Royal Excursion, a Mishawaka-based charter bus and luxury transportation provider, is looking at hiring Indiana Airport Supersaver employees and potentially using the same stops when it rolls out airport shuttle bus service between Northwest Indiana and O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport next year.
It's one of two companies racing to provide airport shuttle service to Chicago's airport, a fixture in Northwest Indiana for more than 40 years, after Coach USA North America shuts down its Chicago Trolley and Indiana Airport Supersaver service to O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International at the end of the year. A second, unnamed company approached Portage about using its city-owned bus stop with 35 parking spaces and a covered shelter at 2613 Irving St., Portage Mayor John Cannon said.
Royal Excursion spokesman Marc Raybin said the company plans to have talks with the owners of the Airport Supersaver stops in South Bend, Michigan City, Portage, Highland and Crestwood, Illinois. The bus company hopes to provide shuttle service to Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties, aiming to use the same stops travelers are already familiar with and accustomed to using if possible.
The bus company also is interested in potentially hiring at least some of the same employees who now work at Indiana Airport Supersaver.
“We have spoken with Coach USA and they invited us to speak with their employees and have been very cooperative," owner and president Shannon Kaser said.
Royal Excursion, which has a fleet of more than 100 buses doing corporate, wedding and group outings, hopes to launch the new bus service between Northern Indiana and Chicago's two major airports within 60 days. The company said it would be more modest at first but could grow over time.
Though a longtime staple that many use when traveling for cost and environmental reasons, airport shuttle buses have been suffering nationwide because of increased competition from Uber and Lyft. Phoenix-based SuperShuttle, whose iconic blue and yellow vans serve more than 60 airports in North America, also recently announced it is going out of business at the end of the year.