Trailways members recently gathered to honor those making contributions to the industry through the pandemic with its Spirit Awards.
The Spirit awards were given out earlier this month as the network gathered during the ABA Marketplace in Grapevine, Texas.
The Exceptional Leadership Award was given to the American Bus Association (ABA) and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) in gratitude for their exceptional and unwavering support to the industry and to Trailways members throughout the pandemic.
“UMA appreciates the recognition for our part in industry efforts to assist motorcoach operators,” said UMA President and CEO Scott Michael. “We are so proud to represent the essential businesses that move America!”
The Exceptional Industry Support Award was given to Jeff Goldwasser, a sales representative for Amaya Astron Seating for the Eastern region of the U.S. and Canada. He was honored for his creativity, commitment and persistence in keeping the industry in touch during the pandemic.
Goldwasser says he was “thankful and surprised” to be recognized for the Buses & Beer weekly Zoom calls he hosted that united operators and lifted their spirits after COVID-19 restrictions brought the industry to a halt.
“The award really is for all the operators and vendors who took part each week during these trying times. It became a community,” said Goldwasser, who hosted 66 calls, with some lasting up to six hours, full of “industry insight, personal insight, some tears, lots of laughs.”
The winner of the Lifetime Support Award was Michelle Wiltgen, of National Interstate Insurance, who was recognized for her exceptional career, longtime support and commitment to Trailways and the industry. In her absence – she was serving on a different committee during the luncheon – Wiltgen’s award was accepted by her colleague, Joshua Sandman.
The Service Above and Beyond Award was given to John Zaworski, of Dean Trailways, for his dedication, perspective, strategic vision, planning and leadership.
The Outstanding Leadership and Dedication Award went to Joe Kobussen, of Kobussen Trailways, for his long-standing service, leadership and dedication as a retiring member of Trailways Board of Directors.
The member and Spirit awards celebrate Trailways operators’ commitment to the passenger experience.
“It is all about the passenger experience and making sure that they want to come back to us. We provide them a safe ride. It’s branding you can find that from one Trailways operator to the next and get that same similar experience,” said Amy Brooks, Trailways‘ first female chair of the board of director. In addition to the volunteer post, Brooks is Vice President of Sales for Susquehanna Trailways in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Motor Coach Industries (MCI), sponsor of Trailways Safety Awards, honored the following members for their Outstanding Safety Achievements during the year based on quarterly accident-free reports to Trailways, in these categories:
Fleet Service Safety, Charter and Tour
- More Than Two Million Miles: Martz First Class Trailways, St. Petersburg, Florida.
- Less Than Two Million Miles: David Thomas Trailways, Philadelphia.
- Most Improved: Arrow Trailways, Killeen, Texas.
Fleet Service Safety, Scheduled Route Division
- More Than Two Million Miles: Burlington Trailways, West Burlington, Iowa.
- Less Than Two Million Miles: Martz Trailways, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
- Most Improved: Pine Hill Trailways, Hurley, New York.
Lancer Insurance, sponsor of the Trailways Driver of the Year Awards, had two categories this year for full-time and part-time drivers.
Full-time driver Pablo Fajardo of Dean Trailways, Lansing, Michigan, was honored with the Driver of the Year Award. Part-time driver George Williams of Huskey Trailways, Festus, Missouri, also received the Driver of the Year Award.
Brooks attributed the success of the awards ceremony and the gathering to the efforts of many.
“We were excited to finally be able to gather again as Team Trailways having not met in person since March of 2020, in advance of the ABA Marketplace in Grapevine, Texas. A very big thank you to the staff and team at ABA for their assistance in making our event happen,” Brooks said.
“The meetings were information packed and being able to make award presentations, especially when acknowledging fleet safety and honoring individual drivers in person, are beyond special. Special thanks to MCI for sponsoring the Fleet Safety Awards and to Lancer Insurance for sponsoring the driver awards. We are excited for what 2022 has to offer.”