January 27, 2009

Economy, increasing business on minds at UMA Expo 2009


Victor Parra, president/CEO of the UMA, addresses the crowd during the Opening Session.


Exploring new opportunities and maintaining the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new Charter Bus Rules and the worldwide economic downturn were the constant themes being discussed at the United Motorcoach Association’s (UMA) Expo 2009, held in Orlando, Fla. Jan. 21 to 25.

“Preserving the charter bus rule will be a battle,” said Victor Parra, president/CEO of the UMA, citing pressure from transit groups to make changes to the recently finalized rule. During the Opening Session, Parra also discussed that the secret to successfully picking up more charter work may be to partner with local operators that have historically been looked at as the competition. He called the new mindset, “Coop-itition.”  

Concern for the spiking economy was a theme echoed throughout the Expo, whether it was during sessions, breaks and networking opportunities or on the show floor, with many panelists, attendees and suppliers discussing what they are doing to cinch their proverbial belts. One solution thrown out quite a bit was reassessing your office and scaling down the operation wherever you find it feasible.

Held on the penultimate night, the 6th Annual UMA Vision Awards Banquet honored the best and brightest in the industry with a Las Vegas-themed celebration.

Metro Magazine’s Motorocoach Operator of the Year Award went to Dale Krapf of Krapf Coaches Inc. Dwight Lacey of James River Bus Lines won the UMA Safety Leader of the Year Award. The operation also double-dipped, by winning the 2009 Vision Award for large operators, with Excursions Trailways winning in the small operator category.

Additionally, Ronald Bast of Riteway Bus Service won the Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award and Bauer’s Transportation’s Gary Bauer accepted the Green Highway Award, sponsored by MCI.

The night ended with an announcement from UMA and the National Tour Association that the two associations have begun exploring co-locating their shows in the future. Next year's show will be in Las Vegas Feb. 23 to 27. 

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