Cavallo Bus Lines’ safety and service attracts an international tour market
By Richard Tackett
Cavallo Bus Lines serves a host of international tour market from its base in Gillespie, IL, a downstate Illinois community 50 miles north of St. Louis with a population fewer than 3,500. According to Cavallo President Larry Cavallo, many of the world’s most distinguished global tour operators such as Globus and leading tour operators in Europe book coach tours throughout the central United States exclusively with his 70-year old company.
Cavallo says it has everything to do with his mirroring the European experience. Cavallo describes his basic business strategy as following preferences rather than trying to create demand.
“We run a modern coach fleet, maintain a spotless safety record and our staff is dedicated to delivering quality customer service,” says Cavallo. “Upscale tour companies catering to Europeans and domestic group tours will not accept coaches older than three years. In fact, they even stipulate 110-volt outlets and Wi-Fi on board.”
He says European and international tour operators doing business out of Chicago credit the drivers for and the central U.S. location for choosing Cavallo Bus Lines.
“In-bound travelers typically gravitate towards the east and west coasts,” says Cavallo. “However, we have been seeing a steady increase of tours visiting throughout the Midwest from Chicago to New Orleans, and along the old historic Route 66. That’s something different for this market.”
The all-MCI Cavallo fleet stands at 94 and features both E4500 and J4500 coaches, none older than 10 years. Cavallo says that based on the replacement history, his company expects to be operating completely emissions-free fleet by 2020.
Paul Cavallo founded the company in 1942 for trucking coal miners in Macoupin County. At the outbreak of World War II, he contracted to establish a 40-mile route to drive women war workers in school buses to and from an ammunition factory servicing three shifts a day. The women paid for the transportation using their fuel ration cards, which paid for the fuel. Cavallo eventually developed a daily bus route for workers at the Illinois state capitol in Springfield with a $.66 round trip. This 100-mile round-trip continues at a still-reasonable $7.20 fare.
“The primary reason Cavallo Bus Lines attracts international tour packagers has to do with our consistently top ratings in government compliance audits,” says Cavallo. “We’re always looking for ways to improve passenger safety, and we’re not afraid to invest in anything that make our coaches more reliable.”
The all-MCI fleet stands at 94 E4500 and J4500 coaches, none older than 10 years. The most recent delivery came in December 2012. Each coach is equipped with Drive Cam and has cell phone capability.
The company also transports many professional sports teams, most recently adding the St. Louis Rams to the client list. Cavallo Bus Lines continues to grow its business attracting fly-in tour entertainers and playbill performances out on tour, such as the Les Miserables touring company. BR