Responses to Declining Ridership, Part 1: Contracting, Independent Contractors and Brokers

Nearly 350 years ago, as his third “Law of Motion,” Sir Isaac Newton pointed out that, for every action, there is a reaction. But this principle is not restricted to physics. It is part of human nature. As we evolved as a species, then a society and then an economy, this principle has become more and more necessary. With the last four decades’ changes in the distribution of wealth, transit ridership should have increased. Instead, it has declined dramatically. The reaction to this decline has taken three basic forms: (a) an increase in private contracting (see https://transalt.com/article/defending-contractors-part-6-contracting-fixed-route-transit/ ) , (b)

Survival and Prosperity, Part 4: Service Concepts

In Parts 1 of this series (see https://transalt.com/article/survival-and-prosperity-part-1-magic-corridors/), I identified a significant, if not extraordinary, opportunity for tens of thousands of motorcoaches to survive and prosper by “mode-splitting” passengers away from short- and medium-distance commercial airline flights. In Part 2 (see https://transalt.com/article/survival-and-prosperity-part-2-the-magic-coach/, I described the characteristics of the vehicle that could accomplish this task. In Part 3 (see https://transalt.com/article/survival-and-prosperity-part-2-the-gains-of-winning-the-cost-of-failure/), I provided the rationale for this opportunity, and concluded by summarizing the characteristics of the vehicle needed. Yet one question remains: Once one has such a vehicle, what does one do with it? On a broad scale, Part 1 of this

Survival and Prosperity, Part 3: The Gains of Winning, The Cost of Failure

In Part 1 of this series, I identified a gaping hole of opportunity for profitable motorcoach service – in countless corridors where intermediate-distance travel is provided only by commercial airlines. In earlier installments, I exposed the travesties of the commercial airline industry (Southwest Airlines excluded) which make travel of any distance by Today’s commercial airlines an expensive, inconvenient-at-best obstacle course (see https://transalt.com/article/drivers-v-robots-part-2-the-nature-of-modern-travel/). I explored this sector’s corruption in great detail (see https://transalt.com/article/expanding-the-mode-split-dividing-line-part-1-exponential-airline-industry-corruption/). These factors render a mode-split from small- and medium-distance commercial airline flights to luxury motorcoach travel an extraordinary opportunity. All we need is the right vehicle, described in

Survival and Prosperity, Part 2: The Magic Coach

In Part 1 of this series, titled, Magic Corridors, I outlined a strategy by which the motorcoach industry could explode into moderate-length corridors otherwise dominated by commercial airlines. Arithmetically, this strategy would seem impossible to fail. But part of the ability to realize this expansion, and offer a wildly-beneficial alternative, lies in the adaptation of the Coach deployed in such a service. The paragraphs below outline the characteristics these vehicles will need. And it will summarize both a rationale and perspective for the modifications suggested. (Part 3 in this series will expand on these points.) Most interesting is that few

Uber and Lyft – Defendants Most Vulnerable, Lawsuits Most Lucrative

Uber, Lyft and other TNCs (Transportation Network Companies) are part of the largest, most extensive and diverse criminal enterprise this country has ever seen. Having this network’s activities exposed in open court would not only disclose their collusion with countless other companies, but could mean the end of their operations in your State – and possibly beyond. Or it could lead to regulations that would kill their business model and crush their profits. Facing someone with my knowledge, these companies would NEVER proceed to trial: Their practices would be exposed even if they won. The principal challenge is to control

Survival and Prosperity Part 1: Magic Corridors

Yes, there are still some opportunities for the motorcoach industry to get back on its feet. This series of installments will provide some new ideas – beyond those discussed briefly in a few previous NATIONAL BUS TRADER articles (see Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Motorcoach Survival in the Age of COVID- 19 in the May, June and August 2021 issues: https://transalt.com/article/motorcoach-survival-in-the-age-of-covid-19-part-1-roles-and-opportunities/; https://transalt.com/article/motorcoach-survival-in-the-age-of-covid-19-part-2-on-the-road-again/, and https://transalt.com/article/motorcoach-survival-in-the-age-of-covid-19-part-3-the-end-of-charter-and-tour-service-for-now/. Competing with airlines in corridors not serviced by AMTRAK. Frankly, the opportunity outlined below was here all along: Competing with airlines in corridors not serviced by AMTRAK. It was just never optimized. Not that AMTRAK

Transportation Network Companies – Even Worse than Expected

The clever title Eyes Wide Shut was wasted on a allegedly-sexual movie released in 1999. While there are plenty of mainstream events widely opening our eyes these days, this film’s expression is an understatement for events that have occurred in the United States public transportation field in the last seven or so years. I am not so sure even a dead man’s switch would open many eyes in our field. But I have been trying to do so. This installment is yet another alarm. I mourn the days when my National Bus Trader installments were either positive (like the year-long

Expanding the Mode Split Dividing Line, Part 1: Exponential Airline Industry Corruption

Modal competition has ebbed and flowed over the past 100 years. Until the recent incursion of transit network companies (TNCs), each mode managed to find its own niche, some overlaps notwithstanding. At its best, this mix sorted each mode into a role where it had its own defined ridership, and where the hierarchy of modes provided rational choices for many or most non-automobile travelers. Some modes (e.g., motorcoach, taxi and limousine service) required no subsidies, others (e.g., schoolbus service, NEMT service) operated completely with subsidies 1, and still others (e.g. transit and paratransit) operated mostly with subsidies. At the margins,

Defending Contractors, Part 6: Contracting Fixed Route Transit

The first five installments of this series prepared National Bus Trader readers for a large part of their future. Paying even marginal attention to national and global trends, the forces shaping this future should be clear: The rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Most of Today’s drivers — in all public transportation modes, public and private — are earning perhaps a fourth of what they did 40 years ago, in Today’s dollars. Transit ridership had been declining by roughly 10 percent nationally two years before the emergence of COVID-19. Studies show it has recovered to reach 35 percent

Defending Contractors, Part 4: Beware the Selection Process

As installments #1 through 3 of this series illustrated, contractors are often blamed for incidents where all or most of the negligence was committed by the parties which hired them. Where government subsidies support all or most transportation costs — like those for schoolbus, transit, paratransit, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) or other non-emergency services — these funds can only flow to (or through) a public agency — usually referred to as the “lead agency.” That agency has three choices for providing the service: It can provide the service itself. It can engage a private contractor (or multiple contractors) to provide