U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently cosponsored the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act of 2020. This bipartisan legislation would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding, in the form of grants (no less than 50 percent of total funding) and other economic assistance, through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to motorcoach operators, school bus companies, U.S. flag passenger vessel operators, and other U.S. transportation service providers, as designated by the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation.
“Vital transportation providers across New York desperately need federal aid to continue to operate and serve the traveling public. New York’s bus, motorcoach, and ferry operators not only provide good-paying jobs, but also offer important services to travelers, students, and families who rely on transportation service providers to get to school and commute to work, and in the best of times, travel and enjoy summer activities,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I will continue fighting to secure emergency economic relief funding for transportation service providers who are essential to our state’s recovery.”
Across the state, transportation service providers have reported massive losses due to the pandemic. In Long Island, the shuttering of businesses and cancellation of many activities that draw travelers to Shelter Island has negatively impacted ferry companies, which are vital to the local economy and emergency responders. The suspension of most tourism means that passenger levels are likely be depressed for many months to come.
For those companies still offering service, there will be significant additional operating costs as they observe public health recommendations for social distancing, cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). These added costs come on top of already high overhead and insurance costs for the industry, with new buses, motorcoaches, or vessels costing $500,000 or more. And the vehicles in operation may require not only significant debt service, but also ongoing maintenance in order to remain ready.