Peoria Charter to close in November if no federal aid is negotiated

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria Charter Coach officials announced they will be forced to close if federal aid cannot be negotiated before the election.

After President Donald Trump said negotiations for any federal relief stimulus checks will have to wait until after the election, Peoria Charter Coach Owner and President Bill Winkler said the company won’t last that long.

“Right now I’m surviving with a $150,000 line of credit, and trying to drum up cash wherever I can find it,” Winkler said.

In a press release, officials said the company refunded over $500,000 in deposits, experienced more than $5 million in cancellations, and saw a 94 percent reduction in business in the last six months. After a PPP loan ran out in July, the company laid off most of its workforce.

“I think that has been the hardest part of this whole thing,” Winkler said. “Knowing that our loyal and hardworking employees are at home struggling because we can’t operate as business until the state is opened and COVID has gone away.”

The press release said Winkler blamed politicians in Washington D.C. and anyone in power for not negotiating on a federal relief bill for months.

“Get together, help us out, that’s what we put you in office for,” Winkler said. “This is unprecedented — it will never happen again. Unprecedented times means unprecedented decisions.”

Congressman Darin LaHood brought the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services Act or CERTS Act to the House floor on July 16. The bill specifically aims to provide financial relief to transportation services, including Peoria Charter Coach.

It has majority support in both the House and Senate, with 237 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and 54 cosponsors in the Senate, but it was left out of the $2.2 trillion bill passed over to the Senate last week.

“We are being failed by the Democrats and Republicans,” Winker said. “While Airlines, Amtrak, and Mass Transit has received over $65 billion in Federal Aid, the Motorcoach Industry has received $0. Now, the Airlines are wanting to get back in line for round two before small business even gets a chance to save our businesses,” explained Winkler.

WMBD reported in April the company received a loan under the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

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