ASHLAND -- Don Way, owner of All-Ways Charter Bus in Ashland, is urging community members to contact state senators and congressmen in hopes the charter bus industry will receive financial support on the next government COVID-19 relief act.
According to Way, charter bus companies throughout the United States have received significantly less money than other members of the travel industry.
“We got nothing like Amtrak, the airlines, and cruise ships," Way said. "We were offered emergency EIDL loan.
"Each and every small company was supposed to get a $10,000 grant. I got an email from the (Small Business Administration) saying that it wouldn’t be worth putting pen to paper to write me a check for the little amount they would offer.”
Since March 15, Way said he has lost over $240,000 of guaranteed money from signed contracts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the industry does not receive further financial assistance soon, there will be a significant reduction in the number of charter buses in Ohio, Way said.
This would inevitably impact Ohio sports teams, school field trips and other necessary public transit.
"Because we live in Ashland, they consider us a rural area; we’re nonessential," Way said. "If I was in Cleveland or Columbus, I would’ve got the $10,000 or maybe more money.
“I’m asking anybody and everybody for help, whether they’ve taken our charter bus or have traveled with another charter bus company; send a fax or call your senator, congressman or representatives and tell them that we need their support.”
Without help, Way doesn't see his business surviving after November. In 2019, All-Ways Charter Bus grossed roughly $700,000; they have only grossed nearly $80,000 so far in 2020. The majority of trips in the spring have already been cancelled as well, according to Way.
“The problem is, it’s not just Ohio; it’s every other state," Way said. "Bus companies are dropping out big time.”