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With Big Events Canceling, Kansas City's Limo Drivers Are Idled

Frank Morris
KCUR 89.3
Driver Greg Holmes talks with Nader Aldewick, owner of Pesh Limousine. Drivers have been disinfecting their vehicles after every trip.

Kansas City’s tourism business has stopped on a dime.

Normally at this time of year, Kansas City limo companies would be busy hauling visitors to basketball games or conventions. Rob Hadi, who drives for Pesh Limousine, says business has cratered in response to the coronavirus.

“We are not getting any calls," says Hadi. "Everything is canceled, groups, a bunch of conventions coming in this weekend and Overland Park. They're all canceling,” says Hadi.

Not to mention the Big 12 Tournament, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Planet Comicon.

The hit to the travel industry is likely to last at least a few weeks if not more. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas declared a state of emergency Thursday, canceling or delaying events with more than 1,000 attendees for the next 21 days.

“It brings back bad memories of past disasters like 9/11, where we completely shut down,” says Hadi.

Hadi says he practically lives in a suit but he’s dressed casually because there’s no work. He plans to spend as little money as possible until things get back to normal.

The company is losing money, too. Pesh Limousine owner Nader Aldewick says the coronavirus outbreak comes at a terrible time.

“This is kind of the start of our busy season when the Big 12 Tournament starts and Saint Patrick's Day and all of that,” says Aldweick, standing outside with one of his two cell phones in his hand. “We start amping up and getting busy and for it to hit at this time and just kind of put a damper on things quite a bit.”

Aldewick says he’s lost about $20,000 worth of business in the past few days. He says weddings are the only type of event not canceling service this week.

Greg Holmes, another driver, says the few trips he is making require special precautions.

“Somebody was coughing in the back of the limo,” recalls Holms. “And once they got out of the vehicle, while I was at the airport, I sprayed the entire vehicle down, and I also wiped down all door handles.”

That's becoming standard procedure for all of the drivers.

While limos and shuttle buses may be parked idle all over Kansas City, at least they’re clean.

Frank Morris is a national correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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