Rolling for Awareness: Motorcoach operators prepare for rally in Washington D.C. to ask for funding during COVID-19 crisis

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) Hundreds of motorcoaches are “rolling for awareness“.

They are heading to the nation’s capitol to rally awareness for their industry, citing it has been “forgotten” due to the COVID-19 crisis.

They are heading to the nation’s capitol to rally awareness for their industry, citing it has been “forgotten” due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Pheben Kassahun caught up with members of the Tennessee Motorcoach Association before they rolled out.

The motorcoach industry has been shutdown since March 12 due to the COVID-19 crisis. They plan to bring their concerns to congress on Wednesday to shed light on how their industry has been forgotten, when it comes to receiving federal aid.

“It’s a small family of operators. It’s high volume, high capitalization, but not too many players in that industry that run these coaches, and it’s imperative that we keep America moving,” Tennessee Motorcoach Association vice president Bill Adams said.

Motorcoach operators slipped through the cracks for federal aid for small businesses.

“We didn’t get anything other than the PPP; the Payroll Protection Plan which is mainly for employee pay and be able to maintain the employees,” Jackie Denny told Kassahun. “Our main expenses isn’t employees, it’s more motorcoach payments and insurance payments and that type of thing. It’s very expensive.”

The group hopes to join hundreds of other owners and drivers in the capitol to ask congress for funding.

The American Bus Association serves a once thriving industry that provided more than 600 million passenger trips annually on charters, tours, scheduled service and shuttles. Today, the industry has been decimated by COVID-19 with nearly 2 million motorcoach, group tour and travel employees unemployed, according to the American Bus Association.

They are heading to the nation’s capitol to rally awareness for their industry, citing it has been “forgotten” due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Denny said, “This is not a protest. We’re just going to show them that we’re here and we need their help. We’re all going to be conducting ourselves very respectfully. We’re not going to disobey traffic orders. We’re going to be maintaining social distancing and all those types of things,”

“It’s imperative that we have funding, so that we can make these large payments, keep the motorcoaches safe as possible and keep staff and drivers employed,” Adams said.

According to the American Bus Association, 90 percent of the industry are small family-owned business forced to close because of COVID-19.

“There’s going to be lots of groups that can’t make it to the airport. There are going to be lots of people that can’t make it to the cruiseline. There will be many school trips that won’t take place. So, people will have the tendency not to think until they need us,” Denny

Motorcoaches from 49 states plan to be at the 3-hour rally Wednesday at 10 a.m. you can follow their track by following the hashtag #BusesMoveAmerica, #RollingForAwareness #DontMissOurBus and #R4A2020.

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