MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Tour bus companies say they’re being left in the dust during the pandemic. Spring is their busiest season, yet buses are sitting idle. They’re asking the federal government for help.
“At my age, I’m still at it so it’s something I really enjoy,” said Town & Country tour bus driver Joseph Ward.
He is one of the nearly half-a-million people in Connecticut who’ve been sidelined from the job market during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuesday the tour bus driver joined motor coach companies including New Britain-based DATTCO at the I-95 Milford rest area, one stop on their rolling rally to Washington D.C.
“Our industry was left out of the first stimulus bill. They had billions of dollars for the airlines, Amtrak, and transit but the local motorcoach companies were left out of that bill,” said DATTCO President Donald Devivo.
Operators say they serve as many passengers as the airline industry and more than rail systems. Bus companies say spring is their busiest season. They’re missing out on school trips, sporting events, and tourism.
The industry says nationally it’s furloughed most of its workforce, everyone from dispatchers to drivers like Ward. They say they generate over $230 billion in revenue each year. Companies want $15 billion for the industry in the next potential federal relief package. They’re going to D.C. to demand it.
The buses left Connecticut for the U.S. capital in D.C., where they’ll meet up with hundreds of other motorcoach companies from around the country. The rally continues around the Capitol and National Mall on Wednesday.
“I’m hoping we’ll come out of this with a win,” said Ward.