“The transportation we provide for sleepaway camps in a typical summer season would be 60% of our business for those months,” said Phil Vallone, the president of Rolling V Bus Corporation, “and this summer, it will certainly be curtailed and will have a big effect on us. But we hope to get through this season and pandemic without it putting us out of business, as it has done to some other bus companies.”
Some of that loss will be offset with a demand for daily routes for pickups and drop-offs for day camps, and perhaps in this respect it will be even greater than in past years. “With many of the sleepaway camps planning on transforming into day camps, we have seen an uptick in requests for these routes. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to fulfill the requests of all camps, because we will be shorthanded in the amount of drivers we have reporting for duty.”
For few decades, Rolling V has 150 drivers working during an average summer to provide the transportation needs of the sleepaway camps in Sullivan County. They service them by providing transportation for daytrips which includes bowling, skating, rafting, Walmart, Shoprite, pizza and ice cream stores. With the closures of these camps looming, and even those who are opening are doing it in a modified manner by eliminating trips, Rolling V expects a drastic downturn in the transportation needs of the camps.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rolling V has managed to get by through adapting their service and adjusting to whatever came their way. “The pandemic has been brutal on the bus industry. We are lucky that most of the localities realize that they will continue to need our services in September, when we hope this nightmare will be over, and they have kept up on their contractual commitments,” Mr. Vallone told Hamodia. “Their budgets were funded before the crisis set in, so they have the funds to make good on the contracts. So although we will not be making a profit, we should be able to cover our electric bill and other expenses. I guess this is what our ‘rainy-day fund’ is meant for.”
Over the past few months since the schools have closed, Rolling V has participated in making the food deliveries of the school districts, which has kept some of their drivers busy and helps the company with its cash flow. Nevertheless, some of their drivers remain apprehensive about driving children during the summer, and prefer accepting unemployment checks in place of their regular paychecks.
“At this time, I am shorthanded, with less than 100 drivers available for the summer, and I can’t supply daily pickups for all the requested day camp routes,” Mr. Vallone sadly reports. “We committed ourselves to those camps who booked early, and the rest will have to find other providers for their transportation needs, if they can.”
In the meantime, the shiny Rolling V busses sit well-maintained in the lot, ready and primed to carry out whatever limited duty they can during the summer of COVID-19.