80,000 people on leave as the bus industry shuts down

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His company, Georgia Coach Lines, is one of thousands of small family bus companies across the United States, urging Congress to approve immediate aid. Unlike the airlines or Amtrak, the coach industry received no funding from the $ 2.2 trillion CARES law passed by Congress in the spring.

Peter Pantuso, President and CEO of the American Bus Association, said, “I can’t really explain to you why we weren’t included. “

The American Bus Association estimates that private buses provide 600 million passenger trips per year, just behind commercial flights. Pantuso said 80,000 of the industry’s 100,000 employees were laid off this year.The American Bus Association said the industry typically collects $ 15 billion in revenue per year. In 2020, bus companies brought in just $ 4 billion. The coach industry, along with the school bus industry and passenger ship companies, is now collectively asking Congress to approve $ 10 billion in loans and grants.

“All of the small businesses that I think of across America are suffering on some level,” Pantuso said. “But there are very few other industries that are almost completely shut down with no hope of coming back for at least six months, next year, and then it will be a slow recovery. “

Part of this takeover for Cox’s business has been to purchase special cleaning equipment and adapt buses for safer travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m so sick of hearing Steve Mnuchin, and Nancy Pelosi fighting over the amount of money, you know, with Nancy it’s all or nothing. With Steve, it’s like, well, that’s what the president said. And meanwhile, back at the ranch, we’re all sitting here trying to figure out how we’re going to eat next week, ”Cox said.

Cox’s 16 pilots were put on leave.

One of them, Douglas Reese, has sat at the house for months at a time this year, counting on unemployment which he says will run out in early November.

“You’re still sitting at home, but your bills are still coming in, you still have a mortgage to pay. And you have to eat, ”Reese said.

He’s only made eight trips this year, compared to the usual 250. One of those trips involved transporting members of John Lewis’ family to his funeral in late July.

“I was very honored by it and it was touching. And most of the time on this trip I was right behind the hearse. So I look through the windshield, staring at the back of the hearse, looking at the flag, covering the coffin, “Reese said.

Reese also typically led groups of students on field trips, tour groups, sports teams, and TV or film crews to their sets. Georgia Coach Lines sometimes even sends buses to hurricane areas, to assist with evacuations in areas that are difficult to reach by plane or train. The bus industry also serves many people in this country who cannot afford to get on an airplane.

Cox said his message to elected leaders is to come together and do something.

” It’s ridiculous. It’s – you know, I’m making jokes. But I make jokes because I’m so angry. I have to laugh, so as not to cry, ”he said.

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