NORFOLK, Neb. — There’s a little star power behind one of Arrow Stage Lines’ latest endeavors.
Last year, the Norfolk-based transportation company branched out to include an entertainer coach as an option for its traveling customers. The plan has gone so well that the company now has two more in its Arrow Entertainer fleet.
“We noticed by being in the business that there were a lot of groups out there that were being hauled by equipment we didn’t have, and the groups were using these entertainer-type coaches,” said Steve Busskohl, president and CEO of Arrow Stage Lines.
Entertainer coaches are 45-foot-long buses equipped to accommodate a small group’s living arrangements: 12 bunks in the middle of the coach, a luxury lounge, a bathroom and shower, and another lounge equipped with items such as a microwave and television. Each bunk has a flip-down TV as well.
Busskohl said the coaches are designed to handle a crew that goes to set up and take down a stage set before and after a performance.
The Arrow Entertainer coaches have hauled the crew for the “Mamma Mia” touring theatrical production and the crew for soul legend Aretha Franklin, he said.
“They travel during the night and end up in the next city, and then they have to do it all over again,” he said.
The entertainer coaches also have attracted corporate groups that are looking for a “different type of experience with a smaller group,” Busskohl said.
Busskohl said the coaches — which are kept at the company’s Kansas City, Missouri, location — can go on the road for up to four months.
“Most of the time, they’re on the road usually between one to three months at a time,” he said. “It’s a little bit different for our drivers.”
The coaches’ drivers must prepare to be away from home for one to three months at a time. They drive at night and sleep during the day. And they are responsible for housekeeping on the bus, Busskohl said.
“It takes a special type of person to be able to do that,” he said. “But we found the guys who can do it, and they love it.”
Busskohl said the addition of the entertainer coaches to the Arrow fleet represented a considerable investment for the company — but so far a successful one. The long-range plan is to have 10 or 12 in its fleet, he said.
“It’s been a fun and exciting thing,” he said.