2022 May

These tips will keep you better prepared for FMCSA/DOT compliance reviews

Now that summer travel is underway, it’s a good time to be sure your business is compliance- review ready. Mike McDonal, who is also Chair, Bus Repair and Maintenance Council and Past Chair Bus Industry Safety Council, recaps important “to do’s” including:

  • Know when your review is due. Check out FMSA’s website to verify your last audit. Expect to be audited every three years, but keep your records up to date at all times, one bad day could lead to a very extensive investigation.
  • Know how to proceed if you don’t have a safety director. Designate a specific staff member or an outside source, to be responsible for safety policies and compliance. This person will need to be knowledgeable about compliance, audits and able to enforce drug testing and maintain drug-testing census. Additionally, they’ll have to track and record driver and maintenance crews’ certifications while keeping orderly files on drivers’ commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), medical cards (A DOT medical exam is valid up to 24 months) and pre-employment drug testing and other current records on file.
  • Know what should be included in a driver’s binder onboard the buses. Information should include proof of vehicle insurance, registration and the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) information sheet to be carried on each trip. Also, don’t forget copies of paper logs if there is a malfunction of your ELD.
  • Know how to prepare your drivers. Each driver should know what to expect if they are stopped for a roadside inspection, including how to properly operate emergency hatches and windows and the ADA complaint wheelchair lift. They should also be prepared to show all of their documentation form the bullet above as well as transfer their electronic logs if requested.
  • Know to offer specific ELD training. Drivers should know all FMCSA-required ELD features and how to use the technology as intended. Check if your ELD vendor has training materials for drivers. Train with your payroll staff on paperwork verifying that hours-of-service information provided to FMCSA is correct.
  • Know to keep your maintenance team’s training and certifications current. A safety inspector will often ask to see documentation your mechanics have showing they’ve been trained and tested to repair brakes and other key components on your coach.
  • Know how to inspect your equipment. Using the following FMCSA criteria found here, and check emergency exits within the 90 -day required period.
  • Know how to write your documentation. Make sure documentation is clear and needs no further explanation, when uploading to FMCSA’s site. Many investigations are being off site now. Your documentation will have to “speak for itself.” You may not have the opportunity to answer questions or explain a situation like you could in person in the past.

“The key elements in a review are drivers, vehicles, drug testing, qualifications of drivers and mechanics, hours of service, maintenance, accidents, and record-keeping systems. A compliance investigation will include the drivers and vehicles in use over the past 365 days and DOT reportable accidents during the past year,” said McDonal. “Be investigation-ready all the time. If the FMCSA gives two days or two weeks’ notice for a safety audit, you’ll be prepared.”

For more information, find FMCSA compliance manual here, or reach out to Mike McDonal with your questions at mmcdonal@saucontech.com or call: 410-245-5525.



Trailways: The Name Travelers Trust

How rapport, responsiveness and customer solutions forge relationships that last

In 1936, Burlington Transportation and the Frank Martz Coach Company helped found the Trailways system. They remain two of the best-known and respected names in the travel industry, speaking volumes about the Trailways brand and its legacy as a membership-based organization.

“We are made of like-minded carriers, determined to maintain their operational independence, yet unified by the service standards and operational integrity by those early founders,” said Amy Brooks, Trailways Board Chair and Susquehanna Trailways’ Vice President of Sales. “They’ve been ambassadors for future Trailways members, and we all succeed because travelers trust us.”

Trust is the foundation of everything Trailways does. So here are tips to consider when building long-term trust with others, from the teachings of business coaches and communication experts.

Establish rapport

  • When connecting with customers either in person, remotely by phone or virtually, avoid the impulse to get right down to business, and instead begin with welcoming conversation that sets the tone for a lively give and take
  • Listen attentively.  Don’t be distracted by thinking about what you want to say in reply
  • Avoid interrupting. Let clients set the conversational pace

Provide responsive service

  • Texts, phone calls and video chats are today’s tools for quick response
  • Respond within a day
  • When you make a promise, do what you say you will

Find solutions

  • Validate the problem a customer is trying to solve by choosing words such as “I understand you” and, “Let me know if this is what you are looking for”
  • Communicate your action plan with your client before you execute to make sure it fits them. Make it a collaboration
  • Complete the job and get feedback
  • If relevant, keep notes on solutions and approaches that can help all of your customers

Customers stay with companies they trust to offer value and solve problems quickly. View every client contact — written, verbal or in person — as a chance to build that trust.



World-renowned Unclaimed Baggage stops by Trailways HQ on its 50th-anniversary road tour

For more than 85 years, Trailways has helped launch many successful bus businesses. But did you know Trailways helped start Unclaimed Baggage, the nation’s only discount retailer of lost luggage items?

Unclaimed Baggage is a thrift store shopper’s dream come true. It attracts over one million tourists annually who shop the 50,000-square-foot-store for the weird and wonderful contents of lost luggage. The business got its start with a truckload of luggage left behind at a Trailways depot in Washington, D.C. more than 50 years ago.

“It’s amazing to see how even here, in Scottsboro, Alabama, Unclaimed Baggage could grow into an international tourist destination,” said Bryan Owens, owner of Unclaimed Baggage and son of the retailer’s founder, Hugo Doyle Owens. “It all started with my father’s big idea, a borrowed pickup truck and a $300 loan to go to Washington, D.C. and buy his first load of unclaimed bags from Trailways Bus Line.”

Now, Unclaimed Baggage is marking its 50th anniversary with the launch of an online store and a 50-state road tour, and traveling pop-up shop. Shoppers can get their picture taken with Hugo, the store’s 1965 Chevy truck that picked up the first load of unclaimed bags at Trailways in 1970. The tour runs through August.

Said Sabina Dhami, Trailways Director of Accounting and Office Management, “Great ideas can come from anywhere in travel because we’re so focused on customers, and Unclaimed Baggage is proof of that. We couldn’t be more pleased to help Unclaimed Baggage celebrate 50 years of making people happy.”

Sonni Hood, head of public relations and community involvement for Unclaimed Baggage, said: “With just an ingenious idea and $300, Mr. Owens made orphaned bags with anonymous possessions into a unique, sustainable business and helped millions of people stretch a dollar over the last 50 years. We are taking our tour city to city to celebrate with our customers and hear their stories. It’s been great to stop at Trailways where everything started in 1970.”

Learn more about Unclaimed Baggage founder Hugo Doyle Owens (1931-2016) in this tribute video, where he explains the tremendous success of the opening day, knowing a great business was born.

With the majority of bags coming from airlines, the company reports it still has products coming from bus lines and depots. Over 99.5% of domestic airline’s checked bags are picked up at the carousel. After the airlines conduct an extensive 3-month tracing process and travelers are compensated, Unclaimed Baggage purchases the orphaned items from the airlines.



Flagship Trailways’ Vintage Buses on the Silver Screen

With the prolific growth of independent film companies and a wave of nostalgia in movie scripts, Flagship Trailway’s vintage buses are busier than ever. “This year has just been on fire,” said Tom McCaughey, owner of Flagship based in Cranston, RI, who finished up a March shoot in Deerfield, Massachusetts, with his 40-foot, 92-inches wide 1958 GM for “The Holdovers.

A comedy-drama that takes place over the Christmas holidays in 1970, the movie stars Paul Giamatti as a disliked professor at a prep school, who along with the school’s head cook and a 15-year-old trouble-making student are the only “holdovers” left at the school. The movie’s release date is still to be announced.  

McCaughey’s 1975 Silver Eagle 05 was also in upstate New York this year on the set of “Three Women,” a Showtime hourlong series based on the No. 1 Nonfiction Bestseller by Lisa Taddeo, who has adapted her book that covers the emotional lives of three women from different backgrounds and stars Shailene Woodley.

McCaughey was also behind the wheel of his Silver Eagle in episodes of “Castle Rock,” a former Hulu® show inspired by stories created by Stephen King.

Flagship also owns a 1953 GM TDH 5106 and a 1964 GM Fishbowl.

Other shows featuring Flagship buses include Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” starring Steve Martin, three episodes of “Julia,” a documentary about chef Julia Child; and “Black Mass,” a Johnny Depp film based on the life of Boston mobster Whitey Bulger.

McCaughey bought Flagship, founded in 1981, from its previous owner in 2001, after selling a waste management fleet business he founded.  He got into collecting vintage buses by chance, learning of an Eagle bus for sale in Denver, and then heard from a business acquaintance in Connecticut of seven vintage buses in good condition for sale.

“I bought three of the buses and he closed on the other four,” said McCaughey, who said getting into the film business was just as fortuitus. “It’s a small industry, and as they say: Once you know a guy, it just grows from there.”

McCaughey advises operators interested in featuring equipment in films to check if their state has an official Film Office with a film production resources department. He noted his close proximity to Massachusetts and added that the state’s highly competitive package of tax breaks is the reason it’s a popular place for filmmakers today.

Even with all those high-profile sets and film credits, McCaughey’s showstopper moment is one closest to home. “Last year, I started going to car show cruise nights. I pull up in my 1958 GMC 5106 and it brought the house down,” he laughs. “The one thing about the film business is that it pays for the upkeep of the vintage buses, and I have a lot of fun doing it.”

A Trailways member since 2005, Flagship operates a modern, versatile fleet of 18 coaches and specializes in short or a long-distance charter trips, meetings and conventions, school trips and weddings.



Trailways Board Welcomes Prevost’s Brad Wiese

With a Board seat open to industry vendors, Trailways elected Brad Wiese, Prevost Vice President, New Coach Sales and Funding, North America, as a new Board Member for a two-year term.

Wiese, who joined Prevost in January 2020, was previously a management consultant focusing on strategy and sales and has a 20-plus-year career in the banking industry. This included a position as a C-level officer with a bank in Nashville, TN, where Wiese represented the bank as a lender to businesses purchasing Prevost seated motorcoaches and conversion shells.

“As our portfolio grew with Prevost, I was sent to Quebec to meet its leadership and tour the manufacturing facility, and that started my relationship with Prevost and the industry,” recalls Wiese. “As time went on, I consulted with other banks and put effective sales teams in place that also saw the value in lending to businesses running Prevost equipment.”

Now, as head of new coach sales teams at Prevost, Wiese, whose home base is Wildwood, MO, 40 miles west of St. Louis, is also responsible for Prevost’s Funding team which finds the best financing options and solutions for customers either through its equipment finance arm, Volvo Financial Services, or alternative outside services.

Wiese sees his career expertise as bringing a new kind of talent to Trailways Board. “From what I’ve already seen, Trailways wants to conduct its business in new ways, and I bring decades of knowledge from multiple lines of business to deliver a fresh perspective and new ideas to the bus industry and in particular, Trailways, for additional marketplace successes.”

His competitive edge stems from his athleticism. Wiese is a former NCAA Division I baseball player. This fuels his desire to be a part of a high-performing organization and work as a team with Prevost and Volvo customers to create a mutual partnership benefiting both manufacturer and operator.

He is a devoted dad to his three daughters, ages 14 to 20 years old, and involved in supporting two of his daughters’ nationwide club volleyball games when time permits. His eldest daughter is on a college internship at Disney®.

When it comes to Trailways, Wiese, says: “I know the history of challenges this industry has faced and the way it has adapted and how Trailways endured the test of time with so many leading carriers. I’m honored to be a small part of it.”



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