The American Bus Association (ABA) is asking Congress to help the transportation sectors that received no direct assistance through the CARES Act before it provides a second round of direct assistance to other transportation sectors, such as the airlines.
"The question needs to be asked: Who would the taxpayer want to help? Multi-billion dollar companies who earn billions in profits every year or small family businesses, who are a critical part of the transportation network, provide fairly priced travel for people going to work, to visit friends and family in rural America, and also move our military and get people out of harm’s way during hurricanes, fires, floods and other disasters?," said Peter Pantuso, president/CEO of ABA.
When Congress helped multiple transportation modes early in the pandemic by providing direct assistance of $100 billion for them, the motorcoach industry was left on the side of the road. Yet, the American motorcoach industry moves 600 million people a year through commuter services, scheduled intercity and airport services, and charter/tour services and in emergency situations, which is comparable to the 700 million passengers moved by the domestic airline industry.
Without a healthy and robust motorcoach industry, the various transportation needs of this country will not be met and the government will be forced into an even greater economic burden of expanding already highly subsidized transportation services at an increased cost to the taxpayer, the ABA said in a release.
"This is not a theoretical situation of what will happen to the United States transportation system IF the motorcoach industry fails, but more of a real scenario of who will pick up our customers and rescue American citizens in harm's way when we are gone? We need help and we need it now," Pantuso said.
The motorcoach industry has been decimated since the country's travel was taken over by the COVID-19 pandemic in early March. The industry, which is self-funded and does not receive any government subsidies, is currently operating at 20% of its annual capacity. Today, the industry is sitting on the brink of disaster with financial institutions estimating that 40% of these small, family-owned businesses will close forever by the end of this year, if they do not receive direct and immediate financial help from the federal government.
"With other modes of transportation, like the airlines, asking for more money in addition to what they received in the CARES Act, we are asking for Congress and the Administration to help us first before giving even more to those industries," said Pantuso. "The airline industry has already received more than $50 billion in federal aid. Whereas the bus industry has never had to ask for a federal bailout before the COVID-19 pandemic even during other economic downturns."