On Friday, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR) requested that the Department of Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve consider providing at least $5 billion in loans to over-the-road bus carriers.
The Economic Stabilization and Assistance to Severely Distressed Sectors of the U.S. Economy program, an existing provision in the CARES ACT allocates $454 billion to help struggling companies, such as those in the motorcoach industry.
“While we’re not there yet, it is good to finally have the recognition from two prominent House Chairmen,” said UMA chairman Jeff Polzien. “The industry is at a near standstill, yet the bills keep piling up.”
Chairmen Neal and DeFazio emphasized that, “in the longer term if bus companies go out of business, hundreds of thousands of travelers who rely on buses to get to their jobs and reach vital services, intermodal connections and educational facilities, especially in rural America, risk losing what may be their only means of transportation. This is especially true for low-income travelers and those without cars.
It also means our national emergency response capabilities are at risk, as motorcoaches provide key evacuation services during times of weather – and security– related events.”
News of the plan was welcomed by operators, including Jason Briggs of VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. in Portland Maine, who said, “This could be an extreme relief to our industry not just here in Maine, but throughout the country. Of our six motorcoach operators in Maine, we total over 260 years of service to our communities. We appreciate the programs that have been done for small businesses so far.:”
“Without the additional support and the wheels not turning,” Briggs said, “our chance of survival is very bleak. This would be a lifeline for the survival of the motorcoach industry.”
$454 billion was initially made available to entities through the Federal Reserve in the form of direct lending, assistance to mid-sized businesses, and the soon to be announced Main Street Lending Program.
Only last week, UMA’s Chairman Jeff Polzien and President/CEO Larry Killingsworth wrote the Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin.
“It’s good to see some positive traction,” commented Larry Killingsworth. “UMA members and advocates have sent over 30,000 letters to Congress seeking relief and those letters have been effective. The devil is always in the details and UMA legislative team will be working for the best possible outcome.“