My childhood memories include a few motorcoach trips to Major League baseball games, with coolers on board filled with sodas and beer on ice. But in those days, beer came mostly in cans, even if most sodas (that only the kids drank anyway) came in bottles. So absolutely no one got drunk – partly because most of whatever the passengers drank was for thirst. Otherwise, if these passengers had wanted to get drunk, they would have simply taken a trip to a bar: Like every State (Utah excepted), New Jersey had plenty.
Because both the destination and goals of the passengers was not drunkenness, and most of the glass bottles were consumed by children, the major safety risk was spillage leading to a slip-and-fall accident, and the old-fashioned, non-skid ribbed rubber flooring diminished that risk considerably, other than on winter days when passengers might track in some snow and ice.
Now fast-forward to the present:
Several years ago, I served as an expert witness on a case where a “Drinking Bus” picked up a bunch of heavy-duty drinkers in northern Louisiana (some of whom were already tipsy at the pickup), loaded several coolers filled mostly with quarts of bourbon on board, and drove for four hours to New Orleans, arriving at Midnight. After six more hours spent drinking in the French Quarter, the coach picked them up once again at 6 AM — with the coolers re-filled – for the trip back home. At some point during their 11th or 12th hour of non-stop drinking, a fight broke out between two passengers, one struck his counterpart over the head with a bottle, and a large shard of glass was jettisoned into the eyeball of a third passenger, effectively destroying it.
Dancing in the Dark
Glass bottles and moving vehicles are two things that do not belong together. But even this scenario is tame compared to some of the motorcoach services I discovered in my preparation for that lawsuit. A brief tour of the internet revealed “Dance Buses,” where not only could the passengers drink in real glasses filled from glass bottles, but also did so while dancing – with the coach’s interior lights even dimmed. One operator’s service, a “Stripper Bus,” even had a stripper pole mounted in the center of the passenger aisle around which the “Naked Lady” vamped while doing lewd acrobatics on it. Inertial and centrifugal forces be damned. Par-tee! Par-tee!
As long as motorcoach operators are willing to expose their passengers to such astonishing risks, and insurance companies are willing to “cover them,” I thought I would offer some swell ideas for putting this fabulously-versatile 40- or 45-foot-long vehicle envelope to good use – for far more interesting and exciting purposes than those 10 boring, humanitarian and money-making ideas I wrote about for NBT a couple of years ago (see “Making More Money,” Parts 1 – 10, January through October, 2012). For those NBT readers with even better ideas, please let me know about them ([email protected]). Otherwise, here are some swell ones of mine:
- The Archery Bus. Even on a perfectly-straight freeway stretching for miles without a curve, and a highly-focused driver, pin-point accuracy would still be a challenge – whereas the speed of a bullet would make the “Shooting Range Bus” pointless. Make sure the target is in the rear, though, and try to avoid sharp turns. Passengers seated in the rear might pay lower fares.
- The Darts Bus. Especially if served liquor, passengers could get that real pub feeling. Standing midway in the aisle, dart aficionados could toss them in both directions – with little fear of hitting the driver (other than an occasional ricochet) since he or she sits in front of a modesty panel. Because the roadway would likely contain plenty of curves and turns, aisle-seated passengers could simply wear helmets, hockey goalie masks, thick glasses and chest-protectors. Armor is a bit costly, and its wearer would be singled out as a coward.
- The Bar-b-que Bus. Why stop at coolers? With the restroom at the rear, the front of the coach could accommodate a terrific grill. In fact, why not hire a Benihana chef who could put on a show — gleaming knives juggled willy-nilly as the coach whips around the curves? Clever marketing staff could increase the draw by mounting life-size cardboard cut-outs of George W. and other desirable party goers near the grill. For after-dinner entertainment, the coach could immediately morph into the next thrilling idea.
- The Knife-Throwing Bus. With their bar-b-que feast’s eating utensils, every passenger could play. Put a new twist on the scantily-dressed model strapped to a revolving disk: How about adding inertial and centrifugal forces? Liability what? Even if your carrier knew, he would hardly blink. After all, your premiums are cross-subsidized by the conservative wimps providing all those boring motorcoach trips to historic sites, theaters, concerts and other hi-brow venues.
- The Bowling Bus. What could better accommodate this near-perfect use of a 45-foot passenger aisle? Of course, the non-skid rubber flooring would have to go. And to keep the lane wide enough to accommodate the gutter balls that centrifugal forces would certainly increase, the coach could be equipped with forward-facing, flip-up bench seats, like paratransit vehicles have. To keep their ankles and shins intact, passengers could wear plastic leg guards, like baseball umpires.
- The Bocci Bus. Because the surface for this motorcoach-perfect sport is merely dirt, this bus could morph back and forth to one of those boring, mere travel coaches with a few hours of shoveling, sweeping, vacuuming and mopping. Why not assign those with the lowest scores to this task?
- The Treadmill Bus. Especially with commuter/express service, why simply sit motionless and turn into a Sleep Apnea candidate? Work off those burgers and fries you had for lunch by jogging home. In fact, placing several units close together in tandem in the center-aisle will sharpen the passengers’ mental focus as well. Aisle-seated passengers waiting for their turn could wear shoulder pads to ward off those less-focused joggers whenever the coach curves or turns.
- The Simon Says Bus. Let your tour guide have some fun for a change. Simon says, “stand” during the next pull-in. Simon says, ”jump” during the next left turn. “Use the restroom.” Gotcha! Simon did not say “Use the Restroom.” So to punish you for not paying attention, Simon says, ”somersault” on the next freeway ramp.
- The Kiddie Bus. Start conditioning your kids for transit-dependency before the Middle Class ends. Tour guides could referee Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey. In fact, you could even cast lots, Bible-style, to pick the donkey. Why fly all the way to Pamplona to run with the bulls? Just re-configure the seats and let the passengers experience the same thrills locally merely for motorcoach fares.
- The Tae-Kwon-Do Bus. You would need flip-up seats for this one as well. Passengers could learn to protect themselves during their walks to the bus stop through bad neighborhoods. Covering the large coach windows with cardboard or foam core would reduce the risks of ejection.
- Macarena Bus. Passengers with poor musical taste and a loathing to exercise could line up in the aisles and let their arms doing the dancing. If their legs need some exercise, the passengers could do jumping jacks while you change tapes. Otherwise, it they tire of “The Macarena,” there are plenty of Reggae tunes to fill the void. Two States have already legalized recreational marijuana, and dozens more cannot be far behind. So you won’t have to worry about illegal drug use from all the Reggae lovers. You also will not need those dangerous glass objects to accommodate it, either.
- The Conga Bus. Who said the seats have to be on the sides? Why not place them in the center of the aisle (as on large aircraft) and let your passengers bunny-hop their way around the non-skid rubber track? Put your expensive sound systems to real use for a change.
- The Mogul Bus. A great way to make some money in northern venues during the off-season. Train your ski-trip passengers for the moguls by racing over speed bumps. Or if you are lucky enough to operate in one of our many dying cities (Detroit? Newark? Camden?), you can probably find long stretches full of potholes. With enough bumps and dips, you can hone your passengers into World-class ski champions. Where else can skiers can such terrific training at such bargain rates?
- The NASCAR Bus (ages 8 – 12). Routes could be designed to traverse bad roads at high speeds, to toughen up another generation of Americans to fight in even more foreign wars. Run a tube below the floor to the engine compartment. Toughen up your wimpy passengers’ kiddies. Let them experience the smell of combat with all that carbon monoxide that otherwise goes to waste.
- The Limbo Bus. What better use of unusual muscles could you perfect than with this sport? If your passengers can learn to balance on the inside of their heels, they will almost never slip and fall on their way to the restroom on your boring, normal coach trips reducing your liability exposure. Otherwise, our schools are failing. . So why not lower a real bar?
- The Javelin Bus. Why exclude all those articulated bus riders from the fun? Hurling javelins while the bus turns corners would require even more skill. So you may have to be somewhat choosy about your passengers. Or simply deploy this vehicle in charter instead of tour service. That way, you might even cut down on the lawsuits by arguing that the vehicle did not meet the criteria of a Common Carrier.
- The Prostate and Breast Exam Bus. Today’s doctors’ office staff seem to never schedule you when your doctor is free. Instead of an extra two-way commute and a long wait skimming through boring fashion magazines you would never buy, why not get these life-sustaining examinations done on your way to work? For those a bit queasy, put those expensive video systems to good use. How about a little porn for a change? After all, we have First Amendment rights , do we not? How about exercising them for a change? This is America!
- Juggling Bus. Add a new twist to an old skill. Instead of juggling your schedule, let your passengers “leave the driving to us” and tackle some real challenges. How about pocket-knives? Chain saws? Bowling balls? Guys at the beach make tons in tips doing this all the time. Why not train the growing unemployed to make some money? There is room for thousands of these folks to perform on the New York City subway’s 7000 rail cars alone.
- The Twist and Shout Bus. You might have to remove all the seats for this one (or fold them up). As every fraternity brother knows, there is even a perfect song for this dance. To be fair, you could let mimes ride for half-fare.
Underwriters and Undertakers
Some readers may not find these examples amusing. But many are no more dangerous than the Party Bus. If your insurance premiums are high, you can be sure you are subsidizing buses no less dangerous than these.
Keep the motorcoach industry alive. “Boo” to all those unimaginative, tight-wad, insurance adjusters. And why limit all the money-making to them? At the larger corporate levels, we certainly do not want low-paid bandage makers, mobility aid manufacturers, and pharmaceutical employees laid off, do we? And what about all the money and taxes generated from artificial limb and wheelchair manufacturers? What about all those funeral directors? Think about all the folks you could put to work just making caskets? And hospital workers are being thrown into the unemployment lines like spoiled fruit. Our longer life-spans are putting these poor workers on the street – costing taxpayers a bundle for homeless shelters.
I have argued in many-a-column that getting unsafe operators off the road should be an important goal of the safe ones. But shucks, if you can get coverage for moving mayhem, why not rake in the bucks? After all, free enterprise is what this country is all about, is it not? Motorcoach travel need not merely be a means to an end. It could be an end in itself. Why not harness all those inertial and centrifugal forces and put them to good use? After all, everyone loves a good party.