Leading associations in the U.S. motorcoach, school bus, and domestic passenger vessel industries are continuing to urge Congress to pass legislation to provide financial relief as they struggle with furloughs and layoffs of about 308,000 employees due to COVID-19.
The American Bus Association (ABA), United Motorcoach Association (UMA), National School Transportation Association (NSTA), and Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) are calling for Congress to include the bipartisan CERTS Act (S 4150/HR 7642) as part of any COVID-19 stimulus package, according to a news release from the associations.
As previously reported, more than 30 associations came together to urge Congressional leaders to support the legislation in July.
The news release notes that these industries are critical to the overall transportation network and have suffered unprecedented and catastrophic economic losses over the past eight months due to the drastic declines in job commuting, group travel, and school closures. Unlike other modes of transportation, such as airlines, rail, and public transit, these transportation industries have not received direct economic relief to date, putting them in peril. Many companies have already shuttered and many more are on the brink of closing their doors forever.
Prior to COVID-19, the three industries collectively employed over 460,000 trained and experienced employees to deliver their passengers safely to and from their destinations, according to the news release. The 308,000 drivers, captains, deck hands and mechanics that have been furloughed deserve relief as much as pilots, flight attendants, airplane mechanics, rail engineers, and public transit workers that have already received at least some form of direct support enabling them to keep their jobs over the same time period.
The CERTS Act would create a much-needed $10 billion grant and loan program administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury to prioritize relief for these employees and assist with expenses related to debt service on vehicles, vessels, insurance, rent, utilities, and equipment to operate safely for these capital-intensive companies, the associations state in the news release. The associations also noted that with 56 bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate and 235 in the House, the CERTS Act has more support than any COVID-19 relief bill that has been introduced.
According to the news release from the four associations:
• The U.S. motorcoach industry provides nearly 600 million passenger trips per year, just under annual passenger trips made by airlines, ensuring vital intercity connections, charter, and tour operations supporting critical military and emergency evacuation work along with the travel and tourism industry.
• The U.S. private school bus industry provides nearly 40% of the nation’s school bus service in 200,000 yellow school buses to 26 million children every day that rely on the school bus as the only way to get and from school in the safest way possible.
• The U.S. domestic passenger vessel industry carries more than 200 million passengers annually and includes ferries, dinner boats, sightseeing and excursion vessels, whale watch and wildlife tour boats, sailing vessels, and small U.S. overnight cruise ships.
ABA, UMA, NSTA, and PVA urge Congress to swiftly enact the CERTS Act to preserve jobs and these critical industries, the news release states.