Meet Driver Kris Daggett
Shortly after he signed on as a driver with us, Kris Daggett remembers experiencing a stark shift in his outlook on life.
“It’s the first job I’ve had where I don’t dread going to work but really look forward to it,” he says. “I enjoy driving, my passengers, and the camaraderie I’ve found with the people I work with here.”
Kris joined our team of Indian Trails drivers in June 2018. Before that, the Waterford, Mich., resident had worked for a logistics company where he supervised a staff of 20 people in charge of shipping and receiving parts for General Motors.
Supply management was also his chief task during three years’ of active duty in the United States Air Force, plus four years as a reservist.
Kris was exploring a change in careers when he came across our ad for new bus drivers. “I was looking for something less stressful and found it here,” he says. “And I remembered seeing Indian Trails buses out on the road, and thinking they looked impressive.”
Old & New Lessons
Like all new drivers, Kris took part in our four-week drivers’ training program that includes both in-class instruction and on-the-road, hands-on experience. “It’s a smart and thorough way to teach us.”
That training also includes new drivers venturing out with one of our veteran drivers on a regular Indian Trails line run. “Mine was a two-day trip up to St. Ignace and back where you’re supervised but in charge of everything: Taking tickets, passenger loading and unloading, etc. The idea is that you learn better by doing. I felt much more confident the second day.”
In class, drivers also learn five basic rules of defensive driving, the first of which is to always stay alert. Others are to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and those of other drivers, be courteous, expect the unexpected, and be prepared to deal with dangerous situations when they occur.
This part sounded familiar to Kris. “It’s exactly what my dad taught me when I was learning how to drive. It made him feel good when I told him it was reinforced in class.”
Miles down the road since his training, Kris finds that what he learned stays with him even when driving his own vehicle.
“Not too long ago, while I was out with friends, I stopped at a railroad crossing and put on my flashers. It was just automatic. My friends reminded me I didn’t have to do that when I was driving my own car.”
On the Road
These days, Kris mostly drives a daily scheduled route to St. Ignace and back. “We have 18 stops to make on the way up and down,” he says. “And it never gets old going across the Mackinac Bridge.”
He often pinch hits, too, as a driver for our group charter customers, as well as for the Michigan Flyer, our airport and commuter shuttle, which makes frequent daily runs between East Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor, and Detroit Metro Airport.
“I enjoy all my passengers, and the folks on these trips are usually very cheerful because they’re typically heading out on an adventure,” say Kris, who also likes taking college and professional sports teams to their competitions.
On the flip side, when Kris encounters a stressed-out passenger, he does his best to ease the tension. “I try to look at things from their perspective and find out how I can make their experience less stressful.”
Shortly after signing on with us, Kris visited the Indian Trails website, where he learned about our company’s 110-year-old history. “I was impressed with its longevity and the fact that it’s always been family-owned,” he says.
Once he started, he found even more to like. “We’re treated so well,” says Kris. “Here you have a name—you’re not just a number. Plus, the motorcoaches we drive are so well-maintained and immaculate. I feel real proud when I’m out on the road.”
Coming Soon: Detroit - Ann Arbor Commuter Bus Service!
Many of our group charter customers are familiar with our Michigan Flyer division, which provides frequent daily roundtrips between East Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor, and Detroit Metro Airport. Now, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan—in partnership with the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority—is working to implement a new commuter bus service between Detroit and Ann Arbor, thanks to funding received from state grants. The service—to be operated by Michigan Flyer and Indian Trails—will offer frequent non-stop trips between downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor, and is open to anyone to use. Service is expected to begin soon. Learn more here.
Indian Trails Upgrades Fleet with Seven New Coaches
Indian Trails is investing more than $4 million to upgrade its fleet with seven brand new Prevost H3-45 luxury motorcoaches. The rollout began last December and will be completed this month. The coaches will begin service with the Michigan Flyer division.
“We invest in new coaches with the latest safety, comfort, and eco-friendly features because of our commitment to our customers, our communities, and our environment,” says Indian Trails President Chad Cushman. “One of our guiding principles for 110 years has been to pour profits into new equipment so our fleet remains among the newest and largest in Michigan.”
The new motorcoaches have features comparable to a commercial airline’s comfort class—reclining seats covered in leather-like upholstery, premium contoured headrests, footrests, individual overhead climate controls and reading lamps, outlets for charging mobile devices, free WiFi internet access, on-board lavatory, overhead storage racks, and ample storage for luggage below deck.
Safety features include antilock brakes, automatic traction control to aid drivers and protect passengers in poor weather conditions, GPS tracking, three-point seatbelts for each passenger, an engine fire-suppression system, and a front-kneeling suspension that lowers the coach to help passengers get on or off.
In addition, the deluxe vehicles exceed EPA standards with engine technology that reduces exhaust pollutants to near zero while achieving 240 passenger miles per gallon.
NHTSA Grants First OK for Driverless Vehicles
Whether or not you’re riding a charter bus or driving a car, the next time you pass through Houston, Texas, there’s a fair chance you’ll see a strange new vehicle on the road—the R2, developed by Nuro of Mountain View, Calif., whose mission is to “accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life.”
The R2 is a low-speed, self-driving robotic vehicle specifically designed to deliver goods—not people— over local roadways. Nuro is partnering with companies like Kroger and Walmart to offer fast, affordable grocery delivery to the homes of customers in Houston. Customers shop for groceries online from any computer or smartphone, and have them delivered the same day for a small fee. At the scheduled time, the home shoppers meet the Nuro R2 at the curb, punch in a code to open the storage compartments, and collect their goods.
On Feb. 6, 2020, the R2 became the first vehicle ever approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to operate on public roadways without a steering wheel, brake pedals, a windshield, wipers, side or rearview mirrors, and other safety features required of vehicles driven by humans. The approval is good for two years. The R2s won’t travel faster than 25 mph, and production is capped at 5,000.
The little R2—designed and assembled for Nuro by Roush of Livonia, Mich.—is 3.6 feet wide and 9 feet long, with doors that open upward. It features laser, camera and radar sensors, has an energy-absorbing front end to help protect pedestrians in the event of a collision, temperature-controlled compartments to keep food fresh, and a battery that enables it to run all day. Nuro vehicles can be monitored and controlled remotely by a human operator, if needed.
“By replacing heavy passenger vehicles utilized for shopping and other errands, Nuro is ushering in a new era of neighborhood-friendly and socially responsible zero-occupant vehicles,” the company says.
Help Wanted: Motorcoach Drivers
please let them know that Indian Trails, Inc., currently has openings for professional drivers. Indian Trails operates Michigan's newest and largest fleet of motorcoaches, and our business is thriving.
Our full-time drivers earn an average of $55,000 a year. New drivers receive:
- A $3,000 sign-on bonus
- Nine paid holidays
- 401(k) with employer contribution
- Medical, dental and other benefits
- Paid time off starting in the first year
- Meal allowance on multi-day trips
- Paid accommodations for multi-day trips
- Annual travel passes on Indian Trails scheduled routes
No professional driving experience is required. Indian Trails provides a comprehensive 4-week PAID training program, plus help in getting a Commercial Driver’s License. More details and an online application can be found here and here.
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Happy Springtime—Just Around the Corner!
The days are getting longer and the nights are getting shorter. In every state except Arizona and Hawaii (which opted out of the time change), Daylight Savings Time (DST) will start on March 8 this year. That’s only about a week from today, when clocks "spring forward" and we lose an hour, so there’s more daylight to enjoy in the evening, though less in the morning.
Just 11 days after DST begins, spring officially arrives on March 19—the “vernal equinox”—when the Sun is directly above the Earth’s equator, and day and night are both 12 hours long. All of us at Indian Trails wish you the very best of this season of rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal, as the weather warms and flowers bloom.