For decades, Tom McCaughey has been collecting vintage buses. So when the time came for him to think about slimming down this collection, there was only one option: a donation to the Museum of Bus Transportation.
“I’ve been loosely affiliated with the museum for a long time, and I’m a pretty good friend of a lot of guys there. I respect the passion they have for the industry and for the history of the industry,” said McCaughey.
“It was more important to me that my buses go to a place where they’re preserved, available for, hopefully, generations to see. I never thought of doing anything differently than either keeping them myself forever or donating to the museum. It just came to me one day that was the right thing to do.”
The five donated buses include:
He even paid to transport his five restored and maintained antique buses from Rhode Island to the museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He’s also taking on a new role with the museum. As part of the deal, he’ll be a liaison between the museum and Hollywood.
Going along for the ride
The museum has put quite a few units in different film and TV productions. When one of its buses is used in such a project, McCaughey will come along as the driver so there’s less chance of mishap.
“I do have an authentic Trailways uniform that sometimes I wear,” he said. “Productions want to create their own costumes, but having their own driver that understands the equipment is generally very much appreciated.”
The film business can be feast or famine. Sometimes several projects roll in almost simultaneously, and then there can be a long dry spell. And even while participating in a project, there can be long stretches of idle time.
“Being a long time in the bus business and other charter business, we learned about patience and about hanging out,” said McCaughey, who appreciates that he’s often given a walkie-talkie on set so he’s looped in about what’s going on. “Even if I’m not involved in a particular scene, I can listen to the director calling preceding scenes, which kind of breaks it up a little bit.
“You really have to have patience because it takes a very long time. A simple scene may take two hours to put together. When it’s done, that’s going to end up being about 10 or 15 seconds on the screen. But it is overall a pretty interesting process to observe.”
Wrapping up transition of business
McCaughey sold his Rhode Island-based Flagship Trailways to DATTCO last summer but is staying on board to help with the transition.
“One of my key roles has been to cement the relationship between my existing customers and DATTCO, and pretty much across the board we’ve been able to do so,” he said.
McCaughney’s donated five buses will be on display June 9 -10 at the Spring Fling at the museum. This year’s theme is the celebration of the Pennsylvania Bus Association’s 100th year of service to the industry. Spring Fling offers the opportunity to see and touch about a hundred antique buses, some dating back to 1910.
The museum has launched a campaign to raise funds to improve storage and exhibit more buses from its collection. The Museum of Bus Transportation/AACAM is the only museum in the country with a major bus display open year-round.