ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 12

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First alert for travel news

35-Foot Motorcoaches Are a Huge Hit
Sometimes smaller is better

S

12

DESTINATIONS

/SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2019

Two of Arrow
Stage Lines'
three new MCI
J3500 coaches.

Kim Grzywacz, head of sales at CIT
Signature Transportation in Des Moines,
Iowa, believes the more intimate size of a
mid-size bus is the main factor driving the
trend. "It's more truncated, yet it gives you
all the features and amenities and smooth
ride of a larger motorcoach," she says.
Grzywacz's 14-coach company has sent its
mid-sized Van Hool CX35 on tours lasting
as long as 15 days for the past three years.
Andrew Hillard, CEO of ABA member
Tri-State Travel in Galena, Ill., whose
company operates the J3500, agrees that
coziness is the key selling point. "If you've
got a swim team of 25 people, why put them
on a full-size bus?" he asks. "All in all, the
reliability of these coaches has been great."
CIT, Arrow Stage, and Tri-State all
report their drivers enjoy being behind
the wheel of shorter models, because
they are more nimble in small parking
lots and tight urban situations, thanks
to their shorter turning radius. They
turn better than airport shuttle-type
minibuses of similar lengths, according
to Maitland, because the design of the
chassis allows more maneuverability. "If
you ask one of my drivers whether he'd
rather give a tour of Boston in a 35- or
45-foot bus, I know what the answer
would be," says Hillard.

For budget-conscious operators,
there are other pluses, including fuel
savings. "We track fuel consumption to
the minuscule. The smaller buses do get
a little better mileage because of their
smaller engines," says Busskohl. Hillard
estimates that if a 35- and 45-foot bus
are each driven 60,000 miles annually,
fuel for the shorter bus would cost about
$5,000 less.
Because they share the same interiors,
seats, and technologies as 45-footers,
maintenance is very similar. "The interchangeability of parts is wonderful," says
Hillard, whose company is celebrating
its 80th year. One big difference between
the models is that because of their lighter
weight, 35-foot versions don't need a tag
axle (the third axle behind the rear drive
axle), which improves handling.
Forty-six buses of this size were sold
in the first quarter of 2019, according to
Holston-Green. "We haven't seen that
many sales in this category [in one quarter] since 2016," she says. MCI forecasts
the mid-size category will ultimately
represent 10 percent of all coaches sold.
Tri-State's Hillard is such a fan that he
predicts, "Honestly, I think it's going to
be higher."
-George M. Spencer

COURTESY OF ARROW STAGE LINES.

even is a lucky number, and
so is 35. A growing number of
operators and coach manufacturers are finding good fortune
by diversifying their fleets with 35-foot
models. MCI, ABC Companies (the distributor of Van Hool coaches), and Temsa
all offer mid-length vehicles-and the size
has big appeal to smaller groups.
Sales of 30- to 40-foot motorcoaches
rose from 27 in 2013 to 118 in 2018,
according to the economic research
firm John Dunham & Associates. The
popularity of these coaches is likely even
greater because Temsa, the first manufacturer to introduce a 35-foot model in
2009, does not report its sales, according
to Dunham economist Jade HolstonGreen, who manages ABA's Coachbuilder
Quarterly Survey.
"People really love them," says Alex
Busskohl, corporate operations and marketing specialist at Arrow Stage Lines in
Omaha, Neb. His ABA member firm runs
three MCI J3500s, which were introduced
this year, as well as Temsa's TS35. "The
J3500s are awesome. In terms of their
quality and excellence, they compare to
MCI's J4500s. Customers think their
carbon footprint is a little less, and they
like that they can fill the bus with a smaller
group," he says.
MCI has received many requests from
operators for this size model. "The main
thing that makes a mid-sized bus appealing
to operators is that it delivers the same
high-quality passenger experience with
better maneuverability," says Brent
Maitland, MCI's vice president of marketing and product planning.



ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019

Hudson Yards Is Open!
Welcome to the New Old Town
35-Foot Motorcoaches Are a Huge Hit
Crisis Averted
Totally Family
FMCSA Exclusive
History Comes Alive in Omaha
2019 Scholarship Recipients
2019 Best of the Best
The Canadian Rockies’ Lesser-Known Parks
Tour Stop: Meet the Makers of Baltimore
City Guide//
Gaming
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Cover1
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Cover2
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 1
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 2
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 3
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 4
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 5
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 6
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 7
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 8
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Hudson Yards Is Open!
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Welcome to the New Old Town
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 11
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 35-Foot Motorcoaches Are a Huge Hit
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Crisis Averted
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Totally Family
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 15
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - FMCSA Exclusive
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - History Comes Alive in Omaha
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 2019 Scholarship Recipients
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 19
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 2019 Best of the Best
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 21
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 22
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 23
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 24
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 25
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 26
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 27
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 28
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 29
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 30
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 31
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 32
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 33
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - The Canadian Rockies’ Lesser-Known Parks
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 35
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 36
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 37
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 38
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 39
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Tour Stop: Meet the Makers of Baltimore
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 41
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 42
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 43
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - City Guide//
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 45
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 46
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 47
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 48
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 49
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 50
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 51
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ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 53
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 54
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 55
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 56
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 57
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 58
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ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 60
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 61
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 62
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ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 66
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 67
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 68
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 69
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 70
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Gaming
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 72
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 73
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 74
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 75
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 76
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 77
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 78
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 79
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - 80
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Cover3
ABA - Destinations Magazine - September/October 2019 - Cover4
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