Members of the American Bus Association (ABA) and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) voted convincingly in early May to unify the two groups. After more than a year of intense discussions between the industry’s two primary associations, approximately 90% of both groups’ members voted in favor of consolidation.
In a joint statement, the chairmen of the two organizations said the vote signals the start of a new era for private bus operators and the North American motorcoach industry. “The new organization that will result from the consolidation will be stronger, more representative and more effective than the two associations were separately,” said ABA Chairman Ron Eyre and UMA Chairman David Brown.
Overall, UMA members voted 207 to 30 in favor of consolidation, while ABA members voted 237 to 16. Both votes comfortably exceeded a Washington, D.C., law requiring a two-thirds member vote to ratify the consolidation of associations.
“This presents ABA and UMA with many opportunities to develop a new, stronger association that better serves our collective members,” said Eyre, president of Eyre Bus and Travel in Glenelg, Md.
The consolidation will help lend a stronger voice to the industry in Washington, D.C., while also ending years of confusion and redundancy, added Brown, who also serves as president and CEO of Holiday Tours in Randleman, N.C.
The next step for the two groups will be to address several key issues of contention, including the following:
Finding a CEO — A six-member search committee will seek one leader for the combined organization. Current ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso and UMA President and CEO Victor Parra are both expected to be among the candidates.
Choosing a board of directors — the ABA and UMA boards will be combined into one board of 65 members, and over the course of four years be reduced to 32.
Christening the organization — All members will take part in brainstorming a new name for the consolidated association.
Handling trade shows — The ABA and UMA must decide whether to combine their two industry-leading shows or hold them separately.
For more information on this historic unification, go to ABA’s Website at www.buses.org or UMA’s at www.uma.org.