Matthew Mushorn of Lancer Insurance Company and operators John DiLeo and Thomas Alleis of Romantique Double Diamond Limousines in Brooklyn, N.Y. work together to create a comprehensive safety and monitoring program for drivers of the company’s bus fleet.
The bus business can bring more profit by providing an economical and efficient transportation alternative for large groups looking to save money. With an overall trend toward efficiency and consolidated services among clients in a slow economic recovery, the outlook for running buses looks solid for years to come.
Romantique Double Diamond Limousines of Brooklyn, N.Y., with a location on Staten Island, acquired its first bus in 1993, when the company was known as Romantique Limousine. It merged in 2010 with Double Diamond Limousines, creating a fleet of 46 chauffeured vehicles with seven buses: Two 28-passenger Federal GMC limo coaches, four Freightliners and a Craftsman Coach ranging from 35-45 passengers, and a 31-passenger shuttle bus by Tiffany.
About 30% of the company’s overall revenue now comes from the seven buses, said Thomas Aellis, vice president and the founder of Double Diamond in 2004. Romantique Limousines was owned by John DiLeo, now the president of the merged company.
Buses in many ways have become the new limousines, reflecting wider societal trends in the weddings, prom, bachelor/bachelorette outings and parties markets. Using one bus can eliminate the need for four stretch limousines.
“The younger generation today when they get married are often in their 30s and they have big bridal parties,” Aellis says. “Big luxury buses come into play. We bought a shuttle bus for our wedding clients so they can move guests from hotels to the ceremony to the reception venue and back again.”
Aellis emphasizes that while profit is higher on the buses than the company’s 16 large custom and exotic stretch limousines, the buses require more attention to detail with maintenance, safety certifications and procedures, and licensing paperwork. In some respects, the large SUV stretch limousines must operate like buses since they carry at least 15 passengers.
As a near-20-year client of Lancer Insurance, a national provider of chauffeured vehicle and charter bus insurance based in Long Beach, N.Y., the company works to take all the necessary steps to minimize safety hazards and liabilities.
To follow top safety practices, Romantique Double Diamond keeps three types of files on all chauffeurs: Drug and alcohol file testing, U.S. Department of Transportation certification and licenses, and the state of New York’s “Article 19A” bus driver program, governed by the NY Department of Motor Vehicles.
As part of the company’s comprehensive training and review program, chauffeurs are randomly drug tested, undergo defensive driving instruction, and are enrolled in LENS, the License Event Notifications Service. LENS immediately reports any traffic violations or infractions on any licensed chauffeur, whether it occurs on company or personal time. Altogether, the certifications and training are compiled into dossiers that are kept on file for each chauffeur, says Alleis, who also is certified to conduct drug and alcohol tests on the spot.
In addition, all buses and limousines operating under federal D.O.T. authority must be inspected and vetted every six months.
“You have to know everything and plan ahead,” Alleis advises operators. “There’s a lot more paperwork involved than some people would tend to realize. We carry a $5 million policy on all our bus equipment. Many bus operators don’t know they need to have that.”
SEPTEMBER 2012 LCT Related Article: Best Ways To Grow Into Big Bus Service