The American Bus Association (ABA) welcomed the new U.S. House of Representatives bill called the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, which is aimed to help the decimated motorcoach industry survive COVID-19 and was introduced by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Albio Sires (D-N.J), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), and Don Young (R-Alaska).
The CERTS Act is a companion bill to the identically named Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act of 2020 in the Senate, which was introduced in early July by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). This bipartisan legislation would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding in the form of grants (no less than 50 percent of total funding) and other economic assistance through the U.S. Department of the Treasury to motorcoach operators and school bus companies.
"We commend Representatives LaHood, Sires, Lowenthal, and Young for their leadership in recognizing the current plight of the motorcoach industry during this pandemic and taking action to help this critical industry survive," said ABA President & CEO Peter Pantuso. "We highlighted to Congress the error they made when they left us out of the CARES Act, and we are very pleased to see both House and Senate members of both parties working to now fix this oversight. The private motorcoach industry moves 600 million people a year—whether it is students, the military, commuters and leisure travel, we are moving America. If we are not there when America is ready to travel again, who will?"
According to the ABA Foundation, the $15 billion-a-year motorcoach industry is currently operating at about 15 percent of capacity because of COVID-19. As a result, most of the nation’s 3,000 bus motorcoach companies have had to furlough employees and their 36,000 vehicles are mostly idle. For those few companies that may operate very limited service, there will be significant additional operating costs as they observe public health recommendations for social distancing, cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These added costs come on top of already high overhead and insurance costs for the industry, with new buses costing $500,000 or more. And the vehicles in operation may require not only significant debt service, but also ongoing maintenance so they are ready when called upon.
"This industry and its employees provide vital transportation services, playing an essential and critical role in the national transportation network. If the motorcoach industry fails, it will have a devastating and reverberating effect throughout the entire economy," said Pantuso. "The impact will affect not only the capacity of the national transportation network, but also schools, national emergency response capabilities, the manufacturing sector, the financial sector, the tourism sector and beyond. All citizens deserve vital, reliable, and affordable transportation services for their daily lives, and require safe and reliable transportation services."
The House bill does not yet have an assigned number. The text of the Senate bill, S.4150, can be read here.
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