COVID-19: Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation in Distress

Already, COVID-19 has severely impacted the Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation industry. The industry is in a tailspin and the effects are only getting worse. Although the industry is a vital, integral part of American infrastructure, the government has been slow to offer any relief. Airlines, for some reason, are already considered for massive relief packages. However, the industries which form the backbone of transit – bus, livery, taxi, rail – are largely ignored.

COVID-19 Relief – A Stark Contrast

To add to the frustrations, small businesses make up most of the companies in the transit and ground transport industry, often family owned and operated. They employ millions of Americans and responsibly manage their cash flow to ensure these workers are paid on time and the company runs smoothly. Yet, legislators offered nothing to assist these honest and dependable businesses. Meanwhile, the administration released a $50 billion aid package for major airline companies. Unfortunately, they recently spent billions in stock buy-backs when the economy was good. Airlines failed to create emergency funds, fully aware their industry often runs on a boom and bust cycle. They had little problem spending 96% of their free cash flow to drive up shareholder returns without actually improving their business.

SOS

Those who feel forgotten need not lose hope. Immediate stopgaps are available. First, operators should contact legislators. See the National Limo Association’s great COVID-19 resource page for a list of Capitol Hill contacts. Second, know operators may qualify for a disaster relief loan, to get cash for very low interest. SBA loans require the governor of your state to declare a state of emergency. Be sure to contact their office if they haven’t done so yet.

Additionally, operators can manage cash flow through reducing costs. One possibility is for operators to contact their banks and insurance companies. Defer payments or reduce coverage to save money. Remember, it’s easiest to stop repossessions before they start. Call your lender before you make any plans to hold a payment. Keep in mind, reduced insurance coverage on a vehicle changes its usability, so this choice must not be made lightly. Operators with fewer jobs may find this is a good option. On the other hand, if they have the funds, operators may find this downtime is good for maintenance. The low volume of jobs could mean competitive pricing on service jobs.

Hang in There

These steps are not easy ones, and they do not guarantee results. The important thing right now is for operators to tread water. Government relief is slow; that means we have to hang in there as long as possible. Already, we saw friends and customers shutter their operations, some for good. We know operators work hard building their business. Let’s be hopeful our industry will rebound. We don’t want to see your hard work wasted. It sounds contrite, but do not give up hope. Cruise ships and hotels have been added to the industries considered for COVID-19 relief. Therefore, it’s not unrealistic to think that legislators will find funding for other critical industries. And for any of our operators who might need assistance, please, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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