Bad boys & bus poles can be a volatile safety challenge for limo bus operators. Operators should follow three key steps to protect their clients and businesses.
OCTOBER 2012 PUBLISHER'S PAGE: So here we are knee deep into the business of moving groups — via buses. In the rush to tap into this market, which is a strong growth niche, I fear we’ve glossed over the “what-can-possibly-go-wrongs” with owning and operating buses.
The constant bad press in the news spanning coast to coast (San Francisco to New York) spotlighting one bus fatality after another indicates that collectively we are not operating safely or responsibly. Even if you are ultra-conservative and carry the best insurance, etc., one bad apple spoils the bunch. Suffice it to say, our industry has a big black eye in the wake of dozens of bus accidents.
The most serious issue we must contend with is that, unlike a traditional stretch, party buses and mobile offices afford passengers the ability to move around — a new safety dilemma, especially when alcohol is involved. A large, moving bus filled with partiers can quickly lead to a disaster. It doesn’t matter if you target corporate outings and group business or if you are a bonafide “party car operator” and use your bus for nights-on-the-town business and rolling parties. We have a serious problem simply because people can get out of their seats now.
The lawsuits are staggering in these cases, too. Operators involved stand to lose everything… and then some, including their freedom because some of these cases are being pursued in criminal court. The bus manufacturers and the secondary upfitters are exposed as well.
So here are just the basics of what you as a bus owner should do to protect yourself and for that matter protect your clients from their own negligence.
1) Rules of the road: You must have them and they must include do’s and don’ts — such as NO STANDING while the vehicle is in motion. I suggest you get rid of the stripper poles and dance floors altogether — that promotes too much “action.” Intoxicated people have a hard enough time standing on their own, let alone balancing in a moving bus. If you must have that rolling entertainment center, you should instruct your chauffeurs to pull over for “party breaks.”
2) Train your chauffeurs to handle these types of services better. I find that most of the bus chauffeurs have had no special bus management training at all. Do not put an ill-prepared driver in this situation.
3) Co-pilots needed: You should never send out a bus without a steward. You don’t see that in airplanes, so you should not expect your chauffeurs to handle crowd control and drive at the same time. There has to be an attendant that maintains order. They should review all of the safety features and bus rules before the ride commences — just like the airline and motorcoach industries do. Never load up your bus without walking all passengers through your company protocol. Do not hesitate to end the ride immediately without refund if even one rule is broken. It’s just not worth it.
There is more you will need to do to ensure that your bus does not doom your entire operation. And moreover, if we are not diligent as an entire industry on this matter, rest assured the regulators will be at our doorstep. Safe bus ownership is paramount to the health of all of our businesses, so let’s get serious about being responsible.
LCT related article: Who Should Be Held Responsible?