Follow the Hustle players as they embarked on a Cline bus tour across Desoto County, Mississippi to volunteer at Heartland Hands, visit Renasant Bank for financial education, Cedar Hills Farm, and have a shootaround with students.
The Effect of Electronic Logs on the Charter Bus Industry
From my perspective, as the owner of Cline Tours, the FMCSA mandate for electronic logs (ELD’s) will deeply and thoroughly affect our industry. Conversations at bus meetings over the past several years have been vague and conditional since the mandate had not been made official. It is now official and will start December 15, 2017, about 18 months from now.
Since we have been using ELD’s for over 30 months, we have been paving the way for other operators to learn from us. And we will be glad to share our experiences with legitimate charter bus companies. Only a handful of charter bus companies have been using them as they have not been required.
Here is what we have learned from our 30 months running ELD’s.
They are expensive. We spend about $30,000.00 per month for the hardware, software, cell time, training, management and support for our 175 logging units.
Drivers have a hard time with E logs, especially when they first start using them, if they are not fully computer literate. Things seem to improve over time. However, even with improvement over time, the support requirements are extensive and continuous.
These are the things that we have observed from our perspective as an operator. Over time, once our industry is fully involved in using ELD’s, here is what we see that will change our industry.
E logs are complicated and expensive. Operators who are not tech savvy will find they are very hard to master to the point where they can be used. The cost of buying and operating E logs will cause a number of operators to either get out of the business or try to run “under the radar”. Over time, cutting the number of operators will have an effect on available charter buses for customers to use.
With paper logs, cheating is fairly easy. Low price operators who cheat will go by the wayside if they cannot adapt. In any case, their cost of operating will increase which will also drive up prices.
Customers are going to have to comply with DOT regulations with regard to hours of service. This means creating itineraries and schedules that allow drivers to stay in compliance with all hours of service regulations.
So, what is the bottom line?
In our opinion, there will be fewer charter bus companies and charter buses for customers to choose from. And, they will be more expensive. Users will have to work hard on trip planning to get their trips compliant with all DOT regulations. It is going to mean reducing time at attractions, reducing the number of attractions and possibly making the trips longer and more expensive.
FMCSA has announced new regulations that apply to charter bus companies that sub-contract their services with other companies, or use other charter bus companies in the course of their business. New regulations will require charters booked with one company but pulled by another company, in full or in part, have a documented lease on file between the 2 companies and proof of insurance. Charter agreements between the two companies are not considered leases. This must be a separate document.
Large companies, like Cline Tours, will not be easily affected this due to the size and scope of our operations. Small companies will have to do things that they are totally unfamiliar with and not equipped to implement. Their main issue will be with insurance.
In the past there have been no charges between charter companies for insurance, since this was not a federal requirement. Now these companies are going to have to provide insurance for any buses they sub-contract from another company. Besides being an inconvenience, they will have to pay $50.00 to $100.00 per day in insurance charges, just for using another company’s bus.
If the operator fails to add the insurance, theoretically, the charter would be running with no insurance and in violation of DOT regulations. If a DOT officer performs a random check of the motor coach, and all of the required documents are not in place, the motor coach will be placed out of service. This means that passengers will be without a bus until another bus can be put in place.
If you are planning to book a trip with a motor coach operator, you need to be aware of these requirements. This is one of the pitfalls of using a company without the resources to provide their own buses.
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Headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi, Cline Tours operates a state-of-the-art facility and the latest charter buses. In 2019 Cline will have one of the newest & safest charter bus fleets in the nation.
We are committed to continued growth and excellence in service. Our constant goal is to provide you, our valued customer, with the equipment, service, safety and success you deserve.