American Bus Association | President & CEO
In late March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to rage, travel and tourism ground to a halt. As states, regions, and venues reopen with consideration and caution, we take a look at the impact on the motorcoach industry.
Peter J. Pantuso, CTIS, has been in the travel industry for more than 20 years as the President & CEO of the American Bus Association—the oldest and largest motorcoach, group travel, and tourism association. Groups Today thanks him for offering insight on what comes next.
Currently, the greatest challenge to the motorcoach and group travel industry is COVID-19. Since March 2020, nearly all of our 36,000 buses in the industry have been idled; at first because of government-mandated travel restrictions and now because people do not feel comfortable yet traveling in groups. Our industry normally carries 600 million passengers a year—school groups, families, commuters, church groups, travelers who want an affordable and social way to travel to meet people, et cetera—and now we are seeing an annual decline of 71% of people traveling.
As we have always stated: Motorcoach travel is the most flexible, most affordable, greenest and safest mode of transportation. We enable people who can't afford to fly or don't live near urban hubs to see the country as it is meant to be seen ... From the ground. Motorcoach travel is the greenest form of transportation. We have a small carbon footprint, which makes it attractive to people who care about the environment. Traveling by bus is also the most flexible and convenient way to travel. You aren't tied to railroad tracks or airport hubs. With this type of flexibility as well as offering the amenities that people have grown accustomed to having when they travel, we believe people will want to travel again soon and will choose motorcoach travel to do so.
Right now, people want to know they are safe in the vehicle they are riding—we are the safest mode of surface transportation—and that includes ensuring their transportation mode is clean. ABA recently released sample policies for the industry on how to ensure their buses are clean and as safe as can be from viruses.
Our industry realizes, right now, clean is the most important thought in people's mind when choosing transportation. Our companies are following protocols to put passengers at ease.
The travel industry is like no other industry I have worked in before. We always say we are a big family, but it is true. Everyone is connected and tied to each other for success. From the ride to your destination to the restaurant you eat in and the hotels you sleep in, everyone is working together to ensure you have the best experience possible.
And there is no experience like the memories you make through travel.
Written by Amy L Charles, Editorial Director for Groups Today.
This article originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2020 issue of Groups Today.