11 Maine Companies to Receive Critical Relief
Senators Susan Collins and Jack Reed authored the grant program that delivered this critical funding
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that 1,300 eligible bus, motorcoach, and passenger vessel companies are set to receive $1.6 billion in COVID-19 relief through the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) grant program she co-authored with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).
At a hearing in June, Senator Collins urged Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to work with the Department of Treasury to open the application portal and expedite the distribution of this funding. Following Senator Collins’ advocacy, the portal opened a week later.
“Bus and motorcoach companies, ferries, and tour boats sustain good-paying jobs and provide critical transportation services. The COVID-19 pandemic took an enormous toll on these businesses, many of which are small and family owned,” said Senator Collins, the Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. “Last year, I introduced the CERTS Act with Senator Reed, and I secured $2 billion in the December COVID-19 relief bill to support these industries that desperately need it. I am pleased that $1.6 billion in critical relief is being delivered to 1,300 bus operators and passenger vessel companies to help them weather this economic crisis.”
The Maine companies that will receive grants include:
· Monhegan Thomaston Boat Line
· National Park Tours and Transport
· Portland Pilots
· Isherwood Enterprises
· Allen Associates
· Downeast Windjammer Cruise Lines
· John T. Cyr & Sons
· Chebeague Transportation Company
· Northeast Charter & Tour Company
· VIP Tour & Charter Bus Company
For the more than 3,000—mostly small and family-owned—motorcoach companies across the U.S., the cancellation of school field trips, tours, and college sports seasons forced thousands of employees to be furloughed or laid off. The pandemic also took a toll on the U.S. flag passenger vessel industry—grounding ferries and recreational tours—leaving owners and operators without customers and revenue. Finally, privately-owned school bus companies, which are responsible for transporting many of the more than 23 million school children who take the bus to school each day, faced significant losses when states and localities moved to virtual learning and curtailed extracurricular and afterschool programs.
The COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law in December included $2 billion for the CERTS Act that was authored by Senators Collins and Reed. Senators Collins and Reed strongly advocated for the inclusion of this assistance in the COVID-19 relief package to help offset the losses bus, passenger vessel, and pilot vessel companies incurred during the pandemic. In February, Senators Collins and Reed led a bipartisan group of 30 Senators in sending a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calling for the quick implementation of CERTS. In May, Senators Collins and Reed co-authored another letter signed by Senators Wicker and Cantwell to push Treasury to begin accepting CERTS applications.
So far, 80 percent of the grants have been awarded to bus, motorcoach, passenger vessel, and pilot vessel companies. Treasury will continue to process each eligible applicant’s financial information and apply a formula that provides each approved applicant with a proportionate share of the funding appropriated for the program. Treasury expects that these companies will receive approximately 23 percent of their annual lost revenue.