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.

Compare

Blog

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2014 BMW i3 EV

By Paul Clinton
Just about everything that goes into BMW's 2014 i3 may seem impractical, such as its broad use of exotic materials, bulbous shape with coach doors, and range limit. Yet, this vehicle is an automotive engineering marvel that's also a fun, smooth drive.

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Compact Car

By Chris Wolski

View All

Market Trends

Mike Antich
Upfit Lightweighting is More Complex Than Simply Reducing Weight

By Mike Antich
When used in the manufacture of truck bodies and van equipment, lightweight materials, such as thinner gauge high-strength steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic composites, enable fleets to reduce vehicle weight to improve fuel economy, increase legal payload, and even drop down to a smaller (often more fuel-efficient) vehicle.

Procurement and Fleet Don't Speak the Same Language

By Mike Antich

View All

Chatty Chassis

Lauren Fletcher
Rightsizing is Not the Same as Downsizing

By Lauren Fletcher
Rightsizing is used almost synonymously with downsizing; however, just look at the two words and you can immediately see that they are not the same.

What Drives You to be a Better Fleet Manager?

By Lauren Fletcher

View All

Auto Focus

Chris Brown
What Makes a Good Dealership Rental Manager?

By Chris Brown
Car dealerships thinking about starting a rental program should consider these seven points before making their first key decision, hiring a rental manager.

5 Work Truck Trends (and One Game-Changing Innovation)

By Chris Brown

View All

STORE

Business Fleet - January/February 2015
$12.95

Featured Articles Include: * Which EV Models Return Favorable Ownership Costs? * 2015 Resale Forecast For Cars, Vans and Trucks * When Renting Trucks Makes Sense

Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher