Ground transportation is a vital component of our nation’s infrastructure. Composed of both public and private modes of transport such as municipal buses, light rail, carpooling, rental car and private transit companies, the industry is dedicated to the daily movement of commuters, goods and essential services around the country. Ground transportation services also play a key role in reducing congestion on the nation’s roadways and reducing CO2 emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic presents major challenges to most businesses, and the ground transportation industry is no exception. As major employers have suspended or permanently closed onsite operations in favor of ‘work from home’ options for their employees, the impact on ground transportation has been immediate and far reaching. Public programs have seen average ridership declines of 60% to 70% or higher. Private transit companies which provide large fleets of buses and other vehicles to local municipalities and corporate customers have had their programs suspended or terminated due to the sudden decrease in demand. Rental car suppliers have seen similar declines in business as airline bookings, the industry’s largest source of revenue, struggle to recover from historic lows.
As the nation plans for an economic recovery, ground transportation will play a major role in achieving this goal. Among the challenges in restarting operations may be customer reluctance to use ground services due to concerns over personal health and safety in the COVID-19 era. The Industry has responded by taking several actions to assure commuters and passengers that they can use all modes of ground transportation with confidence.
Mandates for the wearing of masks for both employees and customers as well as ‘No mask, No service’ policies have been adopted by most major transportation providers. Limiting seating capacity in buses and large passenger vehicles have been implemented to ensure social distancing among passengers. Emerging technologies are changing the customer experience to ‘touch-less transactions’ such as guaranteed seat reservations for transit programs and increased availability of paperless reservations for car rentals. Additionally, a variety of cleaning and disinfecting protocols have been implemented before and after a vehicle has been used to assure customers of their safety and security.
The Industry also advocates for the thousands of ground transportation workers who have been hurt by the recession and supports federal legislation such as the CARES Act passed in the Spring, as well as support for the HEROES act currently before Congress to provide financial relief to those in need. Ultimately, a COVID-19 vaccine along with Federal and State legislation will be needed to restore the nation’s economy. Ground transportation providers will be ready to meet the challenge and will continue to deliver safe and reliable services that are critical to the success of the recovery.
Michael Anderson is Government Relations Director for SVBTA and
an experienced professional in the
ground transportation industry.
Michael's career started with 19 years
at Delta Air Lines
followed by 13 years with The Hertz
Corporation; and is now Operations and Account Manager at Bauer's Intelligent Transportation responsible for corporate transportation at Gilead Sciences