Area coach companies headed to national rally, say government “missed the bus”

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Whether it’s plane, train, boat or bus, people rely on transportation industries. The world wouldn’t function without them, but one sector says it’s been left behind in the pandemic.

“I think the government overlooked us. They missed the bus,” says Peoria Charter co-owner James Wang.

The buses are hitting the road and traveling 700 miles to send a big message.

“Hotels, cruise ships, airlines…all the travel industry was covered under the government actions to be able to protect these companies, but we didn’t receive a dime,” says Peoria Charter VP Dennis Utley.

Hundreds of them, representing 3,000 motorcoach and bus companies across the country, are headed to Washington D.C. for a nationwide rally. Drivers with Peoria Charter and two other nearby companies hit the road from Urbana on Monday. They say the majority of these companies are small, family-owned businesses.

“The goal is to get the leaders of the country there to see how many of us there are…how many mom-and-pop funded bus operations there are. We have zero income,” says Wang. “I feed my family with the income that this company generates.

The coaches will role into the nation’s capitol this Wednesday to raise awareness. Each bus will have a different message on the side, showing why they’re crucial to the country’s infrastructure. Peoria Charter says each company participating will follow social distancing rules. They won’t leave their buses.

The American Motorcoach Association (AMA) and American Bus Association (ABA) are organizing the rally. They’re asking congress for $10 billion in grants for operational and payroll assistance, as well as an additional $5 billion in long-term, zero percent interest rate loans.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get that because otherwise, a lot of the companies in this industry are not going to make it,” says Utley.

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