<p>Collectively, the ground transportation industry moves three billion passengers a year, approximately the same total number of passengers moved by the equally vital airline industry. Photo courtesy DC Trails</p>

A version of this story initially appeared in Metro Magazine, School Bus Fleet's sister publication, on March 20.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Transportation Alliance (TTA) has joined six other major passenger ground transportation trade associations in signing a letter to President Trump and Congressional leaders asking for $12 billion to save this essential national infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter was sent to the White House as well as to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a news release from the TTA. It laid out an eight-point plan for saving companies that operate a variety of transportation, including taxis, liveries, rideshare, buses, shuttles, paratransit, and non-emergency medical trips.

The eight points are:

1. Deem the industry a national “essential service.”
2. Provide $12 billion in immediate cash grants to fleet operators to provide industry relief.
3. Ensure guaranteed vehicle loan deferment/forbearance for at least 120 days.
4. Declare the industry is eligible for zero-interest small business administration (SBA) loans and ensure such loans are made available within two weeks of application, with no payments due for six months.
5. Mandate that all government accounts with transportation companies be paid within five days of billing.
6. Require insurance companies to suspend auto liability premiums on passenger transportation vehicles pulled out of service, without requiring transportation companies to turn in their license plates.
7. Allow operators to postpone real estate tax payments as well as vehicle fuel and utility payments such as phone, electricity, and internet services, without penalty or disconnection.
8. Open a pipeline to cleaning products to ensure vehicles are regularly sanitized, and to help our industry promote the safety of our services.

“Our industry is intricately linked to the airlines and tourism, to schools and universities, and to health care access and vital services for our most vulnerable,” said Thomas P. Arrighi, TTA’s president. “We need to make sure the people, vehicles, call centers, and maintenance facilities are here to keep America moving when this is over. We have a pragmatic plan to do that. But we can’t do it without help from Washington.”

The letter was signed by the leaders of TTA, the American Bus Association (ABA), the National Limousine Association, the Global Business Travel Association, the United Motorcoach Association, the American Ground Transportation Association, and the Near Airport Parking Industry Trade Association.

In addition, ABA President Peter Pantuso called in an email for members to immediately contact their congressional representatives, detail their situation and support the industry's requests for funding, since Congress is working on the next emergency relief package this weekend. He provided a letter template for members to use, and said that members who need help in finding their representatives'  email addresses or phone numbers can reach out to the ABA.

Collectively, the ground transportation industry moves three billion passengers a year, approximately the same total number of passengers moved by the airline industry according to The Transportation Alliance. Hundreds of thousands of drivers — most of them small, independent American companies — affiliate with the group’s member companies for their livelihood.

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