Bettering Greater Portland's Public Transport

Better public transportation means fewer cars on the roads, and that means less gas guzzling. So for an earnest greenie like me, this morning's regional bus transit summit, held at Portland's Ocean Terminal and attended by more than a few local and state public officials and transportation heads, was an encouraging step for Greater Portland's environmental future. Oh, and the ideas espoused there could save a busload (pardon the pun) of money too.

Governor John Baldacci was there to sign a joint resolution supporting implementation of the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Committee (PACTS) recommendations, which stem that committee's Regional Transit Coordination Study, released in June. Some of the priority recommendations are:

-- Create a regional public transportation map and timetable. PACTS transit chair Tom Meyers, who presented the study, pointed out that a hapless traveler who wanted to get from Scarborough, to Portland, to South Portland, say, would have to tote along a whole heap of cumbersome maps. Riders would be better served -- and more likely to brave the public transport system -- if all their travel options were laid out in an easy-to-read, joint publication.

-- Conduct a regional route study that examines everything from bus stop locations, to connection/transfer schedule times, to service to Park & Ride lots.

-- Develop a regional pass system. This doesn't have to be complex and high-tech, Meyers said -- perhaps thinking of Boston's new Charlie Card system -- but would allow smoother transfers and payments around the region.

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