b'SPECIALFOCUS: COVID-19Members Respond to COVID-19By Karen Rainbolt, FOGHORN Managing EditorHow are PVA members faring during the novel coronavirus? Because this virus is a pandemic, its reach is worldwide and members everywhere are feeling the effects in different ways. Here are a few of their stories.PVA Vessel Member:an intercom system on the Ferry Operator ground floor to communicate Dave Anderson directly to office personnel General Manager for assistance on the second Fire Island Ferries, Inc. floor. Signage, social media Bay Shore, NY posts and website updates are updated as needed, often As of March 20, the impactdaily. We have found these on our operation has beento be extremely valuable minimal for now. This isresources. because the state of NewRidership is always Yorks stay-at-home orderdifficult to gauge for us this happened during ourtime of year.The weather shoulder season. Since wePhoto courtesy isnt great, so ridership service an island, we areof Dave Anderson suffers.Thats the way it is considered essential andalways this time of year.We are therefore running ferries. An upside to these closingsare however, anticipating an unprecedented, unseen, never-of schools, it has enabled us to hire some of our part-timebefore-witnessed, Memorial Day weekend in the companys college and high school students to help ready our fleethistoryif people are able to travel and move around.during a time we usually never have enough help.However, That said, I am not optimistic for seasonal businesses as we move closer to our operating season we anticipateon Fire Island this operating season. I fear we will not see major changes to our operation.positive revenues, which is catastrophic not only to us, but As of March 31, we have chosen not to convert to ourall business owners on Fire Island.For now, we are being spring schedule until further notice due to lack of ridership.proactive and anticipate a projected surge once the weather The spring schedule is where we normally would bebreaks to keep extra crews on but, I do not know how sus-providing more frequent service to all Fire Island communi- tainable that will be moving forward. ties with essential service to the barrier island, where theyIn my 41 years in this business, I have been able to rely upon us for on and off island transportation.As man- navigate through anything thrown at me. Ive weathered agement, we have collectively made this decision to continuethe worst hurricanes and noreasters (including Superstorm operating under our winter schedule, which only supportsSandy), as well as the devastating terrorist attacks and very limited service to three to four of the eight communi- aftermath of restoring ferry service to New York City after ties we would normally be providing service to.Thus, wethe 9-11 attack in 2001. This is different and I fear this is going will continue running these fewer trips. Fortunately, we haveto be catastrophic to all PVA member operators.multiple vessels ready to supplement any given trip to avoid Fortunately, we are still surviving.As for how long this overcrowding while trying to maintain social distance pa- will be sustainable, I do not know.But, the window is closing rameters should the opportunity present itselfand I hope itrapidly.Keep in mind we employ nearly 300 employees in does.If it does, we will be ready. normal operating condition. This number will reduce tre-Our crews are diligently disinfecting our vessels beforemendously due to COVID-19 as we are an operation that the start of the day, in between scheduled trips, and at therelies solely on ridership during summer months for our end of day.We are currently running only one vessel to coveryearly source of positive income. these trips. However, we have multiple vessels in reserveWe are applying for the Small Business Administration that have been disinfected should the demand require to(SBA) Paycheck Protection Program loans so we can sustain supplement or replace a vessel currently in service.Wethis financial and operational hardship.Even so, we are have also closed our main office of operations to the publicgenuinely concerned.(located on second floor of building) and only accessible byI encourage my fellow PVA vessel operators to stay those employees with access control to reduce exposure topositive, stay focused, stay the course for all as long as the public.If a customer needs assistance, we have placedpossible.8APRIL 2020FOGHORN'