Goodbye Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Hello, Luxury Bus?
Bus companies, in my personal opinion, have been on the wrong side of the bus versus train wars for a long time. They’ve been focused on things other than efficiency and cost.
I’ve mentioned it before, but there’s simply no way that you could build a bus service like the one in Copenhagen – or even more easily, an urban-focused, on-demand bus service that takes into account what the current and future bus riders want – without also thinking about the needs of the people who want to get around that city with a normal vehicle.
In an ideal world, bus companies would be focused on what makes them relevant in the marketplace – what makes them different. Bus companies should be focused on doing what can make them the best bus company within their range of services.
I’ve always been interested in seeing how, for example, a big, luxury bus company could be competitive with their existing model when it comes to providing customer-facing products.
The result of course is that they lose what was gained at the start.
This is the story of a company that I’ve been following for many years – which is now moving from one way of doing business that’s good and profitable for it, to becoming one of the leaders in the bus industry.
The first part of the story, of course, is that it’s taken an awful long time to get to this point. But its story has taken on an interest to me. So here goes:
Why We’re Doing It…
A few years ago, I was the president of Vans. We made money. We drove people where they wanted to go, in the right cars for the right price. We were profitable and growing. We were good at what we did.
Somehow, in the space of two years, we were acquired by the Japanese car company Suzuki. Within days, we lost all our business. Within hours, we were no longer profitable. We lost our employees on the first day of the Suzuki acquisition. We were basically in the middle of a financial collapse in less than a year.
And then, out of nowhere, we got a call from our former partner, A.J. Dutcher, our CEO.
He said, “I understand we’ve lost all our