By Mark Farrell, program manager, CWTSatoTravel
Following World War I, the first armored bus was built by a Turkish manufacturer to protect soldiers while being transported often to battle. While modern motorcoaches are built with many safety features, armor is typically not one of them. The U.S. military currently uses modern motorcoaches to support a wide variety of missions that require the convenience, safety and reliability a tour operator can provide to move service members, civilian employees and families. The Department of Defense (DoD) is currently undergoing a major overhaul of its existing bus program, which is managed by the Defense Travel Management Office. With these changes, the DoD is making it easier for the motor coach industry to get more involved in servicing military group travel needs.
In the past, operators had to be in good standing with Department of Transportation’s (DoT) inspection program for approval. The military also added another layer of inspections and oversight along with an agreement to narrow the list of approved carriers. Soon, motorcoach operators only need to be approved and have a clean record for at least two years with DoT and sign a DoD agreement. The current approved list of motorcoach operators includes approximately 490 U.S. operators. This number may grow as the barrier to participate eases and as the American Bus Association increases the education of business opportunities available for members. While the DoD’s motorcoach passengers represent only a fraction of the overall DoD travelers, the department is the largest travel customer in the world. Every day, in nearly every corner of the country, group of uniformed service members, DOD civilians, and military families are happening. The process for these movements, however, does not always provide competitive pricing or a high quality of services or transparency for the U.S. military especially where geographic gaps exist in operator coverage or choice.
Under its nine DoD’s travel contracts, CWTSatoTravel is honored to support the travel needs of the military, including group movements for air and bus. With the changes to the military bus program, and in partnership with ABA, CWTSatoTravel is actively working with members that are DoD-approved, or are interested in becoming approved. You will not need to add armor to your buses, but if you are looking to diversify your customer base by aligning your mission to support the U.S. military’s, thus driving greater or new incremental revenue, reach out to Ron Ivester at (804) 674-1199) or look for the CWTSatoTravel team at upcoming ABA events.
For more information about CWTSato Travel, visit www.cwtsatotravel.com.