This is the time of year when the charter buses at Stafford County-based LW Transportation would be in the midst of the busy season hauling visitors to Washington, D.C.
But LW Transportation’s 19 buses are sitting idle, like many thousands more across the U.S.
“I haven’t moved a bus since March 15,” Larry Williams, who has owned the company since 1996, said Tuesday. Williams has laid off 19 employees, leaving the company with seven workers.
Willams, 66, and many others in the bus industry, believe government leaders have ignored charter services like LW Transportation, something which sparked hundreds of owners to send buses to D.C. in protest on Wednesday.
Williams will send one of his buses to Washington. He said hundreds are expected to attend from 47 states, including companies from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.
The American Bus Association said in a recent news release that nearly the entire industry is shut down, with “80–90 percent of cancelled trips and very few future bookings.”
If the pandemic continues through the year, the ABA projects more than 92 percent of the industry’s 88,000-plus workers would lose their jobs and losses would reach $14.2 billion.
“This is the worst crisis our industry has ever faced in our more than 100 years of business,” Peter Pantuso, ABA Foundation president, said in a news release. “We are seeing devastation worse than 9/11 and we have had no help from the federal government. When Congress was handing out $100 billion to airlines, Amtrak and public transportation they left out the private motorcoach industry.”
Williams, who started in the industry as a 12 year old cleaning buses, said the impact from the virus hit his company and the industry hard and fast.
“I’ve seen a lot, but this has been about the worst I’ve ever faced,” he said. “There was no time to prepare.”
Williams said the company had “a lot of good bookings for the year,” but those are, at best, up in the air now.
He said the company pays $6,200 a month for each bus, plus insurance.
Williams said his company received some government help, but it hasn’t been much.
If the pandemic drags on, Williams figures he can make it through the end of the year without help from the government.
“But some help would make it a little easier,” he said.