Transportation, For Who?
$400,000.00 from the Feds, Locked into Commutes!

Steve Hoad

I am definitely interested in saving our environment. The program run by Go Maine is built to do this, but does it make sense to subsidize people who all ready drive when thereís not any transportation available for those who donít drive? I know about the "cutting pollution by driving less" "cutting down traffic by less cars on the road" and all of those items that bring grants like this about. I'm just concerned that $400,000.00 put into the right places might serve more than one purpose. And, unfortunately, when vans sit idle, People with disabilities are left stranded. When riders are drivers themselves, those who don't drive go without.

There is very little transportation available between, say, Brunswick and Augusta, let alone between other destinations in Maine. I know griping won't do much good, but it may open some minds to doing things a bit differently. But, it has to be more than one person speaking, because one person does not make a loud and constant enough noise most of the time.

Do you walk a lot? Do you sit home because you have no transportation? Can you help by coming forward with research and advocacy?

Interested Researcher Needed
GoMaine Program, More Questions Than Answers

(see the article below.)
A bunch of vans owned by the state?

Just for commuting?

How long do these vehicles sit idle each day?

Where do they live?

How can people with disabilities, who may not have "regular commutes" access these?

Are they, in fact, accessible vans?

Do people with disabilities who donít drive---with, or without jobs, have priority to these?


Anybody have the time and energy to do some phone calling and research?
Transportation advocacy could create policy changes.
Go Maine is operated by the Greater Portland Council of Governments.
It can be found on the web at
http:// www.gomaine.org

******

(from The Waterville Sentinel)

The Maine Department of Transportation more than doubled the number of vans used to ferry people about the state after receiving $400,000 from the federal government.

This brings the number of vans in the Go Maine program to 20 from its original nine, increasing total passenger capacity to 240, program leaders announced on Tuesday.

When the program expands in early 2007, it will reach York county, Lewiston-Auburn and other areas. Eventually, van routes will reach greater Portland, Topsham and Brunswick, as well.

Demand is outpacing supply, as the nine vans currently running have a total capacity of 108 -- With 184 people registered with the program, newcomers have to sign a waiting list.

Expanding the program will help bring the state closer to meeting demand for the service, program manager Susan Moreau said.

"With the increasing gas prices, it's become a critical issue for a lot of people," she said. "Certainly, Mainers know a good deal when they see it, and this is a good deal."

Moreau said taking a daily van ride between Portland and Augusta costs $115 per month. Sharing a van to commute to work or other places is cheaper than riding alone, according to Beth Nagusky, director of the Governor's Office of Energy Independence.

"Maine commuters want to reduce how much they spend for gasoline, and they are taking steps to reduce their gasoline consumption," she said.

Nagusky pointed to state surveys that indicate that a majority of Maine drivers are looking for ways to conserve gasoline.

"Expanding public transportation not only saves money, it will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and emissions of greenhouse gases," she said.

Routes are selected and expanded in response to customer demand, as survey responses indicate desired destinations.

The van-pooling program began in response to the 1973 oil embargo, and initially only served state employees. The program has gradually expanded over the past 30 years, however, and is now open to public use. Additionally, Go Maine facilitates car pooling with its Web site at www.gomaine.org. More than 3,400 people subscribe to the service.

"Van pooling works particularly well in a rural state, because we don't have mass transit everywhere, because we don't have enough people to warrant that," she said. "So vans are filling that critical need."

(Article quoted from The Waterville Sentinel Wednesday October 18, available at
http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/news/local/3237189.shtml



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