BEMIDJI -- Hundreds of motorcoach bus companies from across the country, including Bemidji, will roll through Washington D.C. Wednesday to make a statement.
Bemidji Bus Line is joining an event titled Motorcoaches Rolling for Awareness. During the event, motorcoach operators will go through the nation's capital with the goal of reminding members of the U.S. Congress and the Trump Administration that the industry needs federal assistance, a release said.
About 90% of the bus line's workforce has been furloughed nationally because of the coronavirus pandemic. In response, the industry is requesting $15 billion in federal grants and loan guarantees.
"Like many local small businesses, our operations have been absolutely devastated by the coronavirus," Rob Wicklund of the Bemidji Bus Line said in the release. "Our buses sit idle while our employees remain at home. We all want to be back on the road, bringing people from point A to point B while serving our communities again."
There are nearly 3,000 motorcoach companies across the country and the majority of them are small business and/or family owned, overall the industry employs nearly 100,000 people, the release said.
In Bemidji, the local business employs 40 people and offers transportation for schools, churches, corporate events, weddings, the military and more.
"Without help from the federal government, I fear our buses may never return to the road and our passengers will be stranded without access to the nation's transportation system," Wicklund said.
As part of the event, buses participating will be decorated with signs informing the public about the industry's economic impact and the people they employ.
The event is involving independent operators, industry suppliers, state associations, the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach Association.