New Bill to Help Workers in the Intercity Bus industry
July 16, 2020
In response to a labor-management partnership led by the ATU, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is set to introduce the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act of 2020. While public transportation agencies and commercial airlines were provided federal assistance under the CARES Act, many segments of the transportation industry have not had the same access to so-called bail out funding. As a result, thousands of school bus and intercity bus workers that have been laid off due to the coronavirus have seen no relief. The Reed bill would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding to motorcoach operators, school bus companies, U.S. flag passenger vessel operators, and other U.S. transportation service providers. With language provided by ATU, the bill conditions funding on companies retaining their employees as of the date of enactment and on bringing back employees as business improves. In addition to supporting payroll, assistance under the bill can be used for maintaining equipment and facilities and for expenses related to protecting employees and customers from the coronavirus. Senator Reed is hoping to incorporate the bill into the next COVID bill, which could possibly be acted upon in the next few weeks.
Jim Jalbert from C & J Trailways described the current state of affairs:
Peter Picknelly, Chairman of Peter Pan Bus Lines also described the need for federal assistance:
Peter Picknelly, CEO of Peter Pan Bus Services, the second largest bus company in the Northeast, said his company, like the other bus services has been “annihilated” by the pandemic. He said they are a 90-year, fourth generational family business and they are in danger of not being able to recover from the losses resulting from the pandemic. “The CARES Act gave airlines $50 billion; Amtrak, $1 billion; and public transit $25 billion,” said Picknelly. “Inner city buses like ours got nothing even though we play such an important role in the transportation infrastructure. We move more people in one week than Amtrak moves in a year. We have been closed since March 29. We reopened on a limited basis on June 5, at about 25% volume.”