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Old July 12th, 2009, 12:37 AM   #1
BART Rider
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MISC | Van Hool buses

AC Transit in Alameda & Contra Costa Counties has purchased and unleashed horrible, in-accessible European buses over the last few years!

1. The Van Hool Buses are very cramped inside.
2. All seats are on foot high pedestals. Aisles are very narrow.
3. Wheelchairs have to be loaded from the middle door.
4. They are not very smooth riding.
5. Wheelchairs cannot see where the bus is as their view is obstructed by the motor. The motor is in the middle of the bus!
6. There are stop request buttons. They don't make as much sense as the chords.
7. People have been injured trying to get to seats on these buses.
8. Many drivers do not like to drive these buses.
9. AC Transit wasted money on these before seeing how the public likes them.
10. They are very expensive.
11. Many buses from the US were scrapped as soon as these were purchased. There won't be any getting rid of these now!
12. They get very hot when you ride them on hot days.
13. AC Transit wants to raise fares and cut service. They blame it on a lack of state funding, but I think it's the Van Hool buses. They payed a lot for them and now it's coming back to haunt them!




What do you guys think?
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Old July 12th, 2009, 01:05 AM   #2
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All the Van Hool Transit buses I've ridden (A330 and AG300) have been wonderfull. And not all van Hool buses have seats on pedestles. Depending on the model, you can get some seats on the floor. Some wheelchair users acually prefer the rear door boarding because of the turning space and having the wheelchair area immediately accessible. Also all the ones I've been on don't have the wheelchair location behind the engine.
Does AC Transit even have A/C on these buses? If not I imagine it would be hot! The AG300s in Quebec, actually the majority of buses in Quebec, don't have A/C and they can be uncomfortable.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 01:13 AM   #3
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Really? I thought Van Hool always put them on pedestals! My bad! If I were in a wheelchair, I would hate boarding through the rear door. It's almost like a message from the transit system saying "You have a disability so you have to board from the rear/middle door". Seriously, why can't the front door be wide enough for a wheelchair? It makes no sense.

We do have a few 40' Van Hool buses with more seats on the floor. They were custom made upon request due to the numerous complaints.

Why do you need a European bus? Why not buy in America for god's sake! Gillig, NABI, and NewFlyer are all perfectly good! You don't need to go overseas to get an attractive looking bus!
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Old July 12th, 2009, 02:09 AM   #4
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The thing is, most of the 'complaints' you have about the buses (which appear to be more than a bit fuelled by 'patriotic' motives) are there because AC Transit specifically asked Van Hool to build them that way. That's the great thing with Van Hool: they don't offer a limited number of buses for you to choose from, they ask you what you want, and build what you want. Wheelchair lift in the middle? That's because that's where AC Transit asked Van Hool to put it. Engine in the middle? Again, with Van Hool you choose where you want the engine: middle or back. AC wanted it in the middle. And so on.

In fact, you're going to get more Van Hools. My brother works for the company, and they're currently building a new type of bus, designed in close cooperation with AC Transit. It's a cross between a bus and a coach: it has the front end of a bus (like the ones in your pictures) and the back is that of a touring coach. It'll look like this:
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Old July 12th, 2009, 02:31 AM   #5
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Yes. I was aware we were supposed to get more. It looks like there will be a wheelchair ramp in the middle (again)! I can't believe AC Transit would want anything that looks like that! Will seats be on the floor?
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Old July 12th, 2009, 02:57 AM   #6
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I quite honestly don't see what your problem is with the wheelchair access being in the middle. It's there for good reason: the space for wheelchairs is also in the middle, and can thus far more easily be reached via the back door. And that space is in the middle because it can be reached more easily from the back door than any space in the front would be from the front door, as there's no need to maneuver past obstacles, like the driver. Furthermore, boarding wheelchairs in the back means you're not holding up other passengers boarding at the front.

As far as the 'looks' of the new bus are concerned: hold your horses just a bit. This is just a simple drawing. Wait for the real thing to come out. When it comes to design, Van Hool (and most other European manufacturers) are years ahead of North American manufacturers, whose buses still look remarkably like the Euro buses of the 1980s.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 06:16 AM   #7
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BART Rider, New Flyer is Canadian
That's besides the point; I'm pretty sure AC transit inked a pretty nice deal with Van Hool for these buses (they are Van Hool's biggest customers, so I suspect some deep discounts were given)
Van Hool is perfectly capable of making good buses. the VIVA brt lines in Toronto use them, and the layout is quite good. It all depends on the interior layout requested by the customer. AC transit didn't do their homework regarding how riders would like it. The outside is sleek, the inside is a mess.
Since this was such a massive order, there are bound to be other factors too, such as fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, etc.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 07:26 AM   #8
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Pretty nice deal? I'm not so sure. But center side-mounted engines are really quite silly. You're right: they're a horrible mess! Why do Europeans make buses with seats on pedestals instead of them on the floor? I don't get it. And these were definitely custom ordered, as Van Hool buses in Europe do not have a 4th door (or a 3rd).
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Old July 12th, 2009, 07:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teach View Post
I quite honestly don't see what your problem is with the wheelchair access being in the middle. It's there for good reason: the space for wheelchairs is also in the middle, and can thus far more easily be reached via the back door. And that space is in the middle because it can be reached more easily from the back door than any space in the front would be from the front door, as there's no need to maneuver past obstacles, like the driver. Furthermore, boarding wheelchairs in the back means you're not holding up other passengers boarding at the front.

As far as the 'looks' of the new bus are concerned: hold your horses just a bit. This is just a simple drawing. Wait for the real thing to come out. When it comes to design, Van Hool (and most other European manufacturers) are years ahead of North American manufacturers, whose buses still look remarkably like the Euro buses of the 1980s.
Like I said, it's a matter of accessibility. And it doesn't matter. The driver makes everyone wait anyway. It just doesn't make sense. Every American bus manufacturer makes buses with Wheelchair ramps in front. It makes more sense. Most buses are well designed with plenty of room for a wheelchair to get in and through to their spot. DON'T TRY IT ON A VAN HOOL! You aren't even able to get in the front door because it's so darn narrow!
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Old July 12th, 2009, 08:49 AM   #10
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New Flyer buses can have the ramp in the middle door, i depends on the operator, most RTS had rear lifts as well.

people getting hurt trying to get seats????

stop request buttons instead of chords, since you have to get out of your seat to get off the bus, it makes sense
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Old July 12th, 2009, 08:51 AM   #11
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btw, hot day + bus without A/C = hot bus, no matter who makes it
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Old July 12th, 2009, 08:54 AM   #12
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True. True indeed. However, NABI does a better job of creating windows that actually let air in!
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Old July 12th, 2009, 09:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BART Rider View Post
Like I said, it's a matter of accessibility. And it doesn't matter. The driver makes everyone wait anyway. It just doesn't make sense. Every American bus manufacturer makes buses with Wheelchair ramps in front. It makes more sense. Most buses are well designed with plenty of room for a wheelchair to get in and through to their spot. DON'T TRY IT ON A VAN HOOL! You aren't even able to get in the front door because it's so darn narrow!
Most buses are made to specification. The very fact that you're whinging that they're made in "Europe" shows that a bit of nationalist bias is entering your posting. Sure, moan about new bus procurement by the transit agency, but remember that the buck stops with them, not with the manufacturer per se - especially not given your complaints with these buses as that is the sort of thing that those who order the bus should have specified during procurement.

Also, the buses you show look vastly different to the Van Hool buses that you see in Europe - the bike rack alone should hint that these are very different.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 12:05 PM   #14
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I remember riding lots of times Van Hool A300, A330, AG300 an they are believed to be one of the best bus in the world. I suggest the problem lies in the authorities who operate the region described.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 01:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
And these were definitely custom ordered, as Van Hool buses in Europe do not have a 4th door (or a 3rd).
You might want to check that again. The AG300 is available with 3 or 4 doors, the A330 with 2 or 3. All depends on the customer.

Quote:
Every American bus manufacturer makes buses with Wheelchair ramps in front. It makes more sense.
On top of the fact that that has already been disporven (see aznichiro115's post), pretty much every European bus I've seen has it in the back. It makes more sense .

Quote:
DON'T TRY IT ON A VAN HOOL! You aren't even able to get in the front door because it's so darn narrow!
Don't blame Van Hool for the front door being so narrow: it's like that because AC Transit requested it. In Europe, the front door in a Van Hool bus is just as wide as the back door(s). So, once more, you're barking up the wrong tree.

Quote:
However, NABI does a better job of creating windows that actually let air in!
And, yet again: customer specification. AC Transit selected the windows. They could have selected other windows, like for instance Genua (Italy) did:
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Old July 12th, 2009, 02:19 PM   #16
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I'd also like to add that VH busses are very reliable, much more than many other European-made busses.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 06:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aznichiro115 View Post
people getting hurt trying to get seats????
Yep.

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/news/t...ent?oid=627762
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Old July 12th, 2009, 06:45 PM   #18
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Okay: let me stand corrected and put this differently. AC Transit it doing a horrible job at selecting appropriate buses for service in the United States. They also violated Buy America laws and frankly, I don't get why they aren't in trouble. They spent about 4 times the money that they need to to get good buses. But how about this:

AC Transit went to Van Hool first and talked to them about what they could do. They then went back to America and put it up for bids online: rigged to look exactly what Van Hool offered. So of course, VH was the only bidder, because no American bus company could do what Van Hool would do.

Another thing that factors into this is free trips to Europe payed for by tax dollars. It's not just all business; the president of the AC Transit board has taken many relaxing vacations in Europe.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 06:51 PM   #19
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Okay, so are you guys saying that is AC had wanted it, Van Hool would have made buses with every seat on the floor, all the equipment in the back, the motor UNDER the floor, windows that really let air in, all of the doors the same size, the wheelchair ramp in front, and stop request chords?
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Old July 12th, 2009, 08:52 PM   #20
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You should really look at some pictures of Toronto's Viva Van Hool Ag300s and A330s as they are probably the best example of Van Hools in North America.
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