OLATHE, Kan. (WDAF)— Motorcoach companies want Congress to include them in relief bills moving forward.
Industry leaders say 90% of the companies are small and family-owned, and they’re hurting during the pandemic.
A month before COVID-19 shut down Dan Newby’s business, his coach buses carried the Kansas City Chiefs, winners of Super Bowl LIV, and the Lombardy Trophy back to Arrowhead.
“And then two days later, [there was the] parade,” Newby reminisced. “We took them on to the double-deckers for the parade. [I was] just smiling for a week.”
Newby, who started his business in 1982, worries more these days as his fleet sits idle in the lot, likely not to move until the fall, and that’s if sports are back.
He had to lay off at least 20 drivers in one day after reservations were canceled nearly overnight.
“You’re thinking, maybe this will last just a month or two. We don’t know how big it’s going to be. Then reality hits you: We’re not going to be going anywhere,” he said.
Newby’s been getting by with the help of the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program, allowing him to keep some staff and pay his bills. He said his lenders and insurance company has also helped modify payments for up to 90 days.
But he said the industry as a whole is struggling.
“The airlines were specifically given funds [in the stimulus relief packages], so they could maintain and operate; the cruise lines had some benefits, railroads, too. Buses were totally forgotten,” he said.
“We have been impacted significantly,” said Jeff Polzien, the chairman for the United Motorcoach Association. “We are not going to come back as quickly as the rest of the economy.”
The group is organizing a rally in Washington D.C. next Wednesday to bring awareness and show the industry helps move America.
Hundreds of coach buses will roll into the nation’s capital, with drivers calling on lawmakers to include their companies in grants and loans and to extend PPP through the end of the year.
“With us being small businesses, we do not have the ability for most companies to get from this point to next spring financially and we’re going to need more assistance from Congress,” Polzien said.
Newby, who estimates his company will have lost $1.5 million by August, will be there in hopes of not just saving his business but his employees livelihoods.
“I want to see this ride through and see the next generation take this on,” he said.
Industry leaders don’t anticipate business as usual for companies until spring 2021.