DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development recently released a report outlining the dire situation currently facing the motorcoach industry.
In the report, Chaddick Institute Director Joe Schwieterman writes:
A wave of shutdowns has rocked the sector. A few examples: Coach USA is permanently closing Lakefront Lines, the largest bus company in the state of Ohio, which will eliminate 339 jobs. Many commuter bus companies remain shut and those that have restarted are operating at a fraction of normal service, as low as 10 percent. New Jersey’s DeCamp Bus Lines, which carried more than 1.5 million commuters annually in an out of Manhattan before the pandemic as well as operates many charter trips, is suspending the last of its service tomorrow.
Bus lines are being delivered a one-two punch. First, the modest rebound enjoyed in June has stalled. According to Polina Raygorodskaya, CEO of Wanderu, a leading ground-travel metasearch platform, the demand for bus-ticket purchases in July was still less than 20 percent of that during that same month in 2019. Demand for charter is less than 10 percent and does not appear to be coming back before the end of 2020 and well into 2021.
Second, the value of equipment has taken a nosedive, leaving balance sheets in precarious shape and making borrowing more difficult. Unfortunately, loans offered through the CARES Act, which might have closed the gap, have been so restrictive that many carriers opted not to pursue them.
Our assessment, informed by research provided by the American Bus Association, indicates that, 30-40 percent of the national bus network could disappear without financial relief. Underserved populations, including people of color, rural communities, people with disabilities and older Americans, would be cut off from their most affordable source of mobility and prevented from participating fully in the economy. We are staring at that possibility, perhaps only a few weeks away.
The gap the federal aid provided to public transit, airports, and air carriers and that provided to motor coach operators needs to be closed to avoid large-scale closures.
Relief will require assistance on multiple fronts but must include aid in next federal stimulus bill, which is now being formulated. What happens on Capitol Hill is impossible to predict, so we are stepping up our outreach to policymakers. We hope you do the same, helping spread the word about the sector’s worsening situation.
Many jobs hang in the balance. Research prepared by Dunham & Associates for ABA indicates that without a strong recovery (and without governmental financial relief), 78 percent of jobs in the charter-bus sector will be lost during the next year and around 65 percent will be lost in the commuter, scheduled, and shuttle-bus sectors. Bus manufacturing is also being reduced to around 10-15 percent of normal, and will likely be the same in 2021 or worse, impacting bus manufacturing jobs as well as those jobs for suppliers, including engines, tires, windshields, and air conditioning.
Read full report here.
With Congress at a gridlock in creating the next stimulus package, it is imperative that you contact your Congressional delegation and tell them your story. Tell them how you provide jobs in your community and how COVID-19 has affected your business. Ask them to help support the motorcoach industry through the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act or while discussing providing more assistance to the transportation industry.
Let them know that if the motorcoach industry fails, Americans from rural areas who need to get urban centers, or lower income Americans who need intercity bus transportation to get to work will have no means of affordable, accessible or reliable travel. It is the motorcoach industry who helps ALL Americans, despite income and privilege, to travel where they need to go.
You can find forms and letters to contact your Congressional delegation here.