“Thank you for choosing to travel with Intercity STC Coaches Limited. We will do our best to make your trip as comfortable as possible. Please feel free to ask for any assistance you may require. Bon voyage.”
You probably would expect such announcement from a cabin crew member on an aircraft; but make no mistake, these days you do hear them on Intercity STC Coaches Limited (ISTC) buses.
The cabin crew idea is just one of the many fresh ideas being implemented to revamp ISTC.
It is on a pilot basis for now and available on only a couple of international routes but would eventually be rolled out on all the bus company’s routes across the country and beyond.
“Travelling is also about the environment you are in and how good you feel while on the move,” says Moses Asamoah, whose company, Focus Four Company Limited, is collaborating with ISTC to implement the cabin crew concept.
“Our focus is the comfort of the customer and that is why we feel obliged to raise the standard of road transport in this country to new, exciting heights.”
Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past, the first choice of most Ghanaians when travelling by road was, simply, ‘Transport.’ The shortened name for State Transport Corporation (STC) became another name for road safety.
Those who travelled on routes the corporation’s buses plied went to great lengths to obtain a seat on an STC bus. ‘Transport’ was the favourite of everyone: students, traders, salaried workers, families and organised groups.
Not only was STC synonymous with passenger safety, its service was dependable and one was also assured of comfort.
Travellers arriving at any STC terminus to board a bus were assured of a hassle-free environment where vehicles found ample space to park and discharge their loads; while identifiable and disciplined porters readily assisted passengers.
Even passengers who loved to jump onto a bus from their cars and get back into their cars immediately on returning from their trips had a park-and-ride service at their disposal.
The STC of the past had no competitor. With a fleet of 150 buses at a point, and capable of dedicating as many as 32 buses to the Accra–Kumasi route alone, buses departed and arrived on schedule to the satisfaction of clients.
Though the safety of its service and the comfort of using its terminal have not changed till date, some things did change along the line.
The state-owned corporation which used to have only government as the sole owner is now a limited liability company, with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and government as co-owners.
Over the past decade, the new company with the new name did struggle to maintain buses and the loyalty of its clients. At the beginning of 2014, SSNIT indicated to government its desire to offload its shares.
The government signalled to SSNIT to put its plan on hold by reconstituting the Board of Directors. Mr Samuel Nuamah Donkor was appointed as Managing Director (MD) in March 2014.
The Board and the new MD have over the past year explored several opportunities aimed at revamping the company to its flagship position.
The result of one of the several efforts is the alliance with Focus Four Company Limited. Besides providing Emirates Airline professionals to train the cabin crew, the company has already delivered some buses to ISTC with the support of SIC Life and Trust Financil Limited.
These are two 50–seater Mercedes Benz buses, which have already been commissioned into service; five Toyota Coaster midsize buses and 10 Toyota Hiace Superroof luxury mini buses. Three more Benz buses are due to arrive by the end of May.
In addition to securing buses to revamp its core service, ISTC is equally taking measures to enhance its affiliate services to improve revenue. These are parcel handling, driver training, park-and-ride service and the evaluation of all government vehicles, which service is also available to the public.
The company will this year commence operations as a Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) evaluation centre at its Kaneshie Terminus.
The main workshop at Kaneshie is also to be modernised and have its services commercialised in partnership with a private investor.
• The writer is an independent media consultant