Cherrey receives industry award; company heading to Olympics

When spectators and athletes are shuttled to Olympic events in Vancouver next month, some will be riding on buses from Mapleton Township.

Cherrey Bus Lines, which has its headquarters in?Dray­ton, is one of eight Ontario operators that successfully bid on a transportation contract offered by the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC).

The group will provide 32 of the 700 buses required by VANOC, with Cherrey’s providing five coaches and ten drivers who will provide services 22 hours a day from Feb. 8 to 28. The Cherrey buses will depart on?Feb 1, arrive in Vancouver on the Feb. 5 for two days of training, and return to Ontario on March 4.

“We’re just finalizing the details now,” said owner Allan Cherrey, who added he is excited to be part of the Olympic Games.

He explained the buses have to meet VANOC’s safety and security requirements and also must be fitted with winter tires and be able to run with chains, if required. He said Ministry of Transportation officials will be re-inspecting the buses next week to ensure compliance.

While transporting Olympic athletes and spectators is new for Cherrey Bus Lines, the company performed similar work for Gameday Manage­ment Group – also the VANOC contract manager – in the past for the Superbowl.

Participating in the Olym­pics is yet another highlight in a long list of accomplishments for Cherrey Bus Lines, which was started in?Drayton by Cherrey’s father, Alva, in the late 1940s.

Cherrey, who was born into the business, was recently award­ed the Lifetime Achieve­ment Award from the Ontario Motor Coach Association (OMCA) during a recent ceremony in London.

“I was quite surprised,” said Cherrey, who had no clue the OMCA had approved the nomination from his daughter, Deborah Scrimgeour.

“It’s something that’s an honour when it comes from an industry and the association.”

He’s done it all with the family company, from serving as a second generation mech­anic licensed since 1969, to washing buses, to starting trips at the break of dawn, to dispatching and operation.

“He is the hardest working person that I know,” Scrim­geour, now the company vice president, said in her submission to the OMCA. “I don’t know how he does it and I strive to be half as good as he is.”

At the OMCA ceremony Cherrey was lauded for his ongoing investment and dedication to adapt to business changes, which presenter Jamie Murray said is impressive considering Cherrey started out completing many tasks with just a paper and pencil.

Yet despite his busy schedule, Cherrey has also made the time to volunteer for the OMCA as director of the board, secretary-treasurer, vice chair, chairman and chair of the executive committee.

He has also served on a host of OMCA committees – and all that is in addition to his volunteer efforts in?Mapleton?Town­ship, including time spent on the board of directors for the Drayton?Festival Theatre.

During the ceremony, Mur­ray noted Cherrey is “leaving a strong mark on our industry, making it stronger, safer and more recognized with both government and the public at large.” 

Cherrey said he was very proud and humbled to receive the award.

“I’m honored to be a small operator representing a provincial association,” Cherrey said. “It’s great to have all the people at the conference along with MCI [Motor Coach Industries]. It’s like a huge family that has developed.

“This industry is huge in one way, but small in another. Our relationships are the strength of what we do.”

Cherrey Bus Lines started in the 1940s with a single school bus. The company purchased its first new coach bus in 1976 and grew quickly.

Today it  offers transportation services across Ontario, including Toronto and Ham­ilton, and two travel agencies, Maxey Travel and Robin Hood Tours.