PRO - Pacific Railcar Operators
A Non-Profit NARCOA affiliate serving the West
Pricing for Motorcar Excursions
There has been considerable interest in how pricing may be determined for motorcar excursions, particularly where the pricing strategy may not be too obvious!
- Basic Railroad Charge: The railroad has a basic charge for the use of its track: This varies considerably from railroad to railroad, and at times is based upon seemingly arbitrary factors. The charges are variably based upon per car, a per car charge with a minimum total, or a global charge with no maximum or minimum number of participants. Some charges are in the line of routine business, while others may be based upon public relational and community issues.
- Track Mileage: Also involved in the railroad’s charges is the length and quality of the trackage, and how long the track will be occupied: For instance, the good quality and high scenery value of the McCloud is inherently more valuable than a similar length of lesser quality trackage traversing a congested urban area with multiple grade crossings. Occupying track 40 miles of track for one day may considerably different than occupying 80 miles; or, occupying the same or different track for two days may bring some discount for the second day.
- Number of Motorcars Participating: In a general fashion, the more participants, and the lower the possible price. Once the required minimum is earned, additional motorcars may be "free" under certain circumstances, the income from which can prospectively underwrite the expenses of all. This is limited when still beyond the minimum, the railroad still requires a very high charge per motorcar each.
- Amenities: portable toilets set out at about 25-45 mile intervals have an average global cost of about $250 per usual longer excursion, with remoteness of location upping the price considerably, sometimes to about $500. These are costs that the memberships have been willing to accept.
- Insurance: $75 per insured entity is charged by the NARCOA insurance program. If the set on location, or a location for lunch, etc. needs also to be covered, there are additional @$50 charges.
- Administrative: Copying and mailing costs are up to about $5-6/operator, depending upon the extent of materials prepared.
- Coordinator: The coordinator usually "goes free" in return for his work and assumption of accountability (although all have at times given up this privilege when the finances for any given trip are tight).
- Profit: Many, if not most of the motorcar clubs plan for a return to the club of $10/excursion/car- the income of which provides the "cushion" in the future for the underwriting of those important trips for which there may a loss, and/ or for services that the club may want to provide its membership beyond what the dues may allow.
PRO intends to largely, but not exclusively, concentrate on excursions with a more limited participation and professional leadership: Most PRO trips are likely to be limited to 20 or 25 motorcars, while others may be operated with as few as 10 or as many as 30 or 35. The reasons for this are many: Such small groups can more safely engage in the more ambitious excursions that PRO wishes to explore; and the smaller numbers enable excursions to be operated more efficiently and are managed more easily. The smaller excursions also tend to be faster paced, more flexible, and have the safety advantages inherent to a more limited cohesive group.
In conclusion, motor car excursion costs will be a function of mileage, condition of track, and inverse function of the number of people who may attend. With PRO's small groups and quality track, we are likely to have higher costs for the operators who attend our excursions. The club’s excursions will be led and planned by some of the most experienced and recognized coordinators and leaders in the hobby. This alone provides an extraordinarily high level assurance of competence, safety, and good schedule keeping. Both they and any PRO officer will be happy to answer your questions at any time.
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