GETTING THERE: Is This the End of the Motor Coach Industry?
The Free Lance-Star
By Scott Shenk
September 13, 2020
This seems a strange place for an obituary. But I received the news on Friday, and a transportation column seems to be the only fitting place for it.
This eulogy could prove premature. It wouldn’t be the first time. But the writer seems quite sincere that he has witnessed an actual death.
This obituary is not for a person, but an institution—the motorcoach industry. And the cause of death, so says the writer, is the world’s No. 1 culprit of the moment: COVID-19.
“Decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the motorcoach industry passed quietly into the night because they did not receive vital economic relief from Congress during the CARES Act and subsequent government stimulus packages,” opens the obit, written by Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association. “The industry’s 3,000 small businesses closed their doors and furloughed more than 100,000 employees and left idle 36,000 buses.”
He goes on to note that during the industry’s 150 years it has “carried billions and billions of students, parents, workers, tourists, church groups, evacuees to field trips, work, new destinations and out of harm’s way during natural disasters.”
The obit adds that the “motorcoach industry was a steady friend to all. An economic driver. A people mover. A life saver. An essential piece of America’s transportation system. But because Congress did not appropriate the desperately needed funding they needed to survive, it let them die.”
The bus industry is not dead—companies are finding ways to survive, for now—but it has been severely pummeled by the pandemic. Like many others, the industry has been left to flutter in the breeze while haggling over relief packages continues in the halls of power.