Indian Trails, Inc., has just put 10 new “Pure Michigan” motorcoaches on the road. Like giant billboards for tourism in the Great Lakes State, the new buses are covered with photos of some of Michigan’s most popular destinations.
Replacing 2012 models that had been driven more than a half million miles, the new coaches represent an investment of $2.4 million in Michigan’s intercity bus service by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and $609,000 by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). The FTA grant funding aims to support public transportation in rural areas to increase access to employment, health care, education, shopping, and public services by rural Michiganders.
More than one-third of the passengers who will ride the coaches live in households that have no car, and about 20 percent don’t or can’t drive.
Indian Trails operates 38 daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, and into Chicago, Duluth and Milwaukee. Five are rural Michigan routes operated in partnership with MDOT and partly subsidized by the state because they cannot be sustained by passenger fares alone. Indian Trails covers the full costs of staffing, fuel, insurance, maintenance and more.
“We hope the new Pure Michigan coaches will generate more interest in traveling by bus and attract more riders,” said Indian Trails VP Chad Cushman. “But it’s important to note that these coaches will also produce a solid return on investment for taxpayers.
“First, these coaches will travel about 2.5 million miles a year altogether, promoting Michigan attractions to countless people in and out of state. Second, they will link people in towns and cities statewide with one another, as well as with our airports and the Amtrak and Greyhound national transportation networks. Third, communities with intercity bus service like ours derive more than$3 in economic benefit for every $1 invested in this kind of public transportation, according to national studies.”
Pure Michigan Graphics
“We are always looking for creative partnerships to leverage the Pure Michigan brand and inspire travel to, and around, Michigan,” said Dave Lorenz, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Indian Trails’ daily routes offer an alternative means of exploring both the well-known travel destinations in the state, such as
Traverse City and Grand Rapids to some of our hidden gems including Cadillac, Hancock and Ironwood. To have the buses themselves branded with our state’s iconic imagery only adds to the experience.”
The giant photographs on the new motorcoaches include scenes of AuTrain Beach, Bay Harbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Grand Sable Dunes, Lake of the Clouds, Lake Superior, Les Cheneaux Islands, the Mackinac Bridge, Marquette, Miners Beach Falls, Otter Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Presque Isle, Shanty Creek Resort, Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the Upper Peninsula.
The photographic bus wraps were created at The Vomela Companies facility in Benton Harbor, Mich., which specializes in transportation graphics. Using large ink jet printers with UV-cured ink, they applied the images to 54-inch by 60-inch vinyl panels made by 3M. Then the panels were laminated and shipped to Indian Trails’ primary maintenance facility in Owosso.
There, a Vomela team installed the graphics. The process, which takes 25-30 person hours per bus, involved first cleaning each vehicle with an isopropyl alcohol solution. Then the panels were applied from the rear of the coach moving forward, while working around the bus hardware. Squeegees were used to release air through microscopic channels in the vinyl to achieve a wrinkle-free look.
The panels of vinyl film covering the windows of the coaches with scenic photos are perforated so that passengers can still see clearly from inside out.
New Coaches Nuts and Bolts
All the new motorcoaches are Prevost X3-45® models that comply with the Buy America Act, meaning they were assembled in America from components mostly manufactured in the United States, as required in order to receive federal funding.
Each can carry up to 54 passengers, and comes equipped with technology that reduces exhaust pollutants to near zero while achieving fuel economy of 240 passenger miles per gallon.
Safety features antilock brakes, automatic traction control, back-up camera system, electronic stability system, engine fire detection and suppression system, GPS tracking, tire pressure monitoring system, and three-point retractable seatbelts for each passenger.
Among the comfort features are ergonomic seating with ample leg room; individual airflow controls, reading lamps, and footrests; tinted side windows; 110-volt AC outlets at each seat for charging mobile devices; free WiFi; on-board lavatory; enclosed overhead parcel racks; hearing loops; an ADA-compliant wheelchair lift, and a front-kneeling suspension that lowers the coach to help passengers get on or off.
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Indian Trails, Inc.—which has served as Michigan’s premier, family-owned, intercity motorcoach carrier for 106 years, and is based in Owosso, Mich.—operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motorcoaches in the state. Its services include group charters, tours, shuttles, airport transfers, and casino runs, as well as daily scheduled route service. On the web at www.indiantrails.com.
Ranked by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation in the top 5 percent of transportation companies nationwide for safe driving, Indian Trails is also the parent company of the Michigan Flyer, which offers affordable, comfortable, and reliable motorcoach connections between East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport. On the web at www.michiganflyer.com.