$6 BILLION NEEDED TO PRESERVE AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE AND ENVORINMENTALLY FRIENDLY TRANSPORTATION OPTION
The American Bus Association (ABA), along with nine other organizations representing the motorcoach, school bus and passenger vessel industries, today sent a letter to House and Senate leadership warning that the beleaguered industry may not survive without additional funding in the forthcoming reconciliation package. Specially, the bus industry is seeking $6 billion in order to preserve an affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly form of transportation that millions of American families, military members and school children depend upon.
“The motorcoach, school bus and passenger vessel industries were, and continue to be, severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, suffering catastrophic losses, and laying off tens of thousands of workers,” the letter states. “These businesses have tried to hold on these past 17 months and dig out from the financial setbacks of last year, only now to face additional setbacks due to the spread of the COVID variant. At this point, these industries will likely not see recovery, let alone a “normal” business environment, until at least 2023.”
Last December, Congress provided the bus industry with $2 billion through the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services or CERTS program, which was passed as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of FY 2022. While this initial funding provided some relief, the program was quickly oversubscribed as the bus industry suffered losses of nearly $9 billion in 2020 alone.
“Although our industries are grateful for the $2 billion provided for CERTS, which enabled thousands of companies to retain and rehire employees, the grant program was oversubscribed such that only about 20% of the need will be met. The Treasury Department was forced to prorate the awards, with final grant amounts covering only a fraction of the losses these companies are bearing, which are again on the rise due to the ongoing nature of this pandemic. Our industries cannot survive and maintain our workforce under this load and need additional help,” the letter continued.
American families, military members and schools rely on the bus industry for affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly transportation. In total, the U.S. bus industry carries more than 200 million passengers annually.
“Private motorcoach companies provide critical transportation services across the country, reducing congestion for urban centers while providing reliable and affordable transportation to millions of commuters and intercity travelers; connecting rural and underserved communities to jobs, education and critical services; supporting tourism and providing group travel for myriad organizations; moving the military and their equipment, including the transport of active duty military and National Guard forces to protect the U.S. Capitol and Washington, D.C.; and serving as a vital resource to the emergency response community for natural disasters, including wildfires and hurricanes,” the letter notes. “The private school bus industry provides nearly 40% of the nation’s school bus service in 200,000 yellow school buses to 26 million children every day, who rely on the school bus as their primary way to get to and from school in the safest way possible.”
“On behalf of the motorcoach, school bus and vessel industries, and all their employees, we urge you to include an additional $6 billion in funding for the CERTS program in the reconciliation package,” the letter concludes.
The letter’s signatories include: American Bus Association, Amalgamated Transit Union, United Motorcoach Association, National School Transportation Association, Passenger Vessel Association, U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Eastern States Joint Board-AFLCIO (Local 222, 298), Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (Local 108).
The full letter is available here.