In October 2012, the Dallas-based Tornado Bus Co. opened the doors to its brand new passenger terminal after battling overcrowding at its Jefferson, Texas location.
“It came to the point where during the winter, passengers had to stand outside to wait for their connections, and there weren’t enough restrooms for the quantity of customers we had daily. The parking lot was a big issue as well,” explains Chief Financial Officer Alfredo Ramos.
The new bus facility encompasses 8.5 acres and is 10 minutes from downtown Dallas. The operator decided to consolidate its corporate, safety, dispatch, and maintenance departments and main terminal into the project. The result is a cohesive operation with outstanding customer service.
“Our main key here has always been and will continue to be excellent customer service,” Ramos says. “We have fully equipped new buses, perhaps better equipment than any other transportation company out there, but if we don’t treat our customers the way they deserve, then we have nothing.”
Customers at the new terminal have access to a restaurant, televisions for entertainment purposes and more than 400 parking spaces. They can also view arrival and departure times on four 55-inch monitors in the facility.
“This main terminal will act as a hub and will have the ability to interconnect with places like Nashville, Tenn.; West Memphis, Ark.; Detroit; North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, as well as our Texas locations,” Ramos says. “And, also interconnect with other transportation companies, such as Zima Real, Estrella Blanca and Escapade Bus Line.”
When the company was founded by Ramos and brothers Juan and Vicente Vazquez, it provided only two trips a week and was aimed at the Hispanic community in Texas.
Tornado Bus Co. drivers use a coach driving simulator as part of the operator’s driving training program. The simulator helps drivers become familiar with navigating a 45-foot motorcoach through traffic, mountains and inclement weather. A building attached to the new terminal has a training room for drivers.
“This new location was just what we had been anticipating, what our employees and customers needed,” Ramos adds.
In addition to the construction of its new terminal, the operator finished adding wheelchair lift ramps to 100% of its units well before the government-mandated deadline for ADA compliance on Oct. 31, 2012.
“Seventy-five percent of our units have been equipped since 2011 so I believe we got a good head start, something that not all companies were able to do,” Ramos explains. “It is extremely important for us to be in full compliance with ADA, not just because it’s the law but because we believe that all customers should be treated equally and given the same opportunity as others. I believe we all have family around the country that we would like to visit.”
The motorcoaches run by Tornado Bus Co. also meet the new Environmental Protection Agency emission standards, have state-of-the-art video and audio systems, and many are equipped with 110-volt outlets to allow the use of laptops and cell phones.
“My father taught me how to work hard, how to appreciate and value all that surrounds me, and that is why I always try to emphasize this to my employees,” Ramos says. “These customers work hard for their money. Some may travel, some might just wire money to loved ones. Whatever the case may be, they’re paying for a service, therefore, we have to provide it to the best of our ability. If we provide poor service, their money becomes worthless, it loses dignity, it loses the value of their hard work; poor service is just not in my book.
“We treat each customer as one of our own; we are truly committed to them and their safety. I believe this is what makes us different from any other transportation company,” Ramos adds.