A transportation company that has served low-income, elderly and disabled riders in Maine’s midcoast for more than three decades is going out of business.

Rockland-based Coastal Trans Inc. said in a press release Wednesday that it will discontinue all services, including its Brunswick Explorer bus and its discounted taxi fare ride program, as of April 22.

Coastal Trans has for years been the Maine Department of Transportation’s designated transportation provider in Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, and in Brunswick and Harpswell in Cumberland County.

“The Coastal Trans Board of Directors regrets that Coastal Trans no longer has the financial capacity to serve the hundreds of low-income and disabled individuals served faithfully since 1983,” the nonprofit said in its statement.

The Brunswick Explorer offers rides throughout downtown Brunswick, to Bowdoin College and to the Cook’s Corner shopping area. For $20, senior citizens and people with disabilities can get monthly passes that entitle them to unlimited rides.

Other services that will end are Coastal Trans’ Transportation Coupon Program, which subsidizes taxi fares for seniors and people with disabilities, and rides to medical appointments in the region.

Last year, Coastal Trans provided rides to more than 800 people.

Executive Director Lee Karker said Coastal Trans took a big hit in 2013, when the Maine Department of Health and Human Services started contracting with ride brokers, which now arrange MaineCare clients’ transportation to medical appointments. That service is now contracted out to Mid-Coast Connector, a state-authorized ride broker based in Belfast.

Karker said that, before 2013, Coastal Trans was the designated MaineCare transportation provider for the region. About 70 percent of Coastal Trans’ business involved MaineCare clients.

“This system of coordinated transportation allowed MaineCare members, Maine DHHS clients, and the general public to ride in the same vehicle. It made it possible for regional transportation providers to provide transportation in a service-effective and cost-effective way,” Karker said.

“Over the past two years, Coastal Trans has experienced a dramatic decline in revenues from transporting MaineCare clients to medical services, the backbone of its longstanding business model,” Karker said.

Federal tax records show that Coastal Trans had a net operating loss of nearly $225,000 for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2014. Those federal records also show that the nonprofit had a $1 million decline in grants from 2009 to 2013.

Karker is confident that the Department of Transportation will find a provider to continue giving rides to low-income, disabled and senior citizens.

The Department of Transportation, which subsidizes and owns Coastal Trans’ fleet of 15 taxis, vans and buses, is looking for a new transportation provider.

The state is confident that there will be no disruption of service for some of the region’s most vulnerable residents, said Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot on Wednesday night.

Talbot said he does not know yet which company will take over for Coastal Trans.

“We will not let there be a gap (in service),” he said. “We will have more details on this in a matter of days.”

Coastal Trans is a subsidiary of MCH of Rockland, which will continue to provide affordable housing to seniors in the Rockland area and operate Knox County’s Meals on Wheels program.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]


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