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Maintenance and safety are top priorities at Ryan’s Express, and vehicles are inspected and serviced routinely in one of two large hangars.
If you’ve ever seen the signature swoosh on the side of one of Ryan’s Express Transportation buses, you’re likely to be impressed with the size and appearance of the vehicle. Ryan’s Express runs a tight ship when it comes to the looks of its buses, and it didn’t go unnoticed by our own team here at LCT, when we started seeing them routinely pass by our home office in Torrance, Calif.
It turns out that Ryan’s Express has one of its main headquarters right down the street from the LCT offices, which made a visit and tour both easy and desirable. Ryan’s Express sits on an expansive lot that provides plenty of room to house and service 54 buses and vehicles, more than one third of its 150 vehicle fleet, also based in San Diego, Las Vegas, Sacramento and Phoenix.
Although primarily a charter bus company, Ryan’s Express also has sedans, shuttles, SUVs and limos. The Torrance location holds 15 livery vehicles, used frequently for clients. The company was founded in 1999 by Los Angeles operator Mike Haggerty, who sold his Stardust Limousine company in 1998 to launch Ryan’s Express. After growing it to 180 vehicles, he sold it in mid-2011 to the private equity firm, Century Park Capital Partners, and then started CH Bus Sales.
A Bus For Every Job
The Ryan’s Express fleet runs the gamut of bus manufacturers, requiring the maintenance crew to be well versed in all the different kinds of brands, makes and models, which include Prevost, MCI, Temsa and Van Hool, as well as a number of school buses. President John Busskohl jokes that he wishes he had the entire fleet streamlined to a single brand, but that for now the mix is just part of the job.
The lot accommodates huge hangars that enable Ryan’s Express to be one of the few motorcoach companies to house its buses indoors, which saves a lot of money on washing and weather corrosion.
President John Busskohl (L) and VP of operations Chris Sanchez.
The highlight of the yard is a brand new fully enclosed paint shed, where even the biggest buses can be driven inside so the painter can perfect the trademark swoosh and sharpen up the exterior look with a fresh coat. The facility is open to outside work, so other bus companies can use their facilities for maintenance and paint work, Busskohl says.
Ryan’s Express prides itself on a commitment to details, a point Busskohl reiterated when explaining how continuity and communication are vital to running a charter bus service.
“We try to set a tone of high integrity and not cut any corners,” he says, “and all of our staff has been instructed to be very open and communicative with the front line. We want to make sure that everyone on the team is involved and pulling the boat in the same direction.”
The latest edition to the yard is a new enclosed paint booth, which encompasses the bus and has spray guns and vents so the painter can provide the best paint job possible.
Motorcoach In His Blood
Busskohl is relatively new to Ryan’s Express, having come on to the team as president in February 2013. But he is no stranger to the charter bus business. “I’ve been in the bus business pretty much my whole life,” he says, “and this is a great opportunity for me to get back to the roots of the business I grew up in.”
The Busskohl family originally started with Arrow Stage Lines out of the Midwest, run by John’s father. When John joined the family business, he ran the Phoenix location, and soon the company went public with five other companies to form Coach USA in 1996.
Busskohl then made a move to Los Angeles to work for Tech Trans for four years, and although he enjoyed the experience of working in the public transit sector, his true passion lies in the private charter business. “It’s another great challenge,” says Busskohl of the new position, “I’m working with a great group of people and we’re in five locations, so we’ve been dedicated to making sure we get everyone on the same page and working together.”