Motorcoach

High-Tech Entertainment Systems Enhance Coach Services

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Angela Lu, Assistant Editor

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System Installation
One business that is particularly familiar with REI’s Elite Entertainment System is ABC Companies, based in Faribault, Minn., which installs REI systems on most of the motorcoaches it sells, totaling almost 400 systems a year. The company sells new and pre-owned vehicles, parts and after sales services, and offers a wide range of financial solutions.

The system is typically installed on ABC’s C2045 coach, which is a 45-foot tour coach used for everything from commuting to multi-day tours and charters, and from shuttling employees from outlying communities into town to school activities. The company normally installs the system into a motorcoach during pre-delivery inspection based on the operator’s preferences for optional features.

“We can offer anything from a very basic video system that is comprised of four monitors, a DVD player, CD player, and AM/FM radio to the only multiple large screen installation in the industry,” says ABC Companies Director of Engineering Andrew Fung. “We have one system by REI that incorporates four, 23-inch monitors, whereas the normal might be a 10.4-inch monitor.”

Customers can also choose to add other features like XM radio and a multi-channel CD changer. Like most companies, ABC has not yet installed many flip-downs. They do, however, use the Scenic View Camera System, which allows up to 61 passengers to have the same view as the driver. REI also works closely with companies like ABC to provide customized features. Fung says ABC has been able to work closely with REI to offer large screen displays on contoured parcel racks.

“A couple of years ago, ABC unveiled contoured parcel racks to the public,” Fung says. “On most coaches the monitors are installed underneath the parcel racks hanging below the profile. These parcel racks are scalloped or sculpted so that the top of the monitor is at roof line instead of below the parcel rack and the parcel rack is contoured in such a way that there are no bad seats in the bus, as far as watching video on a big screen is concerned.”

Enhances Service
Purchasing vehicles equipped with the latest in entertainment technology, or upgrading existing vehicles, has enhanced various services offered by motorcoach companies. Bloom’s Bus Lines of Taunton, Mass., a family-owned bus company that offers daily commuter and charter services, is one such company. Most of their coaches come equipped with REI DVD players, monitors, PA systems, radio and CD players.

“It’s funny because the owner of our company, who has long since passed, was quoted so many times as saying we are in the transportation business and not in the entertainment business,” says Jim Maragnano, director of maintenance for Bloom’s Bus Lines. “But, as time has evolved, people want to be entertained on the buses, and we started installing REI systems exclusively. I think that in today’s market, it is expected that you have that type of equipment.”

Bloom’s Bus Lines has also been able to satisfy requests for iPod audio or laptop/computer input jacks on their stereo systems. Some customers have chosen to play audio or video presentations using these jacks. In addition, the operation has also found that the REI integrated controller has provided a convenient method of operating the many features of the Elite system. Maragnano says they greatly appreciate the ease with which the Elite System allows customers to locate the DVD player in the overhead luggage compartment rather than in the dash where the controller has been located in the past for other entertainment systems and can only be operated by a bus driver.

Mears Transportation in Orlando, Fla., was able to meet the demands of its clients with REI’s GPS-activated video and stop announcements. The company’s buses shuttle passengers between cruise terminals, theme parks, resorts and airports. Greeting and farewell videos play according to geographical location, says Chip Springer, vice president of motorcoach operations.

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