The monolithic bus that transported President Barack Obama through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois for three days as one of two purchased for the Secret Service, cost an estimated $1.1 million and was built by Prevost based in Quebec, Canada.
The New York Post provided the details. The top-of-the-line bus is the VIP H3-45, the same model used by many rock bands and country music acts and owned by Kid Rock, David Lee Roth and Kenny Rogers.
Like the presidential limousine, made by General Motors and nicknamed “The Beast,” the bus carrying the President has armored doors. Inside is a large, flat-screen TV, chairs, sofas and electronic equipment that allows the President to teleconference around the globe.
The bus is also equipped with a bathroom, but does not have a bedroom or sleeping area. Its Secret Service code name is “Stagecoach” when the President is on board, according to ABC News.
The luxury buses were purchased for $2.2 million from Hemphill Brothers Coach, of Tennessee. The Nashville company installed custom interior upgrades, accounting for about half the cost.
According to the newspaper, “The contract lists the country of origin as Canada and place of manufacture as ‘outside U.S. – Trade Agreements,’ a possible reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement.”
An ad on the Hemphill web site for a similar bus, costing $100,000 less than the presidential “Stagecoach,” describes the coach as “appointed with the finest materials and the latest in high tech electronics and was built for a top entertainer to travel efficiently without losing the luxuries of home. It is the perfect coach for entertainers, sports stars, NASCAR drivers, executive travel, or anyone accustomed to the very best.” The company lists Beyoncé, Cher, KISS, Van Halen, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and Pope Benedict XVI among its clients.
“It’s just a better situation for us rather than leasing something and then putting in temporary equipment,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the Post. The buses will remain in use by the Secret Service and will be available to others entitled to Secret Service protection, including the Republican nominee for President in 2012.