The American Bus Association (ABA) held its virtual Annual Meeting on January 27 that included a Board election, a chat with members on how they are surviving the pandemic, and an optimistic Keynote speaker on the economic outlook for the coming year ahead.
President & CEO Peter Pantuso kicked off the meeting with a 2020 year in review (spoiler: last year was terrible), but noted the important win that the association and industry achieved with the inclusion of the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act in the latest round of economic relief. The program will offer $2B in direct aid to several industries including motorcoach operators, and applications will likely be available starting in late February or March.
The meeting also included an election of the association’s newest Board members, who will serve three-year terms. Congratulations to the new Board, including:
Mike Canino of Lorenz Bus Service
Terry Cordell of Transcor Data Services
Jeff Greteman of Windstar Lines
Elizabeth Hall of John Hall’s Alaska
Joey Hemphill of Hemphill Brothers Coach Company
Brent Maitland of Motor Coach Industries
Tom McCaughey of Flagship Trailways
Additionally, Eugene Berardi Jr. of Adirondack Trailways was named Chairman of the Board and Chris Shepler of Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry was named Vice Chairman of the Board. Pantuso also thanked outgoing Chairman Don DeVivo of DATTCO for his dedication to the association.
“I am honored to have been named the Chairman of the Board,” said Berardi. “Our industry is going through unprecedented times and I look forward to working with the ABA Board of Directors to help steer the association with our members’ best interests at the center of our programming, no matter what sector of the industry they represent. Together we are stronger than a pandemic and this association and our industry will come out of this stronger than ever.”
Berardi also thanked the retiring Board members for their service. To view the entire ABA Board of Directors, click here.
Moving on to the upcoming 2021 Marketplace and Busworld North America shows that are scheduled for June 18-22 in Baltimore, Pantuso alerted the membership to a new wrinkle that has arisen with the in-person events. As the city and state continue to use the Baltimore Convention Center as an auxiliary COVID medical facility through the end of June (as it has for the past 10 months), the choice now is in the hands of the membership on whether to go virtual again for this year, or relocate to another Southern host city. ABA has a poll for attendees and vendors currently available on its website (through February 3) on which option you would prefer.
Finally, the closing speaker of the meeting left attendees with a much-needed dose of positivity. Keynote speaker Adam Sacks, president and founder of Tourism Economics, crunched the data and shared the good news about a recovery projected for the industry starting in late summer and picking up in earnest this fall. He already sees pockets of hope in the smaller, less dense markets, with urban centers to follow later in the year. With the vaccine ramping up (a promise of the Biden administration), levels of spending in other sectors (including a robust housing market) holding steady, and the pent-up urge for travel, he predicts that the industry is primed for a comeback in the second half of this year. Although he sees a bounce-back over many months—barring any other major upsets to the economy and major spikes in COVID cases—the light at the end of the tunnel is finally getting brighter. He also reminded members that the most enduring legacy of this crisis isn’t pain or frustration, but gratitude.
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