It's not every day that an operator gets to pick up coach number 100. Saskatchewan's Moose Mountain Bus Lines did just that when it took delivery of a new J4500 last month.
General Manager John Fehr Jr. buys coaches both for Moose Mountain and the family's other company, Beaver Bus Lines, and assigns even numbers to Moose Mountain coaches and odd numbers to Beaver coaches. Combined, the current fleet includes about 30 intercity coaches, mostly MCI J4500s and D-Series models, and 20 transit-style buses, most of them MCI Classics. The companies employ about 50 people full-time, with an additional 30 or so part-time drivers. Most repair work, service and even bodywork is done in-house. "I'm very fortunate to have a good staff," says Fehr. "Your company is only as good as your people."
John Fehr Sr., father of the current general manager and a onetime bus driver, bought Beaver Bus Lines, headquartered in Winnipeg, in 1972 when its original owner retired. At the time, the fleet encompassed eight transit-style buses. John Sr. and his wife, Mary Fehr, grew the company and acquired others along the way, running the businesses with their family.
In the mid 1990s, the Fehrs bought Moose Mountain, a charter company in Regina, Saskatchewan. John Fehr Sr. died a year ago, but Mary still comes into the office four days a week. A related company, Fehr-Way Tours, was started in 1979 by John Fehr Sr., daughter Sandra Janzen and her husband, Dale; Dale continues to run the Fehr-Way with his sister-in-law, Diane Fehr Palmer. Both Beaver and Moose Mountain do tour and charter work; Beaver additionally runs commuter service between Winnipeg and Selkirk, Manitoba and also operates a private school run.
Fehr, who's also tried competitor coaches, likes doing business with MCI. "They're good people," says Fehr, citing MCI's willingness to "go the extra mile" to troubleshoot issues. "Yves [Vermette], Guy [Tessier] and Doug [DePape] — they're great guys to deal with."
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