For Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT), which operates in the mountainous territory of Charleston, WV, two factors are imperative for vehicle procurements – safety and maneuverability.
These factors became very important in 2016 when KRT’s monthly fleet evaluation showed that 12 vehicles were nearing the end of their useful lives. KRT operates 49 vehicles for its fixed-route service, and these vehicles were incurring higher maintenance costs because of their age. Thanks to good timing with KRT’s fiscal year, the agency was able to open bids quickly in June 2017.
Doug Hartley, KRT assistant general manager, says the agency needed an especially maneuverable vehicle for the narrow and mountainous streets of its service area.
“In the Kanawha Valley, our customers reside in the mountains and come to work on the valley floor,” he says. “Because of this, we’re restricted in the length and size of vehicle that we can put on those ‘feeder’ routes. Still, we need to maximize the number of passengers on each vehicle. It’s always a balance.”
Established in 1971 as KVRTA by Kanawha County and the City of Charleston, KRT services Kanawha
County and portions of Fayette and Putnam Counties in West Virginia. The agency’s service area is around 912 square miles and encompasses a population of about 193,063. Hartley says the agency estimates that 88 percent of the county’s residents live within a mile of a KRT route.
KRT’s bid was met with a lot of manufacturer offerings, but it was the World Trans commercial bus by REV Group which fulfilled the agency’s cost, safety and efficiency requirements.
KRT’s World Trans buses are built on a Ford E450 chassis with a modular body design, allowing for up to 18 passengers. Despite its lightweight design, the World Trans vehicle undergoes an extreme amount of safety testing – more than satisfying the stringent requirements set forth by KRT. The bus features a floor and sidewall seat track for passenger seating securement; and an impact-resistant, one-piece roof made of composite material. The bus meets or exceeds all FMVSS crash testing requirements and is Altoona tested for seven years, 200,000 miles.
REV Group will build close to 100 World Trans buses for KRT and West Virginia’s Division of Public Transit and other transit systems throughout the state. REV will deliver the buses through its dealer partner Rohrer Bus, which serves the Mid-Atlantic region.
“We get a lot of positive feedback on the spacious interior,” says David Clawson, executive vice president at Rohrer Bus. “The World Trans vehicle’s oversized windows breathe a sense of openness in the bus and people really like that. When the steel cage structure is minimized and the window size is maximized, it gives a real comfort to passengers as they’re transitioning off the mountains and down into the valley floor.”
“Also, the increased visibility helps our drivers,” Hartley says. “That’s a very important safety factor.”
Deliveries are expected to complete in January 2018.
The bidding, procurement and delivery process has been made easier thanks to the close cooperation of REV Group and Rohrer Bus, in conjunction with KRT.
“We’ve never had any problems during the process,” Hartley says. “Anytime we had questions, Rohrer got us the information. David’s been selling vehicles in West Virginia for over 20 years, so we have a trust where I know he won’t lead me astray. That’s the kind of relationship that you build in the industry with people over the years. It’s invaluable”
“Rohrer is a perfect example of one of our platinum partners, and the working relationship that we have together goes hand in hand with being able to deliver such a high-quality product,” says Brent Phillips, vice president of sales, Commercial Bus Group, at REV. “Through the bidding and specification process, our team worked with Rohrer’s team to really understand what KRT’s needs were at the local level, and then interpret those into the best possible specifications and proposals.”
Clawson says that Rohrer, as a dealer who represents REV and services KRT, considers itself a bridge between agencies seeking solutions.
“Because of our long-standing relationship with all parties, we are in a unique position to give advice,” he says. “I can put myself in the shoes of my customer or the manufacturer, and make recommendations from that perspective.”
Phillips says that the close relationship, the pipeline of REV to Rohrer to KRT, is indicative of the modern transit vehicle business model.
“As a market leader, REV is aligning itself with the best dealers in the industry and really forming tight partnerships,” he says. “This ensures that not only product delivery, but total operational experience for customers is world-class.”
Moving forward, the team at KRT is confident the new World Trans buses will make an impact on its entire transit community. Hartley says he predicts a reduction in operating costs in the first few years of the vehicles’ operations, and that it will ultimately translate to better service.
“Riders love when new equipment comes in – it always generates a buzz,” Hartley says. “The drivers have already ‘bought in.’”
“It’s a win-win for the passengers,” he continues, “and ultimately that’s what matters. We’re excited and confident that Rohrer, REV and World Trans will meet our future needs.”