More than 1,300 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) Act grant program, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
“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,” Collins said in a statement.
Collins, the ranking member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, co-authored the CERTS Act with Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI).
“Last year, I introduced the CERTS Act with Sen. 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,” she said.
Collins helps expedite distribution
At a hearing in June, 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 Collins’ advocacy, the portal opened a week later. On Aug. 12, operators began receiving emails notifying them of their CERTS grant funding.
So far, 80% of the grants have been awarded to bus, motorcoach, passenger vessel and pilot vessel companies. The U.S. 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. The federal agency expects that these companies will receive about 23% of their annual lost revenue.
Among those bus operators were 11 companies from Collins’ home state: 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 Co., Northeast Charter & Tour Co., VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. and Maine BayCycle.