The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the motorcoach industry in mid-March and forced thousands of coaches off the road, sending operators into quarantine along with the rest of the world.
In response to this insidious virus and the new reality it has brought, ABC Companies, Winter Garden, Florida, the North American distributor for Van Hool, has stepped up to help coach operators ensure a more protective environment for its employees and customers. The company recently launched its CLEANS program (Contact, Limitation and Eradication of Airborne Noxious Systems), a slate of safeguards and protocols that take dead aim on coronavirus.
This comprehensive suite of products and services works to disinfect coaches, help sanitize cabin air and provide protective shielding and onboard personal hygiene stations. ABC Companies views these protections paramount for all operators in restoring travelers’ confidence in coach transportation as the industry begins to return to service.
ABC Companies President and Chief Commercial Officer, Roman Cornell, says the company cannot emphasize enough the need to help its customers’ issues with this pandemic.
“We are focused on creating viable solutions that can be easily adapted and installed,” says Cornell. “More importantly, our new CLEANS program is ready for use at this time.”
ABC Companies credits its nimbleness and flexibility to bring CLEANS to market so quickly. Its early implementation is allowing operators to in turn act quickly to provide safer and healthier coach service during this critical time.
“We view our CLEANS package as essential for fleet owners,” says Thom Peebles, vice president, Marketing. “It demonstrates to the public that coach operators have thought through this pandemic thoroughly and are prepared to defend against coronavirus.”
Peebles says the CLEANS products listed below are now available in new Van Hool motorcoach orders and adaptable for most coach brands. Some are also available as retrofits on existing equipment.
Interior Sanitization Disinfection: According to ABC Companies, electrostatic fogging as used in commercial airlines provides up to 99.9 percent virus protection including the Coronavirus. The company is working to make electrostatic fogger units available in the near future. Meantime, the company says it can conduct fogging service on site or at any customer-preferred location.
HVAC Purification Systems: HVAC purification through MERV 13 rated cabin filters effectively captures particles between 1 and 5 micrometers and smaller.
Adding the UV light HVAC disinfection system eliminates 90 percent of microbial contaminants after 10 minutes of exposure and 99 percent after one hour. The factory-installed HEPA filtration system captures 99.9 percent of contaminating particles, which may include bacteria, fungi and larger viruses or virus clumps.
Passenger and Driver Contact Partitions: Driver partitions range from full enclosures to clear protective barriers. Passenger protection shields are available as permanently mounted clear partitions or temporary removable shields.
Personal Hygiene Stations: Hand sanitizing stations are available for installation at the entrance of the coach and in onboard restrooms.
ABC Companies says it will continue to grow its proprietary CLEANS program; adding new products and emerging technologies as they become available. The current package comes with branding decals and seals, as well as video presentations to inform passengers and drivers of the commitment coach operators are making for everyone’s well-being.
“We are very eager to help get our industry up and rolling again,” says ABC Companies Chief Executive Officer, Dane Cornell. “We believe our CLEANS initiatives provides a much-needed level of confidence for passengers, drivers and owners that we are moving forward in the right direction.”
The company says its CLEANS products are now arriving at ABC Companies locations and many are also available through its online parts store. For more information, details and pricing, contact an ABC Companies account manager.
ABC Companies customers respond to CLEANS
Mears Transportation, Orlando, Florida, currently operates 122 coaches it equipped with HVAC UV lighting as early as 2012 — 42 of which are Van Hool models that ABC Companies outfitted in 2018.
“Running a highly efficient HVAC system is an absolute necessity for Florida coach operators,” says Chip Springer, vice president, Motorcoach Operations. “We initially opted for UV lighting as the best means to keep the evaporators clean. Now it is critical to the coronavirus crisis as this technology also kills any mold, microbes, germs or viruses in recirculated air passing across the evaporator.”
To avoid any misunderstanding, Springer stresses the fact UV lighting cannot immediately eliminate contaminates spread by passengers coughing and sneezing.
“Nonetheless, UV lighting contributes significantly toward sanitizing the air throughout the coach,” he says. “At this time, it is reassuring for our customers to know we have been routinely treating cabin air and HVAC systems in this manner.”
Before learning of ABC Companies’ CLEANS program, FloridaTours.com, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, had already made dramatic changes to its cleaning procedures in response to COVID-19 includes the same ozone treatments used for cruise line passengers on at-risk liners to kill airborne toxins. The company also sanitizes and disinfects its coaches every day with an EPA hospital grade cleaner — which the company had not done previous to this outbreak.
“I was not aware of all the available options at this time,” says FloridaTours.com President Crane Gladding. “We are now looking closely at several products in the CLEANS package including UV lighting.”
However, because cashflow has become a problem for everyone, Gladding says before investing heavily, FloridaTours.com is hoping to see a set of qualified standards for products promising to kill COVID-19 and ensure passengers can safely travel on the company’s coaches.
“Passenger safety is our number one priority, but we can’t afford to buy into equipment that may not be effective in dealing with COVID-19,” he says. “For this reason, I am pleased to see ABC Companies taking a lead role in developing a program specifically for coach operators’ efforts. Hopefully, it will get more people talking.”