PORTLAND, Maine — Equipment refurbisher Maine Military Authority is in line to receive a $19 million contract to repair buses used by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, giving the company traction in a new target market and sealing one of two deals state officials have pushed for the company to receive.
U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins and Gov. Paul LePage announced the MBTA deal in separate statements Thursday, saying it will help sustain jobs at the Limestone company that was forced to lay off about 140 workers after losing contracts with the National Guard Bureau.
Timothy McCabe, director of business development for MMA, said Thursday that there is one small step left in the process before the contract is finalized and official.
“Its really a formality,” he said. “We are 99 percent sure we have it.”
Through the contract, the company will work to extend the life of 32 of the transit authority’s dual diesel-electric buses another six years beyond their 12-year life span. The company will work with the original manufacturer of the buses’ electric engines, SKODA Electric, to complete the work.
The company located at the former air base at Loring is hoping to break further into the market for bus refurbishment through a program that started in January. Hugh Corbett, MMA’s executive director, has said the company provides an alternative to the traditional bus rotation of most mass transit authorities, in which they buy, use and eventually sell vehicles for scrap.
“We can service the whole Northeast,” Corbett said in January. “There is no other large-scale refurbishment agency like us in New England.”
LePage said the contract has an option to increase to $24 million if additional tasks are added to the contract.
The deal with MBTA is one of two deals officials at the Loring Development Authority hoped it would receive. The second deal would involve railcar manufacturing work with the Chinese company Norinco. A delegation including LePage and Loring Development Authority President and CEO Carl Flora are scheduled to leave Saturday for Beijing to meet with Norinco officials.
McCabe said the Massachusetts Transit Authority contract would help secure the 60 existing jobs at the Limestone facility and “hopefully allow us to add on people … This is a good step in the right direction,” McCabe said.