BUSINESS BEAT BY FAUS JOHNSON
Necessity is the Mother of Invention or in some cases the Mother of Re-invention. Only those organizations that adapt to change can survive and the time has come when we can no longer depend on government handouts in our times of need.
Breaking this dependency will not be easy but there are many examples of companies and organizations that are well on their way to weaning themselves off government dependency and struggling to stand on their own two feet. It is not just private enterprises that are feeling the crunch but also many not-for-profit organizations that are wholly or partially funded by the public purse.
I would like to share with you one such business model of an organization with which I am affiliated that has ventured out of its traditional role in into a more entrepreneurial way of doing business.
CHAD Transit was started in 1996 primarily as a means for the disabled to be transported throughout the county and province. In the absence of public transportation this service has evolved to include any person in Pictou County who is transportation disadvantaged. As an economical means of moving people around Pictou County, it is also highly dependent on both provincial and local municipal grants as well as the generosity of many of our service clubs.
On average the buses carry fewer than two passengers per trip and most of the trips are done with 18 seat buses. The cost of operating CHAD Transit is over $450,000 per year with only $170K in revenues being generated by passenger fares, necessitating a 62 per cent subsidy per passenger. With the ever-increasing cost of fuel, vehicles and repairs, this created a need to become more entrepreneurial in the way business is done while maintaining a high level of service for those who depend on it.
The board of directors decided to develop a strategic plan to come up with ways of increasing revenues without increasing costs. Challenge number one was to increase the number of passengers per trip and this is being done by increasing the awareness of CHAD as a door-to-door service for the transportation disadvantaged. In 2013 an advertising program was introduced whereby business sponsors could have a 40”x40” ad placed on the side of a bus. These moving billboards, travelling over 225,000 km on Pictou County roads, have been very popular and to date 24 ads on four of the six vehicles have been sold.
And, finally, in 2014 CHAD Charter Service was officially launched. The modern fleet of vehicles can be rented on an hourly basis for special events, group tours of our county, weddings and sightseeing adventures. Most of this charter business will take place on evenings and weekends with week-day charters concentrating on heath-related transportation.
With an aging population and more people being unable to drive, it is necessary that other means are found to support the need for more buses and their associated costs in the future. This can only be done by engaging more people to use the service and to constantly look for new revenue opportunities the old fashion way, “by earning it!”
Faus Johnson is Chairman of the Board of Directors for CHAD Transit and has worked in the transportation service sector for 35 years