PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A program to help the U.S.'s bus companies survive the coronavirus pandemic that was championed by a Maine senator is now accepting applications.
Republic Sen. Susan Collins co-wrote the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services grant program and said this week that the program is now open. The program is slated to provide $2 billion in coronavirus relief to bus, motorcoach and other passenger vessel companies.
The pandemic has hit the nation's approximately 3,000 private bus lines hard. Nearly all of them were shut down in the early stages of the pandemic and many have struggled to recover since.
"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.
Collins co-authored the proposal with Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island. The senators said that every bus and vessel company that meets eligibility criteria and submits a completed application will receive a grant.
The bus companies employed about 100,000 people before the pandemic. Many of the companies have furloughed workers during the pandemic.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
New cases of coronavirus in the state continued to dwindle.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 67.86 new cases per day on June 6 to 34.29 new cases per day on June 20. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine also did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 2.00 deaths per day on June 6 to 1.29 deaths per day on June 20.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 68,000 cases of the virus in the state since the start of the pandemic. There have also been at least 854 deaths.
More than 57% of the state's total population is fully vaccinated against the virus.