CLEARFIELD — Local bus company Fullington Trailways sent four motorcoaches to participate in a demonstration in Washington, D.C., today to demonstrate the importance and economic impact of the industry.
Vice President of Business Development Mike Dull said Fullington was hit hard by the pandemic, having voluntarily sidelined all of its more than 300 vehicles, a first in 112 years, to protect employees and communities.
“Motorcoach drivers are a different breed. You’re not hauling freight or anything like that. They have character and like to converse with different people. As much as it is about driving, it’s also about customer service,” Dull said.
The company applied for and received Paycheck Protection Program money, but this is only a temporary fix through June, Dull said. The company employs 500 people who cover six school districts and operate 78 full size motorcoaches and 18 daily intercity line-run schedules connecting rural Pennsylvania with urban centers.
Fullington and 90 percent of bus companies are small, locally owned businesses. This demonstration has the support of United Motorcoach Association and American Bus Association, two national associations that advocate for such companies.
Dull said the company does more than just provide basic transportation. It is also on a preferred list with FEMA to respond as emergency transportation in natural disasters.
“We’re often called on to respond to areas that have been hit by natural disasters like a hurricane or flooding to do emergency evacuations. We’re more or less a first responder,” Dull said.
When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, Dull got a call on Sunday to send drivers to that state to help with evacuations. He said it only took him a few hours to have a portion of the fleet ready and on the road.
“Similarly, we had 54 drivers willing and ready to respond to help people who may have been affected by COVID-19,” Dull said.
While Fullington is only allowed to send four buses to Washington, Dull had many drivers willing to take part in the motorcade. He made sure all the drivers were up-to-date on licensing and logging, and understood they would be driving into an area not considered to have reached its peak of the virus yet.
“If we were able to send 20 buses to D.C. Next week, we would’ve had enough drivers who volunteered,” Dull said.