Fall is just around the corner and with it school field trips and sports tournaments. Other groups may also be booking motor coaches for outings. Individuals who plan these trips may need to consider budgets for their passengers or group, but they should also remember to charter a motor coach with a company that puts safety first.
The BC Trucking Association (BCTA) represents about 90 percent of the private sector motor coach industry in BC in addition to over 800 trucking companies. Road safety is of primary concern to our members, and motor coaches are one of the safest modes of passenger transportation. Like commercial trucks, motor coaches are required to comply with provincial and federal regulations regarding everything from vehicle safety inspections to working hours for their drivers. The vast majority of companies follow these rules, but some may not, with potentially devastating results.
Enforcement agencies do what they can to catch non-compliant companies. But consumers also have the power to ease the recalcitrant few into compliance or off the road through their hiring choices.
Experienced trip planners may already follow best practices for chartering motor coaches on behalf of tour companies and other organizations. But working with a motor coach may be a new experience for others, including teachers or team coaches, recreation planners for municipalities or seniors’ residences, and volunteers organizing church or community group outings. How do these people find safe, reliable companies among the many options available?
A budget is one criterion that most planners must consider. Comparing motor coach companies by their quoted rates for a trip is not always simple and straightforward. Quotes may cover different items or be for coaches of different ages or varying amenities. The estimate for a trip should cover not only the coach and driver and, for example, site entry fees and parking but also the cost of fuel, labour, equipment, and maintenance. A really low estimate should set off alarm bells, not a contract signing. Where is this bargain company cutting corners?
And for school-related trips in particular, planners need to know there are extra permitting requirements for motor coaches that carry school-aged children.
BCTA has developed a series of motor coach flyers to help trip planners choose the right motor coach company. These flyers describe how to choose a safe company, regulations governing working hours for drivers, and tips on trip planning. They are available on BCTA’s website, www.bctrucking.com, for anyone who’s in the market to choose a motor coach company.
Passengers on a motor coach pay for comfort, convenience and a pleasant trip. They also pay for safety – or not. It’s worth taking the time to find a motor coach company that cares about and invests in road safety with qualified professional drivers, well maintained vehicles, and respect for and compliance with regulations. Go ahead and plan a weekend trip to Reno for the adults in your group, but don’t gamble with safety when it comes to chartering the coach.
BCTA is the recognised voice of the provincial motor carrier industry, representing over 900 truck and bus fleets and over 250 suppliers to the industry. Over 13,000 vehicles are operated by BCTA members in BC. BCTA operating members employ 26,000 people in BC and generate over $2 billion in revenue in the province annually.