Local bus tour company talks about business during COVID and what help they need

Coronavirus

They're working to get $15 billion in support for the motorcoach industry

GREENEVILLE, Pa. (WKBN) – The season’s changing but the pandemic remains a constant, and for Anderson Coach & Travel, many of their buses have been taken off the road.

“We had fall college athletics that were going to be very sustaining for us with the various colleges, which includes Mount Union and a lot of the D-III schools in the region that we provide transportation services for and with,” said Doug Anderson, president of Anderson Coach & Travel. “When they pulled all their fall sports our revenue went from what was going to be probably 45% of our normal revenue down to 8% of our revenue.”

Lawmakers have been working on the CERTS (Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services) Act, which is intended to help the motorcoach industry. The industry didn’t receive any money from the CARES Act, which left some of the smaller, family-owned transportation businesses to fend for themselves.

“It’s individual bills that have been introduced in the Senate as well as the House of Representatives. We have 57 U.S. senators that are signed in, and I think we have over 257 congressmen that have signed onto the bill. It proposes $15 billion worth of economic relief, specifically for the motorcoach industry,” said Anderson.

According to Anderson, the motorcoach industry is comprised of 36,000 buses that are owned and operated by small operators, such as Anderson Coach & Travel, with about 3,000 companies across the country.

“It also addresses shortages in funding that the school bus operations have had, as well as taxis and limos, so it’s a broad-based act to rectify and help support our industry,” said Anderson.

He said they did receive some paycheck protection program funding to retain their personnel.

“At the end of the PPP money, we had retained a number of those people and, unfortunately, we still didn’t have jobs to usher them back into or get them back into. The constant that we have are our mortgage payments on very, very expensive motorcoaches, so that’s the challenge that the restrictions on much of the funding that we’ve been able to get thus far from the federal government has not been able to address the major shortcomings that we have,” said Anderson.

Being that this an election year, there was some business to be had. Anderson transported Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

As COVID restrictions were loosened, some trips transporting college athletes resumed.

Most recently, they completed a two-day, one-night trip to the Sights and Sound Museum in Lancaster, Pa., and also visited the Ark Encounter as well as the Creation Museum, both in Kentucky.

“We have been fortunate to have a few overnight tours, which included our very first overnight trip since March 13, which left Sept. 2 and came back the 5th. It went to Mackinac Island,” said Anderson. “It was a great trip. We sent two buses. We had social separation on the buses.”

Right now, they’d be gearing up for the Oglebay Festival of Lights, winter trips to New York and the Macy’s Day Parade, but the pandemic is preventing that from happening.

“Given the COVID conditions in New York and the travel restrictions, we really have a limited number of destinations that we can go to,” said Anderson.

More importantly Anderson said, the confidence in people to travel has been reduced, which is why they are doing everything they can to keep everyone safe. They social distance passengers, provide masks, continue to regularly clean the buses, which is something they’ve always done, and installed purifiers to clean the air.

“We are spraying with electrostatic sprayers, we are using CDC approved and EPA approved sprays to help disinfect,” said Anderson. “Most importantly, a product that we have become aware of is an air purification system called ActivePure that we have installed on all of our motorcoaches to instill the cleaning and cleansing of the air to allow a lot of the airborne pathogens to be killed, which includes bacteria, viruses and even things like the COVID virus are susceptible to this conditioned air.”

The system runs constantly as the motorcoach is traveling, cleaning the air.

“It’s really a state of the art product, and we’ve adapted it to our industry. It’s really worked out well for us and it’s opened some doors for us,” said Anderson.

If an individual isn’t confident in traveling, they can still help the industry by going to busesmoveamerica.com, which allows a person to send a request for support to the motorcoach industry to increase the number of congressmen and senators that will support the CERTS Act.

“I’d just like to say thank you for the support that we’ve had from the community standpoint, from a regional standpoint. We’ve had a lot of people that have written letters on our behalf to support the CERTS Act,” Anderson said. ” It’s been very much a grassroots effort and I want to just say to the overall listening community thank you for the support.

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