CHICOPEE (WGGM/WHSM) -- A story exclusive to Western Mass News, the King Ward bus company is struggling to say afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The company is looking at a six-month recovery if it can last that long.
What is usually the busiest time of the year for King Ward, which is still open for business, is now being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The buses are lined up with nowhere to go, and 50 employees are now without a job.
“We’ve lost probably about two-thirds of our business for the whole year,” said Dennis King, president of King Ward Coach Lines.
King told Western Mass News his Chicopee-based company is close to his heart, and he was worried he would get emotional during his interview talking about the moment he had to lay off 50 employees.
“No sleep, sick to your stomach and hope that you can get everybody back as soon as you can,” he said.
King says the coronavirus pandemic is hitting his company hard, in what is normally their busiest time of the year.
“At this time of the year, we’re running sold-out everyday field trips to Boston, New York City, Washington D.C. trips down to the casinos. College athletics is big for us, unfortunately, that’s gone. High school trips, elementary school. They’re all gone. Everything is gone, and it’s devastating,” King explained.
King says he’s been in the business for over 30 years, but the company has been in the community for much longer, and he hopes to keep it that way.
“We’re being as optimistic as we possibly can to get everybody back on the road. People are going to have cabin fever. I can feel it. Once everything starts opening up, they’re gonna want to go somewhere and do something,” King said.
He says many people are looking at ways to help airlines, cruise ships, and hotels financially, but the motorcoach industry is taking the back burner.
“We’re forgotten, and we’re part of the forgotten industry, and there’s a lot of us in the country that is on the same boat,” King noted.
For now, he’s doing everything he can to make ends meet.
“You’re looking at every penny, every dollar that’s coming in to stretch it as far as you can. Everybody’s working together to try to get everybody through this,” he said.
King said they are looking at a six-month recovery period for the business and have applied for small business loans to get by.