From cross-country rides to airport shuttles or short-term tours, motor coach companies allow passengers to ride in comfort and style. Starting a motor coach company could prove to be a lucrative endeavor; however, the industry is highly regulated. Motor coaches that carry more than 15 passengers must carry at least $5 million in liability insurance. Also, motor coach laws and permit requirements vary by town. Add to that equipment and maintenance costs, payroll, inspections and advertising and you are looking at an expensive venture. If you intend to procure financing, you will need to develop a detailed business plan.
Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to learn the rules and regulations governing motor coaches. Then secure a relatively high-visibility location for your motor coach business, such as downtown, the airport or popular tourist locations.
Contact your county’s tourist department to learn the rules governing motor coach tours, such as designated loading and unloading locations, permit costs, idling and short-term and long-term parking.
Procure stylish and comfortable 21, 23, 47, 54 and 55 passenger coaches, as needed, depending on the types of shuttle services you will offer. Look for reclining seats and footrests, overhead and under body storage, a PA system, DVD player, TV monitors, a restroom and power outlets. Look for a company that offers both new and used luxury motor coaches, in addition to training, warranties, parts and technical support.
Obtain a Department of Transportation identification number and a Motor Carrier number for your commercial buses and learn the Department of Transportation (DOT) logging regulations. Learn how to properly record pre-trip and post-trip bus inspections per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s requirements, drug testing requirements, driving limitations for drivers and roadside emergency procedures.
Hire professional drivers who hold commercial driver’s licenses with passenger endorsement and medical certificates to operate your commercial buses. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require that drivers who drive interstate must be at least 21 years old. Implement a drug testing policy that meets DOT standards.
Purchase motor coach or tour management software to help you better manage calls, dispatch, recording and accounting.
Team up with a van or limousine company in order to exchange referrals and obtain additional advertising.
Consider offering personal coolers, food, snacks and beverages. Have on hand a qualified mechanic who can repair your buses quickly. Join organizations such as the International Motorcoach Group or United Motorcoach Association to garner advertising and learn the latest industry regulations.
Shanika Chapman has been writing business-related articles since 2009. She holds a Bachelor of Science in social science from the University of Maryland University College. Chapman also served for four years in the Air Force and has run a successful business since 2008.