Register now to remove this ad.
  • entries
  • comments
  • views

About this blog

Ramblings about nothing important

Entries in this blog


Often referred to as "Dragon Buses" or simply "Chinatown Buses are services offered by companies founded by Chinese American or Chinese Canadians which offer low cost no frills transportation from a Chinatown District in one city to another. (Boston Chinatown <---> NYC Chinatown <----> Washington DC Gallery Place Chinatown)


Despite the efforts of larger companies like Greyhound (Bolt Bus) and Coach USA-Stagecoach Group (Megabus) to capture some of this market Chinatown buses remain a fixture of any major city on the East Coast. Here are the major players:



Vacances Sinorama/Autocars Gaudreault MCI J4500


Vacances Sinorama: Perhaps the most organized and professional of all the Chinatown bus services Sinorama Bus operates out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Operating both charter service and 3 day guided tours Sinorama Bus caters largely to Canadians and Americans of Chinese descent by offering Tours of major East Coast Cities in Mandarin, French and English. Unique among this type of service, Sinorama Bus does not own its fleet but partners with established Coach and Charter Companies to provide the vehicles. A unique partnership that gives both companies steady business.





Lucky Star Setra S13


Lucky Star Bus: Focusing on the Boston <-----> NYC Hub Lucky Star was a major player in the Chinatown bus scene until being ordered to halt operations after major safety defects were discovered among its fleet. In one instance a manhole cover was found to be wedged between the Chassis and body frame, that could only be missed due to a lack of a maintenance schedule. Its fleet was taken out of service by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration until it was brought up to standards. Lucky Star was recently given the All Clear by the FMCSA to begin operating again after passing inspection.






Safeway Tours Prevost H3-45


Safeway Tours:  Operating out of Canada, Another service on the more Professional side, Safeway Tours offers charter service in areas with high populations of Chinese descent. Its focus is primarily on the Casino Market. As Gambling laws in major Eastern Cities in both Canada and the United States become more relaxed buses are needed to take passengers back and forth to the new Casinos and Hotels that have been established following the trend. Safeway Tours operates a fleet with newer safer buses and caters to a higher clientele.



Fung Wah Bus Van Hool C2045


Fung Wah Bus Transportation: Nearly everyone who has ever used a Chinatown Bus out of NYC has heard of Fung Wah (Chinese for Magnificent Wind).  Fung Wah Bus was one of the first Chinatown bus companies to take off capturing a market which was largely ignored by Greyhound. The Boston Chinatown to NYC Chinatown business started with Fung Wah Bus and after its success prompted others to follow suit and imitate its clever business model. Fung Wah Bus sold tickets in Kiosks on the side walk in both Chinatown districts lowering overhead costs by not having much real estate. Buses did not use terminals which cost money but picked passengers up on the side walk. The business was very profitable however Fung Wah ignored all Federal and State (Massachusetts and New York) regulations with regard to bus travel and maintenance. It's fleet consisted of older model Van Hool coaches which if maintained properly would not have been an issue. Fung Wah Buses routinely broke down while on their route and there were several instances of the buses catching fire due to a lack of maintenance. Fung Wah Bus also had notoriously terrible safety record with accidents including serious roll overs on the highway and buses crashing into buildings and store fronts. Drivers at Fung Wah rarely spoke English and according to passengers would run red lights and drive very fast to get passengers to the destination early, disregarding traffic laws. Fung Wah was ordered to shut down by the FMCSA pending a review of its fleet. Fung Wah was given a deadline to get all of its buses up to proper inspection before being allowed to operate. Fung Wah Bus has since been permanently shut down by the FMCSA. It is rumored its buses have returned to service under a different Alias. 




YO! Bus MCI J4500


YO! Bus: Yo! Bus was an attempt by Greyhound to capture some of the Chinatown bus business after the smaller private companies had become successful. Greyhound took its oldest buses operating in the east coast and rebranded them with YO! Bus livery and began to offer a service similar to the other Chinatown bus companies. The company was projected to be successful as Greyhound's fleet of buses were well maintained and safety is a big concern to riders of Chinatown buses. YO! Bus offered trips to Philadelphia as well. However Greyhound was not able to lower prices enough to be competitive with the smaller companies. YO! Bus was replaced with Greyhound's BoltBus service and competes with both the Chinatown Buses and with Megabus for the NYC market. 




Apex Bus Van Hool C2045


Apex Bus: Starting a bit further south, Apex Bus Links Norfolk, Virginia with Washington DC and then from DC to either Philadelphia or NYC. Apex Bus much like Lucky Star was shut down due to maintenance concerns. The company temporarily rebranded itself while shut down by the FMCSA to stay in business. Its fleet was brought up to inspection but the company was fined for skirting regulations.



Eastern Shuttle Van Hool C2045


Eastern Shuttle: Just before the Feds started their east coast bus inspection purge, Greyhound had been attempting to buy into one of the Chinatown operators to avoid spending money using its own fleet. This perked the interest of Coach USA as well and Coach USA invested in Eastern Shuttle taking the smaller company to a higher level with increasing business. Coach USA has since withdrawn from Eastern Shuttle and retained control over one of its two routes while retaining similar branding. Coach USA buses operating under the Eastern branding have pictures of Pandas painted on them and are much newer.  


Would you use a Chinatown Bus?



Lucky Star and Eastern 









Nearly 400,000 people rely on Metro Transit in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area as its the largest transit network in the State of Minnesota.





Metro Transit Gillig Advantage 


Type: Public


Union Representation: Metro Transit employees are represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005


Fleet Size: 679 Low Floor Transit Buses, 169 Articulated Buses, 60 Highway Coaches, 86 Light Rail Vehicles, 6 Heavy Locomotives paired with 18 Rail Coaches


Routes: 132 Bus Routes, 2 Light Rail Lines, 1 BRT Express Route, 1 Commuter Rail Line


Manufacturer and Powerplant: The bulk of Metro Transit's fleet consists of the Gillig Advantage and older Gillig Phantom models. Metro Transit awarded a new contract to Gillig for its newer Gillig BRT units which will be used for Express bus service. High Volume routes demand use of articulated buses and Metro Transit makes use of the New Flyer D60LFR and New Flyer XD60 in those situations. The Fleet is mixed with older units being diesel powered and all new vehicles being ordered with Hybrid technologies. Metro Transit also placed an order with New Flyer for several New Flyer Xcelsior XDE units to replace the oldest buses in the fleet. Metro Transit purchased the Siemens S70 and Bombardier Flexity Swift Light Rail Vehicles to service its two lines.





Metro Transit Bombardier Flexity Swift Light Rail Vehicle




Metro Transit Go-To Card and Reader


Fare Collection: The Contactless Card Payment System in the Twin Cities is known as Go-To Card. Metro Transit initially wanted the card payment system to be ready in 2003 after hiring Cubic Transportation Systems to install the network. Metro Transit suspended its contract with Cubic after delays forced the project to be put behind schedule. The Cards and readers were not made available until 2007 after many software issues. The System uses technology from Phillips and has variants for Students and Seniors.





Metro Transit Gillig BRT

Livery and Registration: In The 2000s the previous livery was the tradtional white backdrop and line pattern. The Bus and Light Rail Fleet have received an updated look with colorful patterns of Yellow, Red and White on a Blue backdrop. Light Rail Vehicles use Gray instead of White. Metro Transit Buses are issued license plates from the State of Minnesota however do not wear them for identification, a function served by the vehicle's fleet number. Metro Transit does sell the sides and front for advertising space.




Metro Transit Gillig BRT


Innovations: Despite harsh winter conditions faced yearly Metro Transit's safety record is nearly 5 times higher than the national average making it one of the safest systems in the Country. Metro Transit also uses the "T" symbol found on other Transportation systems in the Country and in Europe. The MBTA in Massachusetts and the Metro in Stockholm also use the "T" Symbol. The symbol was created to help people quickly identify public transit in dense urban downtown areas. During heavy traffic buses are allowed to use "Bus Only Shoulders" which allows them to bypass congestion however their speed is limited to 15 MPH in this situation. The system houses 28 major hubs to better distribute service across the area.


Metro Transit On The Move










Providing Transportation for the Mexican State of Baja California




Transportes de Baja California Flxible Metro B



Type: Public


Union Representation: Not Unionized


Fleet Size: Unknown, Approximately 250-300


Routes: Unknown, Service adapts as demand changes


Manufacturer and Powerplant: The State of Baja California acquires used American transit buses and school buses to be used in its bus fleet as purchasing used vehicles is more cost effective than buying new units and as such the organization does not have much say in the vehicles engine or fuel types. The entire fleet consists of Diesel powered units from manufacturers ranging from the now defunct Flxible to GM, New Flyer and Orion. Domestically procured units come from the Mexican truck and bus manufacturer DINA.





Transportes de Baja California Flxible Metro B


Fare Collection: Fares are paid in cash and fluctuate with the rush hour traffic often found in cities such as Tijuana. There is no contactless card payment system in place in Baja California. One is planned to be implemented with the construction of a new BRT system in Tijuana and the purchase of new buses for the first time.



Transportes de Baja California Flxible Metro B (35 Foot Variant)


Livery and Registration: Buses in Tijuana are often referred to as "Azul Y Blancos" meaning Blue and Whites after their distinctive paint scheme. After the system acquires a new vehicle and its mechanically sound the buses are given a fresh blue and white paint scheme along with a fleet number which festoons the front and sides. Interestingly the tires are also given a whitewall paint job as well. The destinations of each bus are written on the windows due to the destination sign's computer software being uncommon and unsupported in Mexico. The Buses carry license plates issued by the State of Baja California. Azul Y Blancos do sell the sides for advertising space.



Transportes de Baja California GM Fishbowl in service in the late 1990s


Innovations: Despite infrequent service and a notably older fleet Transportes de Baja Calfornia is one of the more organized transit systems in Mexico outside of Mexico City which has the greatest amount of funding. The system will be receiving a $70 Million update to purchase newer buses and create a BRT system in the city of Tijuana which will link the smaller routes to the U.S. Border Crossing. Tijuana is popular destination for American bus fans because of the older fleet. Buses that are nearly 30-40 years out of date can still be found roaring down the streets picking up people as transit buses.


Buses at work in Tijuana 







For over 20 Years rain or shine the LLV has kept the Mail moving and become a staple of American Suburbia




USPS Grumman LLV 






Manufacturer Quick Facts: 


Founded: 1929 (Merged with Northrup in 1994 to form Northrup Grumman Corporation)

Headquarters: Bethpage, New York

Industry: Aerospace, Airplane Manufacturing, Electrical Equipment, Delivery Vehicles

Notable Product: Apollo Lunar Module, Grumman F4F WIldcat, Grumman F6F Hellcat, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, LLV, Grumman Olsen UPS Package Car




USPS Grumman LLV beginning a shift


Model Quick Facts: 


Vehicle Length: 175.5 Inches

Vehicle Width: 75 Inches

Vehicle Height: 85 Inches 

Engine Options: General Motors Inline 4 Engine

Transmission Options: 3 Speed Turbo-Hydromatic 180 Automatic Transmission

Assembly: Montgomery, Pennsylvania, United States

Production: 140,000 Units Produced




Canada Post Grumman LLV


Overview: In the 1980s the United States Postal Service began to look for a replacement for its aging fleet of Jeep Dispatcher (AM General Jeep DJ) mail delivery vehicles. At the end of WWII the large inventory of unused Military Jeeps became useful as mail delivery vehicles and AM General developed an newer model designed to expand on this new role. The Jeeps were manufactured with Right Hand Drive so that the Mail Carrier could deliver mail to the mail boxes without having to exit the truck, making delivery faster. By the 1980s these Jeeps had finally reached the end of their usable service life and the USPS began a search for its replacement. The Jeep Dispatcher however set the benchmark that the Post Office required the next mail truck to meet or exceed. The Post Office created a list of required features and opened up a bidding competition to any companies that could build a truck that would meet or exceed those demands. 


Three vehicles made it to the final round and were taken to Laredo, Texas where they were put through difficult testing trials. These trials were meant to replicate the conditions most postal carrier vehicles drive every day. The Trials Were:

  • Drive 5,760 Miles on a Closed 5-Mile Loop paved road at 50-55 MPH
  • Drive 11,520 Miles on a Gravel Road at 30-45 MPH
  • Drive 2,880 Miles on a road with a shoulder, Stopping every 250 Feet and accelerating to 15 MPH in between each stop
  • Drive 960 Miles over Cobblestones 3-4 Inches high at 10-14 MPH
  • Drive 960 Miles over Potholes at 10-14 MPH
  • Haul a 1 Ton Load during half of the road test
  • Haul a man and a 400 pound load during half of the road test
  • Drive over potholes ensuring each wheel hits a pothole 35,000 times 
  • Make 100 Consecutive stops from 15 MPH

Other requirements for the vehicle were that it must be constructed from weather tight aluminum alloy. The Body of the vehicle had to be easy to enter and exit for letter carriers ranging from 4'11 to 6'2. The vehicles were also required to run at least 20 hours a day 7 days a week for an entire year as well as have a tight turning radius. At the end of the testing session the Grumman LLV (Long Life Vehicle) won the contract from USPS.




The First LLV on display at the Smithsonian Postal Museum


After over 20 years of service the "truck that lasts 20 years" is finally being replaced. The post office has since been replacing LLVs with standard cargo versions of minivans until a new replacement can be found. For its years of service and excellent design it seems fitting that the LLV makes it into the Hall of Transit Greats as well.



LLV Testing Trials










A traditional right of passage for nearly every bus driver who must enter New York City, The Lincoln Tunnel is the Gateway to the Big Apple





The Lincoln Tunnel


Type: Tunnel


Management: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey


Construction-Completion-Cost: 1934-1937, Project cost $85 Million ($1.52 Billion 2017 Inflation Adjustment)


Termini: Weehawken, New Jersey <-----> Manhattan, New York City


Traverse: Hudson River


Access: NJ Route 495 (Weehawken Helix), NY 495


Length: 8,000 ft


Toll: $15.00 Cash, $12.00 E-Z Pass


Driving Complexity: Medium






Artist's Depiction of the Lincoln Tunnel


Overview: Nearly every interstate bus driver in Northeast will eventually enter NYC and this usually means entering one of the most notorious landmarks on the east coast, the Lincoln Tunnel. The tunnel itself was completed in the Late 1930's with 2 additional tunnels completed in the 40's and 50's. The sheer age of the tunnel is what makes this landmark a point of great fear for new bus drivers and drivers who have never entered it. It was not constructed with 10 feet wide motorcoaches in mind. The first thing they usually notice is that the lanes are very narrow and the clearance is not very high. Most Motorcoaches stand at around 11 to 12 feet tall. The Clearance in the Lincoln Tunnel is 13 feet. For reference the tallest vehicles allowed to enter belong to Megabus, Its VanHool TD925 Double Deckers are exactly 13 feet tall, and feature air suspensions which can be lowered when nearing the tunnel. 




Lincoln Tunnel Toll Plaza


Toll Plaza: The Lincoln Tunnel houses one of the most complex Toll Plaza arrangements on the east coast and drivers must pay very close attention on approach. Missing a turn or being in the incorrect lane can lead the wrong way. Buses and Trucks are forced to use only one of the three tubes after the toll. One sigh of relief for Interstate bus drivers at the toll plaza is the Port Authority Police. Drivers of intercity motorcoaches must supervise in 55 to 70 people alone for hours on end, and attacks on drivers are common. If any passengers on the bus become disruptive the driver can alert the Port Authority Police who will remove disruptive passengers and deal with any security threats. Security at the toll plaza has been increased since 9/11 and most crime entering and leaving NYC is often intercepted at the tunnel.



Port Authority of NY and NJ Chevrolet Caprice PPV


Driving Dynamics: Driving in the Lincoln Tunnel for the first time is intimidating because the lanes are not very wide and the clearance is low, however this is made easier due to the Tunnel's low speed limit of 35MPH maximum. Lane Changing is also forbidden after entering the Tunnel. The tunnel is has a fair amount of distance at a mile and a half long. It is recommended to switch drivers if one of the co drivers has a phobia of driving in tunnels or claustrophobia in general. One of the tunnels more interesting aspects is the XBL or Express Bus Lane. Buses entering NYC from New Jersey use a dedicated lane which takes buses from the tunnel straight to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC. Drivers should be aware of other vehicles who do not obey the speed limit as high speed is the most common cause of accidents in the tunnel.


Lincoln Tunnel Trip with Megabus









One of the most successful privately owned bus enterprises, Peter Pan has been in the industry for 75 years 




Peter Pan Bus Lines MCI J4500


Type: Private


Union Representation: Peter Pan Bus Drivers are represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1512


Fleet Size: 132 Highway Motorcoaches in both Long and Medium Distance configurations


Routes: 10 routes linking major cities in the Northeastern Corridor such as Boston, NYC, Washington DC and Baltimore


Manufacturer and Powerplant: Peter Pan procures its fleet primarily from MCI and use traditional diesel power plants in both the MCI J4500 and D4500 models. Peter Pan has promised to replace its oldest vehicles with newer hybrid fuel efficient models as they become available for Motorcoaches. Peter Pan previously operated GMC RTS transit buses after acquiring a Coach USA affiliate in Massachusetts, those units have since been retired. 


Alliance: Formerly Trailways, ended affiliation in 2005. Currently in alliance with Greyhound for NYC bound routes


USDOT Number: 55327





Peter Pan Bus Lines MCI J4500



Fare Collection: Peter Pan Bus Lines like most other interstate bus carriers now allow passengers to purchase tickets online instead of waiting until they arrive at the bus stop. Peter Pan also has its own App where passengers can buy tickets and make charter reservations making the boarding process for getting on the bus much faster with out the need to validate each passengers ticket. After purchasing the ticket online or via the app the passenger receives a confirmation number which allows them to board.




Peter Pan Bus Lines App 



Livery and Registration: Peter Pan's Buses are known for their smart green and sliver paint schemes which are a likeness to the fairytale character Peter Pan. Older Liveries included themes of the fictional Neverland as well. As the company is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts, Peter Pan's fleet carry Massachusetts license plates.






Peter Pan Bus Lines MCI J4500

Innovations: Peter Pan Bus Lines was formed by the break up of 3 smaller independent New England based companies which combined assets to form Peter Pan Bus Lines. In the 1990's Peter Pan expanded its service area to include much of the Northeastern Corridor while in alliance with Trailways. At one point Peter Pan planned expansion as far south as Ocean City, Maryland but hasn't due to Greyhound's dominance of that market. After ending its alliance with Trailways, Peter Pan entered into an agreement with Greyhound to share the large In and Out of NYC bus travel market. Now some Greyhound bus terminals also sell Peter Pan tickets as well, sharing business with its biggest competitor. Peter Pan is also one of the few privately owned interstate bus companies which operate its own terminals.



Peter Pan on the Move








Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Bus Driver? Lets Find Out!




NYCT/MTA New Flyer D60


Overview: Many people in the job market will come across job postings for the position of bus driver and consider doing it for a career. However most people are very unaware of the challenges this career path brings. I am always asked by my friends, family and even my passengers what the best way to get started is. I will get into that as well as what this job is actually like in great detail. After 3 years experience as a Fixed Route Transit Bus Driver in Washington DC I feel I can share what this job is actually like.


Why You Should Consider It:  Transportation is one of the few industries that is never going away. In the shortest explanation possible, Job Security. Year after year reports have proven younger people are not buying cars anymore, on top of that they have no interest in owning one as the costs of car ownership continue to rise. Millions of people require public transportation to get places and despite the rise of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, that isn't going to change for the foreseeable future. Before I obtained my Commercial Drivers License I was working what I dub "High School" jobs. I worked in restaurants and retail for minimum wage. I had already bankrupted myself attempting to go to school once and had no interest in trying again. Getting a CDL is a way to a new wage bracket. When I was 19 I remember reading on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website that Bus Drivers make around $40,000 to $60,000 a year. In Washington DC for a very long time it was not uncommon for bus drivers with 5 years at WMATA to make upwards of $100,000. People always need to get places and if the demand is there (which it always is) the overtime will always be there. Driving is a skill, not many people are capable of doing it well, bus driving will make you a master at driving before you know it. It can be a very enjoyable job, interacting with the public is not always daunting, you get to be outside instead of stuck in an office. Many people in the transportation industry are hitting the retirement age and positions are opening up in all types of driving jobs.


Why It May Not Be For You: If you have a short fuse (and you know if you do) this is not the job for you. If I were to sum up what this job takes to do in one word, that word would be "patience". Patience to deal with the traffic, patience to deal with the public, patience to deal with Federal Regulations, Patience is something all bus drivers must have. At nearly every Transit Agency one of the first tests given is a behavioral assessment. This test is a very long series of questions which ask how you would react in any given situation, driving or otherwise. Road Rage kills people but road rage in a 40 foot 37,000 pound bus kills a lot of people. If you know you hate traffic, you hate when people cut you off this isn't for you. If you cant take random strangers calling you names this isn't for you. If you don't like sitting for long hours each and every day this isn't for you. You ever notice how when a bus driver does something unprofessional it makes front page news and becomes a viral internet sensation? (just google Bus Driver Uppercut) The reason why is because bus drivers are always assumed to have great vast amounts of patience. Those videos online of bus drivers losing their cool could be you if you cant check your anger.


I have always had a strong interest in driving and vehicles in general, I love driving. But the fact is, driving is a chore, its something a lot of people don't want to do and don't like to do. If you hate driving why would you become a bus driver? If you are not a people person, perhaps a job where you have to interact with strangers everyday isn't the job for you. The public can be your greatest source of stress with this job. Being asked the same questions 900 times a day can make you snap. Getting into arguments with passengers or denying them service is a big no no with this field. One of my coworkers was just fired because it was discovered she was not allowing passengers with service animals ride, an obvious violation of the ADA Federal Law. Now my company is facing a lawsuit.


Strongly consider how patient you are before taking the steps to be a bus driver, avoid wasting your time.


Consider the lifestyle changes the job requires you to make. If you like to drink be aware that you will have to cut back your alcohol consumption greatly. If you enjoy marijuana this is not the job for you. Even if you live somewhere where Marijuana is legal, you have to remember it is still illegal at the Federal level and the Federal government has supreme authority in the matter. People enter this career all the time unaware that their personal lives and work lives fuse with this job. You cannot be a bus driver and an alcoholic. Random drug tests are an industry standard and required by Federal Law.


This job will consume a great amount of your time. You will miss some holidays and birthdays. Every company is different but mine is perhaps the worst. The only calendar day of the year where we don't have to work is Christmas. The upside is we get paid extra to work Federal Holidays. If you are not familiar with a 10 hour work day then prepare yourself for them, because they are an industry standard. (some places have you work 10 hour days for 4 days with 3 days off). If you have children or plan to have them make long term arrangements for childcare well ahead of time.





Your Office Awaits


How To Get Started: If the above comments weren't enough to scare you away, congrats you are much closer to the drivers seat than you realize. Much of this job is having the right attitude. Here is how to get started. If you want to drive a bus you will need a Commercial Driver's License or CDL. If you are not 21 you can start by keeping your current driving record flawless. No Accidents, No DUI, No Tickets, No Points. Having a clean driving record is one of the most important parts of the interview process, the only thing that can be overlooked are non moving violations like Parking Tickets. But even they will come under scrutiny. Your driving record is not just a reflection of your ability to drive but of how responsible you are.


Community College Path: Nearly all of the larger community colleges offer CDL Training as part of their Non Credit/Workforce Development courses. They offer training for both Class B and Class A licensure. They will spend anywhere between 3-6 weeks preparing you to pass the CDL Test which will be given to you by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The class will normally be taught by someone who is retired and has been in the field for a long time and is a certified instructor who knows the test in and out. The school will give you training in both the classroom and on the driving range. Most community colleges use old school buses meaning you will also receive training to receive your school bus endorsement. This is the most expensive way to get a CDL but it is often the most stress free. The classes can cost around $2000 or $3000 but the school will take care of everything required as far as scheduling your test date and the training is very slow paced allowing you the most time to learn.



Employer Sponsored Path: Some companies will assist you with getting your CDL if you do not have one in exchange for signing a contract. The contract usually requires you to remain employed with the company for a pre determined amount of time usually 6 months to a year. The reason for this is that some companies which offer free CDL training have employees who leave after completing training. The training process costs the company money and by signing a contract they can ensure return on that investment.


Professional Driving School Path: Large privately owned Driving Schools exist which teach all classes of CDL licensure from Class A Tractor Trailer Driving to Class C Limo Driving. These schools are located on large driving ranges often found in the south or midwest and can be expensive. The school will also have a dorm or a hotel where students who are training can stay because they are far away from home.





NYCT/MTA New Flyer Xcelsior XD40


Why You May Love This Job: If you get satisfaction in helping others then you will love being a bus driver. You will see the same faces everyday as you take people to work, home or play. After seeing the same faces everyday you will make new friends fast. People will look up to you as a pillar of the community, especially in the big cities where people do not own cars and do not like using Taxi's or Uber. 


You will love being a bus driver if you enjoy doing the same thing everyday. Some people don't like the unexpected at work, for the most part being a bus driver you will perform the same tasks everyday and it can be rewarding because it does not take very long to get the hang of things. You will also enjoy performing detail oriented work, following rules etc. 


Some of us just simply enjoy driving and you will love this about this career. Not being crammed in a cubicle on the 15th floor of an office building everyday, you get to be down on the streets where the action is.


If you want to make money then transportation is the industry for you. After 3 years of hard work i have made my way to earning $21/hr which is pretty nice over the minimum wage of only $7. People often wrongly assume bus drivers do not make much. If you live in rural areas of the country where the cost of living is lower it may be true, but in the big cities Bus Drivers make at least $12/hr starting out. Private companies sometimes pay less or more than working for the Government but offer less work benefits such as healthcare and time off.


Get behind the wheel and become a public servant the people look up too.




​(Been Away Helping Family in Japan, Now Lets Start The Countdown to 200!)










​A perfect example of how a private entity should serve the people, Kokusai Kogyo is well known in Tokyo for its public transportation services.






Kokusai Kogyo Isuzu Erga




​Type: ​Private


​Union Representation: ​Not Unionized


​Fleet Size: ​500 Isuzu Erga Low Floor buses, 150 Isuzu Gala Highway Coaches, 50 Toyota Century Limousines, 20 Subaru Legacy Sedans


​Routes: ​400, covering both Metropolitan Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture


​Manufacturer and Powerplant: ​Kokusai Kogyo makes exclusive use of the Isuzu Erga and make use of its V8 Diesel engines. Newer models use hybrid technologies.




Kokusai Kogyo Isuzu Erga


​Fare Collection: ​The contactless card payment system in Tokyo is called Pasmo, it is often paired with the rail only Suica card. Pasmo cards can also be used to purchase goods at local shops as well as online.




Pasmo and Suica Cards


Livery: ​Kokusai Kogyo buses on fixed route service are painted green and black and feature "arrow" styling features, Buses used for Charter and Airport services are painted Blue and White and feature stripes. Kokusai Kogyo does sell the sides for advertising space.




Kokusai Kogyo Isuzu Erga




Innovations: ​Kokusai Kogyo Holdings Limited is a massive company which operates Public Transportation, An Airline and a Travel Agency which operates numerous Hotels. Its public transportation branch operates major routes in Tokyo on Fixed Route scheduled service. They also operate the airport shuttle as well. Charter Buses can be reserved for moving large groups point to point across the service area. The company also maintains a fleet of Limos for VIP services for professionals in need of a driver. And to top that large list of services off, they also operate the Machida Driving School the largest in North Tokyo using the Subaru Legacy.




Kokusai Kogyo at work during the Cherry Blossom Bloom






An iconic visonary of the modern era, Ken Block is often credited with making the sport of Rallying more popular among youth in North America and worldwide.




Ken Block with the Team Hoonigan Ford Mustang "Hoonicorn"


​Driver Quick Facts:


Name: ​Kenneth Block

Birthday: ​November 21, 1967

Hometown: ​Long Beach, California, United States

Series: ​World Rally Championship, FIA European Rallycross

Team: ​Hoonigan Racing Division

Sponsorship: ​Monster Energy, Subaru, Ford, GoPro, DC Shoes, Toyo Tires, Alpinestars

Victories: ​23




Ken Block racing in the World Rally Championship at Rally Mexico




​Overview: ​Ken Block is an interesting case in the motorsports world because of how late his career started. Block did not begin racing full time until he was 38 years old. Many Scandinavian rally drivers begin competing at the age of 16. Ken Block is better known as the co founder of DC Shoes. Block himself is admittedly more of a designer and branding expert than racer. Ken Block's natural ability for rallying has attracted great interest in the amateur circuits. He began to enter junior league races with great success. He signed a sponsorship deal with Subaru and competed as part of Subaru Rally Team USA.




Ken Block and the Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST preparing for Gymkhana 5


After competing with Subaru, Block obtained sponsorship with Monster Energy due to his high profile series of "Gymkhana" videos posted online. Gymkhana is a motorsport popular in Australia and New Zealand which takes place on an unmarked race track usually set in an industrial setting such as a warehouse or shipping yard, The goal being to complete the course in the shortest amount of time possible. The team was renamed to Hoonigan Racing Division while still maintaining Monster Energy sponsorship. The term "Hoon" is also of Australian origin. To "Hoon" is to drive recklessly and quickly in flamboyant style.




Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Focus RS RX prepared for Rallycross




Ken Block's goal behind the creation of DC Shoes was to create a brand that skateboarders could embrace and hang on too. With Hoonigan Racing Division he has done the same thing for those into the car scene. Hoonigan stickers are common in the car community and its because everyone in the car community can find something to like about Ken Block. His humble attitude and natural skill at the sport have earned him fans for life.




​Hoon Everything






Ken Block's Gymkhana 9





Ken Block's Gymkhana 3







I have always loved the auto show, it comes to Washington DC every year in January and I always miss it. This year I got my tickets early and made it. I thought it be interesting to share my thoughts on what I saw​.


Noticeably absent this year were Volvo, Tesla and Mitsubishi


Here are my top picks from this years auto show






​2018 Volkswagen Atlas


Volkswagen: ​When Samsung was facing difficulties with its Galaxy Note 7 and issued a global recall it was largely assumed that Samsung would no longer be dominant in the cell phone manufacturing market. People still purchase Samsung devices and are eagerly awaiting its replacement. The same could be said for VW who took a very big hit during the Emissions Scandal. VW has new leadership and they are bringing a new vehicle to the U.S. as a sort of apology. Volkswagen has never produced a full size SUV with VW branding. The VW Touareg, is midsized, and the Tiguan is a small CUV. Americans overwhelmingly still purchase full size SUVs and that trend has not changed in nearly 15 years. The most prominent vehicle on display at Volkswagens vendor station was the Volkswagen Atlas, a full size SUV reminiscent of a scaled down version of the Audi Q7. The Atlas will be produced in the United States at VW's Chattanooga plant in Tennessee.




2017 Genesis G90


Genesis: Planting their feet firmly in the Global and North American Luxury Vehicle market, Hyundai has decided to follow the path of the Japanese competition by launching a separate brand called Genesis. Launching the brand are the G80 and G90 luxury sedans formerly known as the Hyundai Genesis and Hyundai Equus. Automotive experts agree this was the correct move as the Hyundai branding was too distracting for a $70,000 vehicle




2017 Chevrolet Cruze RS Hatchback




Chevrolet: ​GM has already offered the Hatchback version of the Cruze in Australia and Europe but now for the 2017 model year the Cruze comes to the U.S. in hatchback form. It is still unclear if the Cruze Hatchback will only be available at the RS trim level or if a base model will be offered but evidence seems to support the latter. No pre production models for the North American Cruze Hatchback have been seen as base models. Offered as an RS package the car comes with larger wheels, fog lights, touch screen infotainment system and more. Ford has a similar scheme with the Focus hatch in that the Focus Hatchback can only be purchased at the mid range SE Trim level. Also displayed was the new Bolt EV which although nice carries a high price tag of $47,000. Chevy claims its worth it due to the tax incentives for Electric vehicles




​2018 Toyota Camry XSE


Toyota: There are many exiting new things coming from Toyota in the near future including the redesigned and more aggressive looking Camry, the Hydrogen powered Furai and for the first time in the North American market Toyota will offer a true Crossover the Toyota C-HR. Also exciting is with the new Camry is a new NASCAR Toyota Camry Sprint Cup Car which was also on display. Toyota has also updated the interiors on all of its Pickup trucks. Toyota's theme this year was "Made In America" Toyota has so many new vehicles built in the U.S. with American parts and Labor, Toyota's vendor station was on the "Domestic" level next to Chevrolet and Ford and not the Import level with Honda and Nissan. Toyota has plants in Kentucky, Indiana and California. For now the most exciting Toyota for me is the redesigned 86. Carried over from the now defunct Scion brand the Scion F-RS finally gets Toyota badging and the famed Hachiroku name.




2018 Ford Mustang


Ford: ​The Ford Mustang was prominently displayed at Ford's vendor station redesigned for the 2018 model year. Many are still critical of the new design which now features new curves and a more aggressive front bumper. 2018 is going to be a big year for Ford. The vehicle many wanted to see was not yet ready. Ford announced in 2016 it would be bringing back the loved Ford Bronco and would be bringing the Ford Ranger back to the United States. Ford also hopes to have near perfectly functional autonomous vehicles ready to be sold in 2020. My favorite Ford at the Auto Show this year was the new F250 Super Duty. The interior is great and features a sun roof which covers the entire interior space. Ford was also proud to show off the recently released Focus RS. At the Lincoln vendor station a brand new Lincoln Navigator was displayed featuring full body length gullwing doors. It is expected to be released along with the next generation Ford Expedition.




2017 Fiat 124 Spider


Fiat-Chrysler: ​Fiat which was also on the Domestic level had a much anticipated vehicle at the Fiat vendor station. The new 124 Spider was on display in both standard and Abarth versions. The vehicle is a badge engineered version of the Mazda MX-5 Miata with different interiors and performance. The 124 will also be produced along side the Miata in Japan. Fiat also had a special vendor station for Alfa Romeo which officially relaunches in the U.S. this year. The Alfa Romeo Giulia and 8C were on display ready for U.S. Sales. Chrysler displayed updated versions of the Dodge Charger and Chrysler Pacifica. A representative from Chrysler announced 2016 would be the final year of Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town and Country production. Both vehicles are being replaced by the new Chrysler Pacifica which now is offered as an EV.




2017 Subaru Impreza Hatchback


Subaru: In late 2016 Subaru revealed the new Impreza and Impreza hatchback which had more interest. The hatchback version of the Impreza has been turned into a crossover by raising its height and adding 4WD performance. The XV Crosstrek filled the slot for Subaru hatchbacks and fans were desperately waiting for a new one. The WRX receives a mild facelift leading some to believe a new one is in the works. Subaru representatives at the vendor station had no comment on a Hatchback WRX in the future. The BRZ has also been given a refresh. Subaru has been gauging interest at a possible performance version of the Forester called the Forester STI.






2017 Honda Civic Hatchback


Honda: ​At Honda's vendor station the Civic was displayed in all 3 of its forms. For years now the Civic has been a boring and bland cheap sedan. The Civic is now offered as a Sedan as a Coupe and as a Hatchback just like in the 90's which is great news for Honda fans. Honda representatives confirmed that a new Type R version is being planned for both the sedan and hatchback. Honda was also proud to display the Ridgeline the current North American Truck of the Year. Honda has also redesigned the Pilot and CRV which both feature styling similar to the Civic and Acura NSX. The Odyssey minivan remains unchanged but comes in nearly 5 trim levels to make it more accessible for different price points. At Honda's Acura vendor station the New NSX was displayed along the new Acura lineup which has been redesigned to mirror the NSX's new aggressive look.




2017 Cadillac CT6




Buick and Cadillac: ​General Motors has long had a difficult problem with these two brands being nearly identical to one another. Finally GM has decided on a path for both brands. Cadillac is now a high tier full fledged luxury manufacturer. Cadillac's entire lineup has been redesigned and renamed. Luxury vehicles always sell better when they have Alphanumeric nomenclature. This is the reason why luxury cars no longer have names. The core of the new Cadillac brand is the CT6 which also comes in a plug in hybrid version. Cadillac offers high quality now and that is reflected in the price of $70,000. Buick is now the entry level luxury brand being led by the redesigned LaCrosse which is far closer in price to its Chevy Impala cousin. Buick also now offers a convertible in the form of the Buick Cascada.






Mercedes-Benz:​ The most anticipated Mercedes was not on display but people have been wondering if Mercedes would ever bring the X class concept pickup truck to the United States. Mercedes representatives passed on the same remarks of Daimler's CEO. Mercedes says they will sell the X Class in the U.S. if they find a way to lower the price point to be only slightly higher than other high end pickups for sale in the U.S. The reps did say they were strongly interested in bringing the truck to U.S. due to high sales of Mercedes Benz commercial vans. The X Class will be a badge engineered vehicle in joint cooperation with Nissan as the truck shares the same platform as the Nissan Frontier. Also displayed was the E Class Wagon which Mercedes say they will be supplying more to the U.S. dealers due to high sales of the wagon in the U.S. The new C Class was also displayed and it still retains its affordable $40,000 price point which is becoming a rarity in entry level luxury brands. The Smart car was on display at the Mercedes Benz vendor station humorously displayed next to the Mercedes GL SUV






Land Rover: ​At Land Rover's vendor station, the new Evoque Convertible was displayed and gathered much interest. Land Rover reps say this is to fill the slot of the 2 door version of the Evoque which was not selling well. Land Rover also displayed the new Discovery which finally gets its name back after being called the LR4. The Range Rover gets a few new colors as well




Honorable Mentions:


The Kia Stinger which is Kia's first attempt at a Grand Touring Sedan which has shown promise due to its lap times at the Nurburgring


BMW's new 7 series is massive and features a $90,000 price tag


Porsche has given the Panamera and 911 a facelift and redesign


Nissan continues to receive high marks for the sporty design of its entire range, and good sales of its commercial vans which were also on display.




What New Vehicles Have Your Eye?






Serving the largest city and the capital of Ireland, Dublin Bus provides 125 million rides a year.






Dublin Bus Alexander Dennis Enviro 400




Type: ​Public, Statutory Corporation owned by the Irish Government


Union Representation:​ All Dublin Bus Operators and other employees are represented by the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU)


Fleet Size: ​987 Low Floor Double Decker, Single Decker and Articulated Transit Buses


Routes: ​136 Routes, 18 Night Bus Routes available for additional fare price


​Manufacturer and Powerplant: ​Dublin Bus procures from Alexander Dennis and Volvo. As it is the second largest operator of double deckers in the British Isles its buses are often compared to those in London with whom they share the same specifications. Dublin Bus recently took delivery of 90 new Double Deckers from Volvo which feature Hybrid technology.




Dublin Bus Volvo Olympian




Fare Collection:​ The Contactless Card Payment System in Dublin is Leap Card. Leap Card was launched in 2011. Paying cash can only be done using coins, bills are not accepted. Tickets are valid for several different lengths of time. Seniors and children ride free. Leap Cards can be customized for an additional fee which could include your picture to prove ownership.




Leap Card. (Children's Cards are White)




Livery: ​Dublin Bus features a tiered design in which yellow is always dominant following a shade of Turquoise, White and then a dark Navy Blue. Older Liveries consisted of Green of several shades. Uniquely, Dublin Bus offers buses for private hire and these units are painted entirely white to denote they do not operate revenue service, they can however be used for revenue. "Wedding Bus" service provides for hire service for weddings in the Dublin area. The white bus will also feature the names of the bride and groom on the side and say "Congratulations ​Bride Name and ​Groom Name ​From Dublin Bus!" Also Dublin Bus operates the official city tour, something usually chartered to private companies. The sightseeing buses are painted Irish Green and are converted to open top design.




Dublin Bus Volvo B7TL in Private Hire Livery, Prepared for a wedding



Dublin Bus Leyland Olympian in Private Hire Livery at a Wedding




​Innovations: ​Dublin Bus operates more "radial" routes than most other major bus companies. Radial routes focus on connecting the suburbs to the city and vice versa rather than "Linear" routes which focus on service in the city center. The restructuring to this scheme in 2014 increased ridership and efficiency by 14%.




​Dublin Bus at Work








​Serving the bustling Fairfax County, Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. The Fairfax Connector was one of first of the smaller transit agencies in Suburban Washington to grow into a much larger operation.




Fairfax Connector New Fyler XD40




​Type: ​Public/Private, Service privately operated by Transdev


Union Representation:​ All Fairfax Connector Bus Operators are represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1764


​Fleet Size: ​210


​Routes: ​90


​Manufacturer and Powerplant:​ Fairfax Connector recently completed fleet modernization with the bulk of its fleet now consisting of the New Flyer Xcelsior. Older Orion and New Flyer units are still in service on less crowded routes. Interestingly Fairfax County decided to continue to use Diesel as its source of propulsion.




Fairfax Connector New Flyer Xcelsior XD40


Fare Collection: ​The Contactless Card Payment System in Fairfax County is Smartrip. Because Fairfax County, Virginia rests just outside of Washington DC and many WMATA Metro Stations are in Northern Virginia Fairfax Connector uses WMATA's fare structure and accepts WMATA's Smartrip Card.




WMATA Smartrip Card and Reader


Livery: ​Fairfax Connector buses are notable for their paint scheme which has Yellow as its dominant color. Fairfax Connector buses feature Yellow, White and Red paint work in a contrasting "C" pattern. Older Livery hosted the same colors on a white backdrop in a traditional stripe format.




​Fairfax Connector Orion V 35 Foot Variant


Innovations: ​Fairfax County, Virginia houses many of the Professionals, Students, Workers and Government Employees who work in Washington DC. As a result Northern Virginia traffic is notoriously terrible. Fairfax Connector is known regionally for its initiatives to get people out of their cars and on the bus by making transit seem more attractive. Adding more routes and building more park and ride lots which also house bus stations make it easier for people to access the bus. People can simply drive to the bus location and park their car and ride the bus into the City rather than driving. Helping reduce traffic and emissions. Fairfax Connector is also pushing for dedicated bus lanes to make special express routes.


​Fairfax Connector at Work






The next inductee into the Hall of Transit Greats helped shaped American Road Travel for Decades.




GM Scenicruiser in service with Greyhound




​Manufacturer Quick Facts:


Founded: 1901

Main Office: Detroit, Michigan

Industry: Trucks and Buses

Notable Product: GM New-Look, GM Old-Look, RTS. GMC Topkick, CCKW, DUKW, Sierra, Yukon, Terrain




GM Scenicrusier Taken Out of Service




Model Quick Facts:


Vehicle Length: 40 Feet

Vehicle Width: ​96 Inches

Vehicle Height: ​131 Inches

Engine Options: Two 4.7L GM 4-71 I4 Diesel Engines or 9.3L GM 8V-71 diesel V8

Transmission Options: One 3-speed manual and 2-speed auxiliary gearbox or 4 Speed Manual

Assembly: ​Pontiac, Michigan, United States

Production: ​1,001 Units Built




Privately Owned GM Scenicruiser




Overview: ​In the Mid-1950s GM's Truck and Coach Division introduced the PD-4901 nicknamed the "Golden Chariot". The bus was a 3 axle single deck highway coach which featured monocoque construction. The Golden Chariot was revolutionary in that it was among the first of the "Hi Level" coaches with seats raised up higher to give passengers a better view of the scenery. GM then took this model and added an upper deck as well as additional technological innovations. This is one of the first buses to truly push technological limits.


Firstly, each Scenicruiser came with two engines, GM at the time did not see a need to produce a larger version of its class 71 engines. Scenicruiser were equipped with TWO 4.7L Inline 4 Diesel Engines which each produced 150 HP giving the bus a total of 300 HP. The Engines were connected with fluid coupling technology. These engines were eventually scrapped for the newer more powerful famed Detroit Diesel 8V-71.


Second, the Scenicruiser came with two transmissions as well. The bus featured a 3 speed manual transmission as well as a two speed auxiliary transmission with splitter gear, ultimately giving the bus 6 forward gears and a reverse gear. The odd and complex transmission set up came with drawbacks. Drivers who were previously used to only 4 speed transmissions needed extensive training. Many drivers did not like this new transmission layout. The complex transmission was prone to wearing out faster than normal. It was eventually replaced with a normal 4 speed transmission.


​Third, The prototype of this bus was designed to so that the driver was seated on the upper deck, This was abandoned when it was proven technologically challenging. The clutch in pre 1955 models was electronically operated not mechanically operated. New Technology for the era but it came with a powerful drawback. The Electronically operated clutch could not be partially engaged, only in or out. This caused the bus to "Lunge" forward every time the driver shifted gears. Both Drivers and Passengers hated this. To correct the problem the electronic linkages were replaced with traditional mechanical ones.




Artists Depiction of a GM Scenicruiser in service with Greyhound




The GM Scenicruiser was uniquely produced exclusively for Greyhound. The Scenicruiser is attributed to ending relations between GM and Greyhound. Because the bus used brand new untested technology the Scenicruiser was called a mechanical nightmare. Each time one of the components on the Scenicruiser failed it cost Greyhound money to repair. The Scenicruiser broke down, and broke down often.


The GM Scenicruiser was iconic in its design, it invoked images of observation cars found on the railways. The bus represented the American Dream on wheels. It's design was so revolutionary it forced other manufacturers such as Flxible began to make models which mimicked the design such as the Flxible Vistacruiser.


However the bus did not have a long production life, ending production after 1,000 units. In the early 60s Greyhound purchased controlling interest in MCI and no longer needed its GM buses.


The Scenicruiser lives on in small numbers in the hands of bus enthusiasts who convert them into motorhomes and are brave enough to take on the mechanical challenge.


The Scenicruiser enters the Hall of Transit Greats because it pushed boundaries and tested limits paving the way for future design.




Beautifully Restored Scenicruiser in original Greyhound Livery



​(Happy New Year!)






​Formed in the late 70's, the WRC is the highest caliber of Rally Motorsports in the world and formally united rallying events which were held separately and were unaffiliated.




Current Generation World Rally Cars


​Series Overview: ​A Formation of the European Rally Championship which consisted of mostly privateer teams and the International Championship for Manufacturers or ICM which was a rally only for Manufacturers to compete brought about a new series organized by the FIA called the WRC or World Rally Championship. The FIA's governance of the WRC meant the sport now had more rules and regulations than ever which means competition began to grow more fierce. The current WRC schedule consists of 13 rally races each 3 days long. The races are split across 15 to 25 special stages which the teams must attempt to complete in as short amount of time as possible in a time attack. The rally races can take place on many different types of road surfaces from Gravel, Snow, Dirt or Tarmac.


​Teams: ​13 (More Teams Exist; Some Teams Compete Part Time, Some Teams Semi Retired)


First Season: ​1973


​Next Season: ​2017




Toyota Corolla WRC and Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Announced its return to the WRC for the 2017 Season after building a new WRC Headquarters in Finland


World Rally Car: ​The Current Generation of Rally Cars are called World Rally Cars or WRC cars. They build on experiences learned from previous generations of Rally Cars such as the Group 4 which featured cars such as the Lancia Stratos, Group B with cars such as the Audi Quattro S1, Group A featured similar vehicles to the Subaru Impreza WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution all leading up to the World Rally Car. The Current cars must adhere to much stricter regulations than previous generations due to an improved focus on safety. Currently WRC cars are based on cars with a 1.6L 4 Cylinder Engine and feature an FF layout. WRC rules also require the cars competing have sold at least 2,500 vehicles before being eligible to compete. The only cars which fit this narrow set of rules are often small 2 or 5 door hatchbacks. The small engines are turbocharged and equipped with hundreds of specific parts which make the car as fast as possible on loose surfaces. This takes the price of a budget car from around $15,000 to over $1 Million.




Volkswagen Polo WRC




​Venues: ​Rally events are held all across the world on special stages. These are sections of closed public roads where the event takes place. The drivers start at set intervals so as not to impede with each other. However while on local roads the rally cars must comply with local vehicle laws. This means they must be insured, taxed and registered, this is why rally cars carry license plates. A unique venue called a Super Special Stage is a rally course which is contained inside of an outdoor arena such as a sports stadium. Super Special Stages are able to host events known as a Shootout. Two Identical lanes on the same race track are divided with a wall, allowing two racers to compete one on one on the same course without contacting each other.






Ford Fiesta WRC at the 2014 Wales Rally






Citroen C3 WRC






​Hyundai i20 WRC


​Pit Stops: ​Rally stages are typically about 30 miles long each section, however in that short amount of distance a WRC car can take a serious beating. Cars are repaired at the end of each stage at a makeshift tent garage set up by the team. The Garage serves as the teams base of operations for each stage. Rally cars are fitted with intricate and complex components that can take hours to repair. The goal is to make the car perform as well as it did the previous day if not better.




Co-Driver Pace Notes


​Co-Driver/Navigator: ​In Rallying unlike other motorsports the car is crewed by 2 people. The Co-Driver is responsible for assisting the driver in knowing what the course is like ahead of the car's current location. To do this the Co-Driver reads from a notebook which, in great detail informs the driver what the road is like after the next turn. The co-drivers instructions help the driver to know how hard to brake, how sharply to turn etc. As a result the Co-Driver must narrate the next turns to the Driver at a steady and constant pace and communicate accurately. Without the Co-Driver's help, the driver would be totally blind. Because the car is moving so fast the Co-Driver's notes are written in a scribbled code only he and the driver can understand. For Example:


2R --> 2L--> 5L--> !! C --> 3R-->


This would translate as 2 Right into 2 Left into 5L into Double Caution over Crest into 3 Right


​This means that the car is approaching a slight right turn into a slight left turn which leads to a sharp left turn after that there are two bumps and a hill into a slight right turn. The Number tells the driver how sharp or light the next turn is.


​Onboard with WRC Champion Sebastien Ogier Monte Carlo SS4





​2017 Toyota Yaris WRC undergoing testing in Finland (AWESOME SOUND, Toyota is back!)






U.S. Customs and Border Protection Jeep Wrangler Rubicon




Laws regarding the importation of cars into the United States are set by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection a branch of the Department of Homeland Security.




Overview: ​In the 1980's Mercedes Benz and other German Automakers reigned supreme, however they began to lose business due to the arrival of Japanese brands into the U.S. in the late 70's and this continued into the 80's and as we know it now well into the 90's as well. Mercedes Benz and other automakers, angered by this wave of Japanese automotive popularity in the U.S. began to lobby against new imports into the U.S. Arguing that Japanese cars were not safe for U.S. roads because the vehicles had been built to different specifications. Mercedes Benz argued they and other automakers had spent considerable amounts of money redesigning German models for Export into the U.S. and that the newly arrived Japanese manufacturers had not put in nearly as much R&D into Exporting vehicles as they had. Mercedes Benz pleaded their case before Congress and won. Rules on building cars for the U.S. market began to get stricter and this eventually led to what is now known as regional compliance.


​Europe had long standing regulations regarding standards for cars sold there as did Japan, Australia and Germany had even more specific requirements. For the first time the U.S. would create a set standard for automobiles sold in America all automakers must comply with. However this means that certain vehicles would not be out of reach to U.S. customers now.


For an example, lets take a look at a car sold in North America but not available or legal in the U.S.




2016 SEAT Leon Cupra ST 290


SEAT (Pronounced "Say" "Yacht" = Sayacht = SEAT) is a car manufacturer based in Spain owned by the Volkswagen Group. SEAT sells cars in Mexico but not in the U.S. The Leon ST sells in Mexico for about 330,000 Mexican Pesos or $18,000 US Dollars. The Leon ST gets comparable fuel mileage to cars sold in the U.S. it also has a Euro NCAP 5 Star Safety Rating which is comparable to NHTSA U.S. 5 Star rating.




2016 SEAT Leon Cupra ST 290


The Leon ST comes with a 1.4L Volkswagen TSI Engine which puts out 150 Horsepower and is coupled to a 6 speed manual transmission. (Arguably the only unpopular feature in the U.S.) Auto DSG Transmission is available.




2016 SEAT Leon Cupra ST 290 Interior (DSG Automatic version)


Inside the Leon ST has many of the same standard features you would find on a comparable Volkswagen or Audi such as Bluetooth capabilities, AM/FM Radio infotainment screen, Navigation System, Voice Controls, Dual Zone Climate Controls etc.


All in All the Leon is a car you are interested in and an absolute bargain for $18,000. Its Affordable, Stylish and Economical.


Underneath this car is nearly identical to the Volkswagen Passat Wagon or Audi All Road.


Unfortunately, if you were to go to Mexico, walk into a SEAT Dealer and purchase this car, you would not be allowed to own this car in the United States...but why?


The car does not meet "exacting U.S. Safety and Emissions Standards." The U.S. has a rule about nearly everything a car must have to be legal on U.S. roads. From how high off the ground it must be, to how thick the glass on the windows must be. Even though this car you really want and can afford is safe it does not legally meet U.S. standards and cannot be imported for daily use.





Vehicles built to exact U.S. Standards will bear a placard carrying the VIN certifying by the Manufacturer that the vehicle is U.S. Legal. The placard will also show date of manufacture and location of manufacture. The weight of the vehicle is also declared. (GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)


Oh dear, well ya cant get that shiny new SEAT. But what cars can you import legally into the United States? According to Customs and Border Protection, a vehicle must be 25 years old to be legally imported to the United States. This age restriction allows vehicles to enter the U.S. regardless to Safety and Emissions standards. Also cars over 20 years old can still be registered in most states as a "historic vehicle". This status allows the vehicle to be exempt from emissions testing.


25 seems like a long time but there are tons of classic Japanese and European Sports cars just right around that age now and the good news is the list of eligible cars gets larger every year.


U.S. Soldiers stationed abroad previously thought they were exempt from the rule and we rudely awaked by Customs and Border Protection. CBP issued a memo to all U.S. personnel stationed abroad that any vehicles purchased abroad which did not meet U.S. Standards or Import Requirements would not be allowed.


​How To Import: ​There are really only 2 ways to legally import a vehicle to the U.S.




Broker: ​A U.S. Customer who wants to buy a vehicle will contact a broker who then scouts auctions or lotteries filled with cars ready to leave the export country, most commonly Japan. For example, A U.S. Buyer wants a JDM Spec Nissan 300ZX. The car is fairly common and easy to find in Japan and will come with right hand drive. The Broker will find several Nissan 300ZX cars and send pictures and information to the buyer in the U.S. The Broker will have found 3, a Red one with low miles, a white one with high miles but well cared for, and a blue one which has fair mileage but is tastefully modified. The buyer will select one and the Broker will tell the Buyer how much the car will cost plus the cost of shipping. The Broker also prepares all the appropriate paperwork to ensure the transaction is legal.


The only pro to doing it this way is that is cheaper, however a major con is that all of the paperwork that must be done once the vehicle hits U.S. shores and must clear Customs must be done by you. Vehicles that arrive at customs that do not meet U.S. regulations or Import Law are seized and crushed regardless of value. Once you do clear customs it is possible but difficult to obtain a Title (proof of ownership) from your home state for your new car.


Import Dealer: ​Import Dealers are specialized dealers who have their own brokers and contacts in other countries who do the same thing except the dealer imports the cars themselves. These dealers import regularly from countries like Japan and Australia and are extremely familiar with the laws and thus more selective with the vehicles they import. This allows the customer to simply walk into the dealers showroom and select an imported car for purchase. The only con is the car may be more expensive because the dealer did all of the hard work and will charge extra in exchange.


My favorite U.S. Importer is Japanese Classics, a company based in Richmond, Virginia. They import cars from Japan and provide all necessary paperwork such as the title. They like many other Import Dealers are Bonded Importers that are registered with U.S Customs.


Other dealers specialize in Imports from Europe such as older BMWs, Land Rovers and Mercedes.




1990 Nissan Skyline R32 GTR Imported from Japan and For Sale by Japanese Classics


(R34 Skylines are still not 25 Years old and were not produced in large numbers making them very rare)




1989 Honda CRX Imported from Japan and Sold by Japanese Classics






1991 Mitsubishi Pajero Imported from Japan and Sold By Japanese Classics




Its been a dream of mine to own a GTR. An R32 can be purchased from Japanese Classics for as cheap as $12,000 and they only Import the highest quality used cars with minimal rust and scratches.


If not a GTR I'd also love to own a classic British or Aussie Land Rover Defender 110. (despite the headache they can be)




What's Your Dream Import Car? Do You Agree With The 25 Year Old Rule?




2 Used Japanese Cars Ready For a New Life Somewhere Else in the World


(Australian Broker, USS Refers to Used Car System Solutions, Not a Navy Ship lol)












The oldest and most prestigious motorcycle race in the world, only the best race at the Isle of Man.


First Organized: ​1907


​Type: ​Time Trials, GP Race


​Course: Snaefell Mountain Course


​Class: ​Tourist Trophy




​The Isle of Man is a small island located in the Irish Sea surrounded by Northern Ireland and England. Every year in May and June motorcyclists descend on this island for one of the most challenging races in the world.




Racers at the 2015 Isle of Man TT




Overview:​ The Snaefell Mountain Course uses closed public roads for high speed motorcycle racing during the event. The course is very challenging even for expert riders, at 37 miles long it hosts over 200 turns and drastic increases and decreases in elevation. The course is situated around the main roads linking towns and villages to island's capital, Douglas. At its highest point the course is nearly 1,400 feet above sea level.




Snaefell Mountain Course Waypoint Sheets are drafted by competing teams to better help riders memorize the course. However because course takes place on closed public roads instead of a racetrack it can be difficult to remember. The best riders on this course are often of Manx, Irish, Scottish or English background due to being able to ride on the course year round.






​Riders can get very close to stone walls, fences and other road hazards at high speeds


The Isle of Man TT is also a time where Motorcycle Manufacturers and Equipment Manufacturers show off new products. Honda Powersports and Dunlop Tires are among the most successful. The Honda CBR 1000 RR is one of the most popular motorcycles at the TT. Others such as BMW, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati also have a presence. Privateer teams receive support from the manufacturers to compete.




Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha R1 at the Isle of Man TT






​The Absolute Best of the 2016 Isle of Man TT





Subaru WRX STI Isle of Man Challenge Car



​Americans have very specific buying tastes, Americans like large crossover SUVs with preferably a V8 engine under the hood and enough room for at least 5 people. Noticing these trends has opened up a brand new segment of luxury vehicles which may have seemed ridiculous 5 years ago.




​Porsche Cayenne Turbo


​Porsche: ​Arguably the one that started it all, Porsche was the first to attempt a realistic fusion of a sports car and a family SUV. The Cayenne launched in 2002 and many automotive critics were skeptical that the truck would be even remotely capable of performing anywhere close to a sports car. They were pleasantly disappointed as the Cayenne had good performance and handling. The first generation of the Cayenne sold better than anticipated and was slotted a tier above its Volkswagen Touareg clone. It surpassed both the BMW X5 and Mercedes Benz ML in luxury and performance. The only complaint about the first Cayenne being that it wasn't a pretty vehicle to look at. The German completion would not catch up to the Cayenne's success for nearly a decade. Porsche has expanded on its lead by adding a smaller sports car based SUV to its line up the Macan which also comes in a Turbocharged or Diesel variant.




2017 Lamborghini Urus


​Lamborghini: ​After much speculation and the unveiling of the Urus as a concept vehicle, Lamborghini announced in 2013 that the Urus would begin production in late 2016 and go on sale as a 2017 model. Because Lamborghini is part of Volkswagen group this vehicle will share the same platform as the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. It will be the second SUV produced by Lamborghini, the first being the LM002 which was a true off roader. The idea of Lamborghini producing trucks is not so far fetched as the company was originally founded as a tractor company.






2018 Bentley Bentayga


​Bentley: ​Bentley, the British member of the Volkswagen family has also built a performance SUV on the Porsche Cayenne platform called the Bentayga. Bentley claims it to be the worlds fastest production SUV as it is powered by a Volkswagen W12 engine and full time all wheel drive. The Bentayga is twice as expensive as a standard Range Rover and was slotted to debut before rival vehicles in this segment also begin to enter production.




2018 Rolls Royce Cullinan


Rolls Royce Motor Cars: ​Rolls Royce announced in 2015 it would be releasing its first ever SUV which would begin production in late 2017. Very little about the vehicle has been released other than an official teaser image of the concept. Because Rolls Royce is part of the BMW family it is likely to share a platform with BMW's large SUVs like the X5 or X6.






Mercedes Benz GLE Coupe


​Mercedes Benz: ​In the past the only rivalry in this segment was between the famed Mercedes ML and BMW X5. Now that the other German companies have stepped up their offerings, Mercedes has been struggling to remain on top. They have corrected this with offering more SUV configurations than any of its competitors. The most comparable to this segment its the GLE. Mercedes Benz themselves describe the GLE as an "SUV with the soul of a sports car". The GLE is significantly cheaper than its rivals but is more geared toward on road sports performance driving rather than off road capability.




2017 Maserati Levante


​Maserati: ​In 2011 Maserati, part of the Fiat Group revealed a concept SUV called the Maserati Kubang. It was simply a rebadged version of a Jeep Grand Cherokee designed to appear as a Maserati and be able to compete in the segment. While the Kubang was abandoned, Maserati decided to build an SUV from scratch to compete with the German dominance in the segment. The Levante will also be released in 2017.




2017 Jaguar F-Pace


Jaguar: ​Part of Jaguar-Land Rover Group owned by Tata Group, it has long been explored what a combination of a Jaguar luxury car and a Land Rover SUV would look like. Due to other manufacturers proceeding forward with vehicles in this bracket Jaguar decided to take the plunge. The Jaguar F-Pace debuted in 2015 as a support vehicle in the Tour De France. The F-Pace shares a platform with both the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport and shares components from the Jaguar XJ. It is Jaguar's first ever SUV.






2016 Tesla Model X


Tesla: ​Strong sales of the Model S and finally achieving financial viability Tesla had long developed plans for an SUV or Crossover vehicle sharing the same base formula as the Model S. The model X is much taller and shares the stance of most other SUV's on the road but is unique in that, being a Tesla means its 100% an electric vehicle. But perhaps its most notable feature being the rear mounted gullwing doors. Tesla designed a sensor which allows for the doors to open at exactly at the correct height even when parked closely next to other vehicles in tight parking situations. It is one of the most expensive on the list starting at $108,000.




Which of these insanely expensive SUV's do you think is the most likely to never see an unpaved trail?


​(So Sorry I've been AWOL, work/life been crazy)




A newer automotive startup, seeking to reinvent personal mobility while achieving astonishing goals of building cars with high fuel economy, improved safety and low MSRP.


​Manufacturer Quick Facts:


​Founded: ​August 1, 2009

​Main Office: ​Phoenix, Arizona, United States

​Industry: ​High MPG Economy Cars

Notable Products: ​P4, P5




Elio Motors P4 in "Creamsicle" color


​Founder Paul Elio started his company after analyzing the current issues plaguing sales of small cars in the U.S. He set out to build a car that was fun to drive, very affordable, safe, has great MPG and was environmentally friendly. The car the company created is the Elio P4 and P5 prototypes. The vehicles are three wheeled, open wheeled economy cars the company hopes to sell for only $7,000. Elio claims its goal is to get the cars to reach an astounding 84 MPG.




​Elio Motors P5 in "Red Hot" color


​Model Quick Facts:


​Vehicle Length: ​160 inches

​Vehicle Height: ​54.2 inches

​Wheelbase: ​110 inches

Engine: ​Elio Motors 3 Cyl .9 Liter SOHC

Transmission: ​5 Speed Manual or Automatically Shifted Manual Transmissions

Assembly: ​Shreveport, Louisiana, United States (Former GM Hummer Plant)




Elio Motors P5 in "Sour Apple" color


Elio Motors' kickstarter raised over 30% more than its initial goal. Currently the vehicle has not entered production as the company hopes to reach nearly 70,000 reservations in order to secure Department of Transportation loan.


The Car achieves its low MSRP because it uses no new technology, rather it sources existing parts from auto parts manufacturers and uses those instead, some with slight modifications. The steering wheel is the same one found in the Chevrolet Camaro for example. Using existing parts and basic manufacturing methods help reduce cost. The car also comes with no trim level options. Extras can be added either after purchase or during purchase. This allow you to order exactly what features you want without having to buy a whole package.


For example to Equip a standard Ford Focus with Navigation is not possible. In order to get Navigation you have to buy the Ford Focus Titanium which is the highest trim level. The Titanium also comes with Heated Leather Seats, Heated Mirrors, Fog Lamps, 17 Inch Alloy Rims, Sony Audio System, Sunroof etc. All of this combined adds another $3,000 to the car for only one feature that you wanted. Because the car's parts are all sourced directly from existing manufacturers adding options will be very easy.




Elio Motors P5 Interior


​The P5 features tandem seating (front and back rather than side to side) and does not sacrifice basic comforts. The Car does come with air conditioning and heating, cruise control, power windows, and lock (car only has one door), AM/FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity. The car also comes with a warranty of 3 years/36,000 miles. Features controlled by an Ipad or Android device will also allow for the car to be started remotely.


Uniquely because the company is small and has a limited capability to provide service, Elio has entered into an agreement with national automotive parts and repair shop Pepboy's. to be the official service center for the car. Because the car is very basic and the parts already can be found on other vehicles the Technicians at Pepboys wouldn't have much trouble learning how to fix the P5.




Elio Motors P5 in "Marshmallow" color


The car is expected to be sold for $7,000 and can be registered as a motorcycle in most states. Due to newer 3 wheeled cars entering the market most states now allow "Enclosed motorcycles" to be driven without a helmet. The P5 is considered a motorcycle to due federal regulations classifying 3 wheeled vehicles as motorcylces. Unlike a similar vehicle, the Polaris Slingshot which also has 3 wheels, the power in the P5 is sent to the front wheels rather than the rear providing better traction in different weather conditions.


Reviews of the Prototype






A unique partnership joining dozens of bus companies under one umbrella, Trailways ensures all private charter bus companies get a fair share of business.




Susquehanna Trailways Prevost H3-45




​Type: ​Private, Alliance of 70 Charter Bus Operators


​Union Representation: ​Some Locations Unionized


​Fleet Size: ​Not Disclosed


​Routes: ​Few Dedicated Routes, Mostly Chartered Point to Point Service


​Manufacturer and Powerplant: ​Most companies operating under the Trailways banner use either MCI or Prevost models. Other popular models come from Van Hool and Setra. New companies who have taken out loans or are leasing brand new charter buses are increasingly using non US spec vehicles from manufacturers such as CIAO, Temsa, Volvo and Ankai to lower costs.




Fullington Trailways MCI J4500



Fare Collection: ​Payment for charter services are made before the trip takes place. Pricing is uniform to the Trailways network but companies reserve the right to charge more if certain circumstances require unique accommodation.




First Priority Trailways MCI J4500




Livery:​ All companies part of the Trailways Alliance are free to use their own corporate liveries for their fleets but all display the Trailways logo as part of their livery to show they operate as part of a joint network.




Heartland Trailways MCI J4500




Innovations: ​Founded right around the peak of Greyhound's dominance, an alliance of smaller bus companies was needed to challenge the much larger Greyhound. Trailways is an alliance of over 70 private bus companies who either specialize in Charter Bus Service or Tourism/Sightseeing Services, sometimes both. Being part of the Trailways alliance gives each company "preferred status" in its home district. This means if a big contract to move a MLB Baseball team comes up and the team is located in Company A's service area, Company B cannot steal it away. The alliance ensures fair competition as well as assistance. If Company A is overwhelmed by the contract Company B can be asked to assist for a share of the profits.




​Sometimes the U.S. Government hires private charter companies to move around Government employees or military personnel. Trailways Alliance members who are given this special type of contract must have their employees pass government background checks and have security clearances. Once they complete this the need to constantly vet the company is no longer needed and the company is awarded this special logo for use on buses carrying out Government contracts.








Let's take a look back at some of the brands we lost over the last decade and some of the vehicles which made them notable




2012 Saab 9-5 (Final Release)


​Saab: The Swedish Yin to Volvo's Yang, Saab had a very interesting history and a very strict company culture which it could not deviate from. That eventually led to Saab's sad end which could have been prevented. In 1989 General Motors invested $600 Million in Saab essentially taking a 50% stake in the company. This meant that Saab had to comply with the business practices carried out by General Motors known as Badge Engineering. To save on costs and still be competitive, GM builds "platforms" onto which multiple body styles and engines could be mounted. For example, the GM Epsilon platform is GM's entry into the large sedan market. Multiple cars have been built onto this platform such as Opel Insignia, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac XTS, and the Chevrolet Impala. All of these vehicles look very similar while having different engines and interiors which makes people think they are not related. This practice is done internationally but GM is king of doing this. Saab has always been known for building strong and sturdy "Swedish Bricks" which could withstand hitting a deer. Safety was the big selling point of Saab, however safe cars are expensive cars. Saab would often disregard GM Corporate and refuse to build cars onto existing platforms. Eventually GM would put Saab up for sale due to the amount of money lost on the brand. Saab was sold back to the Swedish Government and then sold to Dutch Supercar manufacturer Spyker. The size of Saab was too much for Spyker and the brand eventually died. Spyker could not get the Saab 9-5 into all international markets fast enough and a low enough price to boost sales quickly. The last Saab 9-5 did comply with GM's orders however, as it also shares the GM Epsilon platform.




2002 Hummer H2


Hummer: In 1992 AM General, the manufacturer of the Military M998 HMMWV began to sell a civilian version called the Hummer H1. The H1 sold very well with serious off road enthusiasts and the H1 had a high demand and was a practical vehicle for those types of environments. The truck was also popular with actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger. A few years later in 1998 General Motors purchased the brand name "Hummer" and offered two other SUV's based on the H1 but smaller and more accessible to the civilian market. The H2 and H3 were trucks which were introduced right before the worst economic downturn since the great depression. When Americans were living paycheck to paycheck and fuel was over $4 a gallon the market for large offroad SUV's evaporated almost instantly. The H2's fuel economy was 10 City 14 Highway. The Hummer brand was entirely composed of SUV's and was hit the hardest however other trucks of this caliber also saw extinction such as the Ford Excursion. After no longer being able to justify the brand along with dwindling sales Hummer production was halted and the brand was put up for sale. Despite the impracticality of the trucks in the US they did have a demand internationally. The H2 sold well in Russia and South Africa. Two companies expressed interest in buying the brand. Mahindra and Mahindra of India which specializes in SUV production was interested in purchasing the brand as well as Tenghzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, a Chinese firm which builds unlicensed copies of the Hummer for the Chinese Military. The sale was prevented to China because of​ "security concerns".



2009 Suzuki Kizashi


​Suzuki: The Japanese brand many forget about pulled its Automobile sales out of North America after finally admitting defeat. Suzuki faced difficulty with its Japanese competition in the form of Toyota, Nissan and Honda. Suzuki's vehicles were always described as "a step down" from the Japanese big three. The vehicles themselves were not terribly engineered but North American customers care a great deal about how a car's interior feels and looks as well as how it makes them feel. Suzuki vehicles were practical city cars with basic interiors and Suzuki was not willing to improve on this to boost North American sales. In other markets the interior feeling "cheap" is not an issue and this is why Suzuki cars sell very well in Latin America, India and Southeast Asia. Suzuki tried one last time to win over North American buyers with the Kizashi. The car was more of the same. A practical basic A to B car with no flare or flash about it. To give context, the Toyota Corolla can be ordered with up to 4 different interior colors, wheel designs and even an extra trim level in the form of the Corolla S. Toyota offers many different ways to build a Corolla while still maintaining a similar price. The Chevrolet Cruze can be offered the same way with many extras and add ons to make it feel premium. This is what has to be done in the North American market. Suzuki simply didn't fit. Suzuki still honors any existing warranties on any cars sold in the North American Market and still sells its other products such as Motorcycles, Boat Engines and other small engines.




2006 Pontiac GTO


Pontiac: ​Named after the Ottawa war chief who fought against the British occupation of the Great Lakes region, Pontiac was the performance marque of the General Motors lineup. Pontiac much like other GM brands such as Oldsmobile saw great popularity from the 1960's all the way to the 1980's and had a firm hold in the market. However in the 1990's the Japanese brands all began encroaching on the market for cheap two door sports cars. Pontiac started to suffer when GM ceased to allow Pontiac the power to innovate. All Pontiac cars had to share a GM platform and Pontiac ceased to be a sporty brand. As part of the 2008 restructuring of GM Pontiac was dropped from the GM lineup.






​2010 Mercury Milan


​Mercury: ​The brand was created to be an entry level luxury marque a step in between Ford and Lincoln. Its vehicles were carbon copies of Ford models with slightly different exterior changes and premium feeling interiors with more features as standard. It's best selling vehicle the Grand Marquis was an upscale version of the Ford Crown Victoria which is mostly used as a fleet vehicle for Police and Taxi applications. The brand started to suffer in the mid 2000's and much like the situation at GM, Ford was unable to justify the brand as more sales were going to the more upscale Lincoln brand. The last push for sales came in the form of the Ford Fusion based Mercury Milan which consistently sold at around 30,000 annually since 2005. Ford finally pulled the plug on Mercury in 2011.




​Operating as a branch of the Department of Transportation and Public Works of Puerto Rico (DTOP), the service is more commonly known by its abbreviation in Spanish. Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico or AMA.




AMA Orion V


​Type: ​Public/Private, Some routes operated by contractor First Transit


Union Representation: Not Unionized


Fleet Size: ​149 Transit Buses, 33 Suburban Medium Duty Buses, 60 Paratransit Vehicles


Routes: ​50


​Manufacturer and Powerplant: ​As Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory, American and Canadian Manufacturers have access to sell which makes P.R. unique among its island neighbors. DTOP procures from Gillig, NABI, Orion, NovaBus, New Flyer and Ford. The majority of the fleet is diesel powered. The oldest buses in its fleet are 2002 NovaBus RTS models which have been shipped back to the U.S. for refurbishment and will be put back in service after mechanical and safety improvements.




AMA NovaBus RTS 35


​Fare Collection: ​There is no contactless card payment system in Puerto Rico, however DTOP does issue a magnetic strip card that is reloadable and can be used on both the subway and bus networks. Buses cost just .75 cents with cash fare. It is similar to the MetroCard used in New York City.








​Livery: ​AMA buses use the DTOP's upbeat themes of Magenta, Blue, Yellow and Silver. Express buses use silver as the dominant color while some buses in the city may sometimes be entirely white.






​Innovations: ​DTOP operates the only U.S. style mass transport system in the Caribbean. The system also hosts the only underground subway network in the Caribbean as well. The Government's Integrated Transit Plan has detailed expansion projects planned to better integrate the inner cities with Puerto Ricos many highway networks using express buses.


AMA at work




Sometimes accidents happen, but as an opertator of a train with hundreds of lives on board its always up to the driver to be on the lookout for trouble.




Controls of an Amtrak Siemens ACS-64 Sprinter


As is blaringly obvious, train drivers do not have a steering wheel and trains cannot change direction at will, this means that a large part of the train drivers job is observing the tracks ahead and the signals for any signs of danger.


​Practice: ​All railways use some form of signals to alert drivers to any changes to the tracks up ahead, and all trains have a "dead mans switch" a device which must be applied by the driver either at all times or frequent intervals to ensure the driver is awake and medically sound.


For Example with signals:


A Red Signal always universally means danger. Trains must not pass a red signal because of some form of danger beyond it. Ranging from a stopped train ahead to debris on the tracks. Going past a red signal is known as SPAD or Signal Passed At Danger. It is a very serious offense which in some cases leads to criminal charges. In order to pass a signal at danger, the driver must ask permission from the controller for that section of track. If permission to SPAD is granted trains must proceed slowly and at high alert, prepared to stop at any moment.


Always before a Red Signal, there is a Yellow Signal. The Yellow signal is a warning to slow down due to a change in track condition or the next signal. For example, a driver may encounter a yellow signal if the next signal beyond it is also yellow or red. Sometimes a train ahead may be delayed and the signal behind that train will be yellow to slow down all approaching trains. On some railways a "Double Yellow" will appear. Double Yellow signals are used to communicate that the next signal is red or that the train is switching tracks to the other side. Speeds must be greatly reduced to pass a double yellow.


Green Signals (Sometimes White) mean all clear


A test is given to new train drivers in training to asses their knowledge of signals and to make sure they know what to do when approaching them.




Signal Example




Emergency Stop: ​Trains are equipped with an Emergency Stop or "Brake" which is also sometimes a kill switch. However, before a train driver can push the "red button" a set a parameters must be assessed first and the driver usually only has seconds to decide. Generally the driver must always try to get the attention of surrounding pedestrians, cars, other trains and animals with the use horns, bells, whistles and lights. If the bystanders do not respond to the warning of the approaching train, the driver must asses the risk. Slamming on the brakes while doing 60 MPH can do heavy damage to the trains braking system. If the driver determines that a collision is imminent the driver can hit the emergency brake which applies full brakes, cuts the power (or lowers the pantograph for electric trains, which disconnects power), and sounds the horn.


Emergency Brake Buttons are always Red in color and are visibly marked in multiple languages depending on area of operation it may be in English, Spanish and French.


​Amtrak Emergency Stop


Two Girls Playing on the Train Tracks are captured on video by a rail fan. The train driver activates the brakes, unsure if he hit them or not. The girls are then questioned by police and issued a fine for playing on the tracks and playing chicken with a train.




​One of America's oldest heavy duty vehicle makers, Mack Trucks specializes in truck building and design. The brand nearly disappeared due to the economic collapse of 2009 but was saved after being purchased by Volvo Group.


​Manufacturer Quick Facts:


Founded: ​June 11, 1900

Main Office: ​Greensboro, North Carolina, United States

Industry: ​Heavy Duty Trucks in Classes 6 through 8, Buses (formerly), Chassis Building, Fire Engines

​Notable Products: ​Pinnacle, TerraPro MRU, Granite, Titan (Australia and New Zealand Only)




Mack Titan 6X4


Mack Trucks was founded originally as Mack Brothers by John, Augustus (Gus) and William Mack after they had purchased the carriage and wagon company John had been working for. The Mack Brothers had been inspired by other engineering pioneers of the era in the early 1900's such as the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford and decided to focus similar energy on building trucks. Mack Trucks gained most of its reputation for building strong well built trucks during World War I and II.


Mack Trucks had been tested by the U.S. Army and approved for service but were purchased by the British in larger numbers. British Soldiers remarked that Mack Trucks were dependable and resilient and early Mack Trucks often featured a "snub nose" design. The British Soldiers nicknamed them "Bulldog Macks" because they reminded them of the English Bulldog. The Nickname eventually stuck and has since been the logo of the company. All Mack Trucks adorn an English Bulldog hood ornament as a reminder of this history.




Mack Granite


The most iconic Mack Truck of the modern era is the Mack Granite. It is a vocational work truck which can be configured in any way the buyer wishes. The Granite is perhaps most known for being used as a Dump Truck and Concrete Mixer for construction companies accounting for the majority of U.S. Sales.
Mack is also notable for its sales and manufacture for the Australian, New Zealand and South Africa markets. Trucks for those markets have slightly different requirements and are also Right Hand Drive. The Mack Titan is the most common "down under" as it has a stronger engine and drivetrain than most other highway trucks. This is why it was marketed toward companies which operate road trains.




Mack CF Fire Engine in service with the FDNY


As a Subsidiary of Volvo Group, Volvo trucks and buses can also be sold and serviced at Mack dealers in North America. Volvo sells more trucks for on highway purposes but Mack trucks often are better suited for vocational and construction work. Mack Granite trucks can be equipped with a "Crawler Gear" which locks the rear differential giving the driver more control when going downhill on unpaved surfaces.


​Mack Trucks Virtual Test Drive


(Click anywhere inside the video to have a look around while its playing, pretty cool)




(Happy Indigenous Peoples Day)




2015 Ford Focus




I know I haven't been keeping you posted on the status of this project, this is largely due to the frustrations my daily driver has been causing me since my last update in July. So now get a snack and a drink and allow me to fill you in on the situation for the last few months.




2003 Toyota Rav4 and TCM Location behind the glove compartment


​Prologue: ​In 2012 I was given a 2003 Toyota Rav4 as a gift from my grandmother who had recently purchased a new Lexus RX. It was my 3rd Toyota and I enjoyed the car for about 2 years before the Transmission Control Module failed. The TCM is a large computer chip about the size of a lunchbox which controls the shifting of the Automatic transmission. At the time I was in between jobs and didn't have money to repair the vehicle at a shop and was reduced to walking and catching the bus again. Eventually my mother found a repair shop in California which specializes in repairing the TCMs for multiple cars. When the TCM fails the transmission doesn't know when to shift gears, resulting in a harsh shifting and jolting about making the car undrivable and unsafe. The repair shop offered their services on Ebay. You pay them the fair price of $60 and ship your damaged TCM to their shop in California and in a week they send it back fully repaired. Sure enough it worked and I was back on the road in a matter of days.


However the car was getting old and was nearing its $200,000 mile mark and I was sure something else major was going to happen, so I made the choice to sell the car before any new repairs were needed. I took the car to Carmax the biggest used car dealer on the East Coast. Carmax offers free appraisals and after determining what your car is worth, will hand you a written offer if you sell to them. Carmax valued my car at exactly the blue book value (mostly because my Grandma loves her cars and always takes care of them) and I sold it to them for $4000. Now I began my search for a new set of wheels.


In June 2014 I purchased a new 2015 Ford Focus sedan. The new Focus finally received the Fusion front fascia and an update. In my excitement in buying my first NEW car I overlooked the fact that this is usually the worst thing to do. Buying a car right after the new generation is released does not give enough time for any bugs to be worked out. I almost immediately began to have problems with it and here we arrive to the present day.




2015 Ford Focus Hatchback


​One after another.........:​ The first problem I had with the car was actually with the Front Passenger Door. Build Quality at Ford had actually been improving another reason for high sales. However 2 models have been having difficulties with their new 2015 model years, The Mustang and the Focus...both new gen.


I have a friend who purchased a new Mustang and one very noticeable flaw is that the body panels do not align correctly. The gap between the fender and hood was larger on the passenger side than on the drivers side meaning the hood had to be wiggled to be shut properly. This problem could be found all around the car and was worst at the trunk.


On my 2015 Ford Focus the passenger door had to be lifted up then either pushed or pulled to open. The door was not level. And never opened or shut properly.


The interior of the Focus is covered in dark black plastics which scratch remarkably easy. simply resting the keys on the dash was enough to scratch it.


The next problem was with the 60/40 split folding rear seats. On the drivers side rear the latch was already broken from the factory and I hadn't discovered this until putting the rear seats down for the first time. The clamp which secured the rear seat to the frame was stuck in the closed position meaning the rear seat could not be secured and would frequently move out of position. The dealer tried to fix it but as soon as they fixed it the clamp would again be stuck in the closed position.


The biggest and most notable issue I had with this car was with the TRANSMISSION ​which is terrible design and one of only two parts on the car sourced with foreign parts and labor. (Engine in 2015 + Ford Focus comes from Japan, Transmission comes from Mexico) The Ford Focus (and Fiesta) use DCT Transmissions or Dual Clutch Transmissions. DCT's use 2 clutches to control the gears. Gears 1,3,5 were controlled by Clutch 1 and 2,4,6 were with Clutch 2. This transmission has been in use since the 2012 redesign of the Focus model and is a well documented problem. DCT's do not behave like normal automatic transmissions and in lower end cars like this one have terrible performance.


The most irritating thing about the 2015 Focus is the change over from gear 1 to gear 2. The car doesn't like to leave first gear from a stand still and when changing to 2nd the car always shuddered violently. For context this is normal for Manual Transmission cars, When disengaging the clutch there is a noticeable shaking when changing gears, this was 10x more pronounced in the Automatic Focus. (This made it impossible for me to continue doing Uber).


About a month ago the clutch pack and transmission on my 2015 Ford Focus failed and the car was sent back to the dealer for repairs covered under warranty. After a 3 day wait I got my car back and 2 weeks later the transmission failed again. 2 days prior to this Ford sent letter to all owners of the Ford Focus saying Ford was extending the drivetrain warranty for another 6 years. (This was secretly Ford's way of admitting they know the transmissions were terrible). The transmissions were designed this way because it causes an automatic transmission to behave like a manual and improves fuel economy. The car also had the tendency to roll backwards like a manual as well.


All of this came with a large number of recall letters sent by Ford as well. The Focus was recalled twice for fuel pump issues which caused the car to stall. This did not effect me while driving but occasionally my car would not start on cold mornings, another recall for defective side marker lights, another recall for the child safety locks becoming jammed on, and the most recent for the door latches which have been shown to open while the car is in motion.


Currently the 2015+ Ford Focus only has a 3/5 Star Rating from Consumer Reports, Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book all due to reliability issues.


​Washing My Hands of The Problem:


I purchased the car for $20,000 and put $4000 down but I received a terrible interest rate due to my student loans wrecking my credit. After a year of paying every month on time for this car I had finally had enough. The dealer was no help, they offered to move me into a 2017 Ford Fusion SE but wanted me to put $6000 down. After 3 days of fighting the dealer I gave up and went to the Toyota/Lexus dealer I formerly worked for.




2015 Scion tC




I was greeted by a salesman and explained to him I was in search of a Used Scion tC. At this point there was no way I would be able to fund a side project in addition to paying for a car causing me such headaches. The Toyota Salesman explained to me that Scion was being cancelled by Toyota this year and no tC's were available and no new ones were going to be ordered. He asked me if there was any other car I was interested in and looking at the current Toyota lineup I wasn't interested in much other than the Scion FR-S which I knew I wouldn't be able to afford. He kindly showed me a standard Corolla and it was far bigger than the Focus but it didn't satisfy my thirst for a platform on which I could build on. There aren't many mods for the Corolla and those that do exist are for the Corolla S which has a better suspension and engine.


The salesman snapped his fingers and said he knows the car for me. And told me he would be right back after getting a key. I began to get nervous. I still owed $16,900 on my current car and by now with 21k miles it was only worth $9000. Any new car I trade for will have the remaining balance rolled over into the price. But anything was better than the idea of dealing with the Focus for the next 3 years. The salesman returned and handed me a key and said "we only have one left, you'll like this"........





2017 Toyota Corolla iM



A Pleasant Surprise: ​The key was for the brand new 2017 Toyota Corolla iM Hatchback. Formerly called the Scion iM the car was rebranded as a Toyota due to Scion's cancellation. I was never fond of hatchbacks but one thing you learn very quickly in the modding and tuning community is that there are always more aftermarket parts for the hatchback version of any given car. I sat down inside and I was in love. The car has an amazing seat, its racing style bolstered and almost hugs you. The interior and dash is similar to the Corolla sedan but far better. It came with so many features as standard it was almost overwhelming a car like this only cost $20,000. Despite looking smaller than the Focus Sedan it is far more roomy because the Corolla has a flat dashboard while the Focus has a raised and angled dash.
It was in my favorite color for a car, Black Sand Pearl (picture above) and it came with the Auto transmission. The rear hatch area has similar space but the rear seats fold down (with only one button push) and can carry all of my work items and anything else. Visually the car is very pretty and different, It has standard Toyota front end similar to the Camry using a honeycomb grille and bright LED DRLs I told the salesman I would be interested if the numbers worked. The only issue with the car is its not a fast car (which really isn't an issue because of the TRD mods that are available now). At 137 HP its not the fastest car but this actually worked to my advantage. The Corolla iM is $200 cheaper to insure than the Focus meaning I would save a bit of money.




2017 Toyota Corolla iM interior


The interior is covered in soft touch plastics which give the car a premium leathery feel. Touchscreen infotainment system and backup camera as standard as well as dual zone climate control this car has so much more for the same price. On top of all this ... its a Toyota and comes with expert build quality and legendary reliability. My Toyota Camry 2 door ran until it reached 209,000 miles and the head gasket blew. I had previously owned a Lexus ES which was based off the same platform and received similar miles before breaking down.


I traded my Ford Focus for the Toyota Corolla iM which I will be turning into my project car. Now I can get started. First few mods will be visual, I ordered Rally Armor Mudflaps to give it the rally car look, I'm looking at a roof rack from Thule because I would like to carry a cargo box on road trips. Eventually I will get the TRD lowering springs for the suspension and TRD Exhaust kit for better performance and sound.


Hope to finally get going soon XD


​iM Reviews






The brand which had a lot going for it, but never really went anywhere has been cancelled after a noble 13 year production run.








"What Moves You?"


​Project Genesis:​ In 1999 Toyota assembled a taskforce of senior executives at its Toyota USA branch to attempt to capture sales of younger first time car buyers. The team began Toyota's "Project Genesis" an initiative launched by Toyota USA to do just that. The 3 vehicles which started this project were The Toyota Echo, Toyota MR2 Spyder and the Toyota Celica. These vehicles at the time did not have much demand, and with this new initiative, Toyota HQ in Japan ordered its USA affiliate to push as many of those three vehicles as possible by marketing them as "Youthful" and "Hip". The Toyota Echo sold well with young buyers at first but eventually most sales were to older individuals. The Echo was sold internationally as the Toyota Yaris and it was eventually renamed to reflect this. The MR2 did not sell well at all because it was a 2 seater convertible which was highly impractical for younger buyers. The majority of sales were to those in the Tuner community. (This is partially why MR2s are so valuable now). The Celica was Toyota's first car which sold extremely well with younger people. Toyota sold 65,000 in the first year of Celica production in 2000, most of them to younger buyers. The project was eventually cancelled with data collected and a lesson learned Toyota decided to move on with this new information.




​Scion Xb Advertisment (2nd Gen)


​Project Exodus: ​Using the information gathered from Project Genesis, Toyota decided to launch "a brand within a brand" by introducing the Scion marque. Scion vehicles were built by Toyota but marketed toward younger buyers who had never purchased a car, never owned a Toyota or needed a car cheap. Scion's vehicles were available for sale at Toyota dealerships and could also be serviced there. Scion officially launched in 2001.




Scion xB and Scion xA


Launch:​ In 2004 Scion revealed the xB and xA at the auto show in Los Angeles as initially the brand was only available in California but slowly spread to dealers in the South and East later on. By 2005 all Toyota Dealers in the US were selling Scion vehicles as well. Not much after the Scion tC was revealed as well as the second generation xB. Scion expanded into Canada by 2010.


​Reception: ​Scion was a bold move for Toyota, The xB was a major crap shoot in that it was not a car designed for the U.S. Market rather, a Japanese car made U.S. legal. It was very boxy and that is what made it popular. Because it was different it did attract younger buyers however the magic did end as the Xb was not a comfortable car to drive and was not large enough to carry the many things millennials transport. The second generation Xb was meant to fix this however sales were consistently low and most sales were actually to seniors who were attracted by its practicality and low price.


The Scion xA was not a notable car other than that it was very boring and not much different from a standard Corolla other than the hatchback design. It was replaced with the extremely similar and equally boring xD.


The Scion tC was the best selling car for the brand and 2007 was the best year, selling over 63,852 Scion tC's that year. Scion would never go on to sell more cars than that in a year. The tC was based on a European platform and solved the ride and handling problems the boxier models suffered from. This was also the model that allowed Scion's vison to be realized. The car had many aftermarket parts available and was very popular with younger buyers for this reason. However the tC even in its second and third generations the tC was not well equipped inside. Even newer models had very bland plastic covered interior which generally only came in one color,,,, black.


The only true sports car sold on the brand was the Scion FR-S which debuted in 2012. It was a rebadged version of the Jointly produced Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ. U.S. buyers of the car were forced to buy the Scion version or the more expensive premium feeling BRZ. Scion FR-S was only offered with the lowest possible options in order to keep the price low. This meant putting the Scion next to the Subaru, while looking the same were very different.




​Scion tC Series 10 (Final Release)


​Scion throughout its entire history has struggled with sales and has never had a car which completely filled its niche well. The tC is perhaps the closest, filling the small 2 door coupe bracket which is only served by rivals such as the Kia Forte Koupe, Honda Civic and Hyundai Genesis.


End of an Era: ​Toyota announced the end of the Scion Brand at the beginning of 2016 with Scion closing down in August. The final 2 Scion models would continue on production with Toyota badging and features along with the FR-S which finally carries the Toyota badge and its known as the Toyota 86 (which is a very important number for diehard Toyota fans). The Scion models are the Scion iM and Scion iA.




The Final Hurrah: The Scion iM (Hatchback) and Scion iA (Sedan)


​The last new Scion models are the 2016 Scion iM and iA. The iM is essentially the Toyota Auris, a small Toyota hatchback which rides on a modified Toyota Corolla platform and is sold internationally but sells best in Europe.


The iM has an Independent rear suspension which gives an amazing ride and an interior similar to the Toyota Corolla but comes with extras as standard. Such as dual zone climate control as standard, Push button fold in mirrors, LED DRLs, Halogen Projector Headlamps, and the Scion BeSpoke touchscreen infotainment system made by Pioneer. Navigation can be added to the system for $900. 17 inch wheels standard etc. It is one of the best equipped vehicles sold for under $20,000.


The iA is actually not a Toyota. The Scion iA is actually a rebadged Mazda Demio/Mazda2. The Mazda2 is assembled in Mexico and Toyota sells the car as a slightly upscale version of the Yaris. Small cheap car sales have always been a strong selling point of the Toyota brand and the iA is part of cooperation with Mazda. The iA is also well equipped for its under $20,000 price point. It is the first and only Scion badged vehicle that is a four door sedan.


The Scion iM and iA will continue production as the Toyota Corolla iM and Toyota Yaris iA and the Scion FR-S will become the Toyota 86 for the 2017 model year. 2016 will be the last production year for the Scion tC.






Lessons Learned: ​Scion used sales and marketing techniques which were different and made the brand interesting such as the advertisements which could be found in non traditional places for car adverts such as movie theaters and video game shops. Scion models were only offered in 1 trim level. This allowed the cars to be sold at a lower price and allowed for easy buying. The only factory options Scion vehicles came with were the color and transmission. All other options could be added later or aftermarket. Toyota's average customer age was 52 while Scion's was 39 (an industry low). However it was a soulless brand. One of the first modifications made to most Scion FR-S models was a badge swap. Owners would replace the Scion badge with a Toyota badge quickly making the point the no one wanted Scion around. Its concept was unique and different and Toyota certainly gets credit for trying.




Scion Adverts