LANSDALE, Pa. — The National School Transportation Association (NSTA) applauds Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) for working with a group of transportation organizations to help secure relief for the school bus, motorcoach, and other industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As previously reported, the NSTA joined the American Bus Association, the United Motorcoach Association, the Passenger Vessel Association, and the Amalgamated Transit Union in support of the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act of 2020. The bill was introduced by the senators on Wednesday, according to a news release from the NSTA.
Private school bus transportation companies account for 38% of school bus services for districts across the U.S, employing over 250,000 people, according to the NSTA. Industry-wide, almost 26 million students are transported to-and-from school daily, utilizing nearly 500,000 school buses.
“We thank Sen. Collins and Sen. Reed for introducing this important bill that will help keep the private school bus transportation industry intact during the COVID-19 health crisis,” said NSTA Executive Director Curt Macysyn. “The CERTS Act would assist private school bus companies that are experiencing reduced or lapsed payments for services from school districts by providing access to vitally-needed grants and loans. We must take steps now to ensure the industry can support a successful return to classroom learning this fall.”
As with many sectors of the economy, the crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on school bus transportation. The CERTS Act would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding, in the form of grants — no less than 50% of total funding — and other economic assistance, through the Department of the Treasury, to school bus companies, motorcoach operators, and other U.S. transportation service providers. Additionally, the assistance would help contractors meet rigorous cleaning, sanitizing, and newly required operational standards that could be an overwhelming and unplanned financial burden in the current pandemic environment.
“The NSTA urges Congress to pass this bill so that parents and students alike can continue to rely on the yellow bus as the safest method of getting to school,” Macysyn added.