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, 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?



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 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+


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.


Market Trends

Mike Antich
The Popularity of Euro-Style Vans to Put Upward Pressure on Euro-Metric Replacement Tire Costs

By Mike Antich
Sales of Euro-style vans exceeded total sales of traditional body-on-frame vans for the first time in 2015. This is an important milestone in the evolution of the fleet van market, but the rapid market share expansion of Euro-style vans will have a near-term impact on replacement tire availability, which, in turn, will exert upward pressure on pricing.

Flat Fuel Prices Forecast to Extend Through 2016

By Mike Antich

View All

Driving Notes

Paul Clinton
2016 Nissan Altima

By Paul Clinton
Nissan has given its top-selling Altima mid-size sedan a heavy refresh for 2016 for a model that has found a niche mostly among pharmaceutical fleets looking to provide their sales personnel a reliable, fuel efficient model with a bit of pizzazz.

Ram Heavy Hauling Event

By Chris Wolski

View All

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Safety Equipment: Taking the Lead

By Sherb Brown
We bang the drum for fleet safety a lot here at Automotive Fleet. It’s an area of top concern for most of our readers and for most of the suppliers that do business with them.

It's Not Just What You Know

By Sherb Brown

View All

Auto Focus

Chris Brown
How Will New Lease Accounting Rules Affect Small Fleets?

By Chris Brown
The move to put lease obligations on the balance sheet brings up questions on whether the change would affect a company’s ability to borrow money, its financial statements and the accounting of closed- and open-end leases.

Why the Optimism in Car Rental?

By Chris Brown

View All


Business Fleet Magazine - November/December 2015

Featured Articles Include: * Driver Safety 101: Braking, Steering and Scanning the Road * 2016 Medium-Duty Truck Trends * Pest Control Fleet Manages High Mileage and Heavy Loads

Up Next

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher