Washington, D.C.—In response to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announcement of guidelines governing the newly-established Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) grant program, U.S. Senator Susan Collins encouraged bus, motorcoach, and passenger vessel companies to review the guidelines and gather necessary documentation in preparation for applying when the application portal opens in the coming weeks.
The COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law in December included $2 billion for the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act that was authored by Senators Collins and Jack Reed (D-RI). 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. Earlier this year, they led a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to quickly release the funding.
“Maine’s bus and motorcoach companies—as well as ferries and tour boats—provide good-paying jobs and offer critical transportation services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, these small businesses are struggling,” said Senator Collins, the Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. “I strongly advocated for the $2 billion that was included in the December COVID-19 relief bill to support these industries. As the DOT takes steps to open the CERTS application process, I encourage bus operators and passenger vessel operators to begin preparing now to access this program so that their companies can remain strong.”
All bus, motorcoach, passenger vessel, and pilot vessel companies that meet the eligibility criteria and submit a complete and accurate application will be awarded a grant. Treasury will review each applicant’s financial information and apply a formula that provides each approved applicant with a proportionate share of the funding appropriated for the program.
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.
Bus, motorcoach, passenger vessel, and pilot vessel companies can review the guidelines for the CERTS program HERE.