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Judy Breneman


January 2016

Russ Lippincott & Lee Roy Weems


February 2016

Chuck Pona


March / April 2016

“The Fab Five”


May 2016

Emory Hysell


June / July 2016

Phillip Kline, Carl Briggs & Luis Garcia


August / September 2016

Ernest Nieman, Chad Schwab & Jerry VanDeusen


October 2016

Frank Kane


November / December 2016




Cabinet-maker Eugene Prevost created his first wooden coach body in 1924. Since that modest beginning, Prevost’s legacy of fine craftsmanship and superior quality has been passed from generation to generation. Over the years, our inspiration and expertise have kept us on the cutting edge of design and technology. Our uncompromising commitment to quality and continuous improvement, and our dedication to safety and sustainability are instilled in every aspect of our business – from our birthplace in Sainte Claire, Quebec, and to our North American parts and service facilities. The Strength and Values of Volvo As part of the Volvo Group, Prevost has access to the financial strength, product development capabilities, and quality manufacturing technology of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of heavy-duty diesel engines, and the second-largest motorcoach and transit bus manufacturing group. Volvo recognizes a clear responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of its products, and safety has been a guiding principle since the company was founded in 1927. Over the years, a series of pioneering innovations has made Volvo a world leader in automotive safety. Dedication to safe, professional drivers Prevost recognizes that motorcoach operators are greatly challenged in recruiting, training and retaining qualified drivers. To that end, Prevost and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) have joined forces to update and expand the Bus and Motorcoach Academy, creating a new program called Prevost Preparatory School for Professional Motorcoach Drivers, or “Prevost Prep.” Presented by Prevost, UMA and the College of Southern Maryland, Prevost Prep is designed specifically for drivers to meet the driver training needs of the motorcoach industry. The course prepares prospective drivers to pass the CDL written exam and provides a thorough review of applicable industry regulations for those already licensed. | BUSRIDE


Judy Breneman retired with nearly 3 million miles of accident-free driving


t was a man’s world when Judy Breneman broke down a few barriers 45 years ago to drive motorcoaches. BUSRide recognized Breneman in 2008 as a Safe Driver Hall of Fame inductee for her success and safe driving record to that point in her career; when she logged 2 million accident-free miles with Elite Coach, Ephrata, PA. Breneman continued her safe driving ways, having recorded very close to 3 million accident-free miles when she retired in December 2014. Breneman was looking for part-time work when she took the training to drive school buses for Eschbach Bus, Holtwood, PA. “Thankfully, this company gave me, a woman, the opportunity to get into the motorcoach business,” she says. “They ran a few old GMC charter coaches with stick shifts. I remember asking the guys for help in how to double-clutch the manual transmission without grinding the gears.” They laughed, assuring Breneman that everyone ground gears from time to time, and not to worry. “I would say, ‘Yeah, but a woman sure can’t,’” she says. “The men could, of course, get away with missing a shift, but I didn’t dare think I could. It was tough breaking in. On top of that, those buses had no power steering and handled like a Mack truck.” Once bitten by the proverbial bus bug, Breneman drove three years for Executive Coach, Lancaster, PA, when she received a call from Elite Coach to come and drive its new Prevost coaches. The only woman on the team of drivers; her tenure lasted 17 years. Breneman attributes her safe and accident-free driving career to simply wanting to deliver the smoothest coach ride possible for her passengers and tour hosts, many who rode with her over her entire career with Elite. She believes the safe driving habits that led to her clean 3 millionmile record started with soft braking. “The maintenance crew told me that the brakes on my coach always needed more attention than the others,” Breneman says. “I always preferred longer, slower stopping over slamming on the brakes at the last second. My passengers appreciated my smoother handling, and our tour hosts liked how I seemed to never jam on the brakes. Being there for them was the most important part of my job. I believe this, along with tending to the comfort of my passengers, just made me more careful in many ways, and safer as a matter of course.” Additionally, Breneman advises coach drivers to learn to continually look ahead to determine road and traffic conditions, leaving time to respond and react.



Now retired, Judy Breneman drove nearly 3 million miles without an accident in her career as a motorcoach driver.

“It still comes back to providing the smoothest possible ride.” “It still comes back to providing the smoothest possible ride,” she says. “Just as an example, looking further ahead and traveling comfortably with the flow of traffic enables longer, smoother lane changes.” Breneman notes that nearer to her retirement, she was seeing many more coach drivers performing in a safer manner compared to her early days in the business. Aside from smooth driving, which she believes is an art not perfected by every operator behind the wheel, Breneman thinks better equipment and technology that assists and monitors safe driving is having a profound effect, and that companies are promoting a safety culture far beyond where it was when she started. “I couldn’t have enjoyed my career more,” Breneman says. “But when I decided the time had come to retire, I put my company and my long-time customers on notice that I was hanging it up. As an older driver, I could feel my reflexes slowing and becoming not as sharp as they once were. Feeling the odds were stacking up, it was best I kept my clean record and memories.”

Russ Lippincott and Lee Roy Weems were chasing 3 million miles when they retired from Village Charters and Tours


etired coach drivers and 2012 inductees Russ Lippincott and Lee Roy Weems recap their careers as friends and colleagues in this installment of the BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame, presented by Prevost. Both started out with Continental Trailways and Greyhound Bus Lines in the mid 1970s before finding their true calling: driving motorcoaches for Village Charters and Tours, Wichita, KS. In their 30-plus year careers, Lippincott and Weems each logged approximately 2.7 million miles without a chargeable accident, and earned Greyhound and Trailways Safe Driver Awards every year they served with those companies. Weems began with Continental Trailways in 1974 and eventually moved to Greyhound. By 1985, after he had seen “the writing on the wall,” he stepped away and formed a small partnership to found Prestige Charters, Wichita, KS, with three coaches, as well as his own travel agency. Five years later he sold his share of Prestige to join Village Charters & Tours. Lippincott joined Continental Trailways in 1976 and drove 10 months for Greyhound after it bought Trailways. During that time, Weems called on him to drive part-time as needed for Prestige. Lippincott moved over to Village Charters and Tours, driving alongside Weems until they retired around the same time; Weems in late 2013, Lippincott in early 2014. What did you enjoy most about driving motorcoaches? Lippincott: Driving charter tours, I had the chance to go to so many different places rather than covering the same line runs. I thoroughly enjoyed running all over the country and seeing all I could. I still do that, only by driving my car. Weems: When we started Prestige, it was nice to operate new equipment for a change. As far as driving, it was the same for me. I enjoyed the many places I got to visit with Village Tours and the people I took there. I also enjoyed the work we did with the military, transporting soldiers. As you both retired with no chargeable accidents, what helped you maintain sterling safety records? Weems: Luck probably had as much to with it as skill and training. But at Trailways, we were taught to not exceed our physical limits in terms of hours of service, and to do all we could to keep ourselves in good health. Toward the end I had a medical condition I could no longer control, and my doctor and I concluded that the time had come. Lippincott: I was always well aware of what was happening around me, using the mirrors and looking far out ahead to see what

Lee Roy Weems

Russ Lippincott

was happening in traffic. That allowed me enough time to react. I was confident in my abilities, but I had to always be watching out for what those other drivers were going to do – especially when I was making a turn.

“I always took a lot of care with my pre-trip inspections.” Weems: I always took a lot of care with my pre-trip inspections, just to be certain everything was in place and nothing needed fixing before starting out. During the trip, I would re-check and keep watch between stops. I also think we were fortunate at Village Tours to drive the same coach the majority of the time. It helped that I could just get the feel of that one vehicle, to know all of its ins and outs. Lippincott: Working with the passengers was another safety concern. Of all the groups I carried, most were great to work with. But occasionally, there was one that could get under my skin in some way, and it was a matter of remaining calm and not allowing the group to distract me from concentrating on my driving. It wasn’t always easy, but I learned to stay calm and let it pass, and to not take out any of my anger on the road. | BUSRIDE


Chuck Pona drove over 3 million miles during 52 years with Adirondack Trailways of New York.

Chuck Pona turned in over 3 million miles during his 52 years with Adirondack Trailways of New York After a career as a full-time coach driver for Adirondack Trailways of New York, located in Hurley, NY, that spanned 52 years and more than 3 million miles without a recordable accident, Chuck Pona officially retired November 30, 2015 – but that isn’t to say he is leaving the company he has loved since he started that career on May 6, 1964. When BUSRide called to glean a few clues about his longevity and sterling record and welcome him to the 2016 Safe Driver Hall of Fame, Pona was attending the company’s monthly Safety Seminar “just to keep fresh and up to date” in the event he returns to driving part-time. Joining the workforce Fresh out of the Navy and back home in New Jersey, Pona began driving for Academy and Shortline Bus Lines at age 20. “I always respected the gleaming Adirondack buses I saw going down the highway,” Pona says. “I would always tell myself I was going to work for that company.” He recalls that in order to be hired as a driver, Adirondack Trailways founder John Van Gonsic Berardi Sr. first required applicants to acquire recommendations from two experienced drivers and then pass a basic road test. “My road test was with a GM4104 4-speed Hydroshift with an overdrive button,” Pona says. “I passed fine, but because I was the youngest driver they would be hiring at the time, and being single, the company took extra measures to keep an eye on me.” According to Pona, his supervisors tacked an additional 30 days onto the normal 60-day probationary period for new drivers, fearing he might be “a little disruptive.” He made it through and the rest, of course, is history. “Adirondack is a company I just never wanted to leave,” he says. “It is family-owned and everyone in the company has continued to work together as one big family.” 6


To date, Pona’s tenure with Adirondack Trailways spans three generations of the Berardi family. Perfect after all these years Pona says he can trace the root of his safe driving record straight back to the “Dear John” letter a girlfriend sent him while he was in the Navy. “I was so shook up, I enrolled in a 90-day psychology course from the Chicago School of Home Studies,” he says. “It actually helped me think for the first time about how to deal better with certain situations in life. I am sure that what I learned in that course helped me later in marriage to my wife of 47 years. We actually met on my bus, when Karen worked for Adirondack as a Trailways hostess.” As for his driving, he says the class taught him how to manage other people’s behavior — passengers on his bus, and the other drivers out on the road in their automobiles. “I learned to remain calm and not allow anxiety to build up when anyone was getting under my skin,” Pona says. “I did my best to keep everyone happy and avoid distracting arguments.” Pona also says that safety always trumped time. “Time has never meant much to me,” he says. “So be it if I couldn’t maintain my driving schedule safely. I would never try to beat the clock if it meant taking an unwise, unnecessary and dangerous risk.” Adirondack Trailways Chief Executive Officer Eugene J. Berardi Jr. was a child when Pona came on board, and has come to know his most senior driver as a consummate professional, mentor and friend to his fellow employees. “His driving speaks for itself,” Berardi says. “It is just as important to commend Chuck for how he is always immaculate in his conduct and appearance, and how he has represented our company for these many years.”

The “Fab Five”:

Peter Pan Bus Lines’ accident-free 3-million milers

Robert “Bob” Guistimbelli

Everett Anderson

Joseph Anderson

Peter Pan Bus Lines, Springfield, MA, is proud to have employed five professional coach drivers who achieved three million miles or more without a reportable accident. Robert “Bob” Guistimbelli reached his 3 million mark after more than 36 years of accident-free driving. He was the third Peter Pan motorcoach operator to reach this impressive milestone. The late Peter L. Picknelly approached Guistimbelli as he was entering the Army in the 1960s and offered him a job upon his return. His next “tour of duty” with Peter Pan Bus Lines lasted 44 years. It was the only job he ever held. Now retired, Guistimbelli was one of Peter Pan’s most popular drivers for tour and charter groups. He received the Peter C. Picknelly “Founder’s Award for Excellence,” as well as the Mrs. Picknelly, Sr. “Driver of the Year Award.” Brothers Everett and Joseph Anderson may be the only siblings to have both achieved three million miles of accident-free safe driving. Everett began driving for Peter Pan in 1970 and crossed the 3 million mile line in 2008. Peter Pan described Anderson as the epitome of a true

Edward Hope

Al Protano

professional driver — a polite, neat and customer-driven individual, whose main concern is the safety and comfort of all his passengers; and for that has bestowed him every award it has to honor its drivers. Peter Pan says safety must run in the Anderson family, as Joseph enjoys 37 years and three million miles of accident-free driving, and has been deemed one of the best of the best. Edward Hope continued his accident-free driving with Peter Pan upon its acquisition of Continental Trailways in 1986. By 2010, Hope had accrued 41 accident-free years of safe driving, as well as many awards from the company and countless letters and accolades from satisfied customers over the years. Al Protano began his career as a bus cleaner for Shortline Bus Company. It wasn’t long before Protano took to driving, a career that gave him 43 accident-free years on the road. He earned countless testimonials as a very well dressed driver with tremendous customer service skills. “Peter Pan is better for having had these drivers as loyal employees,” says Peter A. Picknelly, chairman and CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines. | BUSRIDE


Retired Greyhound driver Emory Hysell never rushed through 4.5 million miles To hear Emory Hysell tell it, his 4.5 million safe, accident-free miles behind the wheel of Greyhound coaches were simply the result of keeping at it for 51 years – and never rushing. Hysell’s path to his Hall of Fame driving record started in 1958 with his first job at the Greyhound Bus Lines terminal in Charleston, WV. “Rather than go back to college, I worked this job for a year and then moved into driving,” he says. “I drove out of Charleston, but we eventually transferred to Miami, FL, to be closer to my wife’s family.” They later moved north to Calahan, FL, allowing Hysell to work out of Jackonsville, FL, where he retired in 2014. “Calahan is away from the big city and reminds us of West Virginia,” he says. “We never wanted to move again.” During his career, Hysell worked the Greyhound extra board, spending half or more of his time driving charters for American Travel out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. “After my first connection, I became their requested driver for many years after,” he says. “That led to more requested work from AAA (American Automobile Association) as well as Air and Sea Travel. They chartered Greyhound buses for tours ranging from overnights to as long 45 days.” Hysell transported his loyal following throughout the U.S., racking up miles in New England, the Pacific Northwest and California. He says the smaller companies simply didn’t have the equipment to go the distances Greyhound covered. “On most tours, if I carried 25 passengers, probably half had traveled with me before,” he says. “I enjoyed working charters, especially when I was requested. They were like traveling with my family.” Earning his 50-year safe driving ring from Greyhound, and finishing out his career as a respected Greyhound driving instructor, Hysell attributes his success to his patience and skill in assessing the changing ebb and flow of traffic around him. “Get the feel of the traffic pattern, look ahead and don’t try to fight what is going on at that moment,” he says. “Go with the flow; pass as necessary. Above all, just don’t rush.” Emory Hysell racked up 4.5 million miles over 50 years throughout New England, the Pacific Northwest and California.



Indian Trails honors three drivers Indian Trails, Inc., Owosso, MI, has honored its million-mile safe drivers for 27 years, recognizing nearly 30 individuals who have gone the distance without an avoidable accident. Prevost welcomes this year’s elite group to the BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame, beginning with the three below. In October, BUSRide will recognize three more Indian Trails Million-Mile honorees. In 1976, Phillip “Al” Kline was looking for a mechanic position at Indian Trails. But at that time, the company was only hiring drivers, so Kline signed up. He reached his first million miles in 1998 and hit the 2 million mark in 2014. “When I started, I was full of excitement at the opportunity to travel throughout North America,” he says. “Now I am very content with a regular run in Michigan.” Regardless of the itinerary, what Kline likes best about his 2 million miles is the time he has spent getting to know and interact with his passengers. “It’s heartening to learn there are lots and lots of good people out there,” he says.

Following his Army stint in Vietnam, Carl Briggs began a career in retail sales. Then, 27 years ago, Briggs jumped from retail onto a motorcoach as a rookie driver for Indian Trails. He hit his 1-millionmile mark in 2014. During the school year, Briggs shuttles Michigan State University students. Each summer, he transports charter groups throughout scenic northern Michigan. “My favorite part of this job is the trust Indian Trails places in me,” he says. “I also appreciate the independence I feel being out on the open road.” Since 1977, Luis Garcia has driven school buses, transit buses and motorcoaches, However, in 1990, Garcia joined the ranks of Indian Trails full-time. He drove charter groups and, beginning in 2007, helped operate the company’s Bronco Transit, a campus shuttle service for Western Michigan University students. As an instructor for Indian Trails, Garcia constantly stresses to new drivers the importance of holding oneself to a high standard of alertness: “You never want to become too complacent or overconfident.” Garcia credits the Indian Trails dispatchers and mechanics for their help in keeping him and his passengers safe on the road. That, coupled with the Golden Rule helped him reach “million-mile safe” status in 2014.

From left to right: Luis Garcia, Carl Briggs and Al Kline. | BUSRIDE


Indian Trails veterans honored for safely going the distance Presented by Prevost, the BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame recognizes three more million-mile veteran drivers for Indian Trails, Inc., Owosso, MI. This family-owned motorcoach operator has honored its million-mile safe drivers for 27 years. All have gone the distance without an avoidable accident.

Schwab is particularly proud of the friendships he’s made with his passengers from China attending Michigan State University, who inspired him to learn Mandarin Chinese in order to correctly pronounce their names. In 2011, he travelled to China to visit some of the friends he’d made, and says it has been fun to surprise Chinese passengers with his knowledge of their language. Chad Schwab In 2005, Schwab knew he was closing in on one million miles – but when he asked, he was surprised to learn he’d already surpassed the mark by 200,000 miles.

Jerry VanDeusen has driven for Indian Trails and Michigan Flyer Ernest Nieman drove coaches part time for 10 since 1995, and reached one million miles without a preventable years while running his own barber shop. Once accident in 2014. he chose the highway over hair, he landed with VanDeusen says the best part of his job is the Indian Trails company in 1990 after a chance meeting people from all walks of life and helping meeting with fellow million-mile driver Carl first-time travelers. He is among the experienced Briggs who inspired Nieman to change jobs. Indian Trails drivers who train new recruits. After 26 years, Nieman has traveled to nearly “I had great training and preparation for my every state and throughout much of Canada. job, and I want to pass that along,” he says. “I Somewhere out on the open road in 2005, he hit train drivers to always keep their eyes on the road Ernest Nieman his million-mile mark. and the safety of their passengers in mind.” “I like driving, being on the move and working help in keeping him and his passengers safe on with people,” Nieman says. “There’s an independence that almost feels Jerry VanDeusen Jr. the road. like I’m self-employed – without the expenses, but still accountable.” That, coupled with the Golden Rule helped Chad Schwab, a 31-year veteran, helped launch the Michigan Flyer affiliate and continues as “the old man on the totem pole,” as he often jokes.

him reach “million-mile safe” status in 2014.

Frank Kane achieves 2.5 million miles by ‘always being cool’ BUSRide spoke with Frank Kane by phone at his home in Rochester, NY on the very day of his retirement in November. We congratulated him on capping his 47 years as a coach driver with 2.5 million miles without a recordable accident for the company that is now Trailways of New York. Kane is now the most recent BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame inductee. The company honored him in ceremonies for achieving 1.3 million miles. By then, however, Kane had already racked up 1.5 million miles before records were kept. Kane launched his career in 1969, after working six days a week for eight years, making glasses in his father’s optician’s office. “I couldn’t do this all my life,” Kane says. “I needed to be outdoors.” He considered working as a mail carrier, but ruled it out due to harsh winters in upstate New York. His fortune changed the day his good friend, a coach driver for Empire Trailways, invited him to ride along on a short run around Rochester. “I told him, ‘You know, I think I could do this,’” he recalls. “Here I was outside, but inside at the same time. Whenever I was cold, I could just turn up the heater.” Through his friend’s introduction to the folks at Empire Trailways, Kane was hired and his long and successful career was rolling. Over the years, Kane matched passion for driving with his love of flying, and says he finally sold his small Cessna three years ago. 10


“What I enjoyed most during my career were my passengers,” Kane says. “I knew one driver who was totally into the bus. He knew everything about motorcoaches; from the makes and models down to the number and sizes of windows. Me, I was most interested in the people who rode with me as regulars over the years. In fact, one person in particular became my longtime best friend.” Asked what attributes earned him his immaculate safe driving record, Kane points to his one rule. “There is always something that can rattle a driver,” he says. “So I just thought, A.B.C.: Always Be Cool.”

Frank Kane

BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame  

The BUSRide Safe Driver Hall of Fame, presented by Prevost!

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