Northport charter bus business fears it won’t survive without help

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 6:25 AM CDT
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NORTHPORT , Ala. (WBRC) - Earlier this week several people with Tuscaloosa charter buses went to D.C. to ask for more federal funding to assist their struggling industry. One Northport motor coach business, which couldn’t afford to go, explained why help needs to be on the way soon.

Large group transportation used to be a booming big business, especially at this time of year. But since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, motor coach businesses like Blakney Charter Bus LLC have had zero trips since March. The owner fears after this month his business might not survive.

Doug Blakney is a one-man show and said the industry needs more than just money to help keep them a float. He said charter bus businesses like his need some sort of partial loan forgiveness since many of them, including himself, are barely able to make bus payments to banks due to business being practically non-existent now.

Even if everything opens up in the next month or so he said people are still reluctant to travel in groups. Most of the tourist attractions he would usually drive people too are still closed as well.

“We are essential if you will because transportation is vital to any society or economy. We need an immediate take off. We need to get rolling like we were before because this will not be enough to do a little here or there," said Blakney.

The little here or there Blakney is referring to is half-full buses, which he’ll accept so groups are comfortable spreading out. However the profit wouldn’t be there really. A church group started a GoFundMe account to help save his charter bus business.

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