Springfield, Mass.-based Peter Pan Bus redesigned the interior and exterior of its buses, and is debuting the new look with a delivery of 10 of a total of 30 MCI J4500 and D4505 coaches on order.
The re-branding effort is targeted at gaining ridership among college and young professional demographics, said Bruce Westcott, Peter Pan's senior director of sales and marketing. He describes the new coaches as having a sleeker look, while not losing the green and white image that is iconic in the Northeast. "It's something that people feel comfortable getting on," he said. "It's not their grandfather's bus any longer."
To help the National Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield celebrate its 50th anniversary, Peter Pan has fitted one of its J4500s with a graphic that publicizes the milestone. The company reviewed 15 versions of the coach graphics, narrowing them down to three that were then tested with key customers. MCI showcased Peter Pan's new J4500 at the American Bus Association Marketplace, held Jan. 15 to 19, at Gaylord National Harbor, Md.
Additions to the interior are also aimed at providing desirable amenities for those target demographics. All the new coaches are equipped with Wi-Fi capability (the entire 250-vehicle Peter Pan fleet has been outfitted with Wi-Fi over recent months), flat-screen video monitors, power outlets for passengers' laptop computers and PDAs, and three-point seat belts. "More and more schools are requiring their coach carriers for field trips to have seat belts, so all of our new equipment will come with seat belts," Westcott said. "Even though it's not law yet, it's the right thing to do."
The seating and interior color scheme also got a makeover, with a focus on comfort and ergonomics. "The shape of the seats has been sculpted so it gives more knee and legroom," Westcott said. The seats also feature custom woven fabric in a darker color than past interiors, providing a calming, subdued atmosphere.
The coaches also feature clean-diesel engine technology for lower emissions, as mandated by the EPA, along with MCI's safety and performance package of Electronic Stability Control, SmartWave tire pressure monitoring and Amerex fire suppression system, standard on new MCI models.
The remaining 20 coaches on order with MCI will be delivered by May 2010, officials say. Westcott said it will take about three years to update the older vehicles in the fleet with the interior and exterior changes.
In addition to marketing the new look of the coaches, Westcott said Peter Pan launched a fall/winter campaign in partnership with Greyhound called "Are you on?" as part of the companies' Bolt Bus joint venture. "It's driving the new amenities on the coaches, more aggressively with colleges and universities," he said. "It's about getting kids home for the holidays and getting parents comfortable with the fact that they don't have to go and pick up their children at college. They can put them on a bus and they'll have a safe, reliable ride home."
At Thanksgiving, Robert Schwarz, executive vice president, public relations, said the operator transported 140,000 passengers, which represents 35,000 more people than the previous year. "We're starting to see additional revenues in the contract side of business as well," Westcott said.
Going forward, Peter Pan will continue to focus on safety, Schwarz said. One move that brought the company a great deal of media attention was the addition of hand sanitizer dispensers on the doors of all motorcoaches to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus.
Peter Pan also recognizes drivers who achieve one, two or three million miles of accident-free driving. The company currently employs three drivers who have reached the three-million-mile mark. One million miles of accident-free driving translates into 12 years without an accident, officials say. Among the traditions Peter Pan has established over its 76-year history is naming each coach after a figure from the literary Peter Pan story or for a driver with three million miles of accident-free service.