CLINTON, N.Y. - Like many other businesses, the tour bus industry took a major hit during the pandemic with shut downs and travel restrictions.
Hale transportation in Clinton is hoping for economic relief from the federal government.
"We do need help to withstand this virus and be here in the future," Stephen Hale, the owner of Hale Transportation and Hale’s Bus Garage said. “March 13, when we were entering our busy season, the light switch went off and everything got parked for at least three months and the last month we’ve been getting maybe one trip a day compared to up to 30 trips a day.”
Hale says not only did the amount of passengers decrease, so did his staff.
“Unfortunately we had to lay off around 55 employees that are still dedicated to our company but we have no work for them," Hale said. "We’re trying to think of new ways to do business, we’re ready to roll, we’ve done our homework on cleaning, disinfecting, social distancing as well, we’re going to try to do our business as normal as soon as things start to open up carefully.”
Unlike airlines and public transit, the private bus industry, has received no economic relief from the government.
"They skipped over motorcoach companies and that’s why we’re trying to get some funds to pay our bills," Hale said.
With most falls sports, and possibly even winter sports being delayed, plus not many people traveling, Hale is worried the buses could stay empty for quite a while.
"To go on for over a year like this will be hurtful to all the bus industry as a whole, everybody else got funding," Hale said.
According to president of the Bus Association of New York, Hale Transportation is just one of 3,000 motorcoach companies across the country looking for economic relief.
"They have just been devastated by COVID, devestated, and we have asked Washington for $10 billion in grant funding and $5 billion in loan funding," Cam Morris, Hale Transportation Oneonta division manager and president of the Bus Association of New York said. “We’re the only form of public transportation that did not get any relief money in the CARES Act. Airlines did, rail did, transit did, and we did not and we’re the only other form oftransportation for the public.”
Morris says the the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act is currently being negotiated in Washington.