Pandemic crashes charter bus industry

Coronavirus

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The coronavirus pandemic has hit a lot of businesses hard. Odds are you’ve either ridden in a charter bus or at least seen one on the highway. The coronavirus has put some serious brakes on the entire industry, including a company in Mobile. They’re the vehicles that might take you or your favorite college football team to the game.

“Fall football season would not happen without the motor-coach,” said CEO of Capital and Colonial Trailways Suzanne Thornburg. She spoke to me over Zoom Tuesday morning from her Baldwin County home. Colonial Trailways in Mobile is part of a charter bus company that operates throughout Alabama. Their buses get large groups of people from point A to B but nobody’s going anywhere.

“It has completely devastated our companies and the industry as a whole,” said Thornburg. She says they’ve furloughed more than 100 employees and the federal stimulus package doesn’t cover their industry. She says a lot of their expenses come from paying down debt on new buses to keep refreshing their vehicle fleet.

“Just for congress to reach out and ask to be educated on who we are and the services we provide our relationship with the department of transportation in every state,” said Thornburg. Thornburg says she thinks it will still take up to a year and a half for the industry to recover.

“People are still going to be hesitant until we find a vaccination for COVID-19,” she said. Thornburg says their companies have seen $3 million dollars in cancelations requests since the first week of March. She says it’s a similar story for hundreds of other motor coach businesses across the country.

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