Omnibus appoints new Business Development Manager

first_imgAdam Stephenson joins Omnibus as Business Development Manager, from The TAS Partnership, where he was a Senior Consultant and Quality Manager.Adam is bringing his expertise to a number of areas for Omnibus, combining his data analysis skills with his flair for marketing and design.Omnibus appoints Adam Stephenson as Business Development ManagerWhile at TAS, Adam led the TAS benchmarking and performance research, with particular responsibility for the analysis and interpretation of data from bus operators’ electronic ticket machine (ETM) systems.Adam has also worked for Greater Manchester PTE, analysing passenger data.He is very familiar with Omnibus software, particularly OmniTIMES which he used for operators within a variety of projects as part of network reviews and service development.Michael Meilton, Business Development Manager for Omnibus, says:  “Adam brings a valuable skill set to Omnibus.  Not only his expertise gained from his time at TAS, but also his marketing and design skills which we will be utilising for our printed material, graphic design projects and the development of our new website.”last_img read more

Van Hool Astromega TD824: A beast unleashed

first_imgOne of the coaching world’s undoubted classics is the Van Hool Astromega. It was introduced to the UK in the form of the TD824, one of which still earns its keep with Purfleet-based operator EnsignbusRestoration was cosmetic; superb build quality mandated nothing moreSome coaches have always been ahead of the pack, with comfort and performance that the rest struggle to match.One such example – which celebrates its 35th birthday next month – is a Van Hool TD824 Astromega integral in the care of Ensignbus.While the Astromega is a ‘pet’ of the Purfleet-based dealer and operator, and particularly of Operations Director Ross Newman, it still earns its keep when necessary.It’s been an Essex resident all of its life, which began with Southend Borough Transport before a move to Fords of Althorne and thence to Ensignbus.The Astromega was one of three delivered to Southend in April 1983, less than a year after the model made its debut in the UK. Two more almost identical coaches followed in 1985, placing the municipal operator as the second biggest UK buyer of the TD824.Such purchases by a council-owned company will have been considered radical at the time, but the Astromega was Southend’s coaching weapon of choice for a reason.“At that time, it operated an express London service,” says Ensignbus Chairman Peter Newman. “It was an enterprising operator principally because of one man: Derek Giles, who is no longer with us. Derek’s title was Traffic Superintendent, but in practice he was in overall charge. He was the architect of the Southend Astromegas.”The X1 has long since fallen by the wayside – a victim of improved rail links and congestion – but it was once the jewel in Southend’s crown. Were the X1 still to exist, the Astromega would remain eligible to work it, because Ensignbus has retrofitted it to comply with London’s Low Emission Zone. Perhaps Southend Borough Transport was just the first of Essex’s enterprising operators.A classic in the makingSouthend’s Astromegas were specified with 57 seats on the upper deck and 27 downstairs. To suit their express role they lacked toilets and had front-mounted staircases, but other luxuries of the time – such as tables on the lower deck and air-conditioning – were included.Nothing spared under the bonnet. Power is from a 330bhp, 14.6-litre Mercedes-Benz V8 coupled to an Allison automatic gearbox.Cab is of the period, but power and performance ahead of their timeThe example with Ensignbus, and returned to its first owner’s livery, now has a speed limiter fitted, but it is interesting to consider what it and its sisters may have been capable of when new and unrestricted.While many PCVs in the Ensignbus historic fleet have been entirely rebuilt, the Astromega has not. Livery excepted, it is largely in the same condition as when purchased from Fords, and the only non-original element is its seat moquette.“The coach was looked after superbly by Fords but it is also built very well, which has helped longevity,” says Peter.“When you take a close look, it’s a fantastic advert for Van Hool. During the busy months we still use it when needed; the big attraction is 84 belted seats, and it has been as far as Norwich on emergency rail replacement.”One nod to the past was restoration of the original destination indicator. Its mechanism remained in place, and an authentic blind was provided by former Southend Borough Transport and current Arriva Southend employee Matthew Evans.Enter the beastPeter and Ross kindly made the Astromega available for routeone to drive earlier this year. As demonstrated by its TD824 model description, it is part of Van Hool’s long-lived T8 family of coaches that was a forerunner of today’s TX range, and it is no less pleasing to drive that any member of the current line-up.The cab is original, complete with various Dymo-labelled switches. Dials and gauges are of the period and the original reversing camera monitor – a scaled-down 1980s-style TV – sits proudly on the dashboard.Externally, the coach retains all of its original badges, and within the walk-in luggage bay is still posted a notice from Southend Borough Transport detailing wheel change procedure.Gears are selected via a typical Allison T-bar, although in contrast to the usual layout, the handle is pushed for drive and pulled for reverse. That may have caught out some drivers, not to mention those in vehicles behind.Astromega has a Class VI MoT and its 84 belted seats come in usefulA rudimentary interlock is fitted. When the two-piece door is open, the accelerator becomes almost impossible to depress; that is the case for a reason, as the big V8 will certainly overcome the handbrake under full throttle.The saloons have a clear lineage with today’s Astromega range. While the TD824 is not as luxurious as current TX coaches, in its day it will have presented a class-leading traveling environment.Two free-standing tables are downstairs, and an offside emergency door is amidships.Small luggage racks are on both decks, and while the seats are not on a par with some of the latest offerings, they are smart, clean and tidy and have good legroom.Behind the wheelWhere the 35-year old Astromega excels is from the driver’s perspective.It is around 150bhp down on a modern double-decker coach, but the V8 is encumbered by neither computer control nor considerations for fuel efficiency and the TD824 is also lighter, at 15,180kg unladen.When coupled to a torque converter gearbox, that gives spectacular performance combined with an engine note that is as distinctive as it is aurally pleasing. The Allison is relatively rev-hungry, and with the engine’s economy band higher up the speed range than is customary nowadays, momentum piles on remarkably quickly when the accelerator is flattened.The Astromega requires a degree of input that exceeds that needed by modern coaches. It gives the impression of being driven, rather than pointed, and such is the power available that it can easily get out of hand on smaller roundabouts if care is not taken.When joining the A13 near Purfleet the Astromega was almost at the limited speed before the end of the slip road, and it made easy work of blitzing a line of HGVs on the London-bound carriageway.At 62mph the tachometer shows 1,900rpm. That may suggest that the throaty V8 intrudes into the saloons’ ambience, but while it is audible, it is not overly so. Even more amazingly, the bodywork generated just one squeak and not a single rattle; testament indeed to the legendary Van Hool build quality of the period.TD824 is 35 years old in April but its lineage to current Van Hools is clearThat structural and finish quality has no doubt been a significant contributor to the fact that at least two of the other four Astromegas purchased by Southend are known to survive, despite the newest being over 32 years old.Tough act to followEnthusiastic drivers’ verdicts on classic vehicles often suggest that while they are an interesting distraction from the day job, the occasional shift behind the wheel of one is enough.That’s not the case with the TD824. The cab may not have the luxuries of the latest coaches, but it is still comfortable and not a tiring place to be.The quality impression is furthered by the surfeit of available power, and a deep windscreen and extensive side glazing that give excellent visibility. Additionally, the ride quality is almost perfect.Van Hool’s T8 range that debuted in the early 1980s was part of the foreign invasion that eventually left the UK’s domestic coach industry with only one bodybuilder and no chassis manufacturers.It spawned products that are still considered by some to be among the finest available, and the link between 1983’s TD824 Astromega and today’s TDX25 and TDX27 models is clear. And thanks to the efforts of Ensignbus, coach aficionados will be able to make that comparison for many years yet.last_img read more

Express Motors denies ticket machine was used to carry out fare fraud

first_imgThough admitting that a ticket machine was kept in the office of Penygroes-based Express Motors, Eric Wyn Jones, who is one of four family members standing trial for concessionary fare fraud at Caernarfon Crown Court, denied that it was used to illegally swipe concessionary fare cards.He claimed that the machine was kept for training purposes.The ticket machines issued to his firm were second hand and were unreliable, requiring frequent repairs. When one machine arrived back at the Penygroes depot, a piece of paper “a yard long” revealed the machine had issued 5m tickets, he said.Eric Wyn Jones and his three sons – Ian, Keith and Kevin – pleaded not guilty to conspiring together and with others unknown to commit fraud by false representation. They also pleaded not guilty to conspiring to hide, conceal, convert and disguise criminal property [routeone/Court Report/12, 19 and 26 September].Ian Wyn Jones, who was responsible for banking the company’s cash, admitted stealing money from the business. He told the jury that he had been taking money for more than 20 years and none of his family knew.Denying that he knew about the concessionary fare fraud, he said that that he was unaware of excessive swiping of bus passes. He was shocked to hear of the practice and claimed drivers were responsible.Kevin Wyn Jones said that cash payments made into his bank account came from driving football supporters to matches. Fans would pay £15 a head and Express Motors would get paid for the coach and he would keep the rest, plus the £20-25 tips he received.He would organise “booze bus” trips. Charging £15 a head, he would pay for the diesel and keep the rest for himself. None of that was declared to the tax authorities because he did not know how.The jury was considering its verdicts at the time routeone went to press.last_img read more

New customer information solution premieres at CBUK

first_imgIcomera has partnered with GoMedia to launch a new real-time customer information solution which uses live data to update passengers on the status of their journeys, allowing them to plan their onward route.Speaking at the show, Roger Matthews, MD of GoMedia, says: “Passengers rightly expect seamless access to real-time travel data regardless of transport type. It is very exciting to be working with Icomera to make this a reality and to empower passengers to take control of their bus or coach journey.“In addition to being able to use reliable, high-performance onboard Wi-Fi, passengers will now have instant access to accurate arrival times, assistance and onward travel options. This information will be available via passengers’ smart devices.The online portal will be hosted on Icomera’s ICR-2 router. The ICR-2 is part of Icomera’s X-Series platform for mobile internet connectivity and public transport applications.Dave Palmer, Managing Director of Icomera UK, says: “Icomera is pleased to be working with GoMedia to deliver this innovative joint offering for operators.”last_img read more

Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme launched with £9m funding

first_imgA Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS) has been opened by the Scottish Government. It will provide £9m of funding towards vehicles and infrastructure and is a development of the well-established Scottish Green Bus Fund.The money will cover up to 50% of the cost differential between a ULEB and a conventional diesel equivalent. That figure rises to up to 75% where the bus is zero-emission capable. For infrastructure, SULEBS will contribute up to 75% of the capital expenditure incurred via purchase and installation.Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme uses LowCVP definitionSULEBS uses the already established LowCVP definition of a ULEB as part of its qualification criteria. That is to say, eligible models must reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions over the UK Bus Test Cycle by 30% when compared to a Euro VI diesel bus of an equivalent passenger capacity.Maximum bid value through SULEBS is capped at £4m. Winners will be awarded £150 per gram of CO2 equivalent saved against the baseline. A ‘top-up’ will be available to bidders that wish to purchase buses that are capable of zero-emission operation. It equates to £500 per km, with a cap of 80km.The guidance document further states that SULEBS money is only available for “full-size” buses. It does not define what constitutes a “full-size” bus, but it says that minibuses are ineligible. Vehicles that benefit from the funding must enter service no later than September 2021.Guidance additionally notes that the strongest bids will be those that demonstrate how the buses involved will operate regularly on roads suffering from poor air quality. Bids that aim to remove the most polluting buses from a fleet will also be favoured.The closing date for bids is 6 September. Transport Scotland intends to announce the winners 15 days later, on 21 September.CPT Scotland welcomes additional money for busesThe Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland has welcomed SULEBS. Director Paul White says that while coronavirus COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for the industry, “we cannot lose sight of important elements of public transport policy such as air quality, decarbonisation and patronage growth.”SULEBS complements almost £9m that was made available earlier this year for Euro VI retrofit in Scotland. That was via the third phase of the Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit scheme. Transport Scotland estimated that money will pay for the upgrade of around 500 eligible coaches and buses.last_img read more

Navy Destroyer to be named for Senator Dick Lugar

first_imgIndianaLocalNationalNewsSouth Bend Market Facebook By Tommie Lee – November 14, 2019 0 241 Facebook Twitter Pinterest Pinterest Google+ Former GOP Senator Richard Lugar introduces Secretary of State John Kerry for a speech in support of the Iran nuclear deal at the National Constitution Center, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) A new Navy warship will be named in honor of Senator Richard Lugar on Monday.The USS Richard G. Lugar will be named in a ceremony with Senator Yodd Young and U.S. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, as well as members of the Lugar family, at the Indiana War Memorial.The ceremony is planned for 2:30 p.m.Lugar volunteered to serve in the Navy and was an officer from 1957 to 1960. The vessel will be the next Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer. Twitter WhatsApp WhatsApp Google+ Previous articleCass County man arrested for child pornNext articleEx-Massachusetts Gov. Patrick announces presidential bid Tommie Lee Navy Destroyer to be named for Senator Dick Lugarlast_img read more

South Bend Council, Schools plan first-ever joint meeting

first_img By Tommie Lee – February 18, 2020 0 242 Pinterest IndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market Facebook Twitter Twitter Google+ Google+ South Bend Council, Schools plan first-ever joint meeting WhatsApp Pinterest Facebook By Ian Havens – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link The South Bend Common Council and the South Bend Community School Board are planning their first-ever joint meeting.The meeting will be Tuesday, February 25 at 6 p.m. at the Nuner Fine Arts Academy on Pleasant Street.The presidents of both groups say the meeting will be open to the public.The agenda will focus on the roles both organizations play in shaping the South Bend Schools, their visions for school success, and how to make the most of the potential of both the students and their community.Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings will participate and says “an open conversation is long overdue between these two elected bodies.” WhatsApp Previous articleDNR: NW Indiana fish kill likely caused by `a natural event’Next articleBenton Harbor holds public meeting in wake of unnecessary force outcry Tommie Leelast_img

Push to clinch farm deal with EU applicants

first_imgDisputes over farm issues have caused serious friction between the Union and Poland, which has two million farmers compared to the seven million in the entire EU.Warsaw has attacked the Union’s system of subsidising farm exports, arguing that it depresses prices for their farmers, and the Commission has criticised Warsaw for increasing import duties on agricultural products last year, accusing it of “inappropriate behaviour for an applicant country”.Although the free-trade agreement will apply to all six leading candidate countries, the Commission needs to strike a specific deal with Poland because of the size of its farm sector and the political sensitivity of its trade with the EU.Hopes of a deal were raised this week after Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said farmers in the applicant countries should receive support payments as compensation for limiting production, as the candidates have insisted. Commission officials say they are optimistic about the chances of agreeing a deal under which all import duties and export subsidies on farm products would be phased out over the next few years, starting from 1 July this year. “The mood has definitely got better,” said one.But diplomats from the candidate countries warned that hard bargaining would be needed over a range of sensitive goods including cereals, dairy products and beef before an agreement could be reached.Striking a deal to liberalise farm trade between the EU and the six front-runner candidate countries would remove a major source of tension ahead of difficult enlargement negotiations on agriculture due to start in June.last_img read more

Young people back ‘chamber of EU citizens’

first_imgDane Asbjorn Lyby, chairman of Youth 2002, said: “It was a great event and our hope is that more young people – and, indeed, other European citizens – will be given the same opportunity to take such an active role.” Meanwhile, a group of Eurosceptic MEPs, including Dane Jens-Peter Bonde, and UK Conservative David Heathcoat-Amory, this week unveiled an alternative to the skeleton constitution unveiled by Giscard last week. Branding Giscard’s treaty as the first step to an EU “superstate”, the so-called Democracy Forum called for simplified decision-making, more transparency and national parliamentary control.Bonde said: “The constitution presented by Giscard will create a United States of Europe. We need an alternative vision to stop parliaments from being stripped of their powers by a future superstate.”The Convention is due to finish its work in June 2003. This is one of the recommendations contained in a draft treaty drawn up by 1,000 young people from 33 European countries who took part in a ‘Youth 2002’ event in Denmark this summer.The draft supports the overall aim of the Convention on Europe’s future in attempting to “reconnect” the EU with its citizens. It also envisages the establishment of a ‘Chamber of Citizens’ which would represent the interests of ordinary people.The document calls for the Charter of Fundamental Rights to be incorporated into any future treaty. The draft has been sent to Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the chairman of the Convention, and will also be distributed to heads of state and government leaders at the Copenhagen summit next month.last_img read more

‘Don’t panic in wake of cuts’ says electric chief

first_imgSpeaking in Brussels yesterday (15 October), Hans Haider said Europe has a “more intelligent” and “more interconnected” grid than the US.“In Italy there was a blackout, but not in Switzerland, Slovenia or France,” he added, referring to the massive 28 September power failure triggered by a tree falling on a power line in the Alps. Other countries were not affected because the grid’s “remote control system” worked, he claimed. EU electricity consumption has been increasing at a steady 1% to 2% annually in recent years, but an extremely cold winter followed by an early, hot summer saw demand jump across Europe.“Governments are not reacting fast,” he said. “Maybe the blackouts will push things along a little bit.”last_img read more