Motorcoach companies from Lancaster County and across the country rallied for financial relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Buses from Lancaster-based Executive Coach and Ephrata-based Elite Coach were among 400 motorcoaches that rolled into the nation’s capital seeking help to save the industry taking a beating from pandemic-related shutdowns.
“We've been impacted as much as other forms of transport like airlines and mass transit and Amtrak, but haven’t received assistance like those industries,” Executive Coach owner Dale McMichael said.
“We’re not like restaurants that can still do takeout,” he said. “We’re down to zero revenue.”
The rally was organized by industry groups the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association.
The industry is requesting $15 billion in grants, loans and modifications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection programs to help keep businesses, many of which are private and family-owned, afloat.
Brian Kurtz, president at Elite Coach, said issues are compounded for charter bus companies due to losses during spring and summer, which are critical revenue months.
“Our business is essentially completely shut down during the four busiest months of the year,” Kurtz said, “and when we reopen, we’re going to have significantly reduced revenue for a while.” He said bus companies may not reopen for regular business before next spring.
Meanwhile, revenue has flatlined. McMichael, a board member with the United Motorcoach Association, said he expects to see Executive Coach revenue to be down between 80% and 90% for the year. Kurtz, treasurer for the Pennsylvania Bus Association, said Elite Coach will be lucky to make 30% of its previously projected revenue this year.
Both bus company presidents noted a reported limit by the Small Business Administration to reduce the maximum emergency assistance and loans to businesses from $2 million to $150,000.
Kurtz says while he appreciates any federal assistance, $150,000 would be a small fraction of the $10 million the company makes annually with 40 buses and 110 employees, nearly all of whom are laid off.
“It’s not going to be enough to sustain us for the next 12 months,” he said of the loan. “We’re not looking for a handout. We’re looking for some assistance to make it through.”