Archives for COVID-19

Defending Contractors, Part 3: The Whistleblower’s Song

A few months ago, 85% of the nation’s motorcoach fleet lay around collecting dust. As noted in a former installment of National Bus Trader (see Motorcoach survival in the age of covid: the end of charter and tour service for now), the fat charter and tour sectors of yesteryear are gone – at least for some time. If ridership on the mode (transit) transporting our tired, poor and huddled masses has shrunk by 10 percent in each of the two years preceding COVID-19, one can expect far fewer motorcoach joyrides. As we struggle to bounce back, limited stimulus funds notwithstanding,

What’s in Store for the Post-COVID Era Motorcoach Industry

As disturbing as recent USDOT appointments have been, I almost did not write this column. When the FMCSA administrator was nominated, I felt I had to. This is because the FMCSA regulates, governs and largely influences both the troubled motorcoach industry and vaccine distribution (at least those vaccines delivered by trucks). Given even the most conservative budgets currently being discussed (as of February 2, 2021), the potential waste in vaccine distribution is disturbing since it greatly exceeds what is needed to completely restore the motorcoach industry – including subsidies it may need for several years to get back on its tires. This article is not a partisan political criticism. I voted for neither recent candidate. I am

Motorcoach Survival in the Age of Covid-19, Part 3: The End of Charter and Tour Service – For Now

Over the years, I have predicted countless things in the pages of National Bus Trader. No reader will ever find me to have been wrong. Nor am I wrong about this: Some day, charter and tour service will come back stronger than ever. But that day is a long way off. The challenge is what to do in the meantime. Particularly from the Pandemic, America is in far deeper collapse than most people would have thought possible. Recent estimates have suggested that renters (and their families) of 20 million households could be evicted after the short-term bans on evictions expire.

Responding to Adversity by Abandoning Support 

Responding to Adversity by Abandoning Support  Unusual for a writer in a motorcoach magazine, I have often illustrated problems which surfaced in other modes. And I have discussed how operators, agencies and other parties associated with those modes have succeeded or failed to address them.  These lessons are far more important now because of the impact of COVID-19 on motorcoach ridership, vehicle production, and the successes or failures of the industry as a whole to cope with these problems. An example of a partial success was discussed in the November, 2020 edition of NATIONAL BUS TRADER: “Small Efforts and Big Differences.” An example of the

COVID-19, Shenanigans and Liability Part 2: Making Money by Compromising Health

Amtrak, the heavily-subsidized enemy of the motorcoach industry, is now outdoing its airline industry colleagues. But as a quasi-government monopoly, the taxpayers will effectively cover the damages if problems develop. That Amtrak may not even belong in most parts of the country is only a footnote.  The latest development was disclosed formidably in the October 14, 2020 issue of Mass Transit, re-characterizing a story from The Times Union, in Albany, New York. Amtrak’s activities were actually presented as great news: Mass Transit titled its article: “NY: With cutbacks, some Amtrak trains now sold out.” The fact that this feat was

Transit Survival in the Age of Covid-19

Two installments ago, I described alternative roles motorcoaches could play to make important contributions to the current pandemic, and which would keep drivers, mechanics and vehicles at work, and operating agencies and companies, manufacturers and suppliers in business. In the last installment, I described how to put motorcoaches back on the road in traditional roles. In this installment, I will outline some ideas for getting fixed route transit buses and passenger trains back to work, consistent with safety for both drivers and passengers. The ideas focus on NYC’s transit system as a model, since the challenges facing this system are

Motorcoach Survival in the Age of Covid-19 Part 1: Roles and Opportunities

I would normally begin a series by exploring the origin of the problems. These would have included four decades of failure in multiple sectors of public transportation. Among its fellow modes, the motorcoach industry created the fewest of these failures. But the motorcoach industry has been limited in its capabilities to contribute to the current crisis by poor decisions made above and around it, and beyond its control, for at least four decades now – as I have noted in many NATIONAL BUS TRADER articles. Decades of mistakes now threaten the motorcoach industry’s very survival. But they have also compromised

Getting Students Back to School During COVID-19

Because of social distancing, classrooms and schoolbuses can only be filled to one-fourth of their capacities. This constraint alone requires that a broad range of dramatic changes be made in order for our children to return to physical school without placing out entire population at greater risk than we already are. Using the key points below, state educational and transportation officials can tweak this model into a formal, detailed plan, and hand it to their respective governors. With such plans implemented, students in many or most states should be able to return to Zoom school this September, and attend school,