By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The fleet of buses at Amador Stage Lines sits empty, unused and locked up as the coronavirus heavily impacts the travel business.

William Allen, president and CEO of Amador Stage Lines, sent one of his empty buses on a trip to Washington, D.C. last week in an effort to help save the industry.

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“The whole industry, over 3,000 bus companies in the United States, basically has been shut down,” Allen said. “For some reason, the bus industry typically gets the last piece of bread and so that’s a problem for us. We’re trying to have awareness. This was all about awareness to the Congress.”

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Amador Stage Lines joined dozens of other bus companies driving to the nation’s capital in solidarity and to ask for similar financial COVID-19 aid that the airline industry received.

“To see 1,008 in D.C. was amazing. There was 13.2 miles straight of buses down the expressway in Washington,” Laura Allen, Amador Stage Lines Special Projects, said.

Laura Allen, William’s daughter, was onboard for the cross-country trip through countless towns and cities, all in an effort to get lawmakers on board to help.

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“People came together for this one cause,” Laura Allen said. “And, if everybody can come together for that, we hope that the people that are making the decision can look at that and see how important our industry is and what we can do if we work together.”

“I would say half of our industry will go nationwide. I can’t see a lot of survival rate without some help,” William Allen said.

In a joint letter sent to congressional leadership, the American Bus Association and United Motorcoach Association outlined what the industry is requesting in regards to aid.

The industry is seeking:

  • $10 billion Payroll Grant Program by adding “over-the-road bus carriers” to the airline payroll grant program in the CARES Act.
  • $5 billion Loan Guaranteed Fund subject to the same provisions as airline carriers eligible for loans.
  • Changes to the Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Programs that include: continued funding for PPP and EIDL Programs; amending the PPP Affiliation provisions to reflect the diverse operations of motorcoach companies; adjust the payroll requirement for PPP Loan Forgiveness to 50%; extend PPP forgiveness provisions beyond eight weeks and permit up to three additional loans providing each prior loan was spent in the manner prescribed; add the same forgiveness provisions to the EIDL Program as contained in the PPP.

This Sacramento company, with roots as old as California itself, hopes rolling into Washington will result in a new aid package tolling out for them.

“People just don’t realize how critical this industry is and how essential it is,” William Allen said. “Once that word gets out, it puts a whole new light when they see a bus go down a road.”

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The owner of Amador Stage Lines told CBS13 that the company did get some funding from the Payroll Protection Plan until June 20, but he said the reality is they don’t have any new money coming. So, according to Allen, the company is paying people with that PPP money to stay home.