Motor Coach Industries (MCI) notes building a successful motor coach business takes years of hard work and a constant eye on what the market wants. It also takes smart investment in equipment, which Jonathan Keith founder of Optimum Ride has practiced since the beginning, adding a pristine pre-owned MCI model each year.
On Oct. 10th, Keith marked a milestone by adding a brand new, 2018 MCI J4500 coach — the first all-new coach the 17-year-old New Brunswick tour and charter company has ever owned. Optimum Ride celebrated with clients, staff and friends at an open house.
“I’m a true bus man now — it’s a huge milestone for us to move up to this all-new coach,” said Keith, a former builder, who always wanted to give motor coach transportation a try. Today, with 35 full- and part-time employees and a 19-vehicle fleet including 16 MCI coaches.
The Sussex, N.B.-based operator began with a single MCI 1972 MC-5B that he purchased in 2000. Today, the company’s operations serve the growing tourist destinations in the Canadian Maritimes. Optimum’s territory includes popular spots such as St. John, a port city that features the New Brunswick Museum and the historic St. John City Market's many food stalls. To the southwest is Reversing Falls, where rapids flow backwards at high tide.
“Right now, our clientele includes corporations, cruise tourists, universities, school groups, inbound tours and athletic teams,” said Keith, who, with his background in construction, designed its headquarters and motor coach maintenance facility himself.
Keith, who still drives and has taken the company as far west as Kansas City and Edmonton and all the way down to Florida, loves the passenger experience the most.
“Meeting the people and driving are the most fun part of our business — it’s great to show them this part of our country,” he says. “There’s always one of our coaches somewhere. I know people are pretty astonished a bus company would grow in our little town, and to take them throughout the U.S. and Canada is very rewarding.”
The totally re-envisioned 2018 J4500 includes a reconfigured lavatory and air-intake system that produced 20 inches of new floor space, allowing for best-in-class legroom. In addition to many new options, new standard
touches include the latest design in indirect LED lighting, puck-style spotlights and striking entryway illumination.