Tom Holden, (L), general manager of Rose Chauffeured Transportation, and Stephen story, President of James River Transportation, attended the annual meeting of Southeast motorcoach associations. Holden and Story will conduct a session on motorcoach regulations, safety and operations on Nov. 9 at the LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — As an increasing number of operators enter the motorcoach business, or expand their bus fleets, they encounter a complex world of federal regulations, safety issues, insurance mandates, and driver requirements.
The management of the motorcoach side of chauffeured transportation service vastly differs from running luxury limousine vehicles.
Considering LCT covers every aspect of the limousine, charter and tour industry, I attended the annual August meeting of three Southeast motorcoach associations — the Motorcoach Association of South Carolina, North Carolina Motorcoach Association and the Virginia Motorcoach Association. The trade groups gathered in Columbia for education sessions, business, networking, marketplace exhibits, social events and outings.
I was encouraged to see some longtime limousine operators immersed in the motorcoach business, and watch them offer expertise on panels throughout the event. Tom Holden, general manager of Rose Chauffeured Transportation of Charlotte, N.C., and Tony Simon, COO of Reston Limousine & Travel Services in Sterling, Va., sat on a panel that advised attendees on how to save money and increase operations revenue. Stephen Story, President of James River Transportation in Richmond, Va., also attended the annual meeting that drew hundreds of tour bus operators, vendors, destination travel executives and guests.
In fact, Holden and Story will be well equipped to share the most up-to-date information on motorcoach regulations, safety and operations during their session at LCT-NLA Show East, “Strategies to Operate a Successful Motorcoach Business,” Nov. 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Harrah’s Atlantic City conference center.
One of the more interesting discussions during the conference was a lively debate about raising prices — due to the additional costs of outfitting motorcoaches with WiFi, monitors, power outlets and other technologies and amenities.
Other sessions addressed driver training, after-market cutting-edge technologies being incorporated into motorcoaches, and a liability clinic.
Rules, regulations and proposed changes out of Washington, D.C., are always top-of-mind with motorcoach operators. A panel composed of Daniel Hoff, the government affairs spokesman for the American Bus Association, and Victor Parra, President and CEO of the United Motorcoach Association, updated attendees on the pulse of governmental policies for the industry.
Discussion centered on the possibility of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) raising mandatory motorcoach insurance rates from $5 million to $20 million-$25 million. They also addressed concern over Congress stalling to pass a comprehensive highway bill that has sent states scrambling for alternative sources of revenue, such as higher tolls and increases in fuel taxes, to fix roads and infrastructure.
In addition, Hoff and Parra updated attendees on a Department of Labor proposal to change the overtime exemption rules for drivers that must travel ahead of a bus run to take over the driving. The proposal would count that time as part of a driver’s time on the job and would require companies to pay that driver overtime if necessary.