Washington, D.C. —U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, led a bipartisan group of 26 Senators in calling for the next COVID-19 relief package to include financial assistance for America’s bus, motorcoach, and passenger ferry industries.
Senators Collins and Reed recently introduced the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, legislation that would authorize $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding grants for America’s bus, motorcoach, and passenger ferry industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We represent both rural and urban communities across the country that rely on the bus, motor coach, and passenger vessel industries to ensure that children can get to school, employees can get to work, and travelers can connect with rail and air transportation hubs. We need these indispensable links to keep our communities connected and to help these industries avoid further financial instability,” the Senators wrote. “Our bill has strong bipartisan, bicameral support from members representing broad geographic and demographic diversity.”
For the more than 3,000—mostly small and family-owned—motor coach companies across the U.S., the cancellation of school field trips, tours, and college sports seasons has already forced thousands of employees to be furloughed or laid off. The pandemic also continues to take a toll on the U.S. flag passenger vessel industry—grounding ferries and recreational tours—leaving owners and operators without customers and revenue. Finally, privately-owned school bus companies, which are responsible for transporting many of the more than 23 million school children who take the bus to school each day, face significant losses as states and localities move to virtual learning and curtail extracurricular and afterschool programs.
As of this month, the motor coach industry estimates that scheduled service operations are down by nearly 80 percent, commuter operations are down by as much as 90 percent, and roughly 95 percent of charter trips have been cancelled or have simply not been booked.
The CERTS Act has been endorsed by the American Bus Association, the United Motorcoach Association, the National School Transportation Association (NSTA), the Amalgamated Transit Union, and the Passenger Vessel Association.
The letter was also signed by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
Click HERE to read the full letter.