Effects of The Pandemic on Bus Travel Industry
December 21, 2020
The wheels on the nation's inner city buses are not going round and round very much these days. Bus travel has fallen by more than 80% during the pandemic. Public health authorities are encouraging people to avoid travel if possible. Those who do have to take the bus for whatever reason are finding fewer options and higher prices as a result. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.
HORSLEY: While the drop in demand for air travel has been well-documented, the pandemic's impact on bus service has been largely invisible. Peter Pantuso, who heads the American Bus Association, says many companies have simply parked their buses for now in hopes of restarting service next year. Others have gone out of business altogether.
PETER PANTUSO: There's about 100,000 employees in the private bus industry, and about 85,000 of those are currently out of work. Most of them have been out of work since March. Without some kind of help, without some kind of federal support just as a lifeline, we're going to lose a large chunk of the industry, unfortunately.
HORSLEY: Nitetrain did send some of its buses to the Gulf Coast this fall to house utility crews cleaning up after the hurricanes. Out west, buses have been used to evacuate people from the path of wildfires. Pantuso with the Bus Association says his industry is a critical piece of the nation's transportation network. But while Congress has offered financial help to airlines and Amtrak, bus companies have been overlooked.
PANTUSO: If more members of Congress took the bus on a more regular basis, we'd probably be at the top of the list for funding.