Wednesday, July 15, 2020

As states begin to allow travel and lessen restrictions on COVID-19 lockdowns, the American Bus Association (ABA) has published suggested guidelines on how to prepare buses to once again receive and protect passengers. ABA convened a task force of members—including operators and vendors—a few months ago that helped the association to establish procedures for areas such as employee protections, cleaning and maintenance, emergency evacuation SOPs, and public relations.

American Bus Association

The 20-page report, called The Motorcoach Industry’s Sample Policies for Post-Pandemic Cleanliness and Safety Protocols, is available at busesmoveamerica.com

The protocols were released on the heels of a tough report from the ABA Foundation that estimates that the U.S. motorcoach industry will see its economic loss due to the virus reach nearly $11 billion, a 71 percent decline in annual business. This latest report is moderately better than the $11.1 billion previously predicted in April 2020.

ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso

“While this is a slight improvement from the estimates developed at the height of the economic disaster, it represents just a 1.9 percent improvement,” said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso. “This data shows the continued decimation of the private motorcoach industry, which has not received any financial help from Congress or the Trump Administration like other modes of transportation received in legislative relief packages passed so far.”

With a challenging year ahead, ABA is calling on Congress for $10 billion in federal grants and $5 billion in loans to stabilize its members and ensure the commercial motorcoach remains a vital part of America’s transportation network. ABA is requesting assistance from the available funding already appropriated to the U.S. Treasury under the CARES Act and to be specifically included in future recovery packages the U.S. Congress and the Administration may consider.

American Bus Association

The motorcoach and private bus industry provides nearly 600 million passenger trips annually, slightly less than U.S. commercial airlines.  It is made up of more than 3,000 small family-owned and -operated businesses, many of them multigenerational.  These companies provide essential travel services in every part of the country and have often been described as “America’s Strategic Transportation Reserve” as they serve the military and have stepped in to serve people in harm’s way of hurricanes and other natural disasters, and helped with passengers on airlines and Amtrak when these modes have broken down.

“If this industry does not receive government assistance immediately, I can’t say how much of it will be left when Americans need access to economical and reliable transportation for  work or for leisure, or is in need emergency evacuation services as a result of m natural disasters,” said Pantuso. “As the economy tries to right itself, it is buses who will bring people to destinations, hotels, events, and other locations that are also seeking to recover.”

Visit buses.org for more information. 

[06.22.20]

On the surface, it seemed that the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offered business owners a quick and easy solution to keep their employees working, while securing some much-needed cash during this period of economic uncertainly. However, the intricacies of the loan, along with recent modifications to the program, have made the PPP much more complicated than many business owners initially perceived.

National Limousine Association

On June 16, the National Limousine Association (NLA) hosted a live and interactive webinar on Facebook to help operators with the intricacies of the PPP, particularly with changes enacted on the brand-new plan since it went into effect in April. According to NLA President Robert Alexander of RMA Worldwide, the goal of the session was to “provide some useful information that will make the changing guidance and PPP rules easier to follow.”

On the webinar, Alexander was joined by Bill Faeth of Limo University and Louie Perry and Bill Smith from Cornerstone Government Affairs, the NLA’s lobbying organization. The Cornerstone duo have been on the “cutting edge of regulations” with Smith, in particular, having extensive experience with SBA affairs.

The foursome took live questions from the more than 100 operators participating in the webinar. Initial questions addressed future PPP payouts, with Perry speculating that Congress will open up more money after the current summer recess. He theorized that money may be provided for untouched sectors, such as our own industry.

National Limousine Association

The majority of the Q&A dealt with the recent changes to the PPP loans, most notably the extension of the forgiveness period and the update in the 75/25 Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) rules to 60/40. Perry and Smith also elucidated on three safe harbors that allow loan forgiveness for operators who don’t meet the full FTE requirements.

Operators who were unable to “attend” the session or have any questions regarding PPP loans are encouraged to visit view a recording of the webinar on the NLA’s Facebook page. Since the PPP is new, and was virtually put into play in a matter of weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, there are intricacies and adjustments that operators will need to navigate that differ from many government programs that undergo months of proposals and revisions. It’s important that owners ask questions to their lenders and do their due diligence so that they remain in compliance to maximize loan forgiveness.

Visit limo.org for more information. 

[06.19.20]

Motorcoach manufacturer Prevost recently welcomed Janet Cathey to the pre-owned sales team. Cathey will cover eight states as the Southeast regional sales manager for pre-owned coaches. She is a familiar face to many operations and brings more than 30 years of industry experience in the cutaway and motorcoach industries.

Prevost Prevost Southeast Regional Sales Manager for Pre-Owned Coaches Janet Cathey

“I am very excited to join the Prevost team where the customer is our primary focus,” says Cathey. “I am looking forward to working with all the customers within my region that I have worked with for years and meeting new customers within my newly assigned territory. My approach is one of customer service and building trusted relationships.”

“We are so excited to have Janet join the Prevost team, she will be a trusted advisor to our customer’s,” says Prevost Director, Pre-owned Coach Sales Mitch Guralnick. “Janet has extensive experience in this territory and many of our customers already know and enjoy working with her. Janet is the final piece of building an extraordinary Prevost pre-owned team. We now have many years of industry experience within our team. Our plan is to share our knowledge and advise our customers moving forward. We want to assist our customers in achieving the peace of mind that comes from selecting the right coaches for their operation.”

In other news, Prevost announced it will provide complimentary annual renewals for its Premium Tech Tool (PTT) software for existing Prevost and Volvo Bus users in North America.

Prevost

PTT is a Windows-based diagnostic application specifically designed to test, calibrate, and program Volvo engine and ECU parameters, making diagnostics fast and accurate. The 2.7 version of the software supports all Prevost and Volvo Bus vehicles with Volvo EPA ’07 and later engines. After the initial purchase, annual software renewal is required to continue using PTT.

“We are in a period of great uncertainty in our industry, and we’re glad to be able to offer this benefit to our customers as another way to support them during this time,” says National Service Director Maurice Gagne.

The exclusive offer applies to all existing PTT licenses for Prevost and Volvo bus PTT users in North America, and is valid through June 1, 2021. Customers who would like to take advantage of the complementary renewal should follow these steps:

  • Wait to receive your PTT software renewal reminder: Once you’ve received notification that your software license is expiring, contact us at prevostcrisissupport@volvo.com. Use the subject line: PTT Renewal, and include your user ID and client ID in the body of the email.
  • Receive confirmation email: Once we’ve processed your request, you will receive a confirmation email including instructions for next steps and a link to order your renewal.
  • Follow the link and instructions in your confirmation email:Using the confirmation email, submit your request for renewal via Prevost eMedia.
  • Receive renewal software by mail: Once we’ve processed your request, you will receive by mail a USB drive containing the renewal software.
  • Follow the instructions included in the package with the USB drive and get back to testing, calibrating, and troubleshooting your Volvo engines and ECUs.

PTT was initially released for Prevost in 2008, and today, more than 300 companies in North America utilize the program. One license or Client ID allows users to read and clear diagnostic trouble codes, perform diagnostics, perform tests, calibrations, and select parameter programming. Customers who would like to subscribe to PTT, can do so via Prevost eMedia at prevost.vg-emedia.com.

Visit prevostcar.com for more information. 

[06.17.20]