OWOSSO, Mich., Aug. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Effective Saturday, August 8, Indian Trails, Inc., will restart most of its daily scheduled bus service, which includes routes throughout Michigan, and into Chicago, Milwaukee and Duluth, plus reduced connections to the Greyhound and Amtrak national networks.
"We're grateful to be resuming this important service in our region," says Indian Trails President Chad Cushman. "Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we've faced the biggest economic challenge in the 110-year history of our family-owned company. It feels great to bring more employees back to work and watch part of our 74-bus fleet roll off the lots and back on the road again."
The Phase I resumption of bus service should be welcome news to the hundreds of thousands of passengers in approximately 80 communities normally served by Indian Trails each day.
Tickets for every active Indian Trails route can now be purchased at the company's webstore.
- Schedules for all routes, plus a Route Map, are posted online here.
- Tickets can also be purchased at more than 90 locations statewide and beyond, though passengers should call ahead to ensure that the travel center nearest them is open.
One temporary exception to the restart will be Battle Creek, where Indian Trails' buses normally connect with Amtrak. The trains are currently running on a reduced schedule that doesn't allow for such connections, so Indian Trails will resume Battle Creek service when Amtrak does. However, Indian Trails and Amtrak still connect in Milwaukee.
Why Some Service Can Restart Now
Indian Trails suspended operation of its daily scheduled routes back on March 21 for financial and safety reasons. Specifically, there was a steep decline in passenger demand as business and government authorities restricted non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The other major factor was concern for the health of passengers, drivers, and staff as the coronavirus spread.
Now, the economic obstacle has been overcome at least temporarily with $2.4 million in federal CARES Act funding through the Michigan Dept. of Transportation and the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation (the same type of funding provided to local transit authorities). This will help cover losses on all contracted and subsidized routes for the rest of 2020 and into 2021 as ridership rebuilds.
The partial resumption of service—representing 25 percent of normal operations—will enable Indian Trails to bring a quarter of its 150-member staff back to work, joining a smaller number who've been on the job throughout the crisis.
Meanwhile, concerns about safety are being addressed with comprehensive precautionary measures.
Protections for Passengers and Drivers
To minimize the chance of spreading coronavirus on its buses, Indian Trails is taking the following steps, among others:
- Requiring passengers to wear face masks for the duration of their trips—"No Mask, No Ride."
- Providing hand sanitizer on all buses.
- Limiting the number of passengers per bus.
- Asking passengers to occupy seats as far apart as possible.
- Ventilating buses with fresh rather than recirculated air.
- Providing transparent, protective barriers between drivers and passengers.
- Cleaning and sanitizing buses after each run, with special attention to high-touch areas.
- Spraying the entire interior of each bus with a disinfectant.
- Requiring daily symptom checks of all on-duty employees, and requiring the workforce to abide by a detailed COVID-19 Response Plan.
For more about what passengers must know before traveling with Indian Trails at this time, click here.
Status of Other Indian Trails Operations
- Michigan Flyer—the popular airport shuttle service of Indian Trails—suspended all of its daily runs between East Lansing, Brighton, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) on March 16, and it remains suspended until further notice. This includes AirRide connections between Ann Arbor and DTW.
Michigan Flyer normally operates almost entirely on fares paid by some 250,000 passengers a year. Most are people who use airlines at DTW to travel to or from the mid-Michigan region. So, the shuttles cannot economically resume service while the airlines are operating at only 20 percent capacity.
- Indian Trails Charter Service—which enables groups to rent deluxe motorcoaches with professional drivers for trips to whatever destinations they choose in the Continental U.S. or Canada—has continued operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic at a reduced level. The company now is seeing renewed interest in booking charter trips by professional and college sports teams, corporations, universities, trade associations, churches, and others.
- D2A2 commuter service between Detroit and Ann Arbor—launched last March by the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan in partnership with the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and operated by Michigan Flyer—remains temporarily suspended.
The Big Picture for Bus Companies
The U.S. motorcoach industry consists of nearly 3,000 private bus companies, mostly family-owned small businesses like Indian Trails. About 90 percent are still shut down, says the American Bus Association.
Before the pandemic, they connected cities with one another and with rural areas, transported commuters to jobs, and served as the sole mode of intercity transportation for many Americans. They provided nearly 700 million passenger trips annually—second only to the airlines—connecting families and friends, taking tourists to their destinations, and moving survivors and troops in the wake of natural disasters. Many are apt to go out of business for good.
Unlike the airlines, which received billions in bailout money from the federal government, the private bus industry has so far been left largely to fend for itself. But that could change if Congress passes the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act, which is pending in the Senate and House. If passed, it would provide $10 billion in emergency relief grants to the industry—potentially leading to the restart of services such as the Michigan Flyer airport shuttle.
Indian Trails, Inc.—which has served as Michigan's premier, family-owned, inter-city motorcoach carrier for 110 years, and is based in Owosso, Mich.—operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motorcoaches in Michigan. In addition to its daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan and into Chicago, Duluth and Milwaukee, its services include charters, tours, shuttles, and airport transfers. On the web at www.IndianTrails.com.
News media contacts:
Mark Holoweiko or Anne Harcus
Stony Point Communications
SOURCE Indian Trails, Inc.