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Charter bus industry struggling financially as Americans stay home

Posted at 11:07 AM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 11:07:33-04

CLEVELAND — As Americans are staying home and canceling trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel industry has taken a major economic hit.

Back in March, President Trump signed a $2 trillion stimulus gill to assist travel-related companies like airlines and hotels, but one piece of the travel industry puzzle has received little financial relief.

At one point or another, most Americans have boarded a charter bus.

“Whether it’s sight seeing, going to sporting events, anything like that, the motor coaches are the backbone to our society,” Ben Bolog said.

Finances are strained for those whose livelihood depends on shuttling large groups of people to and from events, airports and hotels.

“Baseball games, football games, sporting events, concerts, Cedar Point, school, school activities, sight seeing,” Bolog said. “That’s what we do, and right now with the country locked down we’re not doing a single thing.”

Bolog is a member of the Ohio Motorcoach Association. He said he is working with state lawmakers to find additional financial resources for the charter bus industry in the Buckeye State.

“Most of us are hoping that the SBA loan or the PPP loan comes out,” Bolog said. “But those are loans so we’ll have to pay those back if we even survive.”

Motorcoach businesses fear this puts a strain on people living in rural areas who depend on charter buses and those who may not be able to afford other means of travel.

“More than 40% of passengers that go to the airport or from the airport are taken to and from on motor coaches,” Bolog said.

He believes if the charter bus industry fails, other businesses may crumble too.

“We bring almost a third of Cedar Point’s revenue to Cedar Point through charter bus operation,” Bolog said. “So taking a third of Cedar Point’s operation revenue from them just by eliminating the buses could bankrupt the company and put Cedar Point off the map.”

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