Anticipating demand for employee shuttles, Coach USA recently began marketing Custom Commute.
The passenger transportation giant is betting that, in the wake of COVID-19, employers are developing plans to return their employees to the workplace but have concerns about protecting their health. It is also betting that scenario is particularly relevant within transit-dependent urban centers — like New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta — where social distancing on public transportation may be a challenge.
“They may not be comfortable using mass transit, so this is a bridge service that allows companies to offer employees a safe commute into the workplace,” said Bruce Roberts, Coach USA Senior Vice President of Businesses Development.
To meet the needs of these employers, Coach USA is partnering with companies, universities and hospitals to offer employer-sponsored commuter shuttle programs and other alternative commuting solutions to keep their organizations moving and employees safe.
It’s an alternative to having employees make a long commute on their own or take crowded mass transit.
With Custom Commute, clients can contract for dedicated buses to support social distancing and effective risk management. This transportation model allows for flexible routing, which provides companies with the opportunity to customize stop placement for the convenience and efficiency of employees.
“A lot of companies are starting to think about what the future looks like,” said Roberts. “A lot of people are working from home, but we think in the coming year there will be a move back to the office happening.”
His team has had conversations with people looking to move technicians around the country that do work onsite for customers. They used to fly, but the company no longer feels comfortable with that option.
The list of industries that could use the service is long, according to Roberts. He thinks employers of health care workers and pharmaceutical companies with employees who work in labs will be interested.
“We’ve had online retailers who are looking at how to bring in seasonal employees to work at their warehouses and shipping operations,” Roberts said. “It’s really kind of a wide range of companies and industries.”
Extensive cleaning procedures are in place at all times to ensure the health and wellness of essential employees.
Coach USA sees the biggest potential in the Northeast, where the New Jersey-based company has a large presence and a well-known brand.
“In a closed-loop environment like what we’re offering here, it’s a little easier to control that and to communicate that it is safe,” Roberts said. “A lot of this is educating employers what’s being done. We obviously live it every day and can talk a lot about cleaning protocols.”
The company posted a video on its landing page that gives an overview of its cleaning protocols.
Building on success
Coach USA has several divisions. It operates Megabus, a retail intercity line; commuter lines; airport service; and does contract work.
“We’re already in the employee transportation space under contract, so this is really an extension of what we already do out in the market,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of taking what we already do successfully with other contract customers and widening our target market.”
While Roberts anticipates Custom Commute initially generating short-term contracts, he sees potential for longer-term relationships. There’s an economic argument for providing an opportunity for employees to work while they’re commuting versus sitting in traffic.
“There are companies that will find value in that beyond what we’re dealing with right now. It will be interesting to see how this changes people’s behavior,” he said.
In recent years, Coach USA has begun transitioning beyond ground passenger transportation into the mobility space.
“We’re not just moving people using our own assets, but more and more we’re being asked to bring technology solutions to help people move. We are being asked to provide customers with a seamless trip, using different modes of transport in one application,” Roberts said.