Game on!

Getting in on Winter Olympics coach procurement

You may not be able to ski, skate or goal-tend your way into Winter Olympics history, but it's not too late to make your mark as a transportation provider. Gameday Management of Orlando is in the process of accepting bids and writing contracts for Canadian operators interested in providing motor coaches to the 2010 games in Vancouver, says Brian Crow, president of Motor Coach Canada ("MCC").

"It's not just the Olympics. With the Paralympics and surrounding events, we're looking at 30-day contracts, in February, which is a time when carriers look forward to putting buses in service," says Crow. Gameday is currently calling for just under 600 coaches, down from the 3,000 or so originally estimated.

Negotiating acceptable rates has been an ongoing process, with MCC playing a key role. Crow says Gameday originally offered $900 a day plus fuel, a rate which didn't exactly have operators beating down the door. Offered rates are now about $1,850 plus fuel, food and lodging for drivers, says Crow. Operators must have two drivers per coach and meet provisions for providing onsite management and maintenance. Coaches should be model year 2000 or newer. Carriers will also have to commit to three days of driver training and submit to inspections.

Other provisions have been trickier. MCC has been working closely with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and Gameday to come up with ways to satisfy requirements such as the need for each carrier to provide a supervisor and a maintenance person. Thanks to the negotiating, says Crow, it looks like carriers will be able put supervisor-drivers on duty and contribute to a maintenance pool if they choose not to send along maintenance personnel. Gameday and MCC are still talking about how to handle the request for contingency coaches.

Crow hopes Canadian operators will continue to send in their bids, especially since Gameday will be able to call upon a ready fleet of U.S. based coaches if it does not have enough Canadian coaches. Under both Canadian and U.S. rules, opportunities go first to resident carriers.

"This is a great opportunity to show the world what we have and what we can do," says Crow. "In Atlanta, there were some bus issues; that's why we started working three years ago with VANOC, not only to make sure the industry has a good opportunity, but also to make sure the games come off perfectly.  If we do it right, no one will know it. "

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