An Industry Hit Hard - The DL S3E01
An Industry Hit Hard - The DL S3E01 is now available on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and YouTube.
In the latest episode of The DL, Diesel Laptops Founder and CEO, Tyler Robertson, is joined by Tom Parker and Antwan Green of Road Relief System, to talk about a revolutionary time saving invention and solution to a problem. Watch and learn how Road Relief System has you covered with their personalized mobile sanitary urinal system.
As always thank you for watching. We are wrapping up this season of the DL and look forward to showing you our studios new look in 2022! If there are any topics you would like covered on Season 3 of The DL, leave a comment below.
For the full transcript, continue reading.
CONNECT WITH TOM PARKER & ANTWAN GREEN:
Website - https://roadreliefsystem.com
Instagram - https://instagram.com/roadreliefsystem?utm_medium=copy_link
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-parker-955475176/
Phone – Antwan (469) 515-1561 & Tom (214) 912-8376
Transcript for An Industry Hit Hard - The DL S3E01:
Tyler Robertson (00:06):
Welcome to the DL. I am your host, Tyler Robertson, also the CEO and founder of Diesel laptops. This is the podcast show where we get to talk about everything going on in the diesel industry. And before I even get started, I want to say welcome to season three. So through two seasons, we've learned a lot. We have a new set going on here, so you can look around, it looks different than previous seasons. If you're on the video portion, and I'm really excited about what we have going on this season. So I have CEOs, I got presidents of associations and companies. I got best selling authors. We've got some sports athletes coming up this year that are involved in our industry, all kinds of great stuff. And let's not forget, we'll have diesel technicians, we'll have shop owners, all kinds of people across our industry that really live and breathe everything going on.
Tyler Robertson (00:54):
So again, I just want to say thank you to all the listeners, all the people listening out there on podcasts, where all podcasts are played, truly appreciate. And again, every time you guys like, comment, subscribe, it tremendously helps us. And I'm going to dive right into this here on season one. Season three, episode one, because I'm super excited. I always talk about commercial truck. I talk about equipment. There's actually a big industry that a lot of people don't really talk about a lot and that's buses and we're going to dive into it. I'm not talking school buses. We'll talk about that a little bit, but we're going to talk about all these other buses that are out there. And I think if you really look at it, there's been a lot of impact COVID has had in our industry. And a lot of it's actually on sadly been good for people in our industry.
Tyler Robertson (01:40):
Repair shops are booked up, truck manufacturing are way booked up. Diesel technicians are hard to find. There's been some good stuff. There's obviously been a lot of bad stuff with COVID and the effects it's had on businesses. And I think we're going to explore some of that today. So today, I have Peter Pantuso here with the American Bus Association. So Peter, let's just get right into it here, man. What is the ABA? Who are you guys and what do you represent? Can give us a little background under your association?
Peter Pantuso (02:08):
Sure. So we are the association, the primary association for the private bus industries. We were started in 1926. We're based in Washington DC. And the core members are people that operate private buses, motor coaches, primarily, but today, they operate a lot of different vehicles. Large vehicles, smaller vehicles. You mentioned school bus. Some of our members operate school buses. Pre-COVID, we had about 800 motor coach companies. They represented, in round, numbers about 65% of the fleet. So everybody's familiar with companies like Greyhound and megabus, some of the larger companies. But there's also a company called Joe's Bus Company, and Friendly Travel, and places like that a lot of people, if you're not from that region, may not have heard of.
Peter Pantuso (02:53):
Most of the industry is made up of small companies. The average bus company has got fewer than 10 buses, and many of them are multi-generational, they're probably not that different than the trucking industry or all other businesses. I've got companies that are 100 years old that are on their fourth generation, for example. So our primary objective, and the way we were founded, the reason we were founded, was to look out for the industry in terms its workings with Washington DC, regulators, with the legislature and Congress. And we still do that today, among other things.
Tyler Robertson (03:28):
So my experience with bus is actually really limited. I'll tell my experience. I was a freshman in college. My dad refused to pay for a plane ticket. So I took a Greyhound bus from New York to Minnesota. That was my first time on a bus. But otherwise, it's mainly been the shuttle buses. Airports, and car rentals, and things like that. So in those industries, you look at the airports, and car rentals, and those shuttle buses, I don't know if they're called transit buses or what the right word is. Are those third parties that are contracted by those companies? Or are they owned by the car rental companies? Or how does that break down? And you see there's a lot of small bus operators. Are they tourism bus? What are these people doing with only a couple handful of buses?
Peter Pantuso (04:08):
Yeah, that's a great question, Tyler. It sort of depends on the company and on the industry. In our case, our buses, our members' buses usually fall into three primary categories. And those are scheduled buses, so Greyhound and megabus, a point-to-point or city-to-city. And then you've got commuter buses bringing people into work every single day. Especially in urban areas, Washington DC is a good example. I mean, everybody thinks about our Metro system here. But there's almost 20,000 people that commute in and out every single day on private buses from Maryland, Virginia, from an hour to two hours away. And then the biggest segment in terms of numbers of companies are charter buses. So that bus that comes together to take a group to a football game or take people on a tour, go to see fall foliage in New England.
Peter Pantuso (04:56):
And then the fourth category would really be a catchall. It's contract services, and some of the things you mentioned. Taking people to airports and taking them around, some of those are contracted services. The other side of the commuter business, we've got commuters that commute in, not into an urban environment, but into a very rural environment. We've got people that are running commuter buses into mining operations all over the country. So they run the whole gambit, but we usually think of the industry, from our segment primarily, as the larger motor coaches, the elevated passenger deck and a baggage bay underneath. But today, our members run everything from small shuttle buses, to school buses, to everything in between. Some of our members have limo services. They're in the transportation business and they've expanded their footprint beyond just motor coaches.
Tyler Robertson (05:46):
So I think the interesting thing, too, is how much of a history the bus industry actually has in the American culture. We were just talking about this beforehand, even going back to the war days and everything before. Can you give a little impact on how important buses were, I guess, as the United States was coming into the new century?
Peter Pantuso (06:03):
I'll go all the way back, as a matter of fact. Our members are motor coaches. When you think about coaches, you think about stage coaches. We've even got a couple of members whose family four or five generations go within the stage coach business. And they put a bus, they put a motor in, it became a motor coach. And so that's sort of the history going way, way back to the beginning to the early 1900s.
Peter Pantuso (06:26):
And then you go beyond there, and you've got companies that may have started out on a very small basis and then grew from there. We've got a company in New York, they're called Campus Coach, for example. That company, the founder, who passed away recently at 104, was going to the University of Michigan. And as a student, he started bringing other students back to New York on the weekends. And that's how Campus Coach started. Great stories like that. Great history in our industry of these family operations and how they began.
Tyler Robertson (07:01):
Yeah. And it's played a big impact in the economy. I mean, obviously, you were just saying before this too, the military uses buses and coaches to haul around all the personnel and everything. And I think the other interesting point is, for people that live in rural areas, if they don't have a personal automobile, there's not another option. It's buses.
Peter Pantuso (07:22):
Yeah. That's right. When I think about the military, I think of these iconic pictures that you see back in World War II. Troops going off to war. And a lot of the military still travel by buses. If they're going to deployment, they may be going to and from an airline by bus. If they're going for training, they may be going to another base by bus. And you're right. In rural communities, I mean, it is the bus that's the connection point to get, sometimes to other cities, other times, to other modes of transportation. You might be in rural Illinois and you take the bus to O'Hare Airport, or if you're in Wisconsin, you take the bus to O'Hare to be able to get out.
Peter Pantuso (07:59):
So we are part of an ecosystem of transportation, passenger transportation. We're the way that a lot of people connect with one another and/or connect with other modes of transportation. A lot of people don't realize that the airlines, pre-COVID, moved about 700 million passengers a year. And the motor coach industry did about 600 million passenger trips. So in terms of intercity or interstate travel, we are the second biggest mode of travel out there. We're certainly not as large as inner city transit systems, but in terms of connecting the world or America, we're it, in a lot of parts of the world, the bus is the preferred, and sometimes, almost the only way to get from place to place. Mexico is a good example where 90% of the people ride the bus as opposed to any other mode of transportation.
Tyler Robertson (08:49):
Yeah. I had no idea there was that many passenger trips going on in this industry. So that's really blown my mind hearing that number. And it made me remind me, when I used to work at a truck dealership, I remember a couple times, we were probably, call it two hours away from the big city or three hours away. And oftentimes, we needed parts from that city quickly to get a truck going. And we actually put them on buses, and they would haul the product from that terminal, to the terminal to us, and we'd go pick them up. Is package delivery still a piece of that industry as well or is that a fading thing?
Peter Pantuso (09:19):
Yeah, it still is. It's not a huge part of the industry, but especially for those scheduled carriers, it is a part of the business. And you are right. While you might be waiting for a shipment from DHL or somebody else overnight, the bus can actually get it there the same day many times. And the example you gave is a perfect example of that. And those packages, those deliveries, especially in rural America, are a vital connection and such a resource for those farmers and others to keep their businesses going.
Tyler Robertson (09:49):
So I want to talk about COVID a little bit, and I know it's a pain point, but it's obviously a very big thing I think that needs awareness. Because think there's some things that probably could be done here to help. Can you give a little color on how big of a thing was this before COVID happened, and how did 2020 look, 2021 look, and where do you see it going this year now that we're two years into this thing? So there's got to be some trajectory, whether it's good or bad. I'd love to hear how you guys are addressing it.
Peter Pantuso (10:18):
So I'm going to go back to 2019 and the sales in the industry, and this is just people getting on the bus or paying for a bus, whether it's a charter or ticket. Sales were about $15.3 billion. And that doesn't include the trickle through effect when we take a group, if you will, to a tourist destination, and they take hotel rooms and all of that. This is just bus revenue. It was about $15.3 billion. In 2020, we went down to $2.6. So it took about an 80% drop. In 2021, everybody was hopeful that we were going to come back. We came back to about $7 billion, so less than half. And we don't think we're going to see recovery in the bus and motor coach industry until at least 2024. Originally, we thought end of '23, but now we're thinking '24.
Peter Pantuso (11:08):
So it's had a huge impact. We've lost as much as a quarter of the industry. Many small companies, minority-owned companies, companies that were just hanging on and just couldn't make it through COVID. When their business went away, they still had bus payments. They had garage payments. In some cases, they still had personnel costs and they just couldn't couldn't hold on any longer. It was really sad to see. And now, as we're starting to come back, the other challenge we're facing, which I know the trucking industry does too, is the driver shortage. I mean, we lost a lot of people who aged out and decided that they were going to get out of the business and not drive anymore. And a lot of our drivers are in their 60s and even in their 70s, second career, sometimes a part-time job. We've lost a lot of those folks.
Peter Pantuso (11:56):
And then when the industry was virtually shut down, people went to other jobs and they might have gone to warehousing. They might have gone to truck driving. They might have gone somewhere else. And getting them back to drive again, after almost two years now, is an equal challenge. Because now they've got 401k. They've got vacation, they've got some seniority. And they're not just going to say, "Oh, okay, I'll go back to driving a bus," when there's still some uncertainty in the industry. So it's had a huge impact on the motor coach industry. When I think about the transportation modes or I think about travel and tourism modes, I think the motor coach industry has been hit really harder than anybody else. And we're still suffering today.
Tyler Robertson (12:37):
Yeah. I can see the headwinds. I mean, you talked about the driver issue going on there and there's 11 million open jobs in the US today. Not enough people to fill them. You got that whole thing. You have rising diesel costs, obviously, are increasing everywhere as well. Cost of manufacturing is going up. So buses costs, more repairs costs, and all these things. And obviously, an industry that's heavily reliant on tourism and or people commuting into work into urban areas. And a lot of work from home and all those. So I can totally see it. My heart really goes out for those percent of your membership that just couldn't hold on.
Tyler Robertson (13:09):
I can say, as a business owner, that's my biggest fear is my revenue goes to zero overnight. And you always justify in your head, "Oh, that'll never happen. It'll always just trickle down. We'll adjust." It's got to be just a punch in the gut for a lot of business owners out there. And I know in our case, the government actually came out and said, "Hey, here's the PPP loan." And I'm like, "Oh, great. We'll keep everyone working." I can see in a bus though, taking the PPP loan, that's great. You keep employees, but no one's riding the buses. You're still not getting any income.
Peter Pantuso (13:39):
You hit the nail right on the head. I mean, Congress is good at doing things and they did a good job of trying to get money out there to the entire country. And they thought they took care of us with PPP. And it helped some companies, but you're exactly right. I mean, if you don't have any business, taking a loan, even that turns into a grant that forces you to spend 60% of those dollars on employees, doesn't really help. You need the business. I mean, what they really needed, what our guys needed in particular was some operating assistance, some help to get them through a bridge, if you will. There were some other grant programs that also helped the motor coach industry.
Peter Pantuso (14:20):
There was a program called the CERTS Act, basically coronavirus economic relief. And it was some money for the motor coach industry, the school bus industry, and passenger vessels. It was $2 billion in total. Well, that got divided among thousands of companies. So there wasn't a lot of money for any one company at the end of the day, but it had the same sort of impact of the PPP. You had to put most of your resources, most of that money toward employees. And again, if you don't have any business, you don't have any employees. So the objective should be, right now, let's find a way to get people back to work, get them back to commuting again, and get them back to travel again, so that we do have workers so that we can help subsidize those workers. But we got to get people back. I mean, that's the priority.
Tyler Robertson (15:06):
Yeah. I mean, it's really unfortunate. Obviously, airlines, the government did what they could to help those guys, even passenger railroads, and some of these other industries. And it seems like your industry, along with some of the others. I mean, I've seen you speak on CNBC, on Fox Business News. There's these other industries too, theaters and small, what was it? Small ballparks, small minor league teams. They all got essentially screwed. They got nothing and everyone else got taken care of. So it's really unfortunate. Is there still hope? Do you think the federal government's still going to come through and do something there? Or is it hard now? I mean, I don't follow politics a lot. It just seems like a lot of roadblock in Washington DC. And I know before this, you said you are in Washington DC area, so this is probably something well, better than most. Is there hope, or is it a lost cause at this point?
Peter Pantuso (15:52):
No, there's definitely hope. Yeah. Our office is about three blocks from the Capitol. So we keep an eye on the Capitol all the time. I would've said a few months ago that there wasn't as much opportunity, but I saw something that Speaker Pelosi put out just about a week or so ago that said she might be inclined to bring some targeted relief for those industries left behind, some coronavirus relief monies.
Peter Pantuso (16:18):
I know that Senator Cardin, who's a area Senator here, he's from the state of Maryland, is working on a small business package. In fact, there was an article on the Wall Street Journal online edition on Sunday about that, that we believe we're included in. So there's opportunities for us and some of the others whose businesses were just different than the general business and got left behind. We need additional help. We don't want a handout. We don't want them to just give money for the sake of giving it. All we need in this industry is really a bridge. A bridge should get us through until coronavirus goes away or until we start treating it more like the flu and everybody doesn't stay home and hunker down all the time.
Tyler Robertson (17:04):
Yeah, no, I hope the same hopes as you're saying there. So I totally get it. And one of the things that we always like to talk about, I'm scared to ask this question after you've just been telling me how hard it's been in your industry. But have there been some silver linings? So I was looking at some of the Greyhound stuff. That's the one that people know about. I mean, their average fleet age went from about 10 years to about five years. They got rid of a bunch of old stuff. Their on-time arrivals went way up from 76% to the 90s. They got rid of unprofitable outs and they did some stuff. Is there some silver linings that you see at all in this? Will some of the stronger bus tour groups, will they be better off when this is all done? Or what have you seen? Is there any silver linings at all out there?
Peter Pantuso (17:46):
Yeah, that's a great question. We just had our annual convention last week. I just came back on Thursday from that. We were down in Grapevine, Texas for about five, six days. And there's certainly voices of optimism out there. I mean, we've seen some companies during COVID come back and really recreate themselves, and come back, sometimes even stronger than they were before. We saw a number of companies that said there's a need for mobile vaccination units. And so they took their buses, they took the seats out, they reconfigured the inside and they created those opportunities. I talked to one company that's from the east coast, they've got 20 buses out in the west running mobile vaccination units. So there are things like that that happened.
Peter Pantuso (18:33):
Some people went into other businesses in addition to just being in the bus and motor coach industry. And as I said to the folks that I saw at our annual convention, if they made it through this far, they're going to survive. There's no question about it. It's not going to be easy. It's still going to be hard, but they're going to make it. They've made it this far. And they're going to come back, I think in many cases, stronger than ever. There's going to be fewer companies, obviously. But I think the demand, once we get back to normal travel patterns and people are willing to start traveling again, I think the demand is going to be there.
Tyler Robertson (19:09):
I mean, I think you're absolutely right. And that's the American spirit. You have these big headaches, and these big challenges, and all of a sudden, innovation comes up and people start looking at things a different way that they weren't forced to. So glad to hear there's some silver linings and some people really adapting their business model. The question I'd like to ask is about capacity. And I don't know how you guys measure capacity, but I imagine the airlines where they just don't have as many flights, don't have as many routes being run. Can you talk about capacity, like what that looks like today versus pre-COVID?
Peter Pantuso (19:38):
Yeah. So again, if I go back to those three segments and I look at scheduled service, so they're operating at about 50% capacity right now. Some places a little more, some places a little less. The Midwest seems to be a little bit stronger. When I look at the charter segment of the industry, some of those companies are at full capacity. But depending where they are, depending on how aggressive they are, but a lot of the companies are still operating at less than 50%. So if I look at charter overall, I would say they're at about 50% capacity. And then when I look at the commuter segment, they're at about 20% or 25%. I mean, we keep seeing things out of New York, and Boston, and Washington and other major cities all over the country where companies are delaying the reopening of their facilities.
Peter Pantuso (20:28):
Those are commuters that come in. We're taking commuters into work. We're taking people to airports. We're taking people to hospitals, to work from different venues around different cities, but it's been slow. Out on the west coast, I'll give you an example. There's about 1200 buses that are working for different technology campuses, whether it's Google, or Facebook, or companies like that. Most of those operations are all work from home now. So very few of those operations are operating at higher than 50%. I would say most of them are probably operating at 20% or somewhere along there. So again, we've got to get to a point where we figure out what the new normal is. And everybody gets back to work or gets back to a pattern of work for commuters.
Peter Pantuso (21:16):
I don't think it's ever going to be the same, but it's going to be an awful lot better than it is today. I think people will start traveling again. They will start taking those trips, those fall foliage tours, those spring trips, but in the charter business that's a big chunk of our business. Student business, that period of, if you will, from February, let's say through June, when the kids are taking their annual trip to Washington, or Chicago, or wherever that might be. Those trips haven't happened in large numbers in the last two years. They almost didn't happen at all in '20. Little bit of it came back in '21.
Peter Pantuso (21:52):
We started to see that planning cycle, which is fairly lengthy start in the summer. And then the Delta variant hit and everybody pulled back. And then it started again and Omicron hit. And so we don't know what the spring is going to be like, but I will tell you for a lot of charter operators, that spring window can be as much as 50% to 70% of their business. So until we get back again to a normal, whatever the new normal is, we're not quite going to know what the total impact on the industry is. But so far, we know it's not great.
Tyler Robertson (22:22):
So earlier, you were talking about when this recovers and you were a couple years out. Is a lot of that because of the tourism side, there is just a lead time for people to plan trips, and put groups together, and they're booking that stuff out one, two years in advance> is that a big part of this?
Peter Pantuso (22:35):
That's absolutely right. So when we had our convention, well, it's a bus convention. It's also a tourism convention. We have a lot of people that go there for the planning of their trips. So we have tour operators, bus operators taking appointments with hotels, and restaurants, and theaters, and visitors bureaus, and everybody who's in that tourism planning cycle. And so they were there now, planning not only for the remainder of 2022, but also for 2023.
Peter Pantuso (23:04):
Congress, when I talked to some members of Congress, they will tell me or would tell me summer that, "Hey, you guys must be doing good," because they see that travel is coming back, and beach resorts are filling up, and airlines are moving. Individual travel really did start to come back. People wanted to get out, they wanted to move again. There was a pent up demand.
Peter Pantuso (23:24):
But in the group travel business, it is a long planning window. It can be at least a year, at least six months at a minimum, and sometimes two years, as you're putting those packages and trips together. You put them together and then you advertise them for the following year. So yeah, that window's long. And every time there's anything going on COVID-related or anytime people pull back on travel, those are the trips they wait on. They don't want to sign up now for a trip that's going to take place six months from now. And if they wait to the very last minute, well, there might not be enough people on that trip. And the operator of the trip had to cancel the trip. So yeah, it's a very different planning window than individual travel.
Tyler Robertson (24:04):
Yeah. So it's very similar. We go to conventions and trade shows, and we try to do these VIP events, and want to do a big thing, make it a special thing. And we've gone through this twice now. Like, "Hey, let's go plan this thing. Let's go do this riverboat cruise. Let's get a bunch of people there." And then a Delta variant. We're like, "Okay, let's cancel it last minute." And it just happened again, "Hey, let's go do this great event here." And you're like, "Oh, I'm Omicron, everyone's canceling, let's cancel the event." It is really frustrating. Everyone's wanting to get over the hump. It's just being difficult. I hope we get there. But one of the things I'd like to talk about just real quick is electrification. It's a big topic in the diesel industry today. It's obviously taken a hold fastest in the student bust area. I mean, it makes sense. A lot of that's government money. Government's pushing for it. They're home every night. They're just doing their little short little trips. Is that coming into play at all in your space as well, outside the bus industry?
Peter Pantuso (25:01):
Yeah. It's definitely coming. It's coming a little bit slow. And you mentioned school bus. There's a lot of opportunities for school bus, because as you said, they do come back to the garage at night. And the trips are relatively short in distance and in time. And if you think about the fact that most buses or cars can go maybe 300 miles on a charge, it's probably enough for a school bus to pick up everybody, even if it's a couple trips in the morning, couple trips in the afternoon. So that's pretty easy. On the commuter side, that's probably another opportunity for motor coaches that are involved in commuters, where you would come back to the same place at night or in the afternoon to be charged.
Peter Pantuso (25:45):
But a motor coach sells today for about a half a million to $600,000. An electric motor coach sells for a million or more. So unless there's some subsidy, unless there's some government invention or infusion into that process, you're probably not going to see a wholesale change in motor coaches right away going to electric. I was out in a meeting in Colorado a couple months ago, and I was talking to some of the officials from the state. And they said, "Oh gosh, electric. Everything's going electric. When are we going to see electric motor coaches?" And I said, "Well, you'll see them in some applications, but as an example, you're not going to get on an electric motor coach and go to Colorado from Washington DC for a trip." And the reason being, number one, that the electricity or the batteries take up the entire baggage bay almost. And so if you're traveling that far, you can't travel with luggage, which could be a problem, I think.
Peter Pantuso (26:40):
Secondly, the infrastructure isn't there to charge along the way. And the charging time is a long time. It's not like pulling into a gas station that has a charger charging for 20 minutes and you're on your way with a car. That's not going to happen. It takes hours to charge a coach where the batteries have been run down. So we're going to see it. There's no question about it. There's certainly no question that there's a lot of government infusion into the electric space, but it's going to be a while on motor coaches before we begin to see it, I think. I don't know exactly when. Over time, I know that the batteries are going to get smaller. The distance you can travel on a battery is going to be less. Statistics that I've seen show that the maintenance cost is much, much less. So you have to factor that in. And it will become cost effective over time. But it's just not there today in broad applications, at least for motor coach anyway.
Tyler Robertson (27:35):
Yeah. Commercial truck over the highway stuff's in that same ballpark area as well. Certain applications, it works well. We have Proterra, who's just right up this street from us in Greenville. Obviously, they make electric buses and they went public last year. I actually got invited to Navistar's eMobility Center. So I got to go check that out here in a couple months. So we're excited to see that whole thing, but it is a lot of unknown, a lot of uncertainty there. Again, I don't know what grants you guys get. I can say what you see online, people getting these 100% grants for school buses and putting in charging stations, but you're right. It's like twice the price to get an electric bus and you got to put the charging infrastructure in as well, which is not cheap. So it's a big investment. And again, what I heard from you earlier is it's a lot of smaller organizations inside your industry that's a big investment to go make if you only own five buses or 10 buses versus 100 of them.
Peter Pantuso (28:22):
Yeah. The other thing we're beginning to see a little bit of, and I think we'll see it in other commercial applications, there's some conversions. Taking an existing motor coach for example, or another vehicle, and converting it to electric. You've already got the product there, if you will, the box. And it's about taking all the engine components out and replacing it with four electric motors, if you will. So that will come too. I saw that at a show in Europe a couple of years ago, and I was fascinated by it. And there were multiple numbers of companies that did that. And I think we'll start to see that here as well. It's a lower cost point as opposed to a brand new vehicle.
Tyler Robertson (28:59):
Yeah. And you made a really good point I hadn't thought about either. That was the fact that on a school bus, you don't need all that under carriage space for luggage. It's a school bus. You need that for yours. And that's typically where the batteries go. So there's things to be worked out there. Commercial trucks have the same problem. There's a company I bumped into where they basically have a program they're putting together where you drive in your diesel-powered truck in, and they have a chassis sitting there with the batteries and the motors on it. And they literally move your cab over from the one vehicle to the other. So it's like this weird glider situation.
Tyler Robertson (29:30):
So I think a lot of innovations and businesses are going to come out of this whole thing. And one of the last things I'd like to talk about, and this is something I didn't realize, but I tried to do my research on the industry before all this. I didn't realize there's this whole luxury bus thing going on. So I saw one of the companies out there, it was like $100 to go from city to city, but it was literally stewarded, not stewardess, attendance, and service, and everything. Free WiFi. Is that something, or has that been around for a while or is that a trend thing now? What can you tell me about that specific thing?
Peter Pantuso (30:05):
Yeah, well, I'm a little biased, but I think every bus trip is a luxury trip anyway. So, but you take a typical bus, let's say, with 50 seats going here to New York, it's pretty comfortable. And the cost of the bus usually is about half the price of the tolls going up there. So it's always been, in my mind, the way to go. But we've got in some parts of the country and there are a couple companies up in New Hampshire that have been running trips to New York City with their equipment. They've got a two-in-one seated configuration where they might have 30 or 35 seats. So bigger seats, little more room. There's a company out of Washington that does that. There's one down in Texas. There's some others around the country that do that.
Peter Pantuso (30:49):
And then the latest one that I've seen in the DC market, DC to New York, it's called The Jet. In fact, I went to meet with their owner just a few days ago and also see their equipment. They've got 12 seats right now on a bus. And they're very, very luxurious. They recline, almost fully recline, and they are made with a Bose technology. So they took the Bose system that basically does noise canceling where a loud noise comes in, it offsets it, and they've done that with the motion of the seat. So if you hit a bump, instead of the seat going up, the seat's computerized and the seat will cancel out that motion. So it's a flat even ride all the way. I haven't had a chance to ride on it yet, but the next time I go to New York, I'll probably try it out, see what it's like.
Peter Pantuso (31:41):
So, yeah, and I go back a number of years ago, I was down in Mexico looking at bus operations. And I mentioned that people in Mexico embrace the bus. 90% of the people take the bus as opposed to flying, or even driving, in a lot of cases. And they had different tiers of service. And I think that's where the industry will end up with different tiers. If you want to be on a bus with 50 people, you want to pay $25 and you get on that. You want 30 seats, then you're going to pay more. And if you want to be on a bus with just 12 other people, you're going to pay that much more. So I think we'll continue to see that gradation of service, especially between major metropolitan areas where there's a lot of people moving back and forth.
Tyler Robertson (32:25):
So I remember the first time I ran across a Bose seat, because they did them for commercial trucks, because obviously, truck drivers are in there. So I know what those seats cost. I can only imagine how much money they put into one of those buses. And I will say that company you mentioned, The Jet. There's an article on Business Insider that just came out and literally the title was, "One of the Most Comfortable Travel Experiences I've Ever Had" was how the author came out. And really, it looked like first class flying, but on a bus. And I can actually see where the appeal is as well with executives or having to travel into the city, basically ride a bus, you get a little work area, your work center there to do your business while you're being transported. So it made a lot of sense. And I think you're right. Businesses will continue to adapt and change, and new models will come out. And industry moves forward at the end of the day.
Peter Pantuso (33:10):
Well, I saw that same article. I just saw it a little bit earlier today. And the bus has always been, in my mind, again, I'm a little biased, but it's always been a lot more comfortable than riding the train. It's a lot more stable on the highway than the train, it bounces you around all the time. And the WiFi on the bus, which almost every bus company has now. I don't think there's any that don't. The WiFi is always a lot better than the train service, or certainly, than airline. So great way to travel and get some work done on your way. I'm always working when I'm traveling on the bus.
Tyler Robertson (33:40):
Well, I just want to thank you very much for coming on. If people want to get a hold of you or learn more about your association, where would they head to?
Peter Pantuso (33:47):
Sure. The best way to do it is to go to our website, which is buses.org. That's B-U-S-E-S.org. And from there, they can find more out about the industry. They can reach me directly. My phone number's there. My email's there. So any questions they might have, they can always ask. And if I don't have the answer, we'll get the answer for them.
Tyler Robertson (34:08):
Well, again, thank you for coming on everyone. That was Peter with the ABA. Tremendous learning opportunity, I think, for everyone that's listening and watching to this. Obviously, they've had to deal with this in an entirely different way than most of us have in our industry. But what I got out of this whole conversation was with challenges comes innovation and change. And a lot of times, people come out of it stronger than when they went into it. And I think that's exactly what we're going to find in the bus industry. Specifically, the motor coach. They're going to do a great job. They're going to be around. Buses are going to be around for a long time. I think we all need to do everything we can to support that industry.
Tyler Robertson (34:41):
So it was great learning everything here today. For those of you that are listening or watching, again, comments, likes, subscribes tremendously helps us grow our reach. Leaving those reviews and thumbs up on anywhere that you can find podcasts played or on YouTube. Much appreciated with that. And as we end every episode, we're going to end it with this. We're going to say, it's not just diagnostics. It's diagnostics done right. And that applies to the bus industry as well. So everyone, thank you for watching and listening. We'll catch you on the next one.
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