A public transportation business is a major operation. There are city and state ordinances to consider as well as the extreme cost of hiring employees and of equipment and construction. For the start-up to be successful and not completely overwhelm you and your business partners, you have to begin by planning. A business plan is the gateway to getting outside funding, being approved for credit from suppliers, setting the guidelines for how you will manage your business, and establishing your goals.
Research thoroughly. A business the size and scale of a public transportation operation will most likely put you in front of some very powerful people. You must be prepared to anticipate their rejections and address their concerns. You may have to get approval for construction or other details through city or state legislators. You may also have to get approval from the most powerful people of all, the general public, especially if your project is eligible for state funding. Know the ins and outs of the community, the industry, how your project will positively and negatively impact the public, as well as the profitability of the project.
Identify the target market. Who will ride in your vehicles and are there enough customers to make your business profitable? Some locations aren't feasible for public transportation business. Rural areas with smaller populations may not be able to support your business. And not all metropolitan cities are good targets for public transportation. For example, Los Angeles has a dense population. But although it offers public transportation, the culture of the city shows a preference for driving your own flashy car everywhere.
Identity the competitors. Competition can also determine if your business will be profitable or not. If there are already businesses providing public transportation, you will have to identify the areas in their service that need improvement, such as price, the time when the service is available and the areas the service covers. If you discover that improving on the service will not give you much of a competitive advantage, then you may need to scrap this idea.
Establish the costs of start-up and managing this business until it becomes profitable. Your initial costs may include drivers, state or local business operations licenses, a state transportation business permit, security professionals, travel accident insurance and other business insurance, the vehicles for transport, and clerical staff.
Recognize the threats and opportunities to your business and the industry as a whole. For example, global warming and the trend to be environmentally friendly are actually benefits for the public transportation industry. Consumers who are concerned with the environment will opt to use your services to cut back on their own carbon footprints. However, a boom in electric cars or no-emission cars at affordable prices could do the opposite with the same customer demographic. Weigh the threats against the opportunities to ascertain the viability of your business concept.
Create the marketing plan. Consider ways that you will get the word out about your business. Then create a plan to keep in contact with customers after they have experienced your service. This is an important part of your business plan for investors. Even if the concept is amazing, they will want to know how you plan to let the general public know it's amazing. Identify the benefits consumers see as important. Mantill Williams of the American Public Transportation Association says, "Riding public transit saves individuals $9,242 annually." Saving money has always been a HUGE motivator.
List the members of your management team that will help ensure your business is successful. Collect the resumes of the people you plan to put in charge of running your business. Investors will want to know that these positions are filled with competent individuals.
Sam Williams has been a marketing specialist and ad writer since 1995. He has been published in magazines such as "Reaching Out" and "Spa Search." He served in various sales and marketing positions with major corporations such as American Express, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. Williams studied English at Morehouse College.