Heavy-weight Growth Cities should be Linked Through ZOOM bus

Jane West

A new report from the Washington, D.C. –based Brookings Institution found that two of Maine’s metro areas drive 54% of the state’s economic output, amounting to $2.7 billion dollars in gross domestic product.  Portland-South Portland-Biddeford and the Lewiston-Auburn areas are also responsible for creating 51% of the jobs here in Maine, despite only accounting for 47% of the population.  Currently, the ZOOM bus service provides limited yet very successful service between Portland and Biddeford.

Representative Moulton’s bill, LD 673, “An Act to Expand Fiscally Responsible Transportation Through Increased ZOOM Bus Service,” seeks to improve that existing service and add a much needed route up to the economic hub of Lewiston-Auburn.  This critical and long overdue link would connect 106,539 L/A residents with 266,800 jobs in the Portland-Biddeford area, according to the Brookings Institution report.  The report notes that 60.4% of the state’s innovation workers are located in the Portland metro area.   Doesn’t it make sense to connect major population hubs with innovative jobs?  That is what the ZOOM bus bill contemplates, all with the comfort of modern wi-fi access to provide for a better connected, more productive work force.

The report also credits the Bangor area with 11% of the state’s economic output.  Imagine increasing bus service to the Bangor area after the successful implementation of the current bill to reach a trifecta of economic growth, job creation and mass transit.  According to the report, these metropolitan areas represent the engines of state economic growth and concentrate the assets critical to building the “Next Economy.”  And while that is very exciting news, the fact is, we can’t afford to ignore the mass transit connections that will help move the people of the state of Maine forward in a competitive economy.

Source: Brookings Institution analysis of Census population estimates, American Community Survey, Moody’s Analytics, BEA, and BLS.

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