As many as 500 motorcoaches from all around the country descended upon Washington, D.C. this week, bringing 25,000 National Guard members into the nation's capital for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 20.
"Once again these small family businesses have heard the call and answered it," said Peter Pantuso, president & CEO of the American Bus Association. "Just like during hurricane season in the south this past summer and fall, these businesses that are struggling to survive the effects of the pandemic are rallying their drivers and buses to help protect our nation’s capital."
The motorcoach industry has been one of the hardest hit in the transportation sector with little assistance from the government. After lobbying Congress for 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic and seeing more than 80,000 personnel furloughed and nearly half of the industry's 3,000 small, family-owned businesses shuttered, the industry received a desperately needed shot in the arm when Congress passed the latest relief package in December that included $2 billion for the industry to share with the school bus and passenger vessel industries. The industry had originally asked for $10 billion through the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, which had received 60 Senators and 271 Representatives signing on to co-sponsor in the 116th Congress.
"The private motorcoach industry has lost more than $11 billion because of the pandemic and is only running at 10 to 15 percent capacity compared to 2019 levels," Pantuso said. "We asked for $10 billion during the 116th Congress, but as the pandemic keeps going so does our growing need for funding to keep our industry afloat. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress to get the bridge we need to survive."
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