Over a week after staging a ‘rolling rally’ in Washington, D.C., motor coach companies are waiting for a verdict on their request for $15 billion in federal support. Owners say that the coronavirus has sapped nearly all of their business at a time of year that should be busy. Last week, over 1,000 bus companies participated, each with individual messages about how buses benefit the economy.
“Logistically, it was amazing. Buses came from 49 states,’ explained Anthony Griffin, the owner of AW Griffin Transportation Consulting. ‘Our message was 100% positive. If you are positive, they have to look at what you are there for.’
Covid-19 and stay at home orders have curtailed travel and group activities, delivering a one-two punch to the industry. Typically, the summer months are when motor coach companies are in demand. This year, social distancing has prevented much of any business from happening at all. ‘Peak season is spring to mid fall. Winter is quiet because a lot of destinations are closed. Right now, this is worse than winter. We don’t have any sports or field trips,’ Griffin said.
The lack of business could have a far reaching human cost. The American Bus Association estimates that 90% of the industry is furloughed, with no end in sight. ‘This industry has been devastated and is not expecting to return to normal operating levels for years…ninety percent of our industry is currently furloughed with estimated losses of $8 billion in the next few months,’ the ABA said in a statement to Freight Broker Live. Baumann Bus Company in New York State is one example. One of the largest school bus companies in New York state, it shuttered in April, leaving 1,000 drivers jobless.
‘We are suffering as an industry. It isn’t just economic, it’s emotional too,’ says Griffin. ‘Motor coach operators are one big family. When one of us gets hurt, we all get hurt.’
According to the American Bus Association, motor coaches employ over 100,000 people, move another 600 million annually, and generate more than $200 billion per year.