Archives for National Bus Trader

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 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

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

What’s in Store for the Post-COVID Era Motorcoach Industry

As disturbing as recent USDOT appointments have been, I almost did not write this column. When the FMCSA administrator was nominated, I felt I had to. This is because the FMCSA regulates, governs and largely influences both the troubled motorcoach industry and vaccine distribution (at least those vaccines delivered by trucks). Given even the most conservative budgets currently being discussed (as of February 2, 2021), the potential waste in vaccine distribution is disturbing since it greatly exceeds what is needed to completely restore the motorcoach industry – including subsidies it may need for several years to get back on its tires. This article is not a partisan political criticism. I voted for neither recent candidate. I am

Defending Contractors, Part 1: Lead Agencies and Brokers

For decades, motorcoach providers have provided commuter-express service, under contract, to transit agencies (and, occasionally, to municipalities which do not even have formal transit agencies). Particularly in the past 20 years, this role has expanded: Motorcoach providers are increasingly providing service on local and regional routes, often with regular buses – not even motorcoaches. Similarly, many motorcoach companies also own schoolbuses, and provide schoolbus service, under contract, to school districts. For decades, roughly a third of all schoolbus service has been contracted out, and this percentage had remained surprisingly consistent. For the same reasons that contracted transit service has been

Tight Schedules, Part 3: Fixed Route Transit Service

For reasons different than those of other modes, transit schedules are often tight. In many urban systems, all or most schedules are tight. When schedules are tight, drivers compromise passenger, pedestrian and motorist safety to comply with them. A number of common safety compromises are summarized below. A deeper treatment of those compromises typical of fixed route transit service may be found on safetycompromises.com., and in the 12 National Bus Trader articles published on this subject in September through December, 2017 and April through December, 2018 issues. That series was organized by type of safety compromise. This series, organized mode