Management & Operations

Innovative Operator Profile: Employing Technology for Efficient Motorcoach Maintenance

Posted on April 16, 2013

America Charters LTD (ACL) originally began as a bus transportation service for textile employees and citizens of Gaston County, N.C. In 1977, when the city took over the services, ACL became strictly a charter bus company.

Despite being purchased by Coach USA in 1997, ACL, which now operates as a subsidiary of Coach America, has remained a family-oriented business thanks to Billy Ray Rhyne, grandson of its original founder, still serving as president of the operation.

“We have been able to maintain the same family-style ‘look and feel’ that originally existed from the inception of the business,” says Doug Woodie, maintenance director. “As a result, a majority of people in the office have been here for what feels like forever.”

For his part, Woodie has been with ACL off and on for nearly 20 years. He says that maintaining this family atmosphere, along with small perks such as flexible scheduling, makes it a pleasurable place to work. Woodie also believes it is the primary reason that ACL has created a top-notch maintenance program, with some of their vehicles continuously running since 1994.

“The bus business is a disease. It gets in your blood, and for some of us that’s all we know,” he says. “We have been lucky to end up with these guys that really dig the bus. A majority of our mechanic staff has now been together for more than a decade.”

One new addition that is helping ACL increase its maintenance efficiency is the FleetAnywhere software program provided by Coach America, which helps with record keeping and cost analysis, making everything transparent from top to bottom. Each individual affiliated company has the capability to view and analyze each others’ records, inventories, costs and more.

“The ability to determine the operating cost of each individual piece of equipment is paramount. This program makes that determination obvious,” says Woodie. “It really does more than we will ever use it for. Compared to our antiquated pen and paper system, it’s the cat’s meow.”

Woodie adds that the program has been especially helpful in tracking the service records of vehicles, giving the garage the ability to see if any problems they are experiencing are persistent enough to warrant a closer look.

Recent changes in the garage include new mandates to shut down to reduce unnecessary idling and a reduced top speed of 65 mph for all coaches. The latter added time to many of ACL’s trips and posed a learning curve for the entire operation that Woodie says is now firmly under control.

To keep its maintenance department sharp, ACL provides its staff with all the tools and training available to perform their individual tasks in as safe and efficient a manner as possible. To do this, the operation sends staff members to take part in many of its vehicle supplier’s (ABC Companies) in-house training classes. Now that ACL has a larger corporate backing, it is also able to request that some suppliers send their staff out to its headquarters in Charlotte to hold classes, adds Woodie, who also credits his staff’s desire to learn about cutting-edge technologies as bus manufacturers continue to add them to their motorcoaches.

“We are very fortunate that these guys are hungry to do this stuff, they want to learn, and are, therefore, very interested all the time,” he says. “Especially since the manufacturers are always adding new and innovative features to their coaches. Their attitudes are really a plus for us.”

MOTORCOACHES: 65

FLEET MIX: Van Hool T800s, T900s, T2145s and C2045s

EMPLOYEES: 36

DRIVERS: 138

SERVICE AREA: U.S. and Canada

SERVICES OFFERED: charter, tour, athletic and corporate commuter

YEAR STARTED: 1937

AVERAGE ANNUAL MILEAGE: 2.6 million

PRESIDENT: Billy Ray Rhyne

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

Technology, shifts in behavior can improve urban transportation: report

Respondents around the globe chose "driving their own car" over other modes of transport for reasons including comfort (54%), ease of access (47%), and reliability (39%).

Phoenix names new bus rapid transit administrator

Mike James spent the last four-and-a-half years planning and managing rail and transit corridors in Seattle, which included street car operations and seven new BRT corridors.

Deadline extended for Innovative Solutions Award submissions

Applications can be submitted either by the operation or the solutions provider and will be judged by our BusCon Advisory Board, with winners and shortlisted submissions recognized at BusCon’s Award Breakfast on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

Calif.'s GCTD breaks ground on ops, maintenance facility

The new facility will replace an outdated and deteriorating bus garage located on a three-acre site that was originally built in the 1970’s for a much smaller fleet.

London most expensive city to commute to work via public transit

New York City comes in it at No. 4 at a cost of approximately $120 per month, with Chicago and San Francisco at $102.10 and $86.10 per month, respectively.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close