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COVID-19 will devastate motorcoach industry and have a huge impact on Maine's economy

In Maine, there are only 90 motorcoaches that transport people from Fort Kent to Kittery, and every one of them is idled.

MAINE, USA — Normally this time of year the motorcoach industry is kicking it into gear, looking forward to a busy spring, summer, and fall season when motorcoach companies earn at least 80 percent of their annual revenue. 

But this year, COVID-19 has put the brakes on business.

"March 16 basically everything came to a screeching halt," Scott Riccio, the President and owner of Northeast Charter and Tour Company in Lewiston. said.

Riccio runs 27 motorcoaches and says for the past two months it's been one cancellation after another. 

"To date, we are over $2 million in cancelled revenues."

Riccio is not alone.

Jason Briggs is the Vice President of Business Development for VIP Tour and Charter Bus Company in Portland.

"15 vehicles plus 25 people not working and we've lost 850,000 in revenue," Briggs said.

Maine's four other charter bus companies, in Old Town, Gorham, Brunswick, and Nobleboro, all family-owned small businesses, are also experiencing devastating losses. 

"One or two of us might not be able to make it to the end of the year," Briggs said.

The cancellation of sports, school field trips, conventions, concerts, destination weddings, and perhaps even summer camps and Maine's cruise ship season will not only have a powerful impact on Maine's Motorcoach industry but also Maine's economy.   

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"It's going to be a big deal in the state of Maine," Riccio said. Riccio also sits on the board of the New England Bus Association and United Motorcoach Association. 

And it's not just Maine's motorcoaches. There are hundreds of out of state buses bringing tourists to Maine.

"Those buses aren't coming," Briggs said.

Which means neither is the revenue. And that's a substantial number.

According to the American Bus Association for Maine, the economic impact for motorcoach businesses for tourism in 2018 it was $506 million directly.

Many sectors of the travel industry like airlines, Amtrak, ferries, and federal transit all received federal aid in one of the stimulus bills—but the motorcoach industry wasn't one of them.

Industry leaders in Maine are looking for some kind of relief from the federal government. Something that will get them over this hurdle.

Credit: NCM

"We as an industry need some help to get us through or a huge percentage of us in the country will never be able to make it," Briggs said.

Next Tuesday morning owners of charter bus companies in Maine will be headed to Washington, D.C. for a rally at the Capitol.

They'll be joining bus companies from 42 other states Wednesday morning—more than 800 buses in all—in an effort to let Congress know how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses and the people they employ.

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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