PRESS RELEASE: Bus companies slam tax-exempts’ rejection of public bidding

NOVEMBER 29, 2017

(Portland, Maine) According to a report yesterday by WMTW-TV, a spokeswoman for Metro said that in its attempt to seize a USM shuttle service from the taxpaying bus company now providing it, Metro’s services “shouldn’t be compared to private, or for-profit companies.”

“Are you kidding me? Shopping for the best deal is exactly what you do before you ask taxpayers for an enormous public expenditure,” said Mark Robinson, a spokesman for Taxpayers for Wise Transit Spending (TWTS) (www.WiseTransitME.org).

The alliance of taxpaying bus companies launched a public awareness campaign at a press conference in Portland yesterday. They want the general public to know that a service taxpaying companies have provided efficiently and cost-effectively for more than 30 years is in grave danger of changing hands, and costing taxpayers drastically more, without first going out to bid. They suggest ending a service that is now exclusive to USM students will be unpopular with the students and their parents.

Yesterday TWTS called on USM and Metro to halt the contracting of student shuttle services between Gorham and Portland, and called on USM to put its request for student shuttle services out to public bid.

Neither USM nor Metro pays taxes. In a joint statement issued to the Portland Press Herald, the two organizations said, “We should not compare what a private charter company can provide to individual organizations with what a regional transportation system can provide to a growing metropolitan area.”

That statement drew a blunt response from the TWTS spokesman.

“I think that’ll make any taxpayer’s blood boil. It’s completely tone deaf,” Robinson said. 

The taxpaying bus companies announced yesterday that they have the support of the New England Bus Association, the United Motorcoach Association, the American Bus Association and the Business Coalition for Fair Competition.

Taxpayers for Wise Transit Spending is an alliance of bus and motorcoach companies based in the state of Maine. Its members include decades-old family businesses, and all members pay significant local, state and federal taxes. Info: www.WiseTransitME.org.

GORHAM TIMES: USM and Metro Refute Private Bus Companies’ Charges

The University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine System in Orono have issued statements deny- ing a recent claim by four Maine bus companies, including Gorham-based Custom Coach & Limousine, that USM unfairly terminated its contract with the private company in order to contract with Metro for a different type of student bus service.

Custom Coach & Limousine is currently providing the direct Gorham to Portland student shuttle service, as it has for the past six years. USM has informed Custom Coach that the arrangement will end prior to the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

The private bus firms have accused Portland Metro of using taxpayer subsidies to undercut private companies interested in providing a university student shuttle service, and they shared their concerns at at a press conference held on November 28. Custom Coach & Limousine owner Gregg Isherwood said that his bus company, and other private bus companies, did not get a chance to bid on a USM student shuttle before the Metro public service was chosen.

FULL STORY CLICK HERE

PRESS HERALD: Bus companies question Portland Metro-USM deal

PRESS HERALD FILE PHOTO: Gregg Isherwood, seen in 2008, says his bus company, Custom Coach and Limousine, and others did not get a chance to bid on a USM student shuttle before the Metro public service was chosen.

PRESS HERALD FILE PHOTO: Gregg Isherwood, seen in 2008, says his bus company, Custom Coach and Limousine, and others did not get a chance to bid on a USM student shuttle before the Metro public service was chosen.

A coalition of four Maine bus firms has accused Portland Metro of using taxpayer subsidies to undercut private companies interested in providing a university student shuttle service.

Criticism is focused on a deal between Metro and the University of Southern Maine to provide a transit pass program for students and staff. The arrangement is part of Metro’s $4.5 million Transit West project, a major expansion that includes new bus service between Portland and Gorham. It is planned to launch in 2018.

On Tuesday, opponents of the plan unveiled Taxpayers for Wise Transit Spending, a campaign to pressure USM to cancel its contract with Metro and consider student shuttle bids from private companies.

FULL STORY CLICK HERE

MAINEBIZ: Private bus operators cry foul over USM-METRO deal

Four privately owned bus companies are challenging the Portland Metro system's partnership with the University of Southern Maine to expand public bus service to Westbrook and Gorham and offer students unlimited rides.

Maine Public reported that the coalition — which calls itself Taxpayers for Wise Transit Spending and includes VIP Tour & Charter, Northeast Charter and Tour, Custom Coach and Limousine and Cyr Bus Line — alleges the $4.5 million initiative unfairly pits taxpayer-supported entities against tax-paying private businesses.

FULL STORY CLICK HERE

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SUN JOURNAL: Lewiston bus company is one of four to question Portland Metro-USM deal

A coalition of four Maine bus firms has accused Portland Metro of using taxpayer subsidies to undercut private companies interested in providing a university student shuttle service.

Criticism is focused on a deal between Metro and the University of Southern Maine to provide a transit pass program for students and staff. The arrangement is part of Metro’s $4.5 million Transit West project, a major expansion that includes new bus service between Portland and Gorham. It is planned to launch in 2018.

On Tuesday, opponents of the plan unveiled Taxpayers for Wise Transit Spending, a campaign to pressure USM to cancel its contract with Metro and consider student shuttle bids from private companies.

FULL STORY CLICK HERE

MAINE PUBLIC: Coalition Challenges Portland Metro’s Bus Deal With USM

Greg Isherwood (left) and Jason Briggs, photo by ABUKAR ADAN / MAINE PUBLIC

Greg Isherwood (left) and Jason Briggs, photo by ABUKAR ADAN / MAINE PUBLIC

A coalition of four privately owned bus companies is calling out the Portland Metro system for competing with private business.

The alliance is challenging a purported $4.5 million deal between Metro and the University of Southern Maine that would expand the public bus service to Gorham and offer students unlimited rides.

Jason Briggs, vice president of VIP Tour & Charter, says the contract should have sought bids.

“If the University System was putting a new a roof on a building, as a person mentioned, they’d put it out to bid and have several bids. They’d pick the lowest bidder and the most competent person. And they’re not doing that in this case. They’re going with Metro.”

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FORECASTER: Bus lines challenge Metro, USM Gorham deal

PHOTO BY ROBERT LOWELL. An alliance of private bus lines Tuesday protested METRO’s agreement with the University of Southern Maine to shuttle students to Gorham. Pictured, from left, are Gregg Isherwood of Custom Coach and Limousine in Gorham, bus operators alliance spokesman Mark Robinson, Jason Briggs of VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. in Portland, and Rick Soules, general manager of Cyr Bus Lines in Old Town.

PHOTO BY ROBERT LOWELL. An alliance of private bus lines Tuesday protested METRO’s agreement with the University of Southern Maine to shuttle students to Gorham. Pictured, from left, are Gregg Isherwood of Custom Coach and Limousine in Gorham, bus operators alliance spokesman Mark Robinson, Jason Briggs of VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. in Portland, and Rick Soules, general manager of Cyr Bus Lines in Old Town.

PORTLAND — An alliance of private bus operators Tuesday slammed as “direct government competition” an agreement by the Greater Portland Transit District to shuttle University of Southern Maine students to Gorham.

An existing university contract with a private bus company to transport students between its Gorham and Portland campuses is about to expire. METRO and the university announced in August they had reached a deal to launch a new transportation service, to begin in August 2018. The agreement provides public ridership.

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