KENNEBUNK, Maine — Bus companies from Maine are looking to have their voices heard in our nations capital this week, calling for aid from the federal government as part of a rolling rally.
On Tuesday, buses and motor coaches from Maine based companies Custom Coach and Limousine, Cyr Bus Line, Northeast Charter & Tour, and VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co met at the Kennebunk Service Plaza before traveling to Washington to partake in the rally.
"The industry across the country is really going to need some assistance in order to get through this, especially if we’re talking about no summer and no fall," Scott Riccio, owner of Northeast Charter & Tour, said. "If that happens, we’re right back into winter when November rolls around and that’s right back into slow season. Companies across the country will have trouble staying ahead of that.”
Motorcoaches and buses from across the state have gone unused since mid March amid the coronavirus pandemic. Companies are hoping that federal aid may be provided to the industry to help offset losses.
The rally is organized by the United Motorcoach Association and the American Bus Association. More than 800 buses representing more than 3,000 companies from around the nation are expected to participate.
Drivers are asking the federal government for $15 billion in grants and loans, as well as modifications to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program to help support the industry. Other areas of transportation have received funding as part of previous stimulus packages.
"We haven’t moved a motorcoach or a school bus since March 16th. And we don’t plan to move a motorcoach until at least July. Spring, summer and fall are our busy seasons and for us to run hard during those seasons, we do that so that we can make it through winter which is slow time of the year for us," Riccio said.
The rally will take place at 10:30 A.M. Wednesday in Washington D.C.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, urging the department to provide specific technical assistance and guidance to the motorcoach industry to help companies through this unanticipated downturn.