Bus industry crippled by pandemic; hopes to bounce back by mid 2021

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)– It’s a business that thrives on the road.

However, this year with COVID-19, the motor coach business has been stuck in park for the most the part.

“Our industry from the motor coach perspective we are only operating across the country at somewhere between 10 and 15 percent,” said Peter Pantuso, President and CEO of the American Bus Association.

Pantuso said it has been this way since March.

“The biggest piece of the industry in terms of overall numbers is the charter and tourism segment.  Taking people and kids to Raleigh to see the state capitol to learn about history,” he explained

Pantuso said about 85,000 people, including drivers, across the industry have been laid off.

“By March 30th, I had to let go about a 150 people,” mentioned Jeff Shanker.

Shanker is the chief strategy officer for Black Tie Transportation and Blue Ridge Transportation.

He estimates that the company has lost about $12 million since the start of the pandemic.

“We are probably up to 200 employees that we have let go.  The programs that came out, whether that’s PPP or the EIDL program, they appeared beneficial.  But the problem is we have no essential source of revenue,” Shanker explained.

“The good news is that we are hearing from our clients.  They are still in business. We are still in business.  I don’t see the retail side picking up anytime soon.  I don’t know if anyone will be going on tours or other events,” he said.

The American Bus Association says without some sort of federal assistance, nearly half of the motorcade industry will be completely wiped out.

“We don’t see an opportunity to recover until at least the 3rd quarter of next year [2021],” Pantuso said.

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