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

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

METRO Fare Hikes Hearing Scheduled Next Thursday, After Buses Stop Running

The regional bus transit agency METRO is considering a $0.25 fare increase to cover serious budget shortfalls - even though ridership is increasing, operating funds from the city and state are diminishing. The new fares would be $1.50.

Personally, I think this is a reasonable price for transit, especially compared with other cities. However, METRO ought to use this opportunity to look hard at other cost-saving options. The biggest opportunity would come from streamlining the convoluted, impractical Route 8, which takes an entire hour to run a byzantine loop across the peninsula.

Streamlining Route 8, while supplementing it with better services for elderly and disabled riders, would let METRO increase its ridership and fare revenues, while also dramatically reducing its costs.

Anyhow, METRO will hold three hearings next week in Falmouth, Westbrook, and Portland.

The Portland public hearing on the fare increase begins at 7 pm next Thursday. Hilltop resident Bobbi Keppel pointed out on the Portland Bike/Ped Committee e-mail list that this is 20 minutes before the last Route 1 bus departs from downtown to the top of Munjoy Hill.

So METRO apparently doesn't want any transit-reliant East Enders to be there. But maybe you could pool your money and split a cab.

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