Motorcoaches played a different essential role at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Instead of transporting groups to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the presidential inauguration, motorcoaches were out in full force bringing National Guard troops to provide security at the nation’s capital.
More than 25,000 National Guard troops from across the country were deployed to D.C. because of heightened security concerns around the inauguration after protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The part buses played in moving troops quickly to the capital is a good example of the essential role the industry plays in transportation, says Lee Helms, owner of Sunway Charters in North Carolina.
Dispatched to nation’s capital
Five of Helms’ buses were dispatched to Washington, D.C. He appreciated the work after a year in which business tumbled 60-70%. He considers himself fortunate to get military business.
UMA Vice-Chair David Moody, general manager of his family’s Holiday Tours in North Carolina, says he had 15 buses dispatched to D.C. ahead of the inauguration, bringing National Guard troops there, with some staying to provide shuttle service.
The transportation was coordinated by either the Maryland-based Transportation Management Services (TMS) or the state National Guard units.
“It’s great seeing all the posts on Facebook by the other drivers, seeing all the buses out again. Hopefully, Congress will see the importance,” Moody said.
A ‘surreal’ Washington, D.C.
Tom McCaughey, who owns Flagship Trailways in Rhode Island, says the reports he’s heard back from his drivers describe a “surreal” Washington, D.C.
“They’ve been sending me photographs, and it resembles Beirut more than Washington, D.C., with the concertina wire and the barricades and the military presence. It’s been a little bit strange,” McCaughey said.
He added that the landscape has been challenging, even for his drivers who are familiar with D.C.
“It’s extremely frustrating in that so many roads were closed, bridges were closed and tunnels were closed,” McCaughey shared during the UMA Town Hall on Jan. 21. “A 20-minute ride could take a couple of hours. In our case, we went down there anticipating a one-way move with our National Guard and, about the time we arrived, we were plugged in with what’s going on in the district, so we’ll be here for maybe a week or so.”
He said he was glad his company urged drivers to pack for an extended trip.
“They’ve been great sports, and we’re all excited to have our equipment rolling and not sitting in the yard.”