coach (noun) 1) vehicle for transporting people 2) buses contracted to continually transport attendees between facilities during a certain time period

Eight-hour shift

Find out the limitations on drivers' hours of service. A company should be able to give you DOT guidelines when you ask. This will help you ensure the safety of your group — and avoid having a driver with a busload of attendees being taken “out of service” during a surprise inspection.

Says who?

References are always a good way to find out how well a transportation company is managed. Ask for them, and follow up.

Size matters

Find out how many motorcoaches are in the fleet. More coaches mean more flexibility, and flexibility can be a meeting saver if everyone decides to take the shuttle to the event. It's also a signal of a company's success.

Check it out

If you can manage it, visit a transportation company before booking. Meet the staff. See the coaches. Ask about the maintenance schedule and how the company responds to emergencies.

What a rider wants

Make sure the coach can accommodate the special needs of your attendees. Does anyone need a wheelchair lift, for example?

This charter's going to the moon

Ralph Cramden, possibly the world's best-known bus driver, worked for The Gotham Bus Co. in Manhattan.

Safety is a priority

Find out a company's safety rating through the Department of Transportation. Ask for the company's USDOT number and then call the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Motor Carriers (800/832-5660) or log on to www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Spell it out

Make sure the company knows your schedule and all that's involved — in detail. This will help the company give you a better quote and will give you a more accurate sense of whether it can meet your needs.

SOURCES: Accent Lines, Calgary, Alberta, www.accentlines.com; Central States Charter Coach, St. Louis, www.centralstatesbus.com; Peoria Charter Coach Co., Peoria, Ill., www.peoriacharter.com; National Motorcoach Network Inc., www.motorcoach.com; United Motorcoach Association, Alexandria, Va., www.uma.org; Thousand Hills Golf Resort, Branson, Mo., www.bransongolf.com; www.haminahamina.com; APEX Terminology Project

Do you want to get the last word in? Send your ideas to shatch@primediabusiness.com