With more than 50 percent of American adults vaccinated, people are once again booking trips to museums, restaurants, beaches and theaters. However, there is one essential sector of the economy not yet able to make a comeback, in fact it is still struggling just to survive.
The U.S. motorcoach industry was decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This industry, which until 2020 moved 600 million passengers annually – nearly as many passengers as the domestic airlines – came to a standstill in March 2020. Today, more than 15 months into the pandemic, motorcoach companies are seeing fewer than 30 percent of their business return. Many of our 100,000 employees are still out of work, these are skilled workers such as mechanics, drivers, and administrative workers, who are still unable to come back to their jobs because their businesses have yet to fully re-open their doors.
More than 25 percent of the motorcoach industry has gone under since the pandemic hit. That is nearly 800 small, family-owned businesses that are no longer able to serve their communities by transporting workers to their jobs, helping families to reconnect, getting children to school, rescuing Americans from natural disasters, and moving our military troops around the country and bringing them back home.
Industry leaders predict the motorcoach industry will have a slow recovery and will not be back to full strength before 2023. We are grateful to Congress, which committed $2 billion to our industry to help us survive the pandemic. This government funding is crucial, as the pandemic has also caused the value of our companies and buses to fall by as much as 50 percent, which makes it hard to qualify for conventional loans to keep our businesses afloat. However, we are deeply concerned the funds allocated to the program will be insufficient to address the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon our industry.
Times remain desperate for our industry and our employees. If we cannot stabilize the industry and stave off a complete collapse, communities across the country will be impacted. If we cannot stay in business, we cannot employ local residents; we cannot pay taxes; we cannot provide equitable, affordable and environmentally friendly transportation; we cannot participate in the economic recovery as a vital part of each city and state's, and our country’s tourism industry.
The motorcoach industry is pleading with Congress and the Biden Administration to stand up once again for our small businesses who have been left behind during the recovery, and people who rely on these businesses for affordable and equitable means of transportation.