First, for what you do every day for our industry and our country, let me thank each of you.
Many of you as tour operators and bus operators provide essential transportation services to nearly 600 million passengers annually. Whether it’s operating buses in point-to-point service, taking commuters to work, providing charters and tours to hundreds of millions of guests, you are all an essential part of the transportation system in North America.
In addition, whether you supply the bus and motorcoach industry with equipment, supplies and services, or if you serve as destinations, attractions, hotels, restaurants or any of the other thousands of members of ABA, you are all feeling the same economic and emotional pain that COVID-19 has inflicted on our industry.
We understand that everyone is under tremendous economic and personal pressure right now. My hope is that you also stay safe and healthy.
Over the coming months, our segment of the industry will continue to be pummeled. Even if an immediate cure or treatment for COVID-19 is developed, most of the spring travel season, which so many of you rely on, is gone.
The good news is our industry has suffered through challenges before like 9/11, SARS in Canada, the Avian Flu, MERS, the 2007-08 recession and others. In each of these circumstances the industry came out much stronger.
As we move forward, we need you to tell ABA your stories so that we can use this information when communicating to the media and to Capitol Hill. You are already seeing legislation moving through Congress that creates a safety net for workers, especially those in small businesses.
Our government affairs team at ABA and the outside counsels that we use have all been instructed to make this their top priority. Our messages are simple, we are an industry that is an essential part of the nation’s transportation system and provides nearly 600 million passenger trips (almost as many as the airlines domestically) and right now we are in the eye of the hurricane. We need help. In addition, the group travel industry is bearing the brunt of the negative impacts of travelers and students staying home, and the business they lose can never be made up.
I am getting hundreds of calls and emails every day and night from many of you and I appreciate that. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly any time at 202-218-7229 or at email@example.com
In addition to telling me your story, there are other things you can do to help your company and the industry.
First, you need to tell your story to your Governors, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and members of the U.S. Senate NOW! Time is of the essence as Congress considers assistance programs over the next few days. They need to hear directly from you about how your business has been affected.
Click here for a letter you can send to your representatives. If you need to know who your senators or representatives are:
Second, you need to communicate to your Governor. Last week there was an approved package of Small Business Administration loans available to affected businesses but the Governor in each state needs to declare their state as one that has businesses affected by the coronavirus. For more information click here.
Last, but not least, information is critical. We have a simple survey on our website. Tell ABA the financial impact of the current situation on your business. This is information that we can help carry to the media and to Congress. They need the facts. As part of the survey, we also want to know what you’re are doing now to help your business survive. Some companies are restructuring loans, others are parking buses and cancelling the insurance on them temporarily to save money, others have enhanced future marketing efforts, some bus companies have brought in new cleaning and disinfectant equipment to sanitize buses. Whatever it is, let us know so that we can share it with other companies. This information exchange may help some companies stem the tide and get through this difficult period.
In the meantime, please know that ABA and your industry colleagues are here for you. We appreciate you every day and we will be together when the eye of the hurricane passes.
Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS
President & CEO
American Bus Association