By: Stephanie Carnes, LMC Spotlight
Many ground transportation providers today are looking for ways to diversify their service offerings or even enter new markets. One sector that is growing in major cities worldwide is special transportation services for people with disabilities or medical conditions that supplement public transportation options, such as bus routes or rail systems. The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, and New Zealand all have robust disability transport services. In North America, this kind of transportation is called Paratransit.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that municipalities with public transportation also offer paratransit on the same days and hours and within .75 of a mile of existing routes. Unfortunately, this requirement is an unfunded mandate, which means that cities with public transportation must meet this requirement through their own funding. Paratransit operators can charge no more than double the price of the fare on the fixed transportation system.
Until recently, the European Union did not have any legislation comparable to the ADA. Earlier this year, the European Accessibility Act, which guarantees people with disabilities access to technology, was passed. Unfortunately, the act did not include access to transportation, so disability advocates continue to work toward that goal. In the meantime, local transportation providers fill in the gap by providing medical transport services to those in need.
Many cities worldwide are not equipped to offer a supplemental form of transportation for its citizens with disabilities, or they do not find it cost effective to take it on themselves. Consequently, they often partner with for-profit or non-profit entities to meet these needs, providing a great opportunity for ground transportation companies—taxi, shuttle, bus, and car service—who have the capabilities to work with them.
In the United States, the majority (75%) of paratransit services are operated by contractors, who provide everything from reservations, scheduling, dispatch, fleet maintenance, and driving. Until recent these contractors typically used paratransit vehicles owned by the local transit agencies, but increased demand and the need for greater flexibility has shown an increase in these contractors using their own vehicles.
US paratransit must be demand-responsive transportation, which means that it follows the needs of the passengers, not a fixed route. The types of vehicles are flexible: taxis, sedans, SUVs, shuttles, and buses are all common. Usually this does not mean paratransit is “on-demand” only—passengers typically book at least a day ahead of time, though some programs offer an on-demand option. This need for multiple types of vehicles is a good fit for many different types of ground transportation companies.
Paratransit programs are being launched in emerging markets such as São Paulo, Cape Town, Moscow, New Delhi, Istanbul, and Kuala Lumpur. These services are provided by individuals and small businesses. Operators in these areas have the opportunity to establish themselves early as trusted providers.
Entering the paratransit market is location-specific: in some areas, providers go through the competitive bid process, while in others, they simply meet certain requirements and are added to a list of approved providers. The truth is that with just about every country in the world seeing growth in their aging populations, paratransit growth is inevitable.
By Stephanie Carnes, The LMC Group
It’s hard to overstate the importance of online reviews for businesses, especially those in the service industries. Reviews have taken the place of personal recommendations for most consumers, and many won’t buy from a business with an average rating under a certain number. One of the best things companies can do to manage their online reputations is respond to their online reviews.
89% of consumers read responses to online reviews, and 45% say they are more likely to visit a business that responds to its negative reviews. But responding to reviews—especially negative ones—can be intimidating. Following a few simple guidelines will make it much easier:
Respond to all reviews, whether negative or positive. Here is the approach to take for each:
“Warning: don’t use XYZ Airport Shuttle! Although my driver was polite and got us to the airport quickly, he was an hour late picking us up! We barely made our flights, which was so stressful. While we were waiting, we tried to reach dispatch and kept getting disconnected. This company is just not reliable.”
If the review contains anything positive about the experience, mention that first. If not, just thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave a review.
2. Apologize for what went wrong.If you are not sure that your company was in the wrong, you can apologize generally that the reviewer’s experience was not satisfactory. Otherwise, apologize specifically and express empathy.
3. Offer a resolution.Create an email address for unhappy clients to reach you. You don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) specify any refunds or discounts that you plan to offer, but you should make it clear to anyone who reads the review that you sincerely want to resolve the situation.
Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. We are very sorry that your driver was late and that you were not able to talk to dispatch, both of which added to the stressful situation. If you could contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we will do our best to make this right. Thank you!
“I’ve used XYZ Airport Shuttle in the past, but my experience today made me leave a review. My pickup was scheduled for 5:00 a.m., and Jorge, my driver, texted me at 4:50 to let me know he was parked outside my house. I had a large suitcase, which he carried to the van for me. Jorge was so nice and friendly! I got to the airport early, and it was the least stressful airport trip I’ve ever had.”
1. Start with a general thank you.Your goal is to encourage more people to write positive reviews, so starting with a sincere thank you will communicate that you appreciate the time they take to write them.
Whenever possible, respond to the positive descriptions in the review to demonstrate that you’ve read it and to reinforce the strengths of your company.
We are happy to have you as a customer, and we really appreciate this great review! XYZ has been lucky to have Jorge on our team for six years—he loves what he does, and that comes through in the service he provides. Thanks again, and we hope to see you soon.
The most common review sites are Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Yellow pages. Responding to reviews on those sites will raise your Google rankings, because Google rewards companies who communicate. Most importantly, however, will be the trust you build with your customers as they see you take their opinions—both positive and negative—seriously.
By Halsey King
Halsey King (SAE) is a fleet maintenance consultant with over 30 years of world-wide fleet experience.
Everything in the make-up of cars, trucks, buses, and limousines has a life cycle. Regardless of the composition, be it paint, liquids, or rubber, it will only last so long. Of course, if we were to apply manufacturers recommended maintenance practices, we can coach a few more days and miles out of the product. However, ultimately that product will end up being thrown into the trash heap or recycled; not that recycling is a bad thing. Most fleet managers I know across the country have been recycling oil, coolant, and metal for so long they are now being recognized as originators of the process, behind the government mandates over the years.
But what about rubber and in fact, automotive rubber we use in engine hoses to carry anti-freeze, and rubber we use as door seals to keep out the rain, and what about the rubber we use in the tires we ride on? When we look at rubber, it is in two general categories - natural rubber from the Far East, and synthetic rubber, which is man made in a chemical plant or laboratory. While both of these products are quite similar in some ways and for various uses, they are really different both in their production process and chemically.
Nonetheless, we have various forms of these rubber products in each of our tires for different reasons. For example, in a modern passenger car tire, as many as 12 different types of rubber may be used in different parts of the tire. Some rubber compounds are best used for the tread to provide good traction in rain and cold weather, while another type of rubber compound is used to design the sidewall where a lot of “tire flexing” and heat build-up occurs. In addition to this, tires contain a host of other products that help to make it the amazing product it is. Some of these are carbon, black sulfur, oil, steal, and anti-oxidants.
Tires really are amazing products in that they hold up the vehicles weight, travel at high speeds, hold together on curvy mountain roads, and fit everything from go-carts to 18-wheel trucks. Tires have become increasingly expensive, but today they can get us further down the road than the earlier, less expensive tire. That is, if we inspect, inflate, and take care of our tires they will last much longer.
You can make tire buying easier on yourself by looking at the “tire sticker” on the door jamb. By DOT regulation, the sticker will provide you with the correct tire size and inflation pressure. From compact cars to limousines, the sticker needs to be attached to the vehicles.
In recent years, the US Department of Transportation also came out with a tire rating system that looks at tread wear, traction, and heat resistance. This information is available for you to see at www.safercar.gov/tires. This is an excellent guide for the first time buyer or anyone who wants to dig deeper into vehicle economies and safety.
Another and more recent addition to DOT’s newsworthy announcements are tire manufacturing dates, which are printed on the tire’s sidewall. Look at the end of a long series of numbers (usually the tire serial number), and you may see something like this – 02/19, which means this tire was manufactured during the second week of the year 2019. Now if the numbers read – 26/19, it means the tire was manufactured during the 26th week of 2019 (mid-summer), and so on.
As tires age, they naturally dry out (as all the oil and other chemicals change) and can then become dangerous. Some experts recommend getting rid of a six-year-old tire no matter what condition it is in. When you go to buy new tires, make sure they are less than one year old to get the most service life for your money.
GGTI: One Month In
With GGTI’s launch a little over a month ago, I figured this would be a good time to update everyone on what we have accomplished and what is to come.
Membership is growing. We have reached almost 50 members so far and we are so grateful for their early support.
Greater Orlando Limousine Association
Illinois Limousine & Bus Association
Lakeview Custom Coach
LAS Limousine Association Switzerland
American Livery Service, inc
Brevard Executive Transportation
Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation Association
Bus Advisors LLC
Minority Limousine Operators of America, Inc.
C&S EXECUTIVE TRANSPORTATION
Motor Coach Industries
North Point Global Transportation Services
Oklahoma Limousine Association
Central Florida Livery Association
Prestige Worldwide Transportation Inc
Santa Barbara Airbus
Citizens Taking Action for transit and trains
Service Insurance Agency, LLC
Cypress Hills Local Development Corp
Sixt Ride GmbH & Co. KG
Dallas Fort Worth Limousine & Motor Coach Association
South East Area Transit
Dutch Business Limousine B.V.
The COTS Group
East Texas Council of Governments/GoBus
Towne Automotive Group
United Bus Technology
Godandi and Sons, Inc.
We are rolling out our first webinar on September 12, titled “Making the Transition from AOBRD to ELD: Are you Ready?” and are already working on our next one which will be titled “The Secret to Attracting & Retaining Talented Drivers”.
We will soon be announcing a three-day training course as well so keep an eye out for additional information on that. We are so thrilled to be able to offer in-depth quality education to both members and nonmembers.
Our goal is to provide as much quality education as possible in as many formats as possible. Not everyone learns the same way and we want to cater to the different needs, as well as cover a wide array of topics so that everyone can get something out of GGTI.
If you haven’t yet liked GGTI on Facebook, you will want to do so. We have been releasing one-minute videos each week in a series titled “GGTI’s Mobility Minute”. These videos will be covering quick tips, tricks, and ideas.
We are also working hard to establish relationships with educational content providers who will be able to help us to build and distribute pertinent and valuable content. If you are a content expert and would like to contribute to GGTI’s educational arsenal, please email us at email@example.com.
GGTI has established an incredible group of individuals to serve as the GGTI Board of Directors. The Board represents all that GGTI represents, diversity, innovation, and inclusion.
The Board is full of ideas and enthusiasm and they are integral in helping to shape the future of GGTI.
Stop and See Us at BusCon and LCT East!
If you are planning to attend BusCon, be sure to stop by GGTI’s lounge in the exhibit hall.
And of course, don’t forget to attend the LCT East Show where GGTI members receive 25% off show passes!
If you have not yet joined GGTI, I urge you to do so. We are just getting started and there is so much more to come! I hope you will choose to be a part of it.
By Sarah Gazi, GGTI Executive Director
I order my groceries using an app. All I have to do is drive to the store and someone else loads the items into my car. I can order my morning coffee using an app so I don’t have to wait longer than a few minutes to get my caffeine every day. I even get my oil changed at a place of business that doesn’t require me to get out of my car. Am I lazy? Well, that’s debatable. But like most people, I’m looking for things to be easier, faster, and more convenient. We live in a world where time is limited and the greatest perceived advancements in technology are those that make our lives easier and save us time.
In this day in age, we want instant results. We want things to magically happen without effort or time commitment. If you’ve made it this far in this post, congratulations. People don’t read things like articles and the written word like they used to. It takes too much time. So, when it comes to learning and education, we want the same instant results. Can’t I just put a book on my head and learn by osmosis? Nope. It’s not a real thing.
If I could wave a magic wand and instantly give you the knowledge to boost your sales, improve your bottom line, bring in new business, and manage your staff better, I would. Really, I would do that for you. Unfortunately, I can’t. But I can give you a few tips to continue educating yourself in an efficient and less time restrictive way.
Unfortunately, in order to learn and educate yourself, you have to put in some time and effort. I strongly believe in order to truly succeed we must always be learning and growing. It may sound cliché, but we get out of it what we put into it. That doesn’t mean we can’t find shortcuts and more efficient ways of doing it. Make an effort each week, even if just for a few minutes, to set time aside and continue your education. If your business and career are a priority for you, then I promise you won’t regret it.
I know, I know. How many associations do we need, right? I get it. There’s an association or group for everything. But we at the Global Ground Transportation Institute (GGTI) love trade associations and the work they do, and we hope to support them in their efforts through partnerships and by giving back money and resources. There’s a place for everyone and every group, and each one has their purpose and unique mission. Other associations can join GGTI at no cost. We welcome them with open arms.
GGTI will not be taking on political lobbying and advocacy. There are already state, regional, and national groups that excel in those roles. GGTI will, in fact, be supporting ALL nonprofit associations that join GGTI through a partnership with LCT Magazine which will provide GGTI Association Members with 25% of the LCT show registration fees for each member of theirs who belongs to GGTI and attends the shows. We hope associations can use this rebate to advocate, lobby and support their missions.
So, if we aren’t lobbying, what will GGTI actually be doing, you may ask? Well, we certainly won’t be adding another trade show into the busy mix. We may be partnering on some existing shows, but no new shows, so everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. We will however be developing a robust educational program to include in-person small group training sessions, online educational courses, webinars, whitepapers, blog posts, and more. The education will cover the gamut with something for all segments: Motorcoaches, buses, chauffeured luxury, shuttles, car rental, autonomous vehicles, paratransit, etc.
We will also be setting benchmarks, creating connections, and opening up networking across all segments of ground transportation. We are seeing so many companies within the ground transportation world stepping out of their niches and expanding their services to other segments. This applies to operators and vendors. Nearly everyone is expanding and crossing over to other areas and often doing so on a global scale. Our goal is to help fuel this growth by connecting all ground transportation segments and services worldwide in the GGTI community.
Like the world of ground transportation, GGTI will be evolving. Some programs will launch soon while others gradually roll out. We will be listening to what the members want and need, and leaning on our very diverse group of board members. We are simply here to unite and educate the ever-expanding world of mobility under one umbrella.
We celebrate and encourage innovation, change and growth. Most of all, we want everyone to belong. We all have a lot we can learn from and teach each other. We hope you will choose to join us and invest in a bright business future!