CASEYVILLE, IL. – The motorcoach industry is one of the few transportation industries that have not received any financial assistance from the government. Vandalia Bus Lines in Caseyville, Illinois considers their business essential and says the industry should not have been overlooked.
“When we parked these buses and we had to let everybody go and put them on unemployment, my son, myself, and brother and sister would come here every day. Just to come to a place that was empty and see the buses, it’s just heart wrenching,” said Dennis Streif, Owner and Vice President of Vandalia Bus Lines.
Vandalia Bus lines has been in business for 88 years but were bought by the Streif family in 1975. They are the largest privately-owned motorcoach fleet in and around the St. Louis area.
Just two months ago you would be lucky to catch one of their buses on the lot. Now, the lot is full, buses are parked, and their is no work for their employees since the organizations and people they service are no longer traveling.
Karen Brokaw has been working the company for eleven years.
She said, “This time of the year is our busy season, and most of us here are lucky if we’re home two to three days out of the month. We go all over the United States.”
Streif says they already have cancelled over $4.5 million worth of traveling. There have been no new bookings since the pandemic began, but if things were normal, they realistically would have booked around a half million dollars more. With no money coming in and a lot going out, the Streif’s are starting to worry. They have been able to help their employees through the Payroll Protection Program, but they know that will only last so long.
Brokaw mentioned that the motorcoach industry is essential and questions why they were left out.
“Usually when hurricanes or other natural disasters hit, it’s the motorcoach industry that’s called upon. We’re the ones that – if Amtrek goes down – it’s the motorcoach industry they call to haul people. So, we’re a very essential company,” said Brokaw.
Streif says that they are not looking for any handouts, but the pandemic could potentially cause the company to go bankrupt and fast. He and his employees are ready to get back to work.