January 2011

Transportation Charter Services Inc./Day Tours-Orange, Calif.

by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Transportation Charter Services works heavily with tour and student groups. The company recently took delivery of three new Setra S 417 motorcoaches.

Similar to most in the industry, Transportation Charter Services Inc. has experienced all the twists and turns of the last 25 years and managed to not only stay on top but continually excel, with a clean and honest image playing no small part in that success.

"It's that old adage of always putting your best foot forward: keep your buses clean every day, your drivers looking sharp, run new equipment and always be on time," says Jose Gonzales, Transportation Charter Services' GM.

 "I think we stand out with quality, integrity and honesty; those are some of the virtues that help our business shine," adds Vice President Sondra Gilligan.

The company, founded in 1985, began as an agent for Trailways and Greyhound. Following a Greyhound strike that left the operation scrambling to find local carriers for its charters and tours, the operation soon decided it was a better option to run its own equipment, adding buses a little at a time, according to President Ray Gilligan.

Some keys to staying on top over the years include intelligent pricing, developing a strong business plan and diversification.

"What we established some time ago was tier pricing based on utilization, so everybody can take a look at what our rates are based on if we're busy or not," explains Ray Gilligan. "If we're not booked out completely, and we know we're not going to get booked out on slow months, then we're able to do tier pricing and offer clients equipment at a lower rate. That's one of the things that's kept us ahead."

The operation has kept business flowing by finding opportunities that will keep its drivers busy year-round. One major component has been its work with schools and its ability to offer both school buses and motorcoaches to give potential clients in that arena an option.

"School covers nine months out of the year, so that was a given," says Gonzales. "The idea was to run strictly charter for the districts, as opposed to home to school, which gives us a better chance at attracting more districts in more areas."

On the coach side, the operation went after tour operators plus the area's convention work and shuttles, as well as tour operators that bring in groups nationally, aligning itself with student travel groups and the National Tour Association, which helps keeps the operation busy throughout the spring.

In winter comes the operation's biggest focus of the year, providing transportation during holiday season for the annual Rose Bowl and Rose Parade.

Transportation Charter Services also specializes in School Pupil Activity Buses (SPAB) work, with nearly all of its drivers SPAB-Certified. Additionally, its tour company, Day Tours, has played a major role in not only filling in the gaps, but providing a boost in business.

"The tour department was started to kind of fill in the slow days, but, eventually when you start a tour department, it evolves into all days of the week then from day trips to multi-day tours," explains Sondra Gilligan, who adds that the department was critical in the operator's success following 9/11. "After 9/11 hit, me and Jose put together long-distance tours, and, with the economic situation not being the same as it is today, those tours just took off."

An integral aspect of Transportation Charter Services' ability to provide this large breadth of services is its vehicle flexibility, providing an array of vehicles to fit any occasion, including 61-seat motorcoaches that have become ideal for some of the school and large group runs it provides.

The operation recently took delivery of three new Setra S417 motorcoaches from Daimler Buses North America and has plans to purchase 13 new motorcoaches or more in 2011. Both the Gilligans and Gonzales also have plans to keep moving forward and continue growing their business.

"There's always room for improvement, so our goal is to keep moving the company forward and maintaining an excellent name in the industry," says Sondra Gilligan. "Other than that, we also want to communicate to the next generation that traveling by motorcoach is a great way to see the country."  

 

 


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