U.S. Passenger Vessel Operators Call for Economic Relief

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Published Sep 4, 2020 10:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

The industry association for American passenger vessel operators is calling on Congress to provide emergency relief for transportation service providers in light of the COVID-19 downturn. 

The Passenger Vessel Association, the voice of America's small tour boat and ferry operators, is urging legislators to support the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services Act (CERTS Act), a bill introduced by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) in July that would allocate funds specifically for surface transport providers. The bill would set aside $10 billion in funding for relief for the operators of passenger buses, schoolbuses and passenger vessels rated for fewer than 2,400 guests. 

The funds could be used to preserve existing jobs, acquire PPE and other goods needed for COVID-19 safety, and cover the cost of continuing operations and maintenance. The mandatory priority for expenditures would be to rehire employees who were laid off or furloughed due to the shutdown. 

PVA contends that previous relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and the Main Street Lending Program are not sufficient to fill the gap in revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The association hopes to obtain sufficient Senate cosponsor support and attention to include the bill's provisions in the next coronavirus relief package. 

The timeline for the next relief bill is uncertain. White House, Senate and House negotiators did not reach an agreement on a House-drafted, $3.4 trillion version during the last round of talks in July and August. The Senate's leadership is currently in discussion to finalize its own proposal with a narrower set of provisions. A government shutdown looms at the beginning of October if an agreement is not reached this month, though it is possible that the two sides could reach a temporary measure to maintain government funding at current levels without another stimulus package.