Round 3: Public Transportation
- Public transportation is essential for those who cannot drive or afford a vehicle. As Maine (already the oldest state in the nation) ages, this is becoming a major challenge for our seniors… yet Maine spends only 40 cents per capita on public transportation compared to a national average of $45.66.
- The recently adjourned 128th Legislature passed LD 1248, “An Act To Improve Public Transportation in Maine”. This bill provides funding to the Department of Transportation to support and expand local volunteer driver networks; to create a pilot purchase of service program in a selected region of the State to provide senior citizens and persons with disabilities vouchers to purchase their own transportation services; and for regional transportation providers throughout the State to expand their services.
- The funding for this bill was split into two: 50% to urban and 50% to rural. This bill was also geared only to seniors and developed disabled individuals.
- Maine Council of Aging, Maine Transit Authority and Maine DOT are among those who testified in strong supportive of the bill, where some of the funding is designed to go to start-up volunteer ride programs such as “Neighbors-Driving-Neighbors”, which serves the northern Kennebec County communities of Belgrade, Rome, Mt Vernon, Vienna and Fayette. A new group with a similar mission is forming in Winthrop, Readfield and Monmouth.
- LD 1248 passed out of committee with a 12-1 vote. It later passed the House to be enacted and was in the possession of the Senate, when the 128th Legislature adjourned sine die on September 13. At that point, LD 1248 was placed on file and is dead.
Questions for the Candidates: Do you support or oppose funding for LD 1248? Will you commit to revisiting the proposed bill in the next legislative session?