A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

GoMaine initiates new vanpools

As reported in this week's Forecaster, GoMaine has initiated a new vanpool service between Portland and Lewiston. The van's 10 riders subscribe to the service for $90 a month, which is less than the cost of three round trips in a private auto, if you add up the costs of gas, registration, insurance, wear and tear, and tolls. The Portland-to-Lewiston service is already booked, but according to the GoMaine website, "new vanpools will be formed based upon demonstrated commuter demand."

GoMaine also operates 16 other vanpools, but the Lewiston service is the first one that doesn't start or end in Augusta. Some of the other vanpools do still have open seats - check out gomaine.org/vanpool to check the routes and availability. And if you'd like GoMaine to start a vanpool somewhere else, send them an e-mail with your request.

Since subscribers pay for the vans' fuel and gasoline, the major limiting factor for new vanpools seems to be the capital cost of buying new vans: each one costs about $25,000, which is about how much the Turnpork Authority plans to spend every eight feet in their proposed widening project. That proposal would widen 9 miles of the turnpike in Portland for $150 million, a sum which could buy enough 10-passenger vans to seat every man, woman, and child in the city.

Right now, unfortunately, our state's transportation policy puts a higher priority on spending $25,000 on an 8-by-12 foot patch of asphalt than it does on providing an affordable and environmentally-friendly commuting option to Mainers. If you're wondering why, I suggest that you ask this guy.

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