Motorcoach Industry Looks to Congress to Keep Buses on the Road as Pandemic Wipes out Travel Demand
August 3, 2020
Across the United States, there are roughly 3,000 private bus companies. Most are small, family-owned or multi-generational ventures, offering an array of transportation services. Some are hired to transport the nation’s military troops to training exercises. Some take school sports teams to competitions. Others deliver first responders to hurricane zones and evacuees to safety.
Normally, the industry pulls in more than $15 billion annually; this year it’s on track to bring in $4 billion, according to American Bus Association CEO Pete Pantuso.
“We’ve gone to Congress and suggested that we need $10 billion in grants and $5 billion in loans, modeled very much after the airline program and the other stimulus programs that passed Congress the end of March,” Pantuso said. “Unfortunately, there was no money in those stimulus programs for the motorcoach industry. We were one of the only passenger transportation modes that was completely left out and completely left by the roadside.”
The bus companies are hoping the bills get folded into the stimulus package being negotiated in the nation’s capital. Without it, Pantuso said, as many as 40% of private bus companies could fold by the end of the year.
“It’s just a disaster,” Pantuso said. “Not only do these companies, and these families who have been running them for multi-generations, lose out, but the American public loses out because they lose a major part of the transportation network.”
Motorcoaches are part of the scenery on American highways, connecting small towns and major cities. They provide mass transit where there are no airports or train stations. And the rides are usually affordable, allowing students and senior citizens alike to get from small towns to urban centers.