GLADWIN (WWJ) – A routine tour bus trip from Michigan to Ohio turned into an international story for one Gladwin tour bus operator.
WWJ spoke with Roger Haines, who has owned and operated the Haines Tours in Gladwin, Michigan for 25 years. On Friday, Haines was stopped in Ohio and ticketed after someone reported seeing passengers come out of the luggage area at a rest stop.
“We were ahead of schedule (and stopped for refreshments) when we opened the door to let our family out – someone reported us,” said Haines.
Haines says that the area under the bus is a sleeper area and the only passengers in it at the time were: his wife, their daughter and her husband and their two kids – who were just along for the trip and not paying passengers.
Haines says that they’ve never taken passengers in the ‘sleeper’ area, it’s used for family or for a second driver on long trips.
“The sleeper has lights, air conditioning, a mattress, pillows, a portable potty, cooler, seat belt and two-way communication,” said Haines.
Asked about the local reaction, Haines says that some have been skeptical but most people who know the tour operators are just having a joke out of it.
The Associated Press reports that Haines also was cited last year during a compliance review after Transportation officials learned a section of a bus luggage compartment was used as an unauthorized sleeping berth for drivers.
“Despite being warned in August, 2010 that it cannot transport people in the luggage compartment of its buses in violation of federal regulations, it continues to place people in the luggage compartment,” Friday’s order said.
Haines expects to be Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant by Wednesday and back in business.