Before Chartering a Motor Coach...
As a consumer of motor coach charter services, it is important that you are aware of all of the factors that lead to a reliable, safe and stress-free experience. Donít be afraid to ask searching questions when it comes to any issues you might be unclear about. Remember, responsible and safe companies have nothing to hide! Here are some things to consider before chartering a motor coach.
1. Your Group's special needs.
Examples of this might be equipment for video playback, microphone, or other special requirements.
2. Make sure you provide a detailed schedule for your driver.
Ensure that the company knows what hours the driver must be available to the group, as there are legal requirements to a driverís hours spent driving.
3. Make sure the company follows Department of Transportation driver regulations.
Ontario law restricts driving time to 13 hours in a day, after which the driver must be off-duty for 8 consecutive hours prior to driving again. In the U.S., these hours are 10 and 8 hours respectively.
4. Inquire how long the transportation company has been operating.
Find out when the company was established, and how long it has been offering charter motorcoach services. A good track record is always desirable.
5. Make a request for references.
Request and contact references from similar type groups travelling on similar type programs. Never charter from a company unwilling to provide references.
6. Ask how many coaches are in their fleet.
Overall charter fleet size is important. It provides a gauge to the operator's ability to supply alternate vehicles in the event of a mechanical problem, on multi-motorcoach movements or on weekends and during peak seasons.
Ontario law requires that a public vehicle operator must carry $8 million in insurance for buses with 13 or more passengers. Feel free to request the name of the insurance provider and the carrier's policy number.
8. Consider a visit to the company's facilities.
Feel free to request an inspection of the companyís equipment, general offices and garage facilities before signing any contracts or agreements. You can tell a lot about a company just by looking.
9. Ask whether the company has a current driver safety incentive program.
Constant monitoring and recognition by a Safety Director provides piece of mind Ė ensure that the company youíre using has a strong safety-oriented culture instilled in all operators.
10. Ensure that the company has a drug and alcohol screening program.
Specify whether your carrier has a drug and alcohol policy and a random drug testing program. Never charter from a carrier that does not strongly enforce a drug and alcohol- free workplace.
11. Find out who is responsible for extra mileage costs above the contracted amount.
Find out the carrier's policy before the trip, not when you get the bill!
12. Ask whether the carrier a full service company.
It is important to know whether the company has their own maintenance facilities.
13. Ask for the company's Public Vehicle Operating License issued by the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
This authorizes the service being offered. However, if the trip is beyond Ontario borders, the company must hold an Extra-Provincial Operating License issued by the board. Licenses can be verified by calling the Ontario Highway Transport Board.
14. Confirm whether the coach has a Safety Inspection Sticker.
Ontario law requires buses to have a mechanical inspection every 6 months. The safety sticker must be located at the front right corner of coach with the month and day of the inspection indicated.
15. Ensure the company has procedures in place for on-the-road emergencies.
The driver should have access to a nationwide reciprocal maintenance agreement which will assure you of prompt servicing of equipment in all regions of Canada and the United States.