LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Over 1,000 bus drivers from 400 charter bus companies gathered in Washington, DC on Wednesday morning, asking for $15 billion in financial assistance after they were shut down by COVID-19.
Tom Walters, owner of King’s Highway in Lubbock, says he normally works with schools this time of year. but because schools are closed, his business and other charter bus companies are suffering.
Walters says he hasn’t seen revenue since March 14.
“We actually thought we could have a busy summer with youth groups going to Six Flags, church camps and mission trips - that’s what we do in the summertime.”
Wednesday’s rally was put on by the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association.
“It was amazing, just to see that many people were affected by this and that many people are in the same boat as me…no income since March 14, and to see that many buses, which is just a token of what is out there.”
Walters wants charter bus companies to receive the same stimulus benefits as airlines and cruises lines.
Walters has been paying his employees with a loan from the Small Business Administration.
“We have no trips, no income. We opted to pay our employees right when this hit, so for a couple of weeks, we did that. I said to them, 'We’re going to do this until the money runs out.’”
The American Bus Association said there are more than 36,000 motor coaches idle right now, with more than 100,000 jobs affected, and billions of dollars in tax revenue that isn’t being collected.
Walters says that if they don't get help soon, there could be a problem when schools and other businesses need his help in the fall.
“There are many many small businesses like mine around the United States that are individually owned. Without assistance‚ we’re not going to be around anymore.”