ADQ Custom Feature
Labrador Lines Brings Back Low-Cost Passenger Service
by John Nowak
HTML conversion by Tim C. and Odette Morrison, June 1997
Not well known in the western section of North America, Labrador Lines has spread quietly throughout the Eastern United States -- today, this Canadian bus line is the most successful on the North American continent. Labrador's small red buses embellished with a silhouette of a sitting labrador dog have become a common sight on northern and eastern roads.
"Naturally, we're thrilled," said Labrador's president, James Duggan, in an exclusive interview with Autoduel Quarterly. "We attribute our success to low rates, good drivers, and the finest vehicle design and strategy in commercial transport."
A Labrador Lines minibus caries only six paying passengers, yet Labrador buses are far cheaper to maintain and purchase than the average road dreadnought.
"In fact," Duggan stared, "a Labrador bus costs about fifty thousand U.S. dollars, significantly less than some Unlimited duelling vehicles and only slightly more than half the cost of certain police interceptors."
There are those who claim this low per-vehicle cost is the result of stripping the buses, making them easy targets.
"I'd just like to say something about that," Duggan said. "I get very angry when people accuse me of basing our low rates on pushover trucks. It never makes sense to design a weak bus, because any money you save in arms you lose due to hijacks. Our buses are inexpensive, not cheap.
"Besides, it's well known that Labrador has me most extensive Q-Bus program outside of the RCMP. A significant percentage of our vehicles are actually very heavily armed and able to deal with most situations. The buses and Q-Buses are indistinguishable. Any attackers will not know what they're dealing with until it's too late. Bandits know this. Labrador is no pushover. Our low rates are based on the fact that most big buses run half-empty most of the time. Smaller buses give us flexibility in scheduling runs."
Labrador has been able to move its operations into New York State because of that state's recent (March 2036) easing of vehicular weapons restricitons. Now, permits are available from the State Police which allow certain vehicles to mount weaponry. This, of course, negates the necessity of transferring cargo and passengers to ungunned transport vehicles at the state line which has, some claim, unduly discouraged interstate commerce with the Empire State.
"Our tactics were designed by a military man; a general in the United States Army, as a matter of fact," Duggan continued. "We guarantee, absolutely, that Labrador Lines will retaliate against any ambush or hijack attempt on our people and our passengers. Our security record is not only good, it is the best of any bus line in North America. Besides, combat situations don't really happen that often. We find that most people who live in the cities have an exaggerated view of road hazards. Maybe one run in twenty draws fire."
Will Labrador be expanding to me Southwest? "We really don't have any immediate plans to do so," Duggan said. "We're currently engaged in consolidating the trafic in areas we already service. Eventually, of course, we hope to expand."
Labrador's trademark is the minibus. Are there any plans to graduate to running big buses?
"That term 'graduate' is interesting. Labrador is a big business, but we got that way by catering to places the other bus companies ignored. Big buses simply don't mate sense if you're only carrying five passengers. There aren't that many regular runs which can be relied on to fill a big bus; most of the people who travel use their own cars. In fact, we're discussing a caravan service, where vacationers driving their own cars can convoy with a Labrador bus going the same way." Has James Duggan ever ridden Labrador Lines buses as a passenger?
"If we go there, I ride us. There's not a piece of
equipment we buy which I haven't ridden in. I've driven Labrador
buses and Q-buses myself through several firefights. And,
well," he grinned. "I'm still here, and I'll do it
Labrador buses are fairly common in Canada and the eastern United States, and are never (so far) seen west of the Mississippi. Normally speaking, a Labrador bus encountered at random has one chance in six of being a Q-Bus. If a Labrador has been taken in the area, or if the area is known to be dangerous, this chance rises to two in six. Labrador's combat air wing is small and is constantly being shuttled around the continent: if a Labrador bus is taken, they will retaliate against some outlaw gang in the area. It may not be the one which incurred Labrador's wrath, but nobody particularly minds except the gang at Ground Zero.
Labrador Bus -- Mini Bus, Hvy. chassis, small truck plant, solid tires; driver, gunner; MG in turret, two linked RL front, two linked MD R, L; Hi-Res computer (gunner), Fire Extinguisher, LD radio, six ten-pt. wheelguards, six passengers. Armor: F40 (ramplate), B40, U25, 30 in all other locations. Cargo capacity: 1 space, 50 lbs. (used for crew's hand weapons). Accel. 2.5 (5 above 25 mph), HC 0, $49,960, 13,150 lbs.
Labrador Q-Bus -- Mini Bus, Ex-Hvy. chassis, small truck plant, solid tires; driver, gunner; Hvy-Laser in 3-sp pop-up turret; two linked Spear 1000 minedroppers with extra magazine (total of ten mines each) R, L; two linked RL front, each with extra targeting laser, 8 AP grenades, Improved Fire Extinguisher, Cyberlink, (Gunner with targeting laser for combined to-hit number of 2), two HR computers, anti-paint tinted windshield, IR, LD radio, radar, six ten-point LR/FP wheelguards. LR/FP armor; F50 (ramplate), B50, R30, L30, T30, U20. Cargo capacity: 3 spaces, 157 lbs. (used for the crew's hand weapons). Accel. 2.5 (5 above 25 mph). HC 0, $121,000, 14,243.
These vehicles cannot be discriminated with a casual external inspection, the only type possible when a vehicle is moving. A character able to stand next to the bus for two minutes may try to distinguish the two types: this is a Moderate job for a mechanic. The Q-Bus has a phony MG turret stuck on top of the pop-up turret: if the fake turret is hit by gunfire, even hand weapon fire, it will be blown clear off on a 1d6 roll less than or equal to the damage done by the weapon. The crew is trained to consider such a prank to be a full-fledged attack, and will retaliate bloodily.
Labrador Lines truckers tend not to get involved in fights which do not concern them: after all, they are heavily reliant on the enemy's uncertainty as to what they are dealing with in order to survive. However, they are members of the Brotherhood, and will help a fellow member, though more reluctantly than most.