Bethlehem, PA – Trans-Bridge Lines would like the community to be aware of a serious mistake made in the phase-three stimulus package recently passed by Congress. This package specifically earmarked grants and loans for airlines, airports, public transit and Amtrak, with no mention of the United States motorcoach industry.
Every effort was made by industry organizations and private companies who appealed to Congress and the White House for much needed help. The motorcoach industry provides 600 million passenger trips annually - almost as many as airlines. Despite pleas, the motorcoach industry was overlooked.
Presently, nearly every motorcoach business across the country have shut their doors and have been forced to lay-off employees. For many, this means permanent closure. Never before in history has the motorcoach industry been hit so hard, so quickly. Events have been canceled, workers ordered to work from home, and the public ordered to practice social distancing. These protocols, while completely necessary to contain the spreading of the virus, has had a devastating economic affect on the small and mid-sized companies in this industry.
“We have decreased our active employees by laying off 119 staff members, reducing work hours for others, and have only three drivers still working for a small contract transit service for New Jersey Transit which travels between Easton and Phillipsburg”, said Trans-Bridge Lines President, Tom JeBran, “We specifically need direct grants-in-aid and loans to the U.S. motorcoach industry, to save our employees and our industry.”
The U.S. motorcoach industry has always played a vital role in transporting the public, often in conjunction with airlines, public transit operators and Amtrak. It moves military personnel, provides critical connections for rural and under-served communities to reachmedical and other critical services, and serves commuters headed to all types of jobs. Furthermore, motorcoaches are key players in national emergency planning for weather and security-related events. The industry has been deemed by the Department of Homeland Security as an essential and critical infrastructure. As such, it facilitates essential service functions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a PA PUC regulated company, Trans-Bridge must follow guidelines that are in place which state, ‘in order to ensure a safe operation, the bus carrier would have to continue its maintenance service and test drive if necessary after repairs, under the Automotive Repair andMaintenance category, which is considered life sustaining’,” JeBran said, “It is essential that the plight of the industry not be overlooked by government.”
On March 23, Trans-Bridge Lines temporarily ceased all operations including New York City route runs. Trans-Bridge Lines proudly serves the Eastern Pennsylvania areas, along with Warren and Hunterdon Counties in New Jersey. The shutdown was due to the tremendous decrease of ridership, but most importantly because of health and safety concerns for our staff, passengers, and the residents of our communities.
“I want the public and our members of Congress to understand the costs we are experiencing in addition to lost revenue. We are still obligated to pay rents, gate fees at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, insurance, and healthcare costs. We also have over 220 canceled Charter trips. We want to be ready to move people as soon as this global crisis is over. There will be a need for transportation services,” JeBran stated.
With discussion of a fourth relief package, Trans-Bridge Lines and all of the United States Motorcoach Industry will be anxiously waiting for the ever-so-important aid to sustain them.