The Transportation Committee voted unanimously yesterday during a work session on the ZOOM bus bill that the bill “ought not to pass.” The vote, while unfortunate, does not permanently end the ongoing discussion on how to best address Maine’s growing transit needs. Procedurally, consideration of funding for any expanded ZOOM bus service will be folded into an omnibus bill that will require the Transportation Committee to make difficult decisions on how the Maine Turnpike Authority should spend its money.
Capital expenditures will face increased scrutiny in the wake of the appointment of Interim Executive Director (IED), Peter Mills. In that budget process, buses will be pitted against bridges. Mills has made it clear that he needs a clear sense of exactly what is expected from the MTA fiscally and for some serious prioritization to take place. In recent weeks, Mills’ actions have been resonating through the gilded halls of the MTA. He canceled a MTA employee banquet. He donated his “free” company ride to work crews, and he canned all those pricey external lobbyists. In short, he is the antithesis of his predecessor. For those of us advocating for accessible transit options, we can only hope that his new vision extends to how Mainers efficiently move around the state.
Ten years from now, we can’t afford to all be wondering why we can’t get there from here without jumping in our cars. Reliable, cost-effective, accessible transit between the most populated and most productive economic hubs is critical and CLF remains committed to making that happen. Please join us for the ride.