171: CEO Spotlight: The State of Ground Transportation

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Contact info:

Peter Pantuso

American Bus Association

ppantuso@buses.org

(202) 218-7229

Bio:

Peter is President and CEO of the American Bus Association (ABA), a position he has held since 1996. He also serves as President of the National Bus Traffic Association and the ABA Foundation.

ABA is North America’s leading and largest motorcoach, tour and travel association, representing over 70 percent of all motorcoaches on the road and also includes a $10 million foundation that provides research to the industry and has awarded over $1 million in scholarships since its inception. He oversees management services to other organizations, including Skal International – USA, the Florida Motorcoach Association, and the Hispanic Motorcoach Council, African American Motorcoach Council, Entertainer Motorcoach Association, Women in Buses Council among others.

Pete is also an appointee to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Council and the National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure, and he sits on the Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America – National Capital Area Council.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree from George Washington University’s School of Business and Government.

Pantuso is a 2016 recipient of the National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout Award and a 2018 recipient of the Alumni Award of Distinction from the University of Pittsburgh – Bradford Campus.

This is profit from the inside with Joel Block insights to give your business the inside track. And now here's your host, Joel Block. The pandemic is wrecked havoc on almost every industry, some more than others. Many of the players in the industries are at risk for their very survival and, at a minimum, every player is dealing with Labor problems along with a myriad of other issues. How is the transportation industry in art country dealing with this problem? To address those issues, Peter Pantoo. So, Peter, welcome to the show. Thank you, Joel. Great to be here. Well, you, uh, you guys are probably dealing with these problems, maybe at least as bad, if not worse, than almost everybody else. I mean you're you're in the bus business, which which is you run the biggest association of bus companies in the country, and you know what his lab for us here real quick, what are some of the issues that these busting companies are dealing with? Yeah, they're they're dealing with labor issues. They're dealing right now, obviously with fuel. You know, the challenge has been obviously the the increased cost of operating a bus company. That's something they've been dealing with for a long, long time. Right now the biggest issue, the number one issue, in addition of fuel, is really labor, getting finding the right people and finding drivers. You know, you hear a lot about the driver shortage, like the rest of the worker shortage. You hear about it in the trucking industry, but I think our industry has been hit much, much harder when it comes to drivers, and I'll give you a reason. When you look at our typical driver, historically they've been an older driver's second career. A lot of people in their sixties seventies, a lot of part time drivers and and many of those folks sat home for almost two years without having any income and they decided, you know, I've had enough, I think I'm gonna take off. Others had to make money and they had to feed their families, so they and into other areas and so we were left with...

...a very small workforce of drivers. Now, as businesses coming back, I talked to companies every single day that tell me they're turning away more business than they're taking because they don't have enough drivers. It's really sad to see. So are there like uh, bus driver training schools, that are turning people out? Or how do people learn how to be a bus driver? Yeah, there are some training schools, but a lot of times it's uh, you know, you've maybe driven a truck or you've driven another commercial vehicle. Maybe you drove a school of us and now you're looking to drive another type of vehicle and so you get into the motor coach side. Um, the school of US market is a good feeder for our industry and other trucking is a good feeder. You know, we're a different we're a different kind of driver. Right. A lot of a lot of truck drivers don't want fifty five people sitting behind him backbe drivers. I mean I don't even like somebody sitting next to me telling me how to drive. So you've got to have that special ability not only to drive a forty five FT vehicle and and do it safely every single day, but also deal with the customers, which is a unique skill set that a lot of commercial drivers might not have. So it sounds to me like you're not a candidate to be one of those drivers. I don't I don't think so. I don't think they want to be driving or dealing with the people behind me. So what kind of was so what are we talking we're talking about coaches, we're talking about school buses. What other kind of vehicles? You know, we're talking about other what we would call cutaways, thirty five passenger vehicles or anything bigger than sixteen passengers, as an example. All commercial drivers required, all have to be registered with the Department of Transportation, either at the federal level, if they're going interstate, or or with the State Departments of transportation. Virtually anything that moves people commercially are the people that we represent. Okay, and so Um. So, what are you guys gonna do about all these the driver shortage? I mean, I mean, how are that? Besides, they can't keep turning away business forever. I mean, that's and that's causing more problem, because if there's an out of balance between supply and demand, then prices just keep going higher and higher. And we'll talk about pricing and other issues in a few minutes. But what are you gonna do about that problem? First,...

...what are you recommending to your to your clients? Yeah, you know, one of the things we did is we we worked with one of our councils women and Busses Council and they put together actually a driver hiring program it's available on our website, not only to our members but to anyone in the industry, with a lot of tips of how to hire drivers, advertisements that you can use, videos that you can run, you know, talking about where to go and look for drivers, what other avenues might be available to find a potential driver. So that's one way that we've been able to help. Um. A lot of companies, you know, look beyond just the driver pool, right. They also they look at WHO's really good at customer service and they'll go out and try to teach those people to drive. Almost every bus company of any size has got some kind of a driver training program internally where they'll bring drivers in and and and train them themselves to be good bus drivers. Companies manage customer service, and not not on the telephone, but like how do they manage that? People like their drivers, you know. I mean how do they measure that? Yeah, well, you know, the driver measures that in part by by the kinds of reviews they get. A lot of companies do a post trip review. They want to know how the trip went, how the driver was, how they if they have an escort on the bus, how the escort did. Um. But a lot of drivers measured by tips and a lot of times when you're on a charter or a tour somewhere, that the driver gets tips, you know, by the customers, just like you would on a cruise or or some other, you know, some other excursion. And so if the tips are good, he did a he he did a very good job some way. So that's another one of the categories is like these vacation tour buses where, I mean I've got on many of these and you know, you have usually a person that speaks English very well and maybe maybe the driver does or doesn't, doesn't really matter. But but the two of them together kind of our a team and they take the people around and, you know, show us what we want. And Uh, I would say I've probably ninety percent of the time had a wonderful experience with those kind of people. But they do a great job. I mean again, it's a special skill set. So one I...

...look at the industry, at the motor coach industry, I really look at it kind of three buckets. You know, we've got companies that, as we're describing their tour bus drivers charter bus drivers. They're taking the group wherever they want to go. And maybe they're bringing a group here to Washington D C, where I am popular destination for school groups to come in the spring. UH, maybe they're taking people up to Niagara Falls are going to see the leaves change in the fall, or on ski trips. I know you're out in Colorado. Maybe bringing folks out there. So that's the charter and tour bus sector. And then we've got commuter sector. A lot of people that commute into work every single day, especially pre pandemic Um and right on private buses. Washington D C again a good example. There's about twenty thousand people that commute in every single day on private buses. Back in two thousand nineteen that was the number. Today it's only about three thousands. So from twenty thousand to three thousand. And then the other third bucket or the third segment of the industry is that scheduled service. So it can be a greyhound, a Megabus, but it's that point to point, city to city. But in rural America a lot of times the bus is the only way to get to a major hub or major destination or catch that flight out. You know, you take the bus from Milwaukee over to hare to catch a flight. So those are the kind of the three buckets when we look at the motor coach industry, the private side that we look at. Let's let's talk about bucket number two. Are are any of the members of your association, like our TV, like those rapid transit districts that are part of cities or these only private companies? They're they're typically private companies. I've gotten members that do run some transit systems or a part of a transit system, but typically our commuter buses are are privately funded. Um, in a lot of cases, are not, in a lot of cases, but in some cases the city or the state subsidizes people coming into town and then hires those bus companies to do that. In Maryland, for example, UH, Maryland has a very robust bus program to get their citizens into work in D C. Every single day there's about fifteen thousand people in Maryland commute in on private bus,...

...but it's part of a state sponsored program and they they they they work with private bus companies and hire them out. So you just said that in two thousand nineteen it was twenty people a day coming in on buses and now it's ound a three thousand. The Maryland thing must be separate from that. Why? Why did it drop so much, like what happened, and why didn't it come back when people start going back to work? Yeah, well, here here in Washington D C, it's a little bit it's a little bit unique. There's still most of the government is still shut down. Almost every department, almost every agency that I talked to will tell me that they might be back at a ten percent level Um. Department of Transportation is when we worked with a lot and and the employees that I talked to over there say, yeah, we're required to be in at least one day every couple of weeks if we can. So there's a lot of Washington where government office buildings sit mostly empty right now, and those are the primarily the commuters that were coming in on those private buses every single day. So what see you back on the cities? I mean sees, you know, if if if seventeen or twenty or thirty or fifty thousand people aren't coming in, because if there's a lot of people not coming on buses, they're not coming other ways either. So if people are coming into the city? What's the impact on restaurants? What's the impact on traffic, parking and what are you noticing? Yeah, so, you know, as as a local traffic is great and certainly much, much better than it used to be when everybody was coming in at one time. So that's a that's a plus side. But the city here has really been impacted. I mean when I walk down the K Street, and I'm an active Walker, uh, you know, I see business after business that's been shut down, and mostly businesses that catered, you know, for breakfast, lunch, you know, throughout the day, shopping, you know, picking up cards, you know, those kinds of businesses are gone. There are two blocks away from where I live in D C there was a souvenir shop and and in the springtime and in the fall there will be four or five buses parked out in front as people were picking up souvenirs. That place closed. That have been open thirty or forty years. Those are the kinds of things we're seeing around town. I mean we're seeing some businesses...

...come back, obviously some of the restaurants, but the ones that catered to somebody who was coming in all the time have had to close. And I'll give you another example. I mean, you know, I have a number of doctors that I go to, you know, specialists in different areas for, you know, one thing or another, I mean annual check up, you know, uh, my my eye doctor, et Cetera. So many doctors offices have also closed because their customers weren't coming into town, so they've moved back to their, you know, their suburban office, wherever that might have been in Virginia or Maryland. And I you know, I think things maybe a little more, a little worse here than other places. I mean, I travel all over the country almost on a weekly basis now that things are back and other places I've been to people have no concept that things are that shut down here in Washington because in their cities, I was in Nashville, I was in Detroit a couple of weeks ago. Um, I've been in a couple of other cities in the last five days. They were all up and mostly running, so things were pretty much back to normal. You think that that it's ever going to come back, or do you think that this is kind of going to be the new normal, that people are gonna be working at home? I mean are they producing whatever they're supposed to produce or what's happening? That's a great that's a great question. You know what we were talking to some real estate people because we we own our condos space here where my office is, and, you know, trying to get an assessment for what's happening to the office space in D C. There's about vacancy rate. In the height of the recession, I think the vacancy rate was somewhere around four. So you know that kind of vacancy rate. And so the question is, you know, is that going to be the same? I think it's going to be as bad for a period of time, and reason being because people are going to stay at home, they're going to continue to work from home, at least, you know, two days a week or three days a week, whatever that new normal is. And and I've said in the real estate people, I think that will change when some brilliant Harvard professor writes a story about how we're missing this productivity, the fact that we're not together in one place, we're not exchanging these ideas on the spur of the moment. You know, that does necessarily happen over zoom. If...

I have an idea. I'd run into somebody at the coffee machine say I'm not to tell you about that's not the thing. I'm necessarily going to pick up the phone and call or or pring somebody in my office. You know, I'll be onto the next task. So somebody, at some point we'll write a story and say, look at all we've lost since the pandemic, we need to be together again. Then everybody will start flocking back. You know, I think that management may say that. You know, some of the older guys may say that, but a lot of the younger people, uh, you know, we're gonna say no, I'm actually more productive at home and you know I do better. And you know I mean, just different perspectives. And and then if somebody says you must come in, all of a sudden work from home becomes an employee benefit and people are gonna look for companies that offer what they prefer instead of something else. So I don't, I don't know. I don't. I don't know the answer. I mean I'm just talking here out loud, but I think I think you're right. I mean that will be that will be the new norm. I mean it will be like having a you know, a millennial a dial phone. What what do I do with it? I don't know how it works. Which, which which end do you put? Which? which end do you put where exactly? So you know the labor shortage we're talking about. It related to drivers, but what about related to their internal people? There their mechanical staffs, their their customer service staffs, are accounting staff are booking staffs? I mean this is what applies to all the listeners of our show because they all have all these different departments. A couple of year departments are obvious to the drivers and mechanics, but all the internal stuff is the same as every other business. How are those functions being affected? Yeah, you know that there, I mean every every company I know in the motor coach industry. We represent about a thousand bus and tour companies. We also represent about three thousand people in the travel industry. These are people that would like a bus or a group to show up the front door. So they could be restaurants, theaters, etcetera. But from everyone I talked to that they're all telling me the exact same thing. They're short all of those asitions that you...

...mentioned. Everybody's doing double duty. You know they're trying to trying to do more with less, as trying to dig out of the pandemic Um. So it's a challenge and again that challenge won't go away, I know. You know. Going back to the driver issue, people tell me what are we gonna pull out of this? When are we gonna have enough drivers? You can't just turn the switch and get them back in the seat. You know, the other challenge doesn't matter what the position is, when we've lost those positions, whether people went into a Gig economy or whether they decided to retire, you know they were all skilled at whatever they did. They've been doing it for a period of time and you just can't put somebody in that position and expect them to do it at the same level, same pace, same level of expertise. So even when you replace them, it's going to take a lot longer for them to come up to speed and perform at the same level as that person that left who've been doing it for ten years, fifteen years, twenty years. Yeah, I want to talk about inflation and pricing and some of those issues, but at first I just want to come back to the mechanics, because drivers and mechanics. That that's one area. Those are two areas. You can't ask a double duty of the people. I mean you can ask a telephone person to work extra hours or some other people can work, but a driver can only work a certain number of hours. And mechanics, there has to be a certain amount of mechanics. I mean is mechanics another problem that's slowing these busses down and they just not have enough for these people. Are What's happening? Yeah, totally, totally not enough mechanics. I mean we've always had a driver and mechanic shortage, but now it's like it's on steroids and it's just not enough mechanics to fix the busses when they need to be fixed. So you know, it's it's a that's our supply chain issue right. It's not about getting parts, it's about having buses available for the supply chain, which is the traveling public, and if you don't have enough drivers and mechanics that it slows it down. But I will tell you. You know, I talked to a bus operator, fairly good sized company down in UH in Alabama, not too long ago, female owned, does a great job with it, and she said that virtually everybody in her office, from the front desk person to the to the clerks,...

...all have their their commercial driver's license, because she wants everybody to be able to step on that bus and do what they need to do to fill a gap. And that's how she's addressed the driver issue. And it's not necessarily about taking the receptionists and say okay, you're you're going out on a three day tour. But if there's a bus coming back and the drivers out of hours and he's an hour away, well, rather than get another driver and cut into his hours for the next day, she can send out the you know, somebody else from the office staff and say, you know, can you bring that bus back for the last hour? That sounds like like a pretty good solution for you know, it's a band for for a band aid. Yeah, not for like a long term, but but it's really smart. Is that something that you guys uh put out there? Is the best practice or is it? Do you suggest that to other members to do the same dam, because that sounds pretty good. As we hear those kinds of stories, we definitely let other members know. You know, we feature those kinds of stories and our publications that are in our newsletters to make sure you know that that here's another option for you. Maybe it doesn't work for everybody, but it might work for two or three or four or five people or people. Yeah, I mean it sounds pretty smart, but I mean it certainly is a resourceful option. You know, as far as these mechanics go, Um, a lot of there's a lot of discussion about leadership, about empowerment, how much you're you empower people to do things. Do the bus companies empower the mechanics to say this bus may not leave the shop because it's not ready, or is there some manager override them and say it's going out anyway? I mean, how does that tend to work? Yeah, totally. I mean the most important thing in the motor coach industry is safety, getting people from point a to point B and back safely. And and if that mechanic, he or she finds anything wrong, you know they've got an obligation and then they meet that obligation. But saying no, we're not going to roll this bus, you know we need to. We need a new tire, we need a new part, we need a new whatever before that...

...bus is going to go off a lot and and you know, one of the challenges now, and going back to supply chain issues, I've got a lot of members who will tell me that again, they could take more business on. But in addition to the driver's shortage, they've got buses sitting on a lot because they're waiting for parts coming from China, coming from India, coming from wherever, because that bus has been sidelined because it's not safe and until those parts come in the bus isn't going anywhere. So yeah, those those mechanics have a big role, not only in fixing the bus but also being, you know, the eyes and ears for that company to make sure that an unsafe bus isn't out on the road. How do people deal with the issue of this, this whole psychological safety thing, in other words, where the mechanics says this bust is not safe and then the manager yells and screams and scares the person into submission? You know, I mean that whole thing, that psychological stage requires a person who feels safety able to speak up and and you know I mean. I mean it's like, you know, there's a certain military style to the command chain and everything, and had a couple he's deal with that, because that really, I think, is a consumer. I really want to know that the mechanic has some real autonomy. But the reality is it doesn't always work that way. But it's think about a bus company. I mean they're they're typically operating in a relatively local environment, right, a local customer base, and those customers are the mechanics friends, their family, their neighbors. You know, they want to make sure it's a safe experience for their friends and neighbors and family, just as as anybody else would, is that pilot and a plane would want to make sure that that plane is safe, you know, for everybody on board, in addition to himself herself. The same thing happens in the bus and motor coach industry. It's a very, very granular process, but it's very close to the customer. You know, the customer isn't some and it's not like you're making tile at all, and the customers across the country and somebody I've never seen. This is somebody who's your neighbor that you're trying to protect. Yeah, I got that. So you have this imbalance of supplying to man. The bus is there. There there's a lack of supply and there's an excessive...

...demand. Uh, the inputs are all going higher in price. Gasoline, labor, all those things are going higher. How, how are these bus companies calculating what they're going to charge customers and how it's it's got to be charged changing almost every week because, because the it's a moving target here. What are they doing? Yeah, it is. And you know, I would step back a little bit. If I go back a few years, I think it was an imbalanced the other way there was a lot more, a lot more companies. We've lost almost half of the companies in the industry in the last two years. A lot more equipment on the road. Um, we did have higher demand then than we do now, but we're getting obviously back to that. And and at that point in time, you know, even though as an association we don't really discuss rates, but when you look at the industry overall, the industry was completely undervalued for what they did. I mean this is a half million dollar plus piece of equipment. Um, as I've said to people before, it's got probably about the same value as a hotel room. Um, people are going into that hotel room for two or three or four hundred dollars a night, but they expect, on a per person basis, only be paying maybe twenty or thirty dollars per person for use of that half million dollar piece of equipment, and so there wasn't imbalanced the other way. Now that we're seeing, you know, the market shift, the supply down, demand coming up, we're starting to see prices probably get up to where they should have been for the last ten years Um. You add fuel on top of that. You know a lot of companies have put searcharges on to make sure they get reimbursed for that fuel, and that probably is changing on almost a daily basis. And then we've seen insurance rates go up anywhere from to to in some cases over the last two years. You know, on top of that, the price of the equipment has gotten more expensive and then all the supplies have gotten more expensive, and then we add inflation to that. So it's a it's an upward spy roll of...

...costs and it's got to be an upward spiral, you know, of of pricing to keep keeping pace because you want to you know, you want to keep that equipment healthy, you want good drivers, you want to make sure you know that you can maintain it. You want good mechanics and and you want that bus to run safely all the time. So you can't be short circuiting it and say, well, you know, even though everything is going up, I don't want to charge the customer anymore. You've got to be able to to stay alive. Are Your are your members reporting that their bottom lines are are okay? Or are they? Are They not getting the numbers right? You know, I think I think they're doing better in getting the numbers right now today than they ever were. But the caveat to that is for if I look at two this year, collectively, in those three years the industry and individual companies have lost almost two full years of revenue. So, while the numbers right there, they're digging out of a pretty deep hole. I mean are industry was down from one. We were down six this year we're still going to be down, probably somewhere near so. Again, that's almost almost two over three year period. You know that we're behind in so you know we're the bottom line may be okay today, but it's not necessarily making up anywhere close to what what they lost over the last couple of years. Is there any relevance to compare how air travel is doing compared to how you're doing. Why is air travel roaring back and you're not roaring back the same way? Yeah, I think I think there's a couple of reasons for that. Um, you know, air travel is roaring back. Air travel is also controlling, you know, controlling the number units out there. Right. So while every plane is full, they're on as many planes and put out as there were before. They've got the same pilot shortage. In fact, some of the airlines are actually using buses to fill in the gaps because they don't have enough pilots. UH, there's a company called landline that we've been we've been in communication with. They've been doing work for Alta,...

I'm sorry, for American, and for United Specifically, and they're they're kind of doing taken over their short hauls where there's not enough pilots because some of the big airlines are taking pilots from some of the regional airlines. Then there's no availability in the regional level to to move that that plane. And so for you know places, let's say from Philly to UH Lehigh Valley, a couple of hours, hour and a half, couple hours away, rather than put a plane there when you don't have enough pilots anyway, put a bus in that quarter about, you know, when you figure getting to the airport early, you know, waiting, waiting between flights that you're connecting about the same trip. So the planes are facing the same, same challenge that we are, but they're using us to fill in some of the gaps and fix some of those challenges. That's interesting how the whole ecosystem works together and how that's happening. Uh, I mean, I really wouldn't have thought about that, but that's an interesting consideration. Are These uh, are you guys experiencing in your industry a lot of the interest from private equity companies to acquire any of the companies that you're there, that your members are? Yeah, you know, kind of kind of ebb and flows. That interesting. So when I first came to the Association, came in ninety six, there was a there was a big roll up going on. That company ended up rolling about a hundred or so companies together. Sold it to a European company. Uh. There were some others that were doing roll ups at about the same time. A couple of those roll ups worked. A couple of them didn't and fell apart. And over the years we've seen other equity companies come in there and start to do the same thing. We saw a lot of it going on back in you know else they oh fifteen, oh night, or twenty nineteen. Um, not seeing quite as much today, but I think we'll start seeing that again again. I think some of the private equity companies will look at it and say, you know, I'm glad we weren't in this business in the last two years, but this is a great time to come into the business, you know. At the same time we've got a lot of owners, a lot of operators who are looking at it and saying,...

I weathered through the last two years, I'm done, burned me out. Um. So it's a it's an interesting balance of again, of supply and demand that I think we'll see. I think we'll see more of the equity folks come in and start to pick up some of these companies. I mean, I mean it sounds to me, and listen, this applies to every industry of every one of our listeners. Um, a lot of people are burned out. Prices are probably down a little bit from where they were a year ago. And and so it's probably an opportune time for these uh, for these money companies, to come in and start making acquisitions, especially, uh, for some of these roll ups. That deal, that the roll up that did a hundred companies in the nineties. How did that turn out? After they sold the Europeans? So they sold it to the Europeans. Europeans split it up and UH and and kept part of it, got rid of part of it and then uh eventually sold it to an equity company. Was Sold to another equity company. You know, it sounds like the brokers made more money than anybody else. Joctor, right, it's like anything, like anything, the middle down, the lawyers and everybody else makes money on the deal. Yeah, the the intermediaries make all the money when you're moving something that off and that that's a lot of intermediary fees are getting moved. So so what's so? What's the future of this industry looked like? I mean, what do you think? Is this a growing industry? Is that bright outlook? Is it kind of a diminishing industry over time or what? Now? I think I think it looks great. I think there's huge opportunities going forward. You know, the industry has changed so much in the time that I've been at the association. You know, it's gone from from again. It's always going to be a family business industry. You know, when I look at the fifteen, sixteen hundred companies that are remaining, you know, literally on two hands I can count those that are that are not family businesses, that are corporations that are typically owned by by equity groups. Um, there's no publicly traded companies anymore. That I believe. In our in our industry, on the motorcade side, we had a couple. We had Greyhound, we had a company, European company go uh stagecoach, and they...

...were they were both traded on the market. But those are all private equity owned now. So when I look out I think, okay, well, it's still gonna be the same kind of industry, gonna Change, going to get more professional, as it continue to do over the years. Um, there's always going to be a demand to move a lot of people in mass and and when you look at the focus right now this administration, as an example, where the environment is such a big issue and where fuel prices are so high, you know moving by bus is the most efficient way to move people. It's the cleanest way to move people on a per person basis. UH, there's no cleaner way to move people than by motor by a motor coach on a per person basis. So, you know, I think our future is pretty, pretty bright. Um. You know, we serve the customer like no other mode of transportation. Were flexible. You know, people talk about am track and they pour billions of dollars into it, but you get outside of the corridor, you know, and and the train may come through once a day or and that may be in the middle of the night somewhere where. If you really need to move people in that quarter, you know you can move them pretty quickly by putting a bus in there. Same thing when we talk about commuters. You know, one of the reasons that commuter buses work so well on the on the private bus side is that, you know, those rail lines that are in place, of those subway lines that are in place, as the population shifted, as different areas of the region built up and built their built their housing developments up, you know, they didn't move the lines to go into those and so the buses that can go into those move people out. So I think I think our future looks great and again now that we are, what I would say, more closely right sized than we had been before, you know, and and there's an opportunity for these companies to remain healthy. Um, I think we look great going forward. You know, the one thing that is really favorable for buses is that you don't have a hardscape there. There's no rail, there's no track, there's no you know, I mean it's there's no airport. It really I mean they can kind of go from almost anywhere. I mean there are usually a bus keep over or something, but typically speaking, and they...

...just right on the same road that everybody else rides on and that makes it very simple. So is most of the decision to take a bus? Is it a cost based decision for consumers? How do consumers make the decision to to take your mode of transportation instead of a different one? Yeah, well, there's a couple of things. Frequency is always a big decision and whether you know what mode you're going to take. You know, how how often is it leaving? How quickly can I get there? You know, length of trip, obviously, is a decision. You know. So for the bus, motor coach, industry. You know, two hours to four hours. Certainly that that sweet spot, as we would say, you know, too far to drive, too close to fly, Um, and and then certainly cost, you know, as a factor as well. I mean, you know, when I I've got a meeting up in New York City in a couple of weeks, I'll be in the bus, in part because I have to um, but in no small reason it's just as quick to go by bus as it is any other mode. And ticket. That was just pricing tickets early. It's fifty dollars. Were to fly would be over five was bum on amtrack. Given the Times I want to go, it's well over a hundred dollars each way. Um, and I get those same time. I mean the bus gets there in about four hours. Amtrak is three hours and forty five minutes. And Uh and if I take the plane, by the time I think about going to the airport early, parking, getting into the terminal, ending up in laguarity, having a commute all the way, you know, into town if the plane runs on time, which seems to rarely do in that quarter. Um, you know, I've still got a four hour trip. You know, five times, ten times, the price. So great way to go in those short hops. Yeah, well, listen, uh, I sure appreciate you sharing your insights and a lot of these insights have a lot more to do with with the rest of our listener base than than just bus companies. I mean this is really a lot of your stuff can be generalized to a lot of our stuff and the promise of the shows that live with the inside track the best, smartest and fastest way to get something done, and and you have certainly done that. You know, you've kind of shared a lot of the insights, the insight track on what's happening in your industry and people that actually live up to the promise...

...of the show. We refer to those people as advantaged players, and that makes you an advantaged player and we appreciate you haven't been on the show with us. Thanks for having me, Joel. It's been a lot of fun. Well, listen, it's been. It's been great to have you, Peter and UH. We'll publish your contact information the show notes of anybody needs to follow up. Okay, you've been listening to profit from the inside with Joe Block. For more insights and to learn more, visit Joel Block Dot Com. How about a shout out and a huge thanks to our podcast show producer, David Wolf and the team at Autovita Studios. Profit from the inside wouldn't be possible without these wonderful professionals. To learn more or to find out how you can launch and produce your own podcast show, reach out to www dot auto vita dot com. That's a U D I v I T A DOT COM. Eight.

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