Management & Operations

For-hire transportation group urges 'essential business' designation

Posted on March 25, 2020

The industry continues to provide paratransit and non-emergency medical transportation to bring those with severe health issues to life-saving doctor appointments. Photo via Metropolitan Council

The Transportation Alliance (TTA) is urging companies in the for-hire transportation industry to send a letter to their respective governors asking that their companies be designated “essential businesses” to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

Nine states have already declared transportation companies as “essential businesses.” TTA’s suggested letter to governors points out that:

  • The industry continues to provide paratransit and non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to bring those with severe health issues to life-saving doctor appointments. Among these are daily or weekly trips to dialysis centers for people with kidney disease or chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients; the transportation of low-income citizens living in food deserts to grocery stores and pharmacies; transportation for those struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues to the care they require; and services for the disability community with our industry’s ample supply of wheelchair vehicles meeting ADA requirements.
  • Instead of transporting special need students, schools are now depending on the industry to deliver subsidized meals to the homes of low-income children.
  • Taxi and livery services are increasingly being called upon to offer food delivery from grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Given the current trajectory of the virus, ambulance fleets could quickly be overrun with hospital trips. The transportation industry is needed to transport those patients who, while ill, do not require an ambulance.
  • Larger vehicles such as shuttles and buses are already being used to ferry health care workers to the front lines of the coronavirus battle, including hospitals and healthcare facilities. These vehicles offer the ability to safely distance passengers per CDC-recommended guidelines.
  • Airline and railroad crews continue to need transportation services as they move goods and people across the country.
  • As transit services are reduced, the industry helps meet citizens’ unscheduled transportation needs.

“In order for us to fight this invisible threat, all private sector transportation companies are at your disposal,” the letter reads. “Each vehicle represents an essential piece of equipment in our state’s toolbox as we work together to end this deadly virus.”

TTA is sending copies of its own letters to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeking federal “essential business” designation for members.

Last week, The Transportation Alliance joined six other major passenger ground transportation trade associations in signing an unprecedented industry letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders outlining an eight-plan to rescue their member companies. The request included a broad array of requests such as cash infusions, zero-interest loans, deferments on existing loans, and assistance in opening a pipeline to cleaning products, among others.

Collectively, the industry moves three billion passengers a year, approximately the same total number of passengers moved by the equally vital airline industry. Hundreds of thousands of drivers — most of them their own independent, small American companies — affiliate with transportation companies for their livelihood.

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