Limo Marketer
Saturday, January 22, 2022

American Bus Association (ABA) President & CEO Peter Pantuso was recently a guest on Varney & Co. on Fox Business to discuss the state of the bus industry. The association has been fighting for federal assistance to assist the slow recovery of bus and motorcoach operators, many of which are family-owned businesses.

ABA CEO Peter Pantuso ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso discusses the state of the bus industry

The bus industry scored a victory when the CERTS Act was passed in late 2020 and funds were dispersed in late summer, providing federal grants to beleaguered operators. However, associations like ABA and the United Motorcoach Association argued that the funding was too late and too little for many, and have argued for additional funds for the program thorough 2022. The return of travel has been uneven as many businesses are still employing remote workers and capping corporate travel.

The full video can be viewed here.

In other news, ABA was one of more than 100 associations and organizations that signed on to a letter to oppose the anticipated changes to the estate tax in Congress’ Build Back Better framework. The Build Back Better bill is meant to complement the recently passed infrastructure bill by providing small business assistance, expanded Medicare coverage, reduced costs for child care, and expanded education for pre-K and community college students, to name a few. The changes to the tax would be used to pay for the proposed programs.

According to the letter, which was addressed to Chairman Ron Wyden of the Senate Finance Committee and Chairman Richard Neal of the House Ways and Means Committee: “Earlier this year, both the small business and agriculture communities identified taxing unrealized capital gains at death—a kind of ‘double death tax’—as an unworkable policy for family businesses. … Family businesses across a wide number of industries tend to operate on small margins with their value almost entirely tied up in equipment, machinery, land, buildings, and other non-cash assets. That makes paying taxes on imaginary gains problematic. It also creates difficulties when attempting to pay estate taxes when no profitable sale has occurred, only the death of a business owner. Family businesses without sufficient liquid reserves to pay new taxes on capital and a more aggressive estate tax will be forced to fire workers, close branches, or shut down the businesses altogether. No family business should be forced into losing their business, employees, and their legacy in order to pay multiple layers of tax on the same dollar.”

The letter stresses that Congress “should be single-mindedly focused on helping small businesses keep their doors open and their workers employed,” especially as the recovery has been shaky for many small and family-owned businesses.

The full letter is available here.


House Infrastructure Bill

The massive $1.2T—that’s trillion—package was finally passed by Congress and is awaiting the signature of President Joe Biden (as of 11.09.21). The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is one of the Biden administration’s landmark spending bills that promises an upgrade to our nation’s transportation network, but also energy, water, and internet systems.

Spending within the bill includes:

    • $89.9B for new infrastructure and reauthorizations
    • $66B for Amtrak maintenance and development
    • $40B for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation
    • $65B to create universal access to reliable high-speed internet
    • $65B for clean energy transmission and power infrastructure upgrades

Peter Pantuso, ABA President ABA President Peter Pantuso

  • Funding is also allocated for developing an electric vehicle charging network across the country, with a focus on replacing Diesel-powered school buses with electric- and battery-powered ones
  • Updating the nation’s airports, including gates and runways, aiming to reduce congestion and remain globally competitive

President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law later this week.

Reactions from industry associations:
"We applaud the House of Representatives for finally coming together to pass the largest infrastructure investment in generations, for the betterment of the U.S. transportation system and the U.S. economy. Special thanks to those representatives who put politics aside to ensure our country’s infrastructure can meet the future needs of our country’s transportation system to keep moving our economy forward.” — American Bus Association President & CEO Peter Pantuso. Roger Dow U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow

“The bill will have a profound impact on how people travel for decades to come. By making historic investments in our transportation infrastructure now, we can emerge from the pandemic with stronger, more modern and efficient systems that can facilitate a resurgence in travel demand ... The historic levels of travel infrastructure investment provided by this act—including for airports, railways, highways, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and more—will accelerate the future of travel mobility. … The US Travel Association thanks President Biden and the many bipartisan congressional leaders for their persistent efforts to pass a bill that will deliver significant value to communities across the United States.” — US Travel Association President & CEO Roger Dow

Robert Alexander RMA NLA President Robert Alexander

“The NLA applauds Congress for working in a bipartisan fashion to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will help address the most critical needs facing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and provide a boost to the travel industry’s recovery. This is the single largest investment in roads and bridges since the creation of the interstate highway system, and makes important investments in the future of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Crucially, it does so while avoiding the most harmful funding mechanisms for road users, including an increased gas tax and extensive federal tolling systems.

In addition, the NLA leadership and Legislative Committee worked closely with the New York congressional delegation, Manesh Rath of Keller & Heckman LLP, and Cornerstone Government Affairs to negotiate limousine safety language that will improve the quality and safety of our product without overburdening our members. Through our efforts, the NLA prevented federal requirements including CDL’s for nine-passenger vehicles, unsightly inspection disclosures in passenger compartments, and regulation of simple, interior vehicle modifications. The NLA also ensured that any future safety standards are based on thorough, unbiased research and a public rulemaking process.

The NLA is pleased with the final passage of this impactful legislation, and looks forward to building on these accomplishments with our partners on behalf of the industry.” --NLA President Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide


In Case You Missed It

These are the top national stories in the news this week.

Election Day: There were local elections held in 32 states last Tuesday, but all eyes were on three states. Virginia surprised the nation with a new governor-elect (flipping the state red), N.J. voters almost unseated the incumbent in a squeaker that was expected to be an easy reelection (keeping the state blue), and no one was surprised with New York City’s mayoral race results (more on that in a minute). While political junkies dissect what happened, let the games begin for 2022’s midterms.

NYC’s New Mayor: Democrat Eric Adams easily won the mayoral race in the Big Apple, capturing two-thirds of votes. The popular cop turned Brooklyn Borough President was the favorite since early summer after shutting out his competitors and besting Andrew Yang, who previously ran for president on the Dem ticket and has since announced he has left the party.

Matt Daus of Windels Marx spoke with Adams before the election about his ideas for transportation and how the city can serve as a model for the world over.

Points from his interview (thanks to Windels Marx):

  • Livery Industry: Adams believes that NYC must take care of not only drivers but also base owners. Everyone is working to make enough of a profit to provide for their family. He wants the city government to listen to industry voices and find a middle ground. 
  • Electric Vehicles: Adams wants to continue to expand charging infrastructure, which is currently a barrier for the widespread deployment of electric vehicles. 
  • Ridesharing and the Gig Economy: TNCs and other gig workers have led to increased congestion, the decimation of the taxi industry, and employee status questions. Adams believes that NYC is ready for a transportation paradigm shift and would create a blueprint for moving forward with industry insiders leading the conversation.
  • Medallion Bailout: Adams said he supports a medallion bailout. He believes that NYC must also look out for the drivers who are not medallion owners as well. 

Adams takes office January 1, 2022.

Jobs Numbers: The US Labor Department announced a strong jobs report last week, adding 531,000 jobs to payrolls and dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6 percent, a number not since the beginning of the pandemic. Leading the way was the leisure & hospitality sector (adding 164,000 jobs in October), which was the worst hit in 2020 and has seen steady increases since earlier in the year. While it wasn’t the sector’s best month, the healthy gains portend a busy holiday season.

US Welcomes Vaccinated Travelers: International travelers are once again arriving in the US (as long as they are vaccinated) as of Monday, many reuniting with family members for the first time in more than 20 months. The travel limitations have impacted non-US citizens from more than 30 countries, including the UK and EU.  While testing is also part of the reopening, quarantines are no longer required once arriving in the US. Airlines reported that international flights were nearly full or at capacity, while long lines were seen at land borders in the first few days of travel. Travel associations are excited about the reopening, hoping that it will reignite the robust tourism and corporate travel sectors.

Meanwhile, Northstar Meetings Group has released its meetings industry forecast for 2022.