Peter Picknelly Biography Peter Pan Bus Founder
Peter Picknelly Biography Peter Pan Bus Founder Peter L. Picknelly, a longtime transit executive and real estate developer who built Peter Pan Bus Lines into the country’s largest privately owned bus company, died on Oct. 4 while vacationing in Portugal. He was 73 and a resident of Springfield, Mass. The cause was a stroke, his family announced.
Mr. Picknelly was chairman of Peter Pan Bus Lines, whose coaches glide through the Northeast bearing names like the Pixie Dust Express and the Neverland Star. Mr. Picknelly’s father, Peter C., started the business with two Buick limousines in 1933 and later named it after his son’s favorite storybook. Peter Picknelly Biography Peter Pan Bus Founder
Mr. Picknelly, who joined the company after high school and became its president at 33, built Peter Pan into a fleet of 400 buses. In the 1980′s and early 1990′s, he was also president of Springfield Transit Management, which operated all transportation from the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority station in Springfield.
In 1993, he started Picknelly Properties, a real estate development firm, and bought the Monarch Place office tower in Springfield, including the Sheraton Springfield Hotel. He bought Harrison Place, the city’s third-largest office tower, in 1997 and built the Hilton Garden Inn at the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Peter Louis Picknelly was born on Dec. 1, 1930, in Springfield. In addition to running Peter Pan, he was chairman of Coach Builders, which refurbishes buses; proprietor of the Eastern Leasing Company, which leases and finances vehicles; and chairman of the MassWest Insurance Company, which sold coverage largely to transportation companies.
When he died, he was working on restoring a historic building in downtown Springfield and turning it into a hotel.
Bus is a clipped form of the Latin word Omnibus. The latter name is derived from a hatter’s shop which was situated in front of one of the first bus stations in Nantes, France in 1823. “Omnes Omnibus” was a pun on the Latin sounding name of that hatter Omnès: omnes meaning “all” and omnibus means “for all” in Latin. Nantes citizens soon gave the nickname of Omnibus to the vehicle.When motorized transport replaced horse-drawn transport starting 1905, a motorized omnibus was called an autobus, a term still used.
Peter Pan Bus Lines is a long-distance bus carrier headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts. It operates in the northeastern United States. Over four million passengers per year travel on Peter Pan’s bus routes.
The company was founded as Yellow Cab Air Line in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the company remains based, and was purchased by Peter Carmen Picknelly in 1933. The Picknelly family still owns the company. The company logo is based on an illustration by Roy Best.
Peter Pan was affiliated with Trailways beginning in the 1990s, but ended that affiliation in 2005.
Peter Pan’s major service areas include: Boston, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Springfield, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and points in between. The operation south of New York City (other than Atlantic City casino service) began with an expansion in the early 1990s (after which the company joined the Trailways network). Schedules for 1994 showed an additional expansion to Norfolk, Virginia and Ocean City, Maryland via the Delmarva Peninsula, paralleling services operated by Carolina Trailways (which was owned by competitor Greyhound Lines), but this was very brief.
In 1999, an alliance was formed with Greyhound, coordinating schedules, marketing, and ticket sales.
Peter Pan’s Coaches consist mainly of vehicles manufactured by Motor Coach Industries. The fleet also consists of Van Hool coaches and some RTS buses which came along with their takeover of Coach USA’s Northeastern division companies, namely Arrow Line, Mini Coach of Boston, Maine Line, Pawtuxet Valley, and the Providence-based Bonanza in 2003. Maine Line was then sold to Cyr Bus, Pawtuxet Valley was closed and folded into Bonanza, and Mini Coach of Boston was renamed Peter Pan-Boston, and primarily serves the charter coach market in the Boston hub area.
Peter Carmine Picknelly, began his love for transportation in the early 1900’s as a chauffeur. In 1920, he went out on his own and started a small transit company called Orange Valley Bus Company in East Orange, NJ. Then, in 1925, Peter and three other Jitney operators decided to pool their resources and relocate to New England to start a larger transportation service in Hartford, CT, named Interstate Buses Corporation. After successfully launching and establishing that company, in 1932 he sold his interest in Interstate Buses Corporation to his partners and formed his own bus company in Springfield, MA … Peter Pan Bus Lines… in 1933. Peter Pan Bus Lines got its name from our founder’s children’s favorite bedtime story, Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie.
Peter Pan started with just four 1933 Buick Jitney vehicles. Peter Pan’s first route, Northampton to Boston via Stafford Springs, CT, was a circuitous route that took over 3 1/2 hours with a round trip fare of $3.50!
After years of battling with the State of Massachusetts, in 1940 Peter Pan finally won approval from the State to operate from Springfield direct to Boston via Route 20, cutting travel time to under 2 ½ hours.
In 1942, Peter’s younger brother, Bill Picknelly, joined the bus company; followed by Bill’s son, Carmen Picknelly, who took over the management of Peter Pan’s Maintenance Department. Today, Carmen’s son, Tom Picknelly, is our Senior Vice President of Maintenance; and Tom’s son, Joe Picknelly, the 4th generation of the Picknelly family to enter the business, is Manager of Inventory Control & Fleet Maintenance.
n 1957, when the Massachusetts Turnpike opened, the company gained authority to travel on this new express route between Springfield, MA and Boston, decreasing the travel time to less than 2 hours… as quick as the automobile and faster than the train… giving birth to the concept of affordable, convenient mass transit. During this time, the company’s routes expanded to include many more communities throughout Massachusetts.
1963 marked a milestone for Peter Pan Bus Lines as the company achieved $1 million in annual sales. At this point, Peter Pan’s fleet consisted of 28 buses.
In January of 1964, founder Peter C. Picknelly died leaving the company’s helm to his 33-year old son, Peter Louis Picknelly.
The next few years brought tremendous success and growth to Peter Pan, particularly due to the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City. Peter Pan offered “all-expense-included” tours from western Massachusetts and Connecticut to the New York World’s Fair. The tours were a phenomenal success for the newly formed Peter Pan World Travel Service, a division that brought substantial financial growth to the company.
On April 1, 1969, the Springfield Bus Terminal opened at 1776 Main Street, the current home of Peter Pan Bus Lines. It was the first bus terminal in the United States, from which Greyhound and Trailways both operated service, and spawned the concept of intermodal transportation.
Focusing on the success created by the World’s Fair, Peter Pan continued to expand its charter and tour business throughout the 60?s and 70?s. By the end of the 1970?s, tours and charters accounted for two-thirds of the company’s overall sales.
During the 80?s, Peter Pan experienced a major expansion, acquiring over a half-dozen competing transportation companies throughout New England. In 1982, Peter Pan also established Coachbuilders, the only bus body shop in the Northeast, offering complete repairs and restorations for its own fleet as well as those of other companies. Today, Coachbuilders is the largest bus rehabilitation facility in the northeast.
In August 1985, the company purchased Trailways New England, doubling the size of its scheduled service, and bringing Peter Pan into New York City for the first time. Today, New York City continues to remain the company’s #1 destination city. At this time, Peter Pan had office and garage locations in Boston and Central Connecticut as well as Springfield, MA, and over 500 employees and 150 buses. The company also partnered in charter bus operations in Atlantic City, NJ and West Palm Beach, FL.
Because of the company’s exemplary service and safety, Peter Pan was the only bus company in the country selected to transport then-1992 Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his running mate, Al Gore, for the “First 1,000 Miles” of their whistle-stop tour from the New York City Democratic Convention to the American heartland. This tour gave Peter Pan national media coverage, and a float featuring a Peter Pan motorcoach was included in the Inaugural parade in Washington, DC. Peter Pan buses continue to be selected for some of the most high-profile National events in the country such as the wedding of Chelsea Clinton, and Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral (to name a few). Because we continue to maintain the industry’s highest safety rating, we also transport many college and major league sports teams in the northeast.
In the 1990’s, Peter Pan acquired American Coach Lines in Washington, DC, opening an office and maintenance facility in our Nation’s capital, and expanding our scheduled service to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and other mid-Atlantic cities. This expansion in the 1990?s brought significant competition and intense “fare wars” between Peter Pan and Greyhound. Fares actually dropped as low as $5.00 between New York City and DC. This rivalry led to an alliance between Peter Pan and Greyhound in 1999 … the industry’s largest business alliance … that continues today.
In 2000, Peter L. Picknelly was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award … the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.
In 2001, Peter Pan opened a major office and maintenance facility in Secaucus, NJ, servicing its fleet as well as other bus company fleets in the Metro New York area.
In 2003, the company once again doubled in size by acquiring the New England division of Coach USA companies including Arrow Lines, Boston Coach and Bonanza Bus Lines, bringing the company’s fleet to over 300 vehicles and sales to over $2 million per week.
In 2005, Peter Pan purchased the Connecticut-based tour company, ShowBus Tours, expanding our offerings to include Broadway shows as well as Yankees and Red Sox baseball games and other popular ticketed events.
In 2007, Peter Pan and Greyhound cooperatively began a new bus service, BoltBus, to provide “city center to city center” service using internet-based sales and non-terminal pick-up locations. BoltBus vehicles feature WiFi, electrical plug-ins, and increased leg room. Today, BoltBus is one of the fastest growing and most successful bus companies in the United States.
In 2011, Peter Pan and Greyhound announced their new Northeast Express service … the industry’s only “first class” premium bus service that provides non-stop, direct service with a guaranteed seat for every customer. Customers ride on new, environmentally friendly buses equipped with onboard amenities such as free Wi-Fi, leather seats, extra legroom and power outlets. Express operates from dedicated gates and private waiting areas, where guest services specialists greet passengers and provide an extra level of service.
Today, Peter Pan is one of the largest privately owned intercity bus companies in the United States with the most modern fleet of buses numbering 300+ vehicles. Our new state-of-the-art, custom designed motorcoaches have changed bus travel forever. Peter Pan’s 1000+ employees include the best drivers in the industry. Our highly-trained drivers have been recognized nationally for their achievements in safety … see our section on “Safety & Drivers” to meet some of our award-winning One-, Two- and Three-Million Mile drivers! Peter Pan coaches travel over 25 million miles a year: The equivalent of nearly 100 trips to the moon annually… or one of our buses going around the world three times every day!
In recent years, the company has ventured into a variety of other industries:
• Camfour – wholesale sporting goods distributors
• Hill Country – wholesale sporting goods distributors
• Belt Technologies – high performance conveyor belt systems
• Century Woodworking – fine custom woodworking
• Architectural Windows & Doors
Other Picknelly family businesses include real estate holdings and hotel operations. Recently, the company expanded to include:
• PMP Air which provides private jet services
• The Green Cab which is comprised of a fleet of hybrid vehicles serving Western Massachusetts communities
• OPAL Real Estate Group which provides services such as Property Development and Property Management
Alec Baldwin’s diatribe against any and all companies in the travel industry is – like the wheels on the bus – going round and round.
The “30 Rock” star most recently offended Greyhound Bus Lines while issuing a half-apology for his unruly behavior aboard an American Airlines flight earlier this week.
“There are many now who walk the aisles of an airplane with a whistle around their neck and a clipboard in their hands and they have made flying a Greyhound bus experience,” the actor wrote in a Huffington Post blog of the strict airline personnel who booted him off the plane Tuesday. Peter Picknelly Biography Peter Pan Bus Founder Peter Picknelly is survived by his wife, Judith; a sister, Sister Peter Maria, of Chicopee, Mass.; a daughter, Mary Jean, of Longmeadow, Mass.; two sons, Peter A., of Springfield, and Paul C., of Hampden, Mass.; and seven grandchildren.