Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

How C-SPAN Manages A Cross-Country Fleet

July 2013, by Joanne Tucker - Also by this author

C-SPAN turns Ford Transit Connects into Local Content Vehicles (LCVs), the wheels driving a media project that captures stories of literary and historic significance from across the U.S.
C-SPAN turns Ford Transit Connects into Local Content Vehicles (LCVs), the wheels driving a media project that captures stories of literary and historic significance from across the U.S.

From the iconic C-SPAN, its Local Content Vehicles (LCVs) are the wheels driving a media project that is mapping out the literary and historical riches of cities across the U.S.

While it would be easy to write a full article on the news project itself (which can be checked out online at www.c-span.org/LocalContent), we at Business Fleet were more intrigued by the LCV fleet of six Ford Transit Connects. Since launching in 2010, the LCVs have traveled to at least 24 cities, and the team has produced at least 425 programs.

So how does C-SPAN manage six vans traveling across the country to produce and edit content on the spot?

 

BEYOND D.C.

In 2010, nonprofit C-SPAN started the LCV project with one Transit Connect, says Mark Farkas, a C-SPAN producer who leads the project. “When the Gulf oil spill happened, we realized we needed to expand our reach beyond Washington, D.C. — we needed to be able to shoot and edit things from the road,” Farkas says.

As the project grew, that one vehicle quickly grew to three, and the fleet traveled together city to city.

But now with six Transit Connects under C-SPAN ownership, the fleet is separated into two teams — three vehicles each and one person per vehicle. One team sticks around the West Coast while the other roams on the East.

Every vehicle is equipped with video production and editing equipment for quick turnaround of the footage for each featured city.

Each team is typically in every city for about a week and then flies back to D.C. between gigs, leaving the vans behind. C-SPAN uses its local cable company station partners and local city governments not only to broadcast the segments on local channels, but also to help house the Transit Connects between filming. C-SPAN also gets help from local city governments throughout the filming process.

C-SPAN decided against issuing fuel cards to drivers, and instead, each person has an American Express corporate card and files expense reports as needed. C-SPAN uses AAA for roadside service and maintains the vehicles, which are all still under warranty, at Ford dealerships.

 

THE CHALLENGES

The equipment probably costs just as much as the vans themselves, so most of it is taken out between projects. But leaving the vehicles sitting can still be risky since they often hang out for two to three weeks before moving on. At the beginning of the project, Farkas says they tried out an expensive alarm system, though it ended up drawing too much power from the battery. And installing solar panels on the tops of the vehicles didn’t seem to help.

Now that the LCVs have returned to a standard alarm system, Farkas says they’re trying to find another use for the panels, aside from just powering the AC. According to Farkas, one obvious use won’t work — powering up video equipment on the road. “I’m sure if we got really creative, we could find another use for them,” he says, but in the meantime they don’t take much maintenance and are hardly visible.

At this point, the equipment and risk management is the least of Farkas’ worries. Per motor vehicle laws in Washington, D.C., the vehicles must return every year to the capital for annual inspections. Only once in a vehicle’s lifetime does D.C. law allow a vehicle to receive an out-of-state inspection. “That’s our biggest challenge right now,” says Farkas.

Surprisingly, the vehicles don’t rack up too much mileage. Farkas says even their first-purchased vehicles, 2010-MY vans, only have 40,000 miles so far. “They will last us for a while,” he says.

Twitter Facebook Google+

Comments

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
 
 

  1. 1. William Slade [ November 03, 2013 @ 08:45PM ]

    How do I get a job as driver for c-span. I will be moving to Florida from California about the first of 2014.

 

Fleet Incentives

Determine the actual cost of owning and running a vehicle in your fleet. Compare vehicles by class and model.

FleetFAQ

Fleet Management And Leasing Experts

The expert, Merchants Experts, will answer your questions

View All
Sponsored by

The vehicle is shipped from a fleet to an upfitter to add equipment. The completed vehicle is then transported back to the customer's location.

Read more

Blog

Market Trends

Mike Antich
Model-Year Versus Calendar-Year Terminology

By Mike Antich
One challenge to global fleet management is adjusting to different fleet terminology for different regions. One example is the difference between the use of “model-year” and “calendar-year” in describing the year of a fleet vehicle.

Payload Requirements Are the Foundation to Properly Spec’ing a Truck

By Mike Antich

View All

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2017 Land Rover Discovery

By Paul Clinton
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery brings subdued luxury and impressive off-road capability to the executive board room.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

By Paul Clinton

View All

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Are You a Fleet Manager or Are You Just Managing a Fleet

By Sherb Brown
Every fleet is different. Most of the service providers in our market realize this and do their best to tailor their solutions to meet the needs of today’s fleet and purchasing managers. But no one can really understand your organization’s goals better than you.

Five Unpredictions for 2017

By Sherb Brown

View All

Auto Focus

Chris Brown
Recall Repairs Are Not Afterthoughts

By Chris Brown
It's easy for small commercial fleet operators to neglect recall repairs. If "fleet" isn't your first business priority, recalls must be.

What Does the Future Hold for Fleet Sales to Car Rental?

By Chris Brown

View All

STORE

Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher