A bus from Bollman Charter Service in Snake Spring Township will take part in what is being billed as an 8-mile-long caravan today in Washington, D.C., organized by the American Bus Association.
“We’re just to trying to make people aware, whether Congress even looks at us or not, to make it known that we’re still here — sitting,” said Tonya Greenawalt of Bollman’s.
Greenawalt said the charter bus industry was left out of the federal CARES relief act.
The industry has requested $15 billion in grants and loan modifications to the federal Economic Injury and Paycheck Protection programs to keep the industry from failing.
According to the American Bus Association, the industry has laid off more than 90 percent of its workforce because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Like all of the industry, Bollman’s has felt the pinch.
Greenawalt said the spring is the company’s biggest time of the year, with a host of tourist trips along with many school-related trips. Among them, Bollman’s was to take six busloads of Altoona Area High School students to Florida.
With Bedford County set to move on Friday from red to yellow status under Gov. Tom Wolf’s phased approach to reopening the state’s businesses, Bollman’s is planning to reopen, but how that will work remains unclear, Greenawalt said.
“We’re taking it as yellow means that we can open up.” she said.
She’s hopeful that the travelers will come back.
“People are still wanting to go,” she said. Given concerns that the virus has been especially hard on seniors, she conceded that, “They’re not probably going to want to jump on board right away.”
But travelers can take comfort that Bollman’s has moved from spray bottles to a commercial disinfecting system for its buses, and said the company will follow whatever regulations are handed down by health authorities.
“None of those regulations have been stated,” she said. “We will follow what the airlines do. I’m not sure; there’s no clarity. No one has said, ‘this is what you need to do to run a bus.’”
The rally is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. from AUDI Field, and pass the Capitol and cencircle the National Mall. Representatives from all 50 states are expected for the event.