brian Morris takes bus conversion to an entirely new (and ghostly) level. From 1938 dated Ford jail buses to dilapidated campers, the mechanic digs up the hauntingly beautiful from an ugly and forgotten world.

Chanchita Bus (@chanchitabus):

Known as “The Faction Collective,” this group of three friends chronicles their ultimate skiing excursion to Argentina. Jumping on the “skoolie” trend, they live inside their 1966 remodeled Mercedes Benz school bus as they make their way south.

Felicien Michaut Photography (@frenchcartoys): 

From his IPhone4S, this artistic French photographer aims to teach as he takes his collection of foreign-brand miniature models and places them in natural scenes, exemplifying the historical French heritage behind each vehicle. His collection includes vintage Parisian buses from 1934 on a 1/43 scale.

Get creative with your own vision: build your dream bus today with Las Vegas Bus Sales!

King County Metro Is Boosting Bus Service Dramatically

King County Metro Is Boosting Bus Service Dramatically

Recently, King County Metro officials announced that they would implement a single system-wide bus fare to make the bus routes in and around Seattle easier to navigate. Beginning in July 2018, all of the bus routes maintained by King County Metro will switch to a standard fare of $2.75. Then, just a few weeks after this announcement, metro officials unveiled plans for a significant expansion of King County’s bus service as well.

As of Saturday, September 23, King County Metro has added “hundreds of daily bus trips on dozens of routes across Seattle and the region,” according to The Seattle Times. This expansion includes improved late-night service from midnight to 5 a.m. on 13 routes throughout the county. Altogether, King County Metro has added more than 200 new bus trips during weekdays, and more than 100 on Saturdays and Sundays.

The bus service expansion was funded in large part thanks to the passage of Proposition 1, a tax increase which voters approved in 2014. King County Metro also chipped in an additional $30 million in funding from its two-year budget. Two more bus-service expansion are slated to occur between now and the end of 2018.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) estimates that 85 percent of the bus routes in Seattle with see improvements as a result of Metro’s expanded service. The service expansion should also result in decreased wait times at bus stops throughout the county. On some routes, wait times will be effectively cut in half. For commuters who rely on Metro’s buses to get to and from work, the expanded service is sure to be a welcome improvement.

Zonar App Helps School Buses Track Student Passengers

Zonar App Helps School Buses Track Student Passengers

The school year is starting up in districts all across the country, and many bus companies are implementing new measures to keep students safe as they travel to and from school. In densely-populated urban areas, it’s particularly important for school bus drivers to be able to accurately track students and make sure they reach their destinations safely.

That’s why Zonar, a Seattle-based fleet management company, is offering a new app that automatically counts students as they board and exit their school bus. In addition to helping bus drivers make sure all students are accounted for, the app also eliminates the need for paperwork to track students with special needs.

The app can also be integrated with Zonar’s Z Pass system. Z Pass uses RFID cards to track students and notify parents if their child fails to board their bus, or departs at the wrong stop. Parents and school administrators can also log into a secure online portal that allows them to monitor travel activity in real time. According to Zonar’s own estimates, roughly one third of the nation’s school buses are using its RFID technology to track students.

By offering both parents and administrators an extra measure of peace of mind, Zonar’s ridership tracking system is being embraced by school districts throughout the nation. Ultimately, this type of tracking system could become a standard feature on school buses in the future.

Looking for a great school bus to round out your fleet? You can find a variety of competitively-priced used options right here at Northwest bus sales. Browse our inventory online, or give us a call today to speak with a representative.

King County Bus Routes Will Soon Have One Standardized Fare

King County Bus Routes Will Soon Have One Standardized Fare

Are you a regular bus rider in King County? If so, you’ve probably have noticed that calculating your fare can be a little confusing sometimes. Currently, bus fares in and around Seattle vary depending on when you catch a bus and where you’re it, which can make it difficult to calculate your fare on the fly.

But according to The Seattle Times, King County Metro Transit is preparing to make things a whole lot easier in July 2018 by switching to a single all-day, all-zone fare of $2.75. It will be a welcomed change for many riders—four out of five people told the King County Metro Transit that they would prefer a single basic fare in a recent poll—and it will also benefit the agency. King County estimates the change will bring in an additional $2 million in extra revenue every year.

About 65 percent of people who currently ride the bus in King County will either see no change to their total fare, or a 50-cent savings when the change takes effect next summer. People who ride the bus during midday and late-night hours will see a 25-cent increase. That might leave some riders unhappy, but in the long run it should make it much easier to navigate King County by bus.

In addition to reducing confusion, the flat bus fare should improve bus service and help it to run more smoothly. It’s also expected to improve relations between customers and bus drivers. In the end, this change could prove to be a simple solution to a complex issue with a variety of benefits for both riders and bus drivers.

Proterra CEO Makes Bold Prediction About Electric Buses

Proterra CEO Makes Bold Prediction About Electric Buses

Since the company was founded 13 years ago in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, Proterra has become the most well-known electric bus manufacturer in North America—and possibly the world. Proterra’s fast-charging technology, which allows its buses to be recharged in as little as 10 minutes, has prompted many former skeptics to rethink the potential of electric bus transit.

Now, Proterra CEO Ryan Popple has made a remarkable prediction that highlights his optimism about the future of electric bus development: By 2020, one-third of all new transit buses will be electric. Furthermore, Popple expects electric buses to account for half of all fleet purchase by 2025, and that by 2030 every new transit bus will be electric.

Coming from anyone else, this prediction might seem a little suspect. But Popple, who has also served as the CEO of Tesla Motors, knows more about the electric vehicle market than just about anyone else in the world. Plus, he’s got the statistics to back up his claim.

Proterra’s electric buses have a low price point that’s already made them fierce contenders against diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) options. Lithium-ion battery prices are also expected to decline dramatically in the next five years, which could make electric buses even more affordable and appealing to transit companies. In this industry, a low price point can have a huge influence on the purchasing decisions of fleet operators.

If Popple’s predictions are correct, electric buses could soon become the new norm in major cities across the US. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Now Might Be a Great Time to Become a School Bus Driver

School bus companies all over the country are currently scrambling to make up for a driver shortage

Looking for a new driving gig? School bus companies all over the country are currently scrambling to make up for a driver shortage that has forced schools in some areas to delay class schedules and suspend bus routes. These bus companies are in immediate need of new drivers, and many of them are offering special incentives and referral bonuses in an attempt to attract qualified hires.

According to a recent survey in School Bus Fleet Magazine, twenty-two percent of the nation’s 50 largest school bus operators called the shortage “severe,” while 5 percent said they were “desperate” for new drivers. All of the companies surveyed said they were facing a shortage to some degree. With the new school year starting up, the shortage is already causing some serious headaches for parents, teachers and administrators.

In Muncie, Indiana, for example, schools closed for two consecutive days while the district worked to overcome transportation issues caused by the driver shortage. Meanwhile in Hawaii, the state has been consolidating and even suspending some bus routes in Maui until the driver shortage is resolved.

Now, bus companies are working overtime to recruit new talent and fill vacant driver positions. In places where the driver shortage has been particularly disruptive, these companies are also offering increased pay and benefits to new drivers. For drivers that already have their CDL, this is a great opportunity to make some extra money during the school year.

Stay tuned for more updates from your source for great new and used buses at competitive prices – Northwest Bus Sales.

Amazon Launches Dedicated Bus Service in Seattle

Amazon Launches Dedicated Bus Service in Seattle

The news that Amazon has launched a dedicated bus service may not be as exciting as rumors that they are testing drones for same-day delivery, but it’s certainly big news for commuters who work for the enormous company in Seattle.

 

Recently, Amazon began offering private shuttles to its employees that are scheduled to run six times in the morning and six times in the evening, with a bus arriving to pick up employees about every twenty minutes. The program is called “Amazon Ride,” and it will shuttle up to 26,000 passengers from Redmond, Issaquah and Bellevue to Amazon’s two Seattle locations – the offices at South Lake Union Campus as well as the company headquarters, located in downtown Seattle.

The creation of this shuttle service is perhaps a reaction to the fact that Seattle was named the fourth most congested city in the United States by TomTom Traffic Index. Amazon could also be signaling an attempt to keep up with similar perks offered by major tech companies like Microsoft, which also offers an employee shuttle service.

Amazon released a statement, saying, “Our employees tell us that they love being in the heart of the city. In fact, more than 50% of our employees get to work without a car. We are continually looking for ways to build a more sustainable urban campus and this pilot is another opportunity to do so.”

Riders will have to reserve their spot on the bus ahead of time, though there’s a program for guaranteeing a ride home in the event that you have an emergency or need to work late. Good news for traffic in Seattle, and great news if you’re an Amazon employee—we’re curious to see how this endeavor will factor into the city’s public transportation sector as well.

For more information, or to check out any of the buses on our lot, contact us today at 1-800-231-7099.

Subway Shutdown in NYC Could Make Way for Bus Rapid Transit

Subway Shutdown in NYC Could Make Way for Bus Rapid Transit

It’s still a few years off, but many people in New York City are already preparing for the impending shut down of the L train. The L is one of many lines of the subway that carries people from Brooklyn to Manhattan, and vice versa, often during the peak of rush hour. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) plans to shut down the only tunnel that carries the L train underneath the East River in January of 2019 for a year or more to repair serious damage that was caused by Hurricane Sandy back in 2012.

During the hurricane, more than 7 million gallons of floodwater rushed into the L train’s tunnel, and according to the city’s officials, repairs are not optional. The city determined that a full shutdown for a short period of time was preferable to a partial shutdown for a longer period of time. Commuters and residents, however, may or may not agree.

While the repairs do indeed need to be made to the tunnel, the L train closure raises some serious public transportation issues for the 300,000 people in Brooklyn and the surrounding areas that use it daily. If they relied on the subway to get them where they needed to go before, what are they supposed to do when it shuts down?

The plan is to implement new bus rapid transit routes.

According to Wired, the city plans to increase bus availability to the residents of Brooklyn by adding new devoted bus lanes, putting more buses on the road, and figuring out a way to clear the cars and business delivery traffic out of the way to make room for the new bus traffic. If the city, residents, MTA, and bus drivers can all cooperate, this closure can be a success story, but for a city that relies heavily on underground transportation, the transition to buses may need a little bit of encouragement, perhaps from a city like Grand Rapids, MI.