Motorcoach Operator Q&A: Contending with Change

Posted on June 18, 2012 by Nicole Schlosser, Senior Editor - Also by this author

Page 1 of 3

Coming out of the recession, motorcoach carriers have had to adapt to changes in the way customers spend, seek bids and travel; more complicated vehicles; tighter competition and more scrutiny due to rising safety concerns. We asked a handful of motorcoach operators — Jared Stancil, executive VP, Anchor Trailways in Nashville, Tenn.; Gary Krapf, president of Krapf Coaches in West Chester, Pa.; Marie Williams, office manager for Spirit Tours in Chicago; and Gene Wright II, GM, B&W Charters in Kalamazoo, Mich. — for their thoughts on various aspects of the industry, from a proposed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rule to changes in their customers and quotes to conversion ratios to the biggest challenges facing them today.

What do you think of the new NHTSA proposed rule for electronic stability control systems to be required on all buses?

Stancil: From what I saw of the information that [NHTSA] put out, they believe that over 50% of rollovers can be avoided. That’s a pretty staggering amount, especially when you consider that the technology’s already in place. It seems like it’s a good fit. The technology’s already there and it seems like it would make a significant difference. I would welcome that. Put it in place and let’s start saving lives, hopefully.

Wright II: I believe anything that increases passenger safety is a good thing. I just want it [to be] vetted properly and make sure there are some provisions made for older equipment. I think any mandate should come with funding assistance if it includes coaches made prior to the rule.

Williams: I think about [needing] more money, to facilitate that type of equipment on your bus. I don’t know whether old coaches would be a better bet or whether you would have to invest in a new coach to have that. Any time things change like that, there’s more money involved to take care of those particular requirements.

Are you including social media in your marketing plan? If so, have you found it to be as beneficial as or more so than other methods?

Stancil: Yes. We have developed a social media marketing plan and invested in certain things such as customized Facebook tabs, and it has been very beneficial. We’re able to give specific messages to very targeted customers. It’s helped us build our relationships. We’re able to promote our clients’ events and talk about their trips. It’s been really helpful for us to keep a dialogue going with them. We really want to show we’re more than just a bus company. We can show our personality, that their trip is important to us. We can talk about their trip before they take it and while they’re on it. It’s been very beneficial, and we are investing heavily in more technology and apps.

Krapf: Yes. I make sure I have someone on staff that is interacting on some level with social media. I do think it has helped to bring some attention to the services we provide. You can see certain levels of inquiries that are generated. Beyond pure social media it’s obvious the amount of Internet quoting and emails has increased tremendously in the last couple years.

Wright II: It’s important for any company to have a social media presence. The degree of involvement is tied to the area you operate in. If you’re hauling a lot of college students or line runs, then it’s probably going to benefit your business quite a bit. It will play a bigger role in subsequent years.

Williams: We’re not doing Twitter or Facebook to obtain customers. Some people have the computer equipment and some don’t. I do see it as a way to branch out. We send thank you [notes] to our customers. It’s nice to get something in the mail that isn’t a bill.

It was revealed recently that a bus driver in a crash in March of last year had his driver’s license suspended 18 times and was fired from two previous transportation jobs. Do you see vetting for suitable bus drivers as an issue in the industry?

Stancil: I don’t think it’s a vetting issue. I think that recently what you’ve seen is several examples of rogue carriers that just have a complete disregard for passenger safety and federal laws and who are just dangerous. We just have access to so much information now including the pre-screening program and CSA data. We can get any information about anybody because of technology. I think it’s more an enforcement issue, making sure that these rogue operators are shut down.

Williams: I would think that something like that, where there were fatalities, would [prompt] some changes. It’s really all about safety, and having drivers who are well-rested before they go out on the road. Maybe in this industry we need to have more or better training for drivers.

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

More News

Driver in fatal Calif. motorcoach crash was also owner/operator

It's still too early to definitely say what caused the accident, officials say. There were no signs of braking, such as skid marks, so far, and the tour bus was also determined not to have seatbelts.

Calif. tour bus crash kills 13, injures 31

All the victims were adults, according to the report, with the surviving passengers and the big rig driver only suffering minor injuries.

FMCSA awards grants to train military vets to drive buses, trucks

The current Commercial Motor Vehicle - Operator Safety Training Grant Program awards are projected to go toward training more than 250 people.

FMCSA proposes enhancements to Safety Measurement System's public website

While the Federal Register announcement responds to comments received following the June 29, 2015, notice, no changes will be implemented in the public SMS website display until after completion of the National Academies of Sciences Correlation Study as required by Section 5221 of the FAST Act.

ABA Foundation to double scholarship amounts in 2017

Also announced that all proceeds raised from ABA’s Annual Meeting & Marketplace Live and Silent Auctions will be allocated to the ABAF’s Fund a Future program to fund this scholarship initiative.

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


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