Journey Lines has serviced the Seattle, Washington, area since 1981, with Steve and Jeanette Abegg purchasing the then-struggling motorcoach business in 2002. Prior to the purchase, and in the early days of the Abeggs’ ownership, Journey Lines had little revenue and a small fleet — five Eagle Buses, with only three operable.
“We struggled because we had so many old, worn-out buses,” Steve Abegg said. “We found that many potential customers didn’t want to use us, save for low-cost bidders.”
Fortunes began to change at the end of 2002, with two major developments for the company: Journey Lines was awarded two military contracts, and using some of those profits, Abegg purchased one used Setra motorcoach in a bankruptcy auction and another on eBay.
That began a longstanding relationship between Journey Lines and Setra which continues to this day.
“That is when we really began to grow our business. All the low-cost acquisitions we made helped us make some initial money, which allowed us to begin buying beautiful Setra charter buses,” Abegg said. “Each subsequent year we tried to buy two or three more motorcoaches to replace the older models in our fleet.”
Abegg’s consistent reinvestment in in the Journey Lines fleet initially resulted in slow, steady growth, and in 2008 business began to really pick up. Abegg credited that fleet renewal game-plan for finally paying off, as opposed to any one particular action the company took in 2008. Abegg said he also likely needed time to find his footing as a motorcoach business owner, as he had no prior background in the charter industry.
Revenues have grown steadily each year. That growth has mostly been due to the company adding more assets, raising its prices accordingly, and the Journey Lines team learning how to run a successful motorcoach business.
“The West Coast Setra team, including Jim Walls, Don Jensen, Duane Geiger, myself and our partners at Daimler want to thank Journey Lines for the continued support,” Zane Gray, director of sales at REV Coach, said. “We look forward to building upon their already impressive fleet. The Abegg family has been a blessing to work with.”
Journey Lines today
Journey Lines now operates a fleet of 18 Setra motorcoaches — mostly TopClass S 417 models — for its primary business activities, which are far more varied than the military-only business the company conducted in mid-2002. The fleet also includes two recently-purchased Setra S407CC motorcoaches.
Abegg said that they keep busy year around doing ski trips in the winter, schools, corporate and military work year around. During the summer, Young Life, the Christian organization which organizes camping trips and other excursions for youth groups is a big customer. Those groups tend to travel to Oregon and British Columbia, which accounts for much of Journey Lines’ business from May through September.
Journey Lines also conducts corporate work for companies on the West Coast, a growing market for motorcoach operators able to secure contracts. Abegg credits this to his top-class vehicles.
“Years ago, corporate work was hard to come by because of our older equipment,” Abegg said. “Now that our fleet is mostly S 417 motorcoaches by Setra, we deal with many more corporations because they’re looking to ride in nicer, luxury-style vehicles.”
Additional popular destinations in the Seattle area include Pike Place Market, Mount St. Helens, Mt Rainier and the Olympic National Park.
Abegg was initially impressed with the Setra’s drive power. When driving his first Setra motorcoach back from an auction, he noted how much more powerful it was in comparison to other coaches of its class.
“It was unlike any other bus I’d driven before,” he said. “I could set the cruise control and climb any mountain without dropping much speed. Setra motorcoaches are built to perform like well-made automobiles, and that’s great for a driver.”
Abegg also credits Setra’s handling as being uniquely equipped for the many turns and corridors of downtown Seattle — noting that, unlike other buses he has driven, a Setra is able to make a right turn in that area without leaving its lane.
“The quality of the equipment, for drivers and paying customers, is so important,” he said. “The handling and power allow us to work within multiple different transportation modes, and the on-board luxuries help attract and secure new business from choice clients.”