The American Bus Association (ABA) – the industry leader advancing North American motorcoach travel and tourism – thanks the 200 Representatives who have signed up to co-sponsor the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act in the House. The CERTS Act has the highest number of bi-partisan co-sponsors than any other relief bill in currently moving through Congress.
This companion bill to the Senate's version was led by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Albio Sires (D-N.J), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) to help the decimated motorcoach industry survive the COVID-19 pandemic. This bipartisan legislation would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding, in the form of grants (no less than 50 percent of total funding) and other economic assistance, through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to motorcoach operators, school bus companies, and U.S. flag passenger vessel operators.
"We thank the 200 Representatives who have signed on to co-sponsor the CERTS Act for their leadership in recognizing the current plight of the motorcoach industry during this pandemic and taking action to help this critical industry survive," said Peter Pantuso, president & CEO of the ABA. "We have continually highlighted to Congress the error they made when they left us out of the CARES Act, and we are very pleased to see both House and Senate members of both parties working to now fix this oversight. The private motorcoach industry moves 600 million people a year whether it is students, the military, commuters and leisure travel, we are moving America and if we are not there to provide affordable and reliable transportation, who will?"
According to DePaul University's Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development recent report, 30-40 percent of the national bus network could disappear without financial relief. Underserved populations, including people of color, rural communities, people with disabilities and older Americans, would be cut off from their most affordable source of mobility and prevented from participating fully in the economy. We are staring at that possibility, perhaps only a few weeks away.
"It is imperative the House and Senate include aid for the motorcoach industry in the next relief bill they pass," said Pantuso. "Our industry has lost most of our nearly 100,000 jobs since March. Bus drivers, administrative personnel, mechanics, tour directors, accountants and all the other highly skilled workers that help this industry provide safe and reliant transportation want to come back to work, they want to make a living again. The only way we bring workers back is through a lifeline from Congress to help our businesses stay open.”
In late summer, ABA surveyed its membership on how businesses were coping with the pandemic and the majority of respondents reported they could be out of business in less than six months, which will leave tens of thousands of industry professionals without a job to return to once the pandemic has passed and Americans are ready to travel again.
In an effort to raise awareness to the plight of the motorcoach industry and how it touches many aspects of the American economy, a number of music artists have created videos on social media supporting the passage of the CERTS Act to help the industry so they tour again once states open arenas and concert venues.