CC motor coach plans to offer $3 ’dividends’ to passengers

The CC Motor Coach Service will issue a $3 dividend per ticket to its customers for the 2002-03 academic year in response to an unforeseen projected profit of $11,000.

According to Drew Newman ’04, executive director, the unusually large surplus stems from increasing the number of departures from New York City, better management and improved efficiency. However, since the service is not a for-profit organization, much of the surplus will be returned to the community.

With the exception of students who purchased Motor Coach tickets at last-chance sales, all customers who used the service during the 2002 – 03 school year will have two options: their term bills will either be credited $3 per ticket purchased or the money will be donated to the community. Specifically, pending approval of the dividend plan by the Dean’s Office and the College Controller, the Motor Coach officers will send out e-mails this week informing students of the size of their dividend according to a master list of customers and sales. If students do not reply to the e-mail, their dividend will be earmarked for donation to the College Council (CC) General Fund and the Lehman Community Service Council (LCSC) to be distributed amongst local Berkshire County charities. If students want the term bill credit, they must reply to the e-mail in order to get the refund. According to documents released by the Motor Coach service, the smallest dividend being issued is $3 and the largest is $27.

Upon determining that the service had a large surplus, Newman initially wanted to issue a cash dividend to student SU boxes, but policies governing College organizations made that unfeasible.

“College policy prohibits me from issuing cash refunds,” Newman said. “We can post credits to term bills; however, as many students won’t see $9 posted to their term bills, our plan is to split the funds between the College Council General Fund, which will use the funds to support future student activities, and the Lehman Community Service Council, which will use the funds to make donations to Berkshire County charities in need.”

Money from the CC General Fund is allocated by the CC Finance Committee and is used to fund the many student groups on campus.

Of the projected $11,000 surplus, slightly more than half will be issued in dividends.

“At the dividend rate of $3, our total dividend declared will be $5,751,” said Newman in an e-mail.

Newman said he expects students to request approximately $1,000 of the dividend money to be refunded as term-bill credit and expects to split the remaining evenly between the CC General fund and LCSC. Of the remaining surplus, the Motor Coach will reinvest $1,500 into the service to create a new ticket-less reservation system and retain a financial buffer of about $5,000 for next year’s costs.

Also, in response to this year’s large surplus and projections of ticket sales for next year, the Motor Coach will decrease its ticket prices for the 2003-04 academic year. However, prices, which are governed by competing bids from local charter bus operators, have not been finalized as of this printing.

According to Newman, the Motorcoach service is “an independently registered student organization of Williams College, separate from but affiliated with [CC], charged with transporting students to and from campus during academic breaks.”

No charter governs the operation and affiliation of the Motor Coach service, but informal links between CC and the Motor Coach do exist. “I keep [CC officers] regularly updated and let them know what is going on,” Newman said. “And they oversee our operations and finances to make sure everything is legitimate while letting my staff and I run our business. . . In the past, our small profits have only been used when the CC officers and I reach a consensus.”

In response to the large surplus, the responsibility created by having control over such large amounts of money and the lack of structure of the Motorcoach service, Newman has plans to develop a formalized structure for the organization.

“One problem with CC Motor Coach. . . is that we have no charter, bylaws or anything else governing our operations – in this case, telling us what to do with our profit,” Newman said. “As I think our system works very well now, I hope to codify our operations and relationship with CC in a charter this summer.”