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Charter companies struggle with pandemic forcing buses off roads

Congress provided relief for the transportation industry in the stimulus package - but that didn't include buses or motor coaches.

HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) – When you think of vacation travel, planes might come to mind, maybe cruise ships. But buses might not always register.

However, the industry has come to a literal standstill during this pandemic.

(Photo: United Motorcoach Association)

“How bad was the drop? It was a hundred percent," Erin Curry said. "We lost 100 percent of our business that was supposed to occur from March until now.”

Curry and her family run Appian Tours based in Hendricks County. The pandemic came right in the middle of their busiest time of the year.

“Normally we have about 75 percent of our business from March through the beginning of June,” Curry said.

Buses across the country are parked. At a time when they are usually doing travel sports or gearing up for summer school trips, it is now a struggle to get by and they’re asking for relief.

The Currys were part of hundreds of companies in the bus industry at the nation’s capital last week, lobbying Congress for relief.

“In the stimulus packages, Congress included transportation industry, meaning the airlines the cruises, but did not include motor coaches at all,” Curry said.

According to industry groups, most busing companies (nearly 3,000 of them) are small business and without help, will not be able to get back on the road.

“We call it the best-kept secret because it’s the best industry and the most fun one to work for, but it’s in really bad shape right now,” Curry said.

As Congress debates another stimulus package, the bus industry is asking for $15 billion to be set aside for relief.