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Updated: August 18, 2021

11 Maine bus and passenger vessel companies to receive COVID-19 relief

tour bus File photo / Laurie Schreiber Bus and motorcoach companies, ferries and tour boats suffered significant revenue losses over the past year. A new federal program is providing relief.

Eleven bus, motorcoach and passenger vessel companies in Maine will be among the 1,300 nationwide to share in a total of $1.6 billion in COVID-19 relief.

The aid will be awarded through the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services grant program, according to a news release.

“Bus and motorcoach companies, ferries and tour boats sustain good-paying jobs and provide critical transportation services,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, said in the release.

“The COVID-19 pandemic took an enormous toll on these businesses, many of which are small and family-owned.”

The U.S. departments of Transportation and Treasury opened an application portal in June to expedite distribution of the funding.  

Maine companies that will receive grants are:

  • Monhegan Thomaston Boat Line, a ferry service in St. George
  • National Park Tours and Transport in Bar Harbor
  • Portland Pilots, a harbor pilot service in Portland
  • Isherwood Enterprises, a charter bus service in Gorham
  • Allen Associates, a tourboat company in Northeast Harbor
  • Downeast Windjammer Cruise Lines, a sailing excursion company in Bar Harbor
  • John T. Cyr & Sons, a bus charter company in Old Town
  • Chebeague Transportation Co., a cruise line company on Chebeague Island
  • Northeast Charter & Tour Co., a bus charter company in Lewiston
  • VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. in Portland
  • BayCycle, a human-powered party boat operator in Portland.

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.-flagged passenger vessel industry — grounding ferries and recreational tours, and leaving owners and operators without customers and revenue.

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.

So far, 80% of the grants have been awarded. The U.S. Department of Treasury will continue to process eligible applicants’ financial information and apply a formula that provides each approved applicant with a proportionate share of the funding appropriated for the program It’s expected that these companies will receive approximately 23% of their annual lost revenue.

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