On Wednesday afternoon, 1,008 motorcoaches from across the country rolled through Washington, D.C to rally support for the motorcoach industry, as it has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Decorah Hawkeye Stages bus drivers Jake Hildebrand and Leon Griebenow joined fellow operators from all 50 states to participate in the Motorcoaches Rolling for Awareness Rally at the Capitol and National Mall.
"Our current health crisis has hit everyone hard," says Hildebrand, "and no one is exempt from its harsh reality. Unfortunately our industry has not been supported by our Federal Government in the same manner as other travel sources like air, rail, and cruise."
Hildebrand says there has been a big push from both the United Motorcoach Association and the American Bus Association to garner support for the motorcoach industry. Together, the associations have secured the signatures of over 20 state senators, including Joni Ernst's, to request $15 million in federal funding.
Hildebrand has worked at Hawkeye Stages since 2007, and says a new motorcoach costs anywhere from $400,000 to $700,000. Since Hawkeye Stages has 22 of them in their fleet, they are really feeling the hit. "Our buses haven't been out since March 14th, and just about every trip is canceled through June. We are hopeful we can start up again in July, but people aren't very enthusiastic about being in a comfined space with 66 other passengers," laments Hildebrand.