IN FOCUS: Green Business – That ribbon of highway

Posted on Apr 2, 2013 :: Green Business
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Lamers Bus Lines’ Charter Sales Consultant Eric Stadler behind the wheel of one of the company’s 127 motorcoaches.

Bus company recognized for setting environmentally-friendly example

Green Bay-based Lamers Bus Lines received the 2013 Green Highway Award from the United Motorcoach Association for its commitment to environmentally friendly operating practices.

Bus manufacturer Motor Coach Industries created the award four years ago and includes more than 900 professional bus and motor coach companies nationwide. The Green Highway Award recognizes efforts in three general areas: administrative and operations, equipment and maintenance, and facilities.

Pat Ziska, MCI vice president, saluted Lamers “for their commitment to the environment and their broad implementation of the many ways a contemporary motor coach operator can make a difference.”

Lyle and Ellen Lamers founded the company in 1944, which is today run by their sons Allen and Kevin. The company operates 140 motorcoaches and other charter vehicles and nearly 1,200 school buses from 28 locations in Wisconsin and one in Florida.

“With the passing of my father in December, it was very timely for Lamers Bus Lines to receive this prestigious honor,” says Allen, company president. “We considered him to be the pioneer of recycling because of his religious dedication to it. We are always mindful of ways we can reuse resources and/or use less.”

One way Lamers monitors energy usage, for example, is through an electronic fleet management system that tracks vehicle idling, maintenance and other efficiencies.

“We have an anti-idle policy, and ask our drivers to turn off the engines whenever they can,” says Ed Shoning, director of safety for Lamers. “We get an alert if a vehicle idles for more than 10 minutes.”

In 2010, Lamers purchased its own driver training simulator in a custom motorcoach to provide better training for drivers while significantly reducing the amount of fuel used for training.

“We’ve already trained more than 1,500 drivers,” says Shoning. “We teach them how to deal with circumstances – like a deer crossing the road, or someone opening a car door.” The training also gives drivers experience with inclement weather, traffic and mountain driving in an energy-efficient way.

Other efforts cited by Lamers in its application for the award include:

» Purchasing six hybrid school buses at a cost of $75,000 per bus more than a new low-sulfur clean diesel bus.

» Using timers on engine block heaters in winter for school buses to minimize energy use.

» Outfitting new school buses with “federal engine emissions packages” that significantly reduce bus emissions. This actually makes the bus an air cleaner; the exhaust that comes out of the bus is cleaner than the air that is taken into the engine.

» Equipping motor coaches with a sleeper bunk for the relief driver, which reduces the amount of fuel and number of vehicles needed to get relief drivers to appropriate locations.

» Using recycled steel for new building construction, thus reducing mining waste, air pollution and water pollution.

“We also strive to find ways to introduce new or expanded services that will reduce the number of vehicles on the road,” says Eric Stadler, Lamers’ charter sales consultant. The company introduced Game Day Shuttles during last fall’s Packers season from several points in Green Bay and Milwaukee, and will expand that to the Fox Cities and Central Wisconsin for the next season.

Lamers also operates four daily inter-city bus routes serving Green Bay, Madison, Wausau, Milwaukee and Dubuque, and has established Campus Connect, which serves college students traveling between Green Bay, the Fox Cities, Oshkosh and Madison.

“We are pleased to have honored this established, highly successful industry leader with the Green Highway Award,” says MCI’s Ziska. “The Lamers family and their employees have embraced the ‘green’ movement, making it part of their daily routine.”