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Kobussen Buses to join rally in Washington, D.C. asking for federal aid

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Curtis Curtie Harrison

Bloomer (WQOW) - Busing companies are among the many businesses taking a financial hit during this pandemic, and now, several drivers are calling on federal lawmakers to lend them a hand.

"We're making Washington aware that we're going to need some help pretty soon, because we haven't been doing a lot since about march 20 or so," said Curtis Harrison, a driver with Kobussen Buses in Bloomer.

Harrison is one of dozens of coach drivers sitting idle with a quiet engine as profit-makers, like sporting events and social outings, continue to be canceled over COVID-19 concerns.

"The office is quite quiet," said Harrison. "On the school bus side, we're just delivering a few lunches right here in Bloomer."

Which is why next week, in the Rolling for Awareness rally in Washington, D.C., he'll represent Kobussen alongside thousands of drivers from across the nation.

Their mission: To request $15 billion in aid from the federal government, so that these companies and their employees can stay afloat.

"We've got drivers to keep happy, mechanics, dispatchers, office personnel, safety, all these things, and we'd like to keep them solvent and whole," Harrison said.

Harrison said 90 percent of bus companies in the U.S. are family-owned, and regionally operated like Kobussen.

If business doesn't pick up during the summer months, Harrison worries if business will be able to bounce back.

"We have payments going on with buses," he said. "Buses can cost upwards of half a million dollars, even more. Payments in insurance can run $6,000 a month or more."

However, some hope remains.

By making a stand in the capitol, Harrison believes he can help salvage the career he loves.

"It'll get noticed," he said. "I'm quite optimistic and quite hopeful that something's going to come out of this."

Harrison leaves for Washington, D.C. on Monday, and will spend a few nights on the road before the rally begins on Wednesday.

Mary Pautsch

Mary came to News 18 in July 2019 from Sioux City, Iowa where she graduated from Morningside College with a BA in Spanish after attending Iowa State University for 3 years.

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