Visitors tour Go Riteway
Waupaca bus terminal holds open house
By Angie Landsverk
Community members visited Go Riteway Transportation Group’s new Waupaca terminal during an open house on Oct. 24.
“We’re thrilled to be here. We’re thrilled to be part of the community, and we hope we have a long-term partnership,” said Bob Zanotti, the company’s president.
The 6,000-square-foot building is at 1864 Godfrey Drive, in Waupaca’s business park.
Construction began last November and was completed in the summer.
The Waupaca School District began contracting with the company for its bus transportation services last school year.
“We’ve been a family-owned operation since 1957,” said Ron Bast.
His parents, Rollie and Pearl Bast, started the company that year with four school buses.
They serviced the Germantown School District, north of Milwaukee.
Today the company runs about 25 facilities in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan, he said.
“We thank you for becoming a part of our family,” Zanotti said.
Larger, more modern facility
Lee Nowicki is the operations manager of the Waupaca terminal.
He said the new facility has four bays for maintenance, compared to the two bays it had at is previous location.
“Before, we could barely get the buses in,” Nowicki said.
The maintenance area comprises about 4,000 square feet.
It has a high ceiling and high efficiency LED lights.
There are touch-free lights throughout the building for energy conservation, Nowicki said.
The check-in area for the drivers has a kitchenette.
The office space includes dispatch, a conference room and Nowicki’s office.
The parking lot is equipped for 42 cars and 38 buses, he said.
There are 31 buses at the terminal, with eight of them 2019 or 2020 models, he said.
The average age of the buses is 4.8 years old, Nowicki said.
He said 98% of them are 72-passenger capacity buses.
“All the buses are equipped with at least three cameras,” he said. “The goal is to put a fourth in.”
Prepared for winter
With the buses parked outside, each one has a spot to be plugged into during the colder times of the year.
The automatic timers kick in at 2 a.m., so the buses are guaranteed to start and be ready when drivers arrive, he explained.
When there are open bays in the maintenance area, drivers have the chance to park inside for a week.
“We started that this week,” Nowicki said at the open house.
Drivers are chosen through a lottery system that is based on driver attendance, safety and crashes, as well as attitude and customer service.
There are also four buses for special needs students and a 10-passenger van.
Nowicki said the van may be used by the school district, municipalities, businesses and for charters.
He noted there are a couple homeless families in the district who are currently living in a New London shelter.
The district uses the van to transport the students to and from school here.
“Within the organization, there are just over 1,100 school buses, and we continue to grow,” Nowicki said.
Most of those buses are in southeastern Wisconsin.
“More school districts are reaching out to Go Riteway,” Nowicki said. “We are interested in growing in central Wisconsin and north and west.”
Zanotti said one of the nice things about having so many locations is they help each other all the time.
The terminal managers have a 10 a.m. conference call to compare notes.
Drivers who want extra hours are able to pick up additional routes.
He said there are also such opportunities when high school athletic teams go to state.
Next July, the Democratic National Convention will be in Milwaukee.
Zanotti said Go Riteway is renting a dorm at Carthage College, in Kenosha for its drivers.
“We will have hundreds of vehicles supporting that event,” he said. “It will be our largest black car operation in Wisconsin. Those will be on the road 24/7.”
The company’s motorcoach fleet expanded this year.
On March 1, Go Riteway purchased the Indiana-based Cardinal Coach.
“It was a family company looking for a like minded company,” Zanotti said.
Go Riteway also purchased Lazers Bus Service on Oct. 1.
Zanotti said the company’s motorcoach fleet is now upwards of 150, including motor and mini coaches.
“These are opportunities that we will bring to Waupaca,” he said.