School bus contractor companies are now in line to receive federal relief funds after the U.S. Department of Treasury began accepting applications for the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) program.
Six months after the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, the long-awaited CERTS program, which was included in the bill to support transportation services affected by COVID-19 including the motorcoach and school bus industry, provides up to $2 billion in grants to eligible companies.
Applications are being accepted through July 19. To be eligible, companies must certify that they were in operation as of March 1, 2020, and experienced an annual revenue loss of 25 percent or more as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19. CERTS also includes the passenger vessel and pilot vessel companies. Over 5,000 companies are reportedly eligible for the funds.
The U.S. Treasury Department stated that the non-competitive grant funds are to be used primarily to cover payroll costs but may also be used to cover the acquisition of services, equipment, and COVID-19 protection measures. More eligible fund uses are operations and maintenance of existing equipment and facilities including rent, leases, insurance and interest on debt service.
The Treasury Department will determine the exact amount of awards based on total revenue reported for the 2019 tax year. Grant awards, when combined with the Payroll Protection Program or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds may not exceed the total amount of revenue earned during 2019.
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“The primary factor in the grant-sizing formula used to determine the grant amount offered to an individual approved applicant will be the applicant’s lost revenues from 2019 to 2020,” the grant guidelines stated.
Curt Macysyn, executive director of the National School Transportation Association, previously told School Transportation News that the private school bus industry alone lost nearly $8 billion in revenue during the pandemic. NSTA has continuously asked Congress for additional relief, as the original CERTS Act request last year was for $10 billion funding.