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March 01, 2005  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

SBF's 2005 Contractor Showcase

Meet five of the nation's largest school bus contractors, and find out what separates them from the rest of the pack.

2005 Contractor Showcase'>
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Atlantic Express Transportation Group

Staten Island, N.Y.

Atlantic Express Transportation Group Inc. had only 16 vans providing special-needs transportation in Staten Island, N.Y., beginning in 1972. Hands-on management and exemplary customer service helped the company grow to be the fourth-largest school transportation contractor in North America, operating more than 6,500 buses and transporting over 200,000 students daily in nine densely populated states. The company operates in three major markets — the East Coast, West Coast and Midwest.

Its ride to becoming one of the largest contractors in the school bus industry has been navigated by its founder, president and CEO Domenic Gatto, who upon returning home from Vietnam started as a school bus driver for Staten Island Bus Inc. Since acquiring the small company in 1972, he grew it to a company with more than 200 school transportation contracts.

The company has been able to do more than just acquire contracts. Since 1979, it has maintained a high contract renewal rate, to which Gatto credits customer satisfaction, reliable on-time performance and high safety standards. More than 95 percent of its customers has been contracting with the company for more than five years, and more than 60 percent of its customers has been contracting with the company for more than 15 years. Atlantic Express has been operating one of the largest school transportation contracts in the country for more than 25 years. Its stable customer base and revenue stream have allowed it to grow and expand nationwide.

Atlantic Express employees have a “can-do” attitude. Drivers and escorts wear uniforms to promote a professional image to passengers and the general public. The company uses field supervisors, often retired police officers with extensive experience in driver-performance evaluation and accident investigation, to stay on top of driver performance on the road. These supervisors initiate accident prevention programs and respond to any school complaint, accident or incident. They also serve as ambassadors of the company in ensuring customer satisfaction with its services.

The company embraces safety as its mission by also emphasizing the importance of training. In-house training for drivers, escorts and mechanics is extensive. Refresher courses and safety workshops are integral parts of the overall training program. The company also provides school bus safety training to student riders.

Besides school transportation, Atlantic Express operates one of the largest paratransit contracts in the country and also provides charter and commuter services with its fleet of vans and coaches. With its belief in providing safe, reliable, on-time transportation, the company has succeeded in maintaining its customer base and growing its contract base.

School buses in fleet: 6,500
Students transported daily: 200,000+
School district contracts: 200+
Company head: Domenic Gatto, president/CEO

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Read more about: Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., Durham School Services, First Student Inc., Student Transportation of America

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