We at ETS just got a chance to review and reflect on the American Bus Association (ABA) Virtual Capitol Hill Fly-in program on April 14, and thought the information shared about the state of the motorcoach industry was very compelling.
The ABA fly-in speakers shared some really gloomy statistics, like the 85-90% decline in business for this industry since March, 2020. There were 600 million bus passenger trips pre-pandemic, which is not too far off from the 700 million passenger trips taken on airplanes…which provides a good perspective on the economic impact of this industry.
It’s great to see motorcoach operators of all sizes across the country getting involved in the effort to get much needed aide to the industry, especially all the family-owned businesses. And, it’s especially important to spotlight these family-owned businesses, many of whom we work with, as they make up the majority of the private bus and motorcoach industry. The United Motorcoach Association (UMA) has also put much needed focus on multi-generational family-owned businesses by hosting their annual EXPO last week with the theme of “A Generation Gathering.”
But with other factors in play, like the continued limits on attendance sizes for conventions and meetings, and continued hesitancy of the general public to travel on tour buses, it’s hard to not be pessimistic about the outlook for many of these businesses.
We hope that the $2 billion approved in the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Program is made available as soon as possible to help give a much-needed boost to businesses (and drivers, thousands of which are still furloughed or have been laid off), but as the fly-in speakers reiterated, the pressure on Congress can’t stop now, both in terms of financial support for the industry and pressure on state and local governments to allow for larger conventions and meetings. Convention centers and meeting planners have done an excellent job of figuring out how to provide a safe environment for event attendees, and it’s time to open up convention centers nationally to larger groups.
AND, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Deputy Administrator Meera Joshi during the fly-in program, bus travel is one of the safest and most fuel-efficient transportation sectors, with buses consuming four-times less fuel than cars, not to mention the role it plays in reducing road congestion. We all need buses back on the road!
In the meantime, it’s important for meeting and event planners looking ahead to their in-person meetings or events in the fall and next year to lock in their transportation providers now, because it’s unclear how many operators will survive and how much supply will be available.
Contact ETS to plan your ground transportation strategy for your next meeting, convention or event.