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Goodall’s Charter Bus Service

We posted some photos from our Crown Coach collection of the Goodall’s on Facebook, and got this great story in return from  Goodall’s former  Operations Director Robert Berkstresser:

Goodall’s started in April of 1956.  Owned and operated by James C “Chuck” Ruane.

Coincidently he was a friend of Jack Goodall CEO of Foodmaker. ( Jack in the box) Apparently, Jack liked to say he was the owner as a joke once in a while when asked. At least that was my understanding.

Goodall’s made their mark and took off with a major Boy Scout trip to Colorado in the late 50’s. Goodall’s predominantly used Crown Coaches and School buses, although Ruane did have a few 4104 GMC coaches,  up to about 1970 when he bought a used MC-7.

Ruane’s Crown coaches were three 40 foot three axle coaches and I believe 4 35 ft, coaches with 220 Cummins. The 40 footers had 8V-71 Detroit’s. He ran a very successful commuter service to San Onofre power plant for a number of years using ex greyhound MC-5’s.

Ruane expanded the School bus operation in the 70s with contracts with San Diego Unified and field trip work with Ramona, Grossmont, San Dieguito and various other county school districts to varying degrees. He maintained two contracts with private schools. St Didacus  and Christian High school.

Ruane’s first new MCI coach purchase started in 1976 with two MC-8’s. He added two coaches a year from MCI through 1990.

Ruane once again expanded The Crown bus fleet with increased contract exposure from City schools. ( SD)

In 1987 Ruane purchased Two Gillig Phantom’s. V -92 mechanical engines. The following year he purchased 4 more with the DDEC.  Most drivers preferred the Gillig for comfort and overall diving pleasure. The first two were boosted with 9G-90 injectors at my direction and were proper hot rods!

Ruane purchased the final Crowns in August / Sept. of 1990. His first 3 Axle Crown  was a 1969 5 speed 220 Cummins numbered 911. He number his school busses (passenger capacity) then order of acquisition.  78 pass number 1 = 781 etc.

Ruane purchased the Grayline Franchise in 1988 and received a large commuter contract with the county of San Diego in 1989. We also had a satellite operation in El Centro, Ca, and housed two coaches out there at all times. That marked the height of Operations.  

Ruane was the sole owner for over 40 years and outlasted the other two longtime bus operators. Aztec  and Kopecky.

Mr. Ruane Sold at the exact right time to Coach USA during their acquisition craziness. This was about 2000. A few years later Coach USA closed operations in San Diego. Mr. Ruane passed in about 2009.  

One of the Crowns has been fantastically restored into a Mobil office owned by Mr. Greg Marvel. I believe it was originally 781 maybe 2.  

I was fortunate enough to get my hands on 785  when I was the Transportation director at Escondido Unified High school District. We repowered it with an 855 big cam and a fuller RTO10 spd. It was a 78 passenger and I am confident the fastest Crowns in California at the time. It has since been crushed for Grant money.

I served as Goodall’s Operations Director for 10 years. After stint with Mark IV as a division Manger in San Diego. I started as a bus operator with Goodall’s in 1975. Little did I know it was a career in the making.  I guess that ends my Wikipedia page LOL

– Robert Berkstresser




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