Team Trailways News


Kobussen Trailways’ Dave Meyerhofer three-time champion of UMA Maintenance Competition

Trailways’ signature red logo grabs attention and conveys fun. But that’s not the only reason Trailways-branded coaches look so good going down the road.

Credit also goes to knowledgeable, seasoned mechanics and maintenance teams who can’t be beat for keeping Trailways’ fleets pristine and running to perfection.

Meet Dave Meyerhofer, a lead mechanic at Kobussen Trailways in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. He took first place at the 2022 Maintenance Interchange at UMA Expo in Long Beach, California, marking his third first-place win and seventh trophy in his eight years participating in the industry’s most challenging maintenance competition. Meyerhofer also holds several amateur racecar trophies and works on racecars as a hobby he enjoys with his son.

Dave Meyerhofer (center) wins 2022 UMA Maintenance Competition

Sponsored by ABC Companies, the 24th annual UMA competition includes nearly two dozen professionals, representing motor coach companies across North America, who compete by answering 50 questions on a written test and finding eight to 10 rigged defects on two motor coaches in the fastest time. In the 2022 challenge, Dave Meyerhofer, Kobussen Trailways, was the only one to catch an incorrect rear backup light and achieved the highest overall score, winning the championship and a cash prize of $2,500.

Meyerhofer attributes his mechanical aptitude to growing up on farm where he fixed and repaired machinery. He joined Kobussen Trailways as a mechanic in 1990 out of high school, working on school buses. Now, with a fleet of 1,000 buses of all types, Meyerhofer focuses on his company’s 25 motor coaches and leads a team of technicians at the company’s headquarters. He also trouble-shoots equipment issues at the company’s 22 locations throughout Wisconsin. “I got in with a very good company and plan to finish out my career here,” says Meyerhofer. “I like my work and I treat the coaches like they are my very own.”

Meyerhofer, who has taken “as many technical training courses from manufacturers as possible,” recommends mechanics focus on electronics. “Anybody can change nuts but today’s new buses have 15 computers. You have to keep up your education to excel,” he says.

Excellent roadside assistance is never far away when you’re a Trailways carrier. Meyerhofer knows first-hand the value of Trailways membership. “Breakdowns happen and just recently I contacted Thrasher Brothers Trailways in Alabama for assistance. Alan Thrasher himself went out to look after our coach,” said Meyerhofer. “No one (in Trailways) ever turns anyone away and we won’t either.”

When not at a Kobussen garage, you’ll find Meyerhofer working on his two street stock Chevys, a ’99 Monte Carlo and 2020 Camaro. His racing hobby started when he was 35, leading him to 10 stock car racing wins. Now retired from racing, Meyerhofer volunteers as crew chief for his son and nephew’s racing team that participates in nearly 40 stock car races in the Mid-Am Racing Series each year in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa.

It’s no surprise to learn, after UMA Expo ended and Meyerhofer’s big win, he and his girlfriend hopped in a Ford Explorer rental for a drive-up Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the open road and scenery all the way to Sacramento. “It was nice to be back at EXPO and represent Kobussen,” he said.

To learn more about the UMA Maintenance challenge click here.

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West Point Trailways President Robert Brisman rejoins Trailways Board

Robert (Bob) Brisman, President of West Point Trailways, who served on Trailways’ Board more than a decade ago, has rejoined the Board with a major mission in mind — to serve and help further the brand with industry-leading technology that boosts revenue while appealing to new generations of riders.

“We get a lot of leads coming from Trailways,” he said. “In the age of apps and technology, customers expect immediate replies. They don’t want to speak to anyone, either. They just want the data, quickly.”

Brisman, the third generation to run West Point Trailways, Vails Gate, New York, is most interested in the organization’s two newest technology ventures, the Trailways.com website and fulfilling Trailways vision for its Busie cloud-based, trip-planning and charter booking future. He knows internal and systemwide technology are important to a company’s future.

About West Point Trailways

West Point Trailways story begins with Brisman’s industrious grandfather. Max Weiner was busy in the 1920s building bus bodies, parlor cars and transit vehicles before starting a bus service in 1947 for mason workers at expanding postwar construction sites in the West Point and Highland Falls, NY area.

Brisman’s father Jerome Brisman, who graduated from the United States Military Academy West Point in 1952 with a degree in engineering, worked as an engineer around the country for a decade before joining the business in 1962. At that time, the company’s school bus operations began taking off and many of those contracts won back then are still in place with West Point Trailways today.

Bob Brisman and his brother Jay now lead West Point Trailways. Brisman joined after earning a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Syracuse University and a career in finance working for firms in Manhattan and White Plains, New York. “When the insurance market spiked in 1987, I called my father asking if he had any interest in me coming to work for him,” recalls Brisman. “My father was happy to have me on board. We had a good father-and-son relationship. I like the risk and reward along with the diversity of our business.”

A fourth generation has joined the ranks. Brisman’s son Ethan is learning the ropes starting in office reception booking trips. “We’re not letting him drive, that’s not his talent,” jests his dad, who got his CDL when he was 30 years old to drive school bus routes.

Primarily a school bus company, West Point purchased its first motorcoach in 1993 from Chuck Toohy, MCI’s East Coast representative, who Brisman fondly recalls as having a John Wayne persona. They became a Trailways operator in June 2000.

Today, West Point has a fleet of 220 vehicles, including 16 motor coaches for school, charter and tour operations. They keep three coaches exclusively for its contract with the military academy. The company operates Blue Bird activity buses for its daily West Point Tours operations serving West Point’s campus and historical sites.

Describing himself as an escape artist by nature, Brisman is a big reader of novels. His two favorites are author’s Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads and John Irving’s The World According to Garp. “They write about life experiences and enjoyable challenges,” said Brisman, who began playing guitar at the age of nine. He now owns four guitars including Fender electrics and likes to play in the style of Derek Trucks, a top guitarist whose music encompasses blues, rock, jazz and soul. Brisman jams with a group at a local school on Tuesdays. “Escape in the form of music keeps you in a good mood,” he reasons. When it comes to business life, these are his three philosophies: anything is possible; start each day as if it is your first and have a purpose to be of service.

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Huskey Trailways turns challenges into advantages

Sometimes the best opportunities are right where we are now. For Huskey Trailways, 2019 was a traumatic year. Kent Huskey, who co-founded the Festus, Missouri charter bus company, died at the age of 55 after routine back surgery. His wife Julie Huskey, who started the business with him in 1996 working side by side, then faced managing the business through COVID-19 lock downs in 2020. Today, driver shortages and increases in fuel costs are among the company’s concerns. Yet through it all, Julie Huskey, who runs the business with her with daughters Katie Brunner and Mollie Pruneau, approaches obstacles with optimism and persistence, finding solutions as she has done since Huskey’s start.

A Trailways member since 2008, Huskey appreciates the long-standing name recognition, networking camaraderie and road support the affiliation brings to her business. “Trailways members think the same way and hold to a higher standard of customer service,” she says.

Those standards, business strategies, and Huskey Trailways dedicated employees, are the reasons Huskey Trailways is enjoying a much-needed, busy spring season. “The first half of 2022 has been really good. Everything is moving,” reports Huskey. “Schools are calling with big trips for band and sports competitions and preferring motor coaches rather than school buses.” But that doesn’t mean business is back to pre-COVID levels. “We are about 60 percent of the way there.” Tours are picking up. Huskey’s April bookings include week long trips to Washington D.C., Florida, Nashville and Branson, among many other local places they travel to in Missouri. The company also provided military transport all through COVID and continues to bid on new contracts.

Huskey shares insights on what’s keeping her fleet rolling:

Never underestimate the power of first impressions

Newer, good-looking motorcoaches, sparkling clean interiors and neatly dressed, personable drivers are Huskey’s rules of the road. “Appearance is everything,” says Huskey. “Our fleet averages around 6-years old or newer. Our vehicles are disinfected daily and smell fresh and clean for our passengers.” Huskey also states, “We are always on the search for more friendly and professional motorcoach operators to join our growing team.”

Office interactions are just as important. “We respond to customer inquiries the same day. I can’t stress that enough,” she adds. “Millennials are beginning to run things and they don’t wait. They want to book charter business quickly or they’ll move on to another (company’s) quote regardless of the price.”

Never stop thinking out of the box

After spending thousands of dollars on help-wanted ads for drivers on Facebook®, newspapers and other media outlets without results, Huskey decided to give Kelly Anderson Impact Solutions a try. Specialists in driver recruitment for the transportation industry, Kelly Anderson takes charge of advertising, finds and pre-screens candidates. Huskey met their representative at UMA EXPO in Long Beach, CA. “We’ve just hired two new drivers they sent our way,” says Huskey. “It costs nearly the same as our ad budget. There are no guarantees, but the firm sent us qualified candidates who were a good fit for us.” Huskey said the female applicant previously drove school buses and wants to switch to driving motor coaches. The other candidate lost his job at a much larger motor coach carrier during COVID and wants to return to driving part-time. Huskey training mandates for drivers include hands-on instruction plus online learning via Trailways new driver training modules and programs offered through MCI Academy as well as other industry suppliers.

Huskey gave its motor coach drivers, who are paid by the day, a significant increase this year. Motorcoach drivers also get a per diem for overnight stays. Huskey offers all employees (who stay beyond 90 days) a simple IRA and three percent match along with supplemental insurance at a self-pay, group rate. Full-time drivers are also eligible for partial pay health insurance.

Manage fleet size and fuel costs with an eye on the future

Half of Huskey’s 50-vehicle fleet include large 56, 40, and 24 passenger motor coaches. COVID caused a pause in Huskey’s ongoing fleet renewal strategy. So today, Huskey is looking to replace older coaches with brand new models to better serve their customer’s needs.

Fortunately for Huskey, the company added a fuel surcharge to its contracts to combat the 2008 financial crisis when the price of crude oil rose. The clause allows the company to add an adjustable percentage increase if fuel rises above $3.50 a gallon. Huskey has also increased rates. “Our customers understand the economic situation and have no problem with our charges,” says Huskey, who sees the acceptance as a good sign for the industry. “Some customers want us to calculate the fuel surcharge another way, but even still we are finally charging what we should have always been paid.”

With the passing of her husband, Huskey’s daughter Mollie, who also worked side by side with her dad, stepped right into his role, managing operations, sales and marketing, and equipment purchasing. Daughter Katie, a former Kindergarten teacher, stepped into the company full-time in 2020 and applies her talents to HR and compliance. Huskey now holds Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification. “The certification has allowed us to capitalize on more opportunities, and it took a great deal of effort to become certified. I’m proud that we have it,” she adds.

Huskey and her daughters also own a few other businesses including an online fashion boutique and a vinyl graphics company, which kept them busy during COVID. With six grandchildren and parents to care for, Huskey extends the same kind of protection to customers and colleagues. “We think of everyone as family in our business and treat them that way,” she adds.

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Purcell Offers Life and Business Lessons from Football to Broadcasting

As a longtime Texas rancher and high school football coaching legend, Ken Purcell knows how to win and inspire teams.

Purcell’s 40-year career in Texas high school athletics earned him nine championship rings, athletic director hall of honor recognition and a Fox Sports TV commentator slot for local Friday night football games.

In his opening remarks as Trailways annual meeting’s keynote speaker, Purcell praised members as the risk takers of the world. “You’re the type of person who I’ve always wanted to play for me,” he said. “You are not afraid of facing challenges.”

Purcell, who also co-authored “All I Need to Know I Learned from My Texas High School Football Coach” in 2017, stressed six traits for building a vision and a philosophy for one’s business and life:

  1. Keep your eye on short and long-term goals. When plowing a field, furrows will be crooked if you keep your eye only on the plow blade. “The key is you’ve got to look down and up to plow straight, said Purcell. Continuous review of short- and long-range goals helps you achieve them.
  2. Plant seeds. Don’t wait for things to happen, share your plans with those who may be able to help. Purcell landed at Fox Sports after mentioning to the TV producer of his championship games that he would be retiring from coaching and still wanted to be part of the sport. Fox picked Purcell as a commentator without an audition. 
  3. Put others first. “People don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care,” he said. Putting this creed into practice with colleagues and customers builds lasting relationships.
  4. Respond, don’t react. By keeping calm, you’ll think more clearly and solve most problems.
  5. Make everyone part of your team.  Anyone who gets a check from your company is someone on your team. Treating each individual as part of your team improves morale and increases productivity.
  6. Don’t be afraid to fail. Many of life’s greatest achievements require going outside of your comfort zone. Risk takers accept losses and move on to the next challenge.

“In coaching, it’s all about impacting kids’ lives,” said Purcell. “I always told the kids on my teams; be happy with who you are today. Happiness is a philosophy. I hope I’ve brought happiness to you today and wish the same for you all the way to 2023.”

In a follow up email to John Zaworski, Dean Trailways, Purcell, who speaks to a lot of groups throughout the country wrote that Trailways is a special group. “They are the hard workers of our country and I have great respect for them.” He thanks Trailways for the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the 2022 annual meeting.

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Trailways Rolls Out Online Customer Service Training for Drivers

Five Course Modules Teach Drivers How To Create A Great Customer Experience

To further its quality-care brand image with current and prospective members passengers, Trailways has launched a new online customer service training program specifically for drivers. The five-course program is designed to help drivers deliver a superior customer service and safety experience. Modeled on the comprehensive training Disney offers its cast members, Trailways’ new program incorporates key elements of Disney Magic and success at achieving a high rate of returning customers.

The courses also standardize Trailways’ customer service procedures assuring each passenger traveling with a Trailways operator will be treated in the same manner everywhere and at all times. The new online LMS (Learning Management System) five course series is available exclusively to Trailways members.

“This training advances Trailways very own style of quality service,” said Amy Brooks, incoming Board Chair, discussing how the LMS program got its start. “In 2018, we sought out Alliance Safety Council and a consultant from Disney, who is an expert in the renowned philosophies practiced at Disney theme parks, asking for their assistance to develop a comprehensive customer servicing training program for Trailways drivers.  At the same time one of our OEM partners, MCI, agreed to sponsor the development costs, helping to bring this training to all our members today.”

Trailways welcomed Joelle McGehee, Vice President of Customer Success with the Alliance Safety Council, to the annual meeting, where she discussed the purpose of Trailways LMS, its ease of use, and the five customer service modules created exclusively for Trailways:

  • Course 1 Brand Recognition: Outlines how Trailways endeavors to make every interaction with our customers polite, pleasant, and stress-free, while explaining its longtime history, core brand values and company identity.
  • Course 2 Conflict Resolution: Identifies the five main styles of conflict resolution and teaches drivers how to use basic communication tools, from agreement framing to open questions, along with anger and stress management techniques to resolve conflicts.
  • Course 3 Customer Experience Interaction: Explains to drivers how they are the face of Trailways and how they should strive to the best version of themselves while on duty.
  • Course 4 Driver and Passenger Safety: Covers commercial driver’s license rules, CDL drug and alcohol testing, hours of service, driver fatigue, fitness for duty, distracted driving and crisis solutions.
  • Course 5 Vehicle Safety:  Provides instructions on pre- and post-trip interior and exterior inspections, vehicle maintenance, safe operating procedures, fire safety, and emergency evacuations.  

“These courses offer a cost-effective way to give drivers and new employees tools to provide a better level of service to each customer interaction,” said McGehee.  Please click here for Alliance’s presentation on how to use the system and instructions for drivers to access the courses. Trailways members also have access to five new Entry Level Driver Training courses added to the LMS site.

At this time, Trailways is extending discounted pricing of 50% off the Customer Service modules during 2022 to encourage members to get all their drivers through the program. Each course will be $7.50 individually or choose the 5-course bundle for $30. You can access the Driver Training Module by clicking on the portal bar or the Training link found at TeamTrailways.com.

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Trailways Transportation Elects Susquehanna Trailways’ Amy Brooks as its first female Board Chair at 2022 Annual Meeting

Leaders spotlight digitally driven ticket and charter sales growth,
driver training, and awards during busy sessions

Trailways is charting a new course for 2022 and beyond. The renowned national travel brand elected its first female Board Chair in its 85-year history and unveiled a cutting-edge online charter booking technology, customized online driver training modules and other programs at its annual meeting January 6-8 in Grapevine, TX.

Amy Brooks elected Board Chair of Trailways Transportation

During its annual meeting, Trailways’ Board of Directors elected Susquehanna Trailways’ Vice President of Sales Amy Brooks as the new Trailways Board Chair.  A board member since 2019, Brooks succeeds Patrick Dean, Vice President of Dean Transportation in Lansing, MI.  Dean will remain on the board as Joe Kobussen, of Kobussen Trailways, Kaukauna, WI retires from the Trailways board. Bob Brisman, President of West Point Trailways, Vails Gate, NY joins the board representing the Northeast region.  

“When I joined the Susquehanna team in 1981, we were a school bus operator with three charter coaches, and today we have 30 coaches,” said Brooks. “We became a Trailways member in 1982. My boss, Carl Kephart, Jr., told me he was considering joining Trailways and asked me what I thought. Adding Trailways to the end of Susquehanna added instant familiarity, credibility and respectability in the travel marketplace.”

Brooks sees Trailways’ new ticketing and trip-planning technology leading the way. “We want Trailways.com to become the one-stop-shop for anything travel, whether purchasing a ticket to a city destination or a group looking to charter a bus,” said Brooks. She added that a more powerful Trailways.com “will lead to greater growth for current members and help attract operators who never thought of becoming Trailways members until now.”

Susquehanna Trailways, a third-generation, family-owned motorcoach company based in Avis, PA, was Brooks’ first job after college. She answered phones there for eight months before leaving to attend graduate school at Eastern Illinois University’s College of Business and Technology, where she founded a chapter of her national sorority. When she returned to her hometown and rejoined Susquehanna, she applied her education to create a computerized tour reservation tracking system for the company and rose through the ranks.

“Trailways is known across the globe,” Brooks told the members. “We have the ability to pick up the phone and reach out to other members in every circumstance. It’s not about being competitive, it’s about being a teammate. Everyone brings something different, their specific talent, to the team. I am a salesperson, and this business has been my life’s work. I am thrilled to stand at the podium for Trailways as its first female chair. I am committed to advancing Trailways.com and bringing charter booking and greater growth to members and new members to fruition.”

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Trailways.com to build more opportunities for operators in 2022

As passengers step up travel in 2022, the team behind Trailways.com has been expanding features on the system’s website to help North American operators boost line-run and charter revenues.

In June 2019, Trailways established Trailways Ticketing & Marketing LLC, DBA “Trailways.com”, naming Alexander Berardi President, and launched the all-new Trailways.com site later that same year. Berardi is supported by a dedicated team responsible for 24/7 monitoring of transactions, customer service and implementing cutting-edge digital marketing strategies.

“The launch of the new website took Trailways in a new direction,” said Berardi, “We are now able to market our services directly to the consumer both at the regional level and on a national scale. We’ve been able to add features over time and our search rankings are strong with hundreds visiting our site in any given moment.”

“Trailways’ online operation now connects”, with several software platforms and related inter-connected line-run carriers, including Greyhound Lines, to support easier city-to-city online booking and offers first-of-its-kind digital features such as ticket rescheduling.  This feature allows customers to change their intended time of departure without visiting a terminal. The website also takes care of regulatory compliance for individual carriers by meeting PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security) and ADA (American Disability Act) standards.

Digital marketing is also an important part of Trailways.com’s new infrastructure. “Our priority is to convert browsing visitors into paying customers,” said Berardi. “I’m proud to say we have the technology and a growing team in place to make that happen. By combining resources and leveraging the national brand, we have done what some carriers found difficult on their own: near instant advertising to customers that visit the Trailways.com website, across an array of media channels, with personalized imagery targeting the products they are likely to purchase.”

Trailways’ digital marketing strategies are paying off. Some campaigns are logging a conversion to sales rate of more than 15% as of mid-December with bookings up 20% year-to-year. In the last week of November, the Trailways site had 25,000 visitors and October 2021 individual gross sales volume reached 730,000. “We are now hitting our first highs (following COVID-19 March 2020 shutdown) with room to go higher,” said Berardi.

Trailways.com already has 60,000 members enrolled in its Driven Rewards by Trailways, a loyalty program which tracks travel and allows riders to redeem points toward new travel. The program is heavily promoted via the site and in passenger email correspondence.  

In 2022, Trailways.com will launch a new business-building charter lead system that Berardi says will help operators streamline the quote process.

“Charter is an important part of every operator’s business – even for line-run carriers who need to keep their coaches out earning revenue at every chance they get. And it makes sense for us to have the best technology for charter as we do for line-run. The industry is changing. Riders and charter customers are price-shopping and we are meeting them where they are – and that’s online. We want to serve them on desktop and mobile. If passengers and groups are more comfortable with paper tickets and schedules, we’ll make sure we accommodate their needs. We want to serve and accommodate all Trailways customers equally — and Trailways.com will help make that happen.”

Every day, Trailways.com is building a more robust digital marketing program that will help you and your team members increase sales. You are invited to hear more from Alex and other Trailways leaders about building your business at Trailways 2022: Roadmap for Success, Jan. 6-8 in Grapevine, TX.

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TRAILWAYS ROADMAP FOR SUCCESS

ANNUAL MEETING SAVE THE DATE
January 6-8, 2022
Grapevine, TX

Trailways Transportation Systems has been recognized as a prestigious network of coach operators since 1936.  Throughout our history, Trailways has provided a high level of operational, sales, marketing, and network services to our stakeholders – while reinvesting in and growing our network.

With this, we are proud to announce that we will be reformatting the annual Trailways Transportation Systems Stockholder Meeting.  Starting in January 2022, we will co-locate with the American Bus Association’s Marketplace in Grapevine, TX.  Trailways will host our annual meeting starting on the evening of January 6 through the afternoon of January 8.  A full agenda for the ABA Marketplace can be found HERE.  We will also be discussing the possibility to co-locate with UMA in 2023. By aligning our meetings with UMA and ABA, we will create better synergies with the legislative efforts and suppliers of the industry.  This should also create significant travel cost savings for our stakeholders. More information on the detailed Trailways meeting agenda for 2022 will follow.

While COVID paused our industry and created challenges like never before, like many, we are recommitting Trailways Transportation Systems to the industry – using this opportunity to make changes that will make us stronger.

Trailways is also happy to announce that we have engaged the marketing and communication services of Vicki Bowman, CMP, CED, CSEP.  Many of you already know Vicki as a marketing professional with a 16-year career in the bus industry, and founder of VB Group Marketing & Event Resources, a marketing and events resource firm specializing in organizational management, events planning and marketing services for regional associations.

Bowman and her team, who also have bus industry experience, will be responsible for Trailways’ marketing & stockholder social media, execution of our meetings and tradeshow, communication to all members and special marketing projects as needed.

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Trailways “moving forward” on 85th anniversary

Fairfax, VA – February 4, 2021 – When five independently owned motorcoach companies became the founders of the National Trailways Bus System in Chicago on February 5, 1936, they were looking ahead at a changing transportation industry in which they could thrive through teamwork rather than struggling individually during a Great Depression.
With that same attitude of teamwork, fierce independence and focus on the future, today’s Trailways Transportation System, Inc., has selected the theme “This Is Moving Forward” for its 85th Annual Meeting and Conference on February 17.
Instead of gathering in Palm Springs, CA, as originally planned, representatives of member companies will meet virtually, eager to put behind them the Great Pandemic that has hit especially hard the travel and transportation industries that Trailways serves. The pandemic-driven reduction in travel for sightseeing, vacations, entertainment and other pleasure trips has slashed ridership for some members as much as 90 percent.
As in earlier times of national crisis, Trailways operators have moved to meet the challenge. They’ve been transporting essential workers, military personnel and those schoolchildren still learning in classrooms. They’ve brought relief and reinforcements to the sites of natural disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. They’ve made charter trips for sports teams still playing with pandemic precautions.
“This is one of the most critical times in Trailways history; and Trailways has taken a bold step to innovate, to prepare for the rebound and to support our members during this difficult time,” said Patrick Dean, Trailways Chairman of the Board and Vice President of Dean Trailways in Lansing, MI. “Our vision is that with a challenge like this, there is an opportunity. We’ve used this time to provide better service for our customers and to be there when they’re ready to come back to travel. We’ll greet them with a smile and great service and tell them how much we appreciate their loyalty to Trailways.”
“We’ve invested a lot of resources during this current pandemic to meet our customers where they’re at now, which is online,” Dean explained. On June 27, 2019, Trailways established a wholly owned subsidiary, Trailways Ticketing & Marketing, LLC, which is doing business as Trailways.com. This Web platform lets customers purchase tickets online, request quotes for charter trips and bus rentals, and purchase trip packages to featured destinations. It has additional consumer-oriented features, including a “Driven Rewards” loyalty program for frequent Trailways travelers. During the coronavirus pandemic, Trailways began offering touch free boarding nationwide with its new mobile boarding “ticket delivery option.”
Spearheading formation of the new subsidiary are these member companies that offer both scheduled-route and charter-and-tour transportation: Adirondack, Pine Hill and New York Trailways of Hurley, NY; Burlington Trailways of West Burlington, IA; Fullington Trailways of Clearfield, PA; and Martz Trailways of Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Richmond, VA.

“The rejuvenated Web site and all the functionality are really an industry-leading sales platform that’s second to none that will be for the benefit of all Trailways members,” said Scott Martz Henry, a board member of the Trailways system, President of Martz Trailways and great-great-grandson of Frank Martz, Sr., one of Trailways’ founders. “It does a better job of getting the Trailways name out there.”
Dean elaborated, “Through Trailways Ticketing & Marketing, we’re doing more digital marketing and e-mail communications and social media campaigns and search engine marketing to put the Trailways brand in front of customers more often.”
The Trailways brand has become legendary over its 85-year history. It was Trailways that introduced “thru-service” by changing drivers rather than coaches when passing from one Trailways member territory to another on long-distance routes so that passengers could enjoy the “easiest travel on earth.” The National Trailways Travel Bureau, launched in 1942, secured one of the first tour broker permits issued by the Interstate Commerce Commission.
After Trailways invited passengers to “see America at scenery level” in the 1950s, Continental Trailways in the next two decades offered innovative, “five-star luxury services” with uniformed hostesses serving food and beverages from galleys in observation lounges aboard the famous Golden Eagle motorcoaches, specially designed for long-distance travel comfort.
Trailways later became one of the earliest adopters of global positioning system (GPS) devices as a safety feature on its member company vehicles.
Burlington Transportation Company and the Frank Martz Coach Company were two of the original members that founded the Trailways system in 1936. The others were Missouri Pacific Stages, Santa Fe Trails Transportation Company and Safeway Lines, Inc. Three of the founders – Burlington, Missouri Pacific Stages and Santa Fe Trails — were affiliated with railroads and served routes in Western states. The other two, Martz and Safeway, had Eastern routes. All five were independent, scheduled-route motorcoach operators who banded together primarily to compete with industry consolidators, especially Greyhound.
The competition between Trailways and Greyhound is not quite so fierce today as they share some terminals and routes. “We’ve had a schedule and pooling agreement with Greyhound for more than 50 years. A certain number of our drivers and buses participate in Greyhound scheduled runs,” said Suzanne S. Thornburg, president and chief executive officer of Capital Trailways and Colonial Trailways. Capital Trailways, with locations in Montgomery and Madison (Huntsville), AL, and Columbus, GA, and Colonial Trailways, based in Mobile, AL, joined Trailways soon after the five original founders and are in their fifth generation of family ownership.
A major benefit of Trailways membership, Thornburg said, “is just having a great understanding of the power of networking. In our industry it is so important to build camaraderie, and Trailways allows us a way to do that. Everything is about technology now. I think Trailways has done a good job as far as improving software systems and referral platforms, just the sense of
community and providing a network for us all to come together and learn from one another. There’s a good online referral system, and we do receive leads from that system.”
Another advantage, Thornburg added, is being able to rely on fellow Trailways members in times of need. “A few other members have assisted us along the way with maintenance when we’re on the other side of the country,” she said. “We’ve reciprocated with them when they’re in the Alabama market and need a tire changed or an electrical problem dealt with. That’s a part of being in the network, for sure.”
Since Trailways opened its membership in 1997 to independently owned charter-and-tour companies without scheduled routes, the majority of Trailways transportation members now offer charters and tours exclusively across the continental U.S., plus Canada and parts of Europe. They are required to meet the same high standards as the scheduled-route members.
What are those standards? “The main thing that keeps it all going is safe, reliable, courteous service,” said Ronald R. Moore, a past chairman of the Trailways system, current board member at-large and President of Burlington Trailways. “We’re all one. We work together.”
Today’s Trailways welcomes members in all modes of transportation: air, rail, ground and sea. It also has associate members, called affiliated partners, that offer products, programs and services to transportation members. It has affiliate members that work to preserve, aid and advance the transportation industry as well as industry members that have a vested interest in travel and transportation. Among these membership categories are firms such as coach manufacturers, parts and technology suppliers, travel brokers, insurance and personnel agencies, cruise lines, hotels and resorts, and destination venues.
“The COVID-19 impacts them just as much as it does the member companies that are operators,” said Patrick Dean. “Trailways continues to support the efforts of the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association, who are the leaders in advocacy for the industry. We’ve advocated for the federal government to recognize what a critical infrastructure service we provide.”
During the pandemic, Henry of Martz Trailways explained, “we’ve doubled down on our commitment to customers and are doing everything we can to make sure that we abide by industry-leading safety standards, with cleaning and disinfecting procedures for onboarding and off boarding and overall maintenance. Bus travel remains one of the safest forms of transportation. Particularly during COVID-19, with disinfecting procedures and air flow throughout the coach, it’s very safe.”
Trailways has adapted to the industry and broader economy to support member companies. “We’ve made a reduction in dues but not a reduction in the storied Trailways brand,” Dean said. “We’ve been proactive, not reactive. When demand comes, we’ll be ready when the pandemic subsides.”
At 85 years young, Trailways continues to survive by being not only in the transportation business but also in the transformation business. It keeps embracing change to address emerging
customer needs and wants. “Trailways carriers have always been committed to their customers and employees and making sure we’re connecting people to their destinations, wherever they may be going,” Dean said. “A lot of times, people are going on exciting trips or travel, and we get to be a small part of that. We’re making sure that we honor quality and safety and service.”
Those were the goals of the Trailways founders in 1936. That’s what hasn’t changed in 85 years.

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December 2019 E-News for Charter Trip Planners

http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/cb-trailways/CB-TRAILWAYS120519.php

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