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GETTING THERE: Bad news for bus operators

GETTING THERE: Bad news for bus operators

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The coronavirus has put some serious hurt on the bus industry.

The American Bus Association said on Friday that estimates show “the U.S. motorcoach industry will see its economic loss reach nearly $11 billion, a 71 percent decline in annual business, despite the easing of restrictions across the country.”

ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso noted that while those numbers are improvements to earlier data, the figures show “the continued decimation of the private motorcoach industry, which has not received any financial help from Congress or the Trump Administration like other modes of transportation received in legislative relief packages passed so far.”

Covid crazy

As reported here in recent times, even if many commuters are still teleworking, traffic in the Fredericksburg area seems to have returned, for the most part, to its congested, hectic and crash-laden ways.

Now, though, we get a peek at just how absurd the state’s drivers became during the lockdown, from the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Traffic plummeted during the stay-at-home order, but deadly high-speed crashes with unbelted occupants spiked.

Between March 13 and May 21, there were 58 speed-related fatalities in the state, said VDOT. Forty-one of those deadly crashes involved people who didn’t buckle up, a higher percentage than the same period in 2019. There also has been a 15.4 percent increase in fatalities with unrestrained riders compared to last year.

The state’s Commonwealth Transportation Board saw the data at its Friday meeting.

The numbers worry Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, who said in a news release that “it is of great concern to see that the number of fatalities involving both speed and unrestrained travelers has increased by 78 percent during this time period compared to 2019. We are urging all motorists to drive the posted speed limit and wear seat belts.”

The numbers even caught the attention of the state’s Homeland Security office.

“Some drivers have been caught traveling at speeds higher than 100 mph,” Brian Moran, the secretary of public safety and homeland security, said in the release. The secretary said he was astounded to see the data, especially in a time “when we are supposed to be looking out for one another.”

No matter what the secretary says, this driver right here is keeping an eye out for others—you never know when some character is going to swerve into your lane or slam the brakes for no apparent reason.

Don’t fret, folks, the commonwealth isn’t alone when it comes to bad drivers.

VDOT added that recent analysis by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed a “severe spike in speeding and other reckless behavior across the country during the pandemic.”

With these fun facts in mind, starting today we can expect another dose of hectic on local roads with the closing of the Chatham Bridge. Find your new routes now. You’ll need them until October 2021.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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