The American Bus Association (ABA) held the summer meeting for their Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) and Bus Maintenance and Repair Council (BusMARC) June 29-30 at the BWI Airport Marriott in Baltimore, Md. These meetings, which were held concurrently, are the major events for safety, maintenance, personnel, as well as government regulators. They attract motorcoach company owners, safety directors, fleet managers, government regulators, manufacturers, and associated vendors and consultants, as well as luxury ground transportation operators who have buses in their fleets.
“These meetings give operators the chance to focus on safety and maintenance. However, the primary focus on the BISC meeting was drivers—not just driver safety, but driver training, recruitment, retention, and taking care of the details of driver files to help folks prepare for their next audit,” says ABA Director of Regulatory Affairs Brandon Buchanan.
With driver recruitment a challenge for all vertical industries, a highlight of the BISC meeting was a panel discussion entitled Checking In with Driving Force, Recruiting New Motorcoach Drivers, and Addressing Driver Shortage. Driving Force is a program designed by members involved with another ABA council, Women in Buses, to tackle the nationwide motorcoach driver shortage by providing industry operators tools and tips to recruit and retain their most valuable assets: drivers. Among the panelists during this session was CD contributor James Blain of PAX Training.
“I think the Driving Force roundtable at BISC turned out great,” says Blain. “It was an opportunity for the Driving Force to share the resources that the team put together and find out from operators what is working for them. It really seemed like everyone involved was able to find something to take back with them.”
“We were excited at the chance to partner with BISC and host a session at the summer meeting,” adds Driving Force Chair Erin Ducharme of Bloom’s Bus. “We had the opportunity to speak to many operators on the challenges they are facing and what positive changes they are making to retain their drivers. The group was eager to learn about the tools we have put together and share their own experiences with us.”
Other highlights of the BISC meeting included a National Transportation Safety Board update, which explored accidents and what operators should be doing as part of their training and maintenance programs, and a FMCSA update, which gave operators a sense of what new regulations the agency has put in place in 2022.
The BISC programming also included two keynote speakers who each talked about aspects of driver training: Sylvester Giustino of the Commercial Vehicle Training Alliance and Mark Syzperski of On Your Mark Transportation.
“The meeting was very well attended, and the participants heard from a slew of industry leaders and partners,” says BISC Chairman Jeff Shanker. “Sessions were extremely well received and the interaction between the participants and industry experts was boundless! The closing session, Mentor Office Hours, was one of the highlights with a tremendous exchange of information from everyone.”
On the BusMARC side, Buchanan says highlights included a review of a new draft inspection bulletins, as well as site visits to operator Gunther Charters and parts manufacturer Johnson & Towers.
The ABA will hold its 2023 Marketplace in Detroit this February 4-7 at the Detroit Convention Center. Marketplace is an appointment-based show for motorcoach and tour operators and travel industry suppliers who want to expand their group tour and travel business.
Visit buses.org for more information.
Photos courtesy of James Blain of PAX Training and Mike McDonal of Saucon Technologies