BUSRide turns 50
Beginning with reflections from founder Bill Luke, the celebration through 2015 will trace then, now and what’s to come.
BUSRide turns 50 next year. From its initial focus on the big buses for charter and over the road services, BUSRide has evolved to include all modes and applications from private operators to public transit agencies; expanding its coverage to include public transit bus operations and recent advances in the realm of small and midsize buses.
The magazine has grown to include bus transportation solutions regardless of vehicle type. In 50 years, its goals have not changed: to go further down the road to provide solid industry information readers need to keep their businesses and operations safe, efficient and profitable.
With that said, BUSRide recently called on founder William “Bill” A. Luke to help kick off this milestone anniversary with a few of his reflections and remembrances of the early magazine. Now retired and residing in Spokane, WA, but still very active in preserving the history of the bus industry through his many articles and books, Bill and his team produced and published BUSRide for the first 31 years of its existence.
When you launched BUSRide, what in the bus and coach industry had everyone’s attention?
We published the first issue of BUSRide in 1965, but that was actually one year after a couple of very important developments in U.S. transportation — mostly the Urban Transportation Act of 1964, which brought about the formation of the United Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA). With the development of the Interstate Highway system as well as the work of UMTA through policy decisions and grants funding, the nation’s transit industry grew steadily, made improvements and has been making the news ever since — and much of that news, of course, appeared in BUSRide. In 1991 the UMTA became the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA). Along the same line, the American Disabilities Act (ADA) requiring lifts and ramps on buses and coaches has made travel much easier for people using wheelchairs.
In the past five decades, what event changed the private bus industry most significantly?
Looking back over the past 50 years, I would say the most important event for the intercity and charter bus operations was the deregulation that occurred in 1982. That legislation brought many changes to the private bus industry, which then became the motorcoach industry, particularly for charter and tour operators as well as over-the-road route services like Greyhound Lines.
In our collective 50 years, what do you see as other significant developments that have moved the bus and coach industry along?
The continual introduction of new buses and coach models with so many advanced designs, improved safety and performance features is ongoing, exemplified by the articulated buses and low-floor city buses.
In addition, during the 1980s and 1990s the North American bus industry became global with a number of European manufacturers establishing finishing plants in the U.S. to comply with the UMTA and FTA Buy America provisions for transit buses.
In addition to covering these foreign manufacturers, BUSRide reviewed the products and operations of bus services in more than 40 different countries. As he still does, Doug Jack contributed his monthly “Letter from Europe” reporting on developments in the European bus industry.
Both public agencies and private companies across the country have relied on federal funding and grants to purchase new vehicles, establish service, and build new maintenance and operational facilities. Universities and colleges have established new campus bus services. More recently, cities have been establishing exclusive busways for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that are flexible and fit a variety of lanes and roadways.
We also cannot overlook all the advancements and applications for computerized technology in all areas of bus and motorcoach operations.
The safety and maintenance forums you organized and sponsored played an important role in the industry, as well.
Actually, I began the first Bus Maintenance Forum a year before BUSRide and after several years decided to include the Forums with the business.
We conducted 168 Bus Maintenance Forums, sometimes 10 or more in one year. We held 12 Bus Safety Forums, 10 Bus Garage Forums and four Bus Computer and Electronics Forums in 85 different cities in the United States and Canada including Honolulu, HI, and Anchorage, AK. Our Forums were an important part of the business and generated valuable friendships.
Continuing to grow from Bill’s good work, the BUSRide editorial schedule for 2015 is ambitious and touches on five decades of history, including the shifts that have helped sustain the family-oriented culture that is unique to the motorcoach business. It will also trace changes in ridership then and now — with special attention to the efforts within the industry to make bus transportation more accessible for more people.
Furthermore, BUSRide will outline 50 years of a changing transit landscape: the rise of multimodal systems, an increase in system complexity, and services that now include commuter routes and BRT.
BUSRide’s 50th Anniversary will expand on these topics and more, including advances in bus and coach construction, accessibility issues, propulsion, regulatory issues, small and midsize buses, and bus maintenance.
BUSRide at 50 celebrates the bus and motorcoach industry as well as the people who keep it rolling and growing. Let the party begin.