Page 11 - BusinessWest July 6, 2020
P. 11

King Ward Bus Lines
Chicopee-based Company Is Still Trying to Get Out of First Gear
Dennis King says he’s experienced a number of subtle, but mostly not-so- subtle, cruelties stemming from the
COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting with those low gas prices from a few
months back and the fact that no one could real-
ly take advantage of them.
“Gas was $1.25 ... and you had nowhere to
go,” said King, president of Chicopee-based King Ward Bus Lines, who used that statement in ref- erence to individuals and families — and just about every one of his customers.
Indeed, ‘nowhere to go’ applied — and still applies — to college and high- school sports teams, an important client base in the company’s portfolio. And to people seeking to visit one of the region’s casinos. And to groups heading to Red Sox games. And to peo- ple looking to go to a show in the Big Apple. And to classes going on school field trips.
All those sources of revenue dried up, seemingly overnight, for this fam- ily-owned business, said King, adding that the last bus left King Ward’s garag- es on March 14, and the company’s busiest time of the year was essentially wiped off the calendar.
“And our July is kind of on hold, because we don’t have any trips
booked, unless something happens with the casinos,” he told Business- West, noting that, while the Connecti- cut gaming palaces are open, they
are currently not accepting bus groups. The Bay State’s casinos are
set to open early this
month, but it isn’t
known if they will accept bus groups.
Gas was $1.25
... and you had
 As for the future ...
it is a giant question
mark, he said, noting
that, while the Red
Sox may start play-
ing again, it’s not known if there will be any fans in the stands. Meanwhile, Saratoga Raceway in New York and countless other venues that people travel to by bus are closed for the summer or the rest of the year. Meanwhile, no one really knows if there will be any high-school and college ath- letics this coming fall, or any school field trips.
And then, there’s the Big E, another important source of revenue for the company. It’s been can- celed for 2020, leaving another huge hole in the budget that will be difficult to fill .
 nowhere to go.
  Faced with idle buses, King said he laid off or furloughed all but a few of his employees back in the spring. He’s looking to bring some office staff and mechanics back on Aug. 1 and hopes things get busier
 Dennis King says the pandemic brought bus travel to a near standstill, impacting every type of customer in the company’s portfolio.
King Ward
Continued on page 14
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JULY 6, 2020 11
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