AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage on Wednesday celebrated the achievements of Limestone-based Maine Military Authority, which unveiled its first refurbished transit bus in the shadow of the State House.
“This is a program that’s effective, efficient and provides jobs in a county that desperately needs jobs,” LePage said.
The bus was commissioned by Portland Regional Transportation Program, which helps poor, elderly and disabled people get around in Cumberland County. It was the first produced under a new program at Maine Military Authority, that will rehabilitate public transit vehicles.
Tim McCabe, director of business development for the Maine Military Authority, said refurbishing costs ⅓ the amount of buying new and can extend the life of a worn-out vehicle for seven years.
LePage signed an executive order in 2011 to create a school bus refurbishment program as a partnership between the Department of Education and Maine Military Authority. Since then, Maine Military Authority has refurbished 15 school buses and has eight more in the works, saving taxpayers more than $750,000, McCabe said.
Maine Military Authority originally contracted to refurbish military vehicles for the National Guard, McCabe said. It became a quasi-state agency in 2001, and LePage said that as the group creates a niche refurbishing different kinds of vehicles, he’d like the group to go private again.
“At some point in the future, maybe we can privatize this and take some taxes from it,” he said.