Good stewardship guides the industry in a meaningful direction

BUSRide to honor Charles A. Zelle as an industry steward during ABA Marketplace

At the invitation of the American Bus Association (ABA), BUSRide has established a new industry award that recognizes superlative leadership in bus transportation. The BUSRide Good Stewardship Award will honor the annual recipient not only for individual accomplishments and success, but for the intrinsic qualities imbued in mind and spirit that help guide transportation industries to continually deliver services at the highest level.

“ABA is thrilled that BUSRide has created this new award that will bring further recognition to deserving individuals in our industry,” says ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso. “We are honored to be hosting the Good Stewardship Award ceremony as part of the annual ABA Marketplace convention.”

BUSRide will present this award at ABA Marketplace 2014 in Nashville, TN, during the Operators Breakfast onTuesday, January 14, to the inaugural recipient, Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charles Zelle.

“The fact that this recognition is going to Charlie Zelle, the former CEO of Jefferson Lines and now commissioner of transportation for the State of Minnesota, could not be more appropriate,” Pantuso says. “His dedication, not only to the customers he has served for so many years, but also to the industry that he has been part of for so many decades, puts him in a unique position among his peers.”

Pantuso notes that Zelle worked at the American Bus Association (ABA) early in his career and eventually served as Chairman of the ABA.

“As commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Charlie is now serving the citizens of his home state,” Pantuso says. “The board and entire staff at ABA congratulate him on being named an industry steward.”

Motorcoach operators indeed know the commissioner as Charlie, best known for his work with Jefferson Lines which his family founded in 1919. The name Jefferson respects the original highway that once ran from Winnipeg, MB, Canada to New Orleans, LA.

Formerly a New York investment banker, Zelle returned to the bus business in 1987. He took over for his late father Louie Zelle and continued the mission to connect people in the Midwest with their favorite destinations.

Now in its third generation, the company stepped up 20-plus years ago to resuscitate many of the routes that Greyhound Lines began dropping. From this significant step, Jefferson Lines has steadily increased ridership, growing the company to serve 13 states and become one of the largest intercity bus systems outside of the East Coast market. Today, Jefferson Lines provides cutting-edge scheduled service on new model coaches outfitted with recliner seats with extra legroom, Wi-Fi, satellite radio and onboard movies.

Regular customers in the Midwest turn to Jefferson Lines for the Rocket Rider, its exclusive regional express coach service developed specifically for transporting passengers over long distances as quickly as possible. The longest Rocket Rider route runs from Minneapolis to Kansas City.

Students have Jefferson Lines on their radar because of the College Connection, catching coaches for quick weekend trips home and back from 13 college and university campuses throughout the Midwest.

According to Jefferson Lines, only 5 to 7 percent of the company’s business now involves coach charters.

From its base in Minneapolis, MN, Jefferson Lines connects with Burlington Trailways in Des Moines, IA; Greyhound Bus Lines in Kansas City, MO; Badger Bus in Madison, WI; and Indian Trails in Duluth, MN.

Coordinating such scheduled coach service connections with local transit operations has provided Zelle with a working knowledge of fully integrated multimodal programs. In his present position, this experience has allowed him to establish and direct public-private partnerships that further enhance the multimodal public and private transportation experience.