AUBURN – The need and desire for additional public transportation is growing nationwide and Maine is no exception. In response, Western Maine Transportation Services (WMTS) is launching an online survey starting today and concluding May 8th to learn how it may be able to improve transportation throughout its service area, which includes Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties, Brunswick and Topsham.
“We’re seeking input from as many people in our service area as we can reach, whether they use currently-available public transportation or not. This survey is about determining real-world needs so WMTS can work to offer relevant rural and urban public transportation options for everyone’s benefit,” said Sandy Buchanan, General Manager of WMTS.
Buchanan explained WMTS currently operates bus and van services centered around population centers throughout its service area, as well as Lewiston-Auburn’s citylink buses, the Lisbon Connection commuter bus, the Brunswick Explorer bus and the Mountain Explorer and Sugarloaf Explorer seasonal bus services.
The survey, available at www.wmtsbus.org , asks why people do, or don’t, use public transportation, and if they do, where and when they use it. There is a series of questions to allow survey takers to note what changes, additions and improvements they would like to have made to fill crucial gaps in transportation services, including rural-rural and rural-urban connections. Anyone needing a printed version of the survey should call WMTS at 800-393-9335 extension 208.
Buchanan continued, “We hear every day that the region needs more transportation options to ease the stress of commuting to work, to allow people to access educational opportunities, and get to everything from essential services like grocery shopping, to going to the movies and, of course, going to healthcare appointments, without having to use a personal vehicle. Even in our service area, we are aware of how the number of people who don’t drive due to economic, age or medical reasons, or just out of personal preference, is growing. These individuals span all age and socio-economic groups and also include tourists. This survey is the public’s chance to tell us what their transportation needs are.”
The survey is part of a study funded by the Maine Department of Transportation as part of the department’s goal of improving transit in Maine.
The study is evaluating the feasibility of new routes and connections, and also includes a range of strategies for funding. Once the study is completed this August, WMTS will focus on identifying funding sources and move towards implementing the region’s priorities as indicated by the survey and through interviews with area businesses, hospitals, schools and non-profits.