Motorcoach Driver Shortage Delays DOD Training and Missions
The COVID-19 pandemic’s reduction in travel continues to disrupt the passenger travel industry in ways not always readily apparent. According to the American Bus Association, the US motorcoach industry suffered $12 billion in losses in 2020 and $7 billion in losses in 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
The motorcoach industry provides much-needed support to the US military, which frequently utilizes motorcoaches to transport troops domestically. Federal departments and agencies also use motorcoaches and buses to evacuate victims of natural disasters or national emergencies.
But recovery for this industry is being threatened by rising gas prices. Also threatening the bus industry’s recovery is a driver shortage that is being exacerbated by driver retirements and losses to other industries like trucking, delivery services, public transportation, etc. In fact, the bus driver shortage has already begun to impact military surface moves used for training and shuttle transportation.
The Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) recommends that Transportation Officers (TOs) submit their movement request through the Group Operational Passenger System (GOPAX) as far in advance as possible, and to be flexible with move dates and times. This gives bus carriers ample time to find drivers and work around already tight schedules.
TOs can use the new “Travel Information” section in GOPAX to add detailed, special requirements about the move including flexibility in move dates and times. The Travel Information section works similarly to the public comments section, and allows for useful/customization which can be a great tool for facilitating communication between the unit and the carrier.
To help prevent last-minute cancellations and allow time to make alternative arrangements, TOs should confirm the move with the carrier 48 hours before the start of the move. For assistance in contacting approved carriers, please go to the Department of Defense (DOD) Approved Carrier List, contact the DOD Bus Team for assistance at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition, a TO Checklist is available to help TOs gather the details necessary prior to requesting a move in GOPAX at: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/Docs/Checklist_for_TOs.pdf
By the Defense Travel Management Office