NJ TRANSIT Employee Wins Mousetrap Award

NJ TRANSIT is using new air-operated snow-chain systems on its long-distance cruiser buses this winter, with each one requiring precise installation for the snow chains to work properly. The new system will allow Bus Operators on these buses to gain extra traction if they are having difficulty in snow or ice. 

When NJ TRANSIT Bus Operations Technical Specialist Marc Franco met with the manufacturer, he learned one critical step in the installation process was finding the “centerline” of the bus axle. To help our bus mechanics ensure this measurement was accurate and consistent, Marc developed his own installation tool – the “Tire Centerline Bracket” – which took first place in the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) “Build a Better Mousetrap” competition.

“My initial reaction was disbelief when I heard the news, and then excitement,” said Marc. “Honestly, I was just trying to make our mechanics’ jobs easier.” 

“The ‘Build a Better Mousetrap’ competition offers all state employees the opportunity to innovate, create, implement and produce projects that will improve transportation safety and reliability,” said NJDOT Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Mr. Franco’s invention will expedite the snow chain installation process and keep buses safely moving on snow-covered roads for many winters to come.”

This is the first time an NJ TRANSIT employee won the NJDOT Mousetrap contest, which seeks out new, innovative and efficient ways to improve the quality and safety of transportation projects.

“Marc Franco’s victory in this competition exemplifies the ingenuity and can-do spirit I’ve grown accustomed to seeing from NJ TRANSIT employees,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “Our congratulations go out to Marc for winning this prestigious competition with a concept that improves safety for NJ TRANSIT bus customers and operators.”

“Marc Franco has created a system that can not only help keep NJ TRANSIT buses safely on the road during inclement weather, but is also a system that can be shared with other transportation systems in the State and across the country,” said Senior Vice President of Surface Transit and General Manager of Bus Operations Michael Kilcoyne. “I am proud to have such an innovative, forward-thinking team member on staff.”

The new air-powered snow chain systems are activated by Bus Operators with the push of a button if the bus they are driving has difficulty in snow or ice. Once they regain traction, the Bus Operator pushes a button again and the snow chain system retracts back to its original position beneath the bus.

The snow chain systems are being installed on cruiser buses in northern, central and southern New Jersey this winter. They will be installed on the agency’s NABI buses, which primarily operate on local bus routes, next winter.

The new snow chains and centerline brackets are examples of proactive efforts NJ TRANSIT is taking to enhance the customer experience, keeping our buses and customers safely moving during the winter months.

Marc has been with NJ TRANSIT for approximately 18 years, most of them working at our Central Maintenance Facility in the bus body shop. Congratulations Marc!

Marc Franco stands next to a cruiser bus, similar to one that will receive the new snow chain system.

Marc’s Tire Centerline Bracket, with an accompanying leveling gauge.

The new air-powered snow chain system mounted beneath a bus.