Some of Fred Blanchard’s information about the Brunswick Explorer bus service is incorrect and I have to disagree with his conclusions.
The Brunswick Explorer does have three buses, one of which functions as a spare. Coastal Trans, which operates the service, employs at least three full-time bus drivers on the route and offers a fairly generous benefit package, despite assertions that we hire only part-time drivers to avoid paying benefits.
The bus service is funded through a variety of sources: state, local and federal funds, as well as funding from institutions like Bowdoin College, Sweetser, Mid Coast Hospital, Brunswick Housing Authority and the United Way of Mid Coast Maine. All of them believe public transportation is an important piece of community infrastructure.
As a new service the Brunswick Explorer is in the process of establishing itself. We believe that we had a very successful first year, providing 17,500 rides. Ridership numbers have increased steadily during the year. In the future the Brunswick Explorer, which has its home base in Brunswick Station, will serve as a link in a growing public transportation network that includes the Downeaster train (also dismissed by Blanchard as a “waste big-time”).
Blanchard is right about one thing. Public transportation will never make money and only in rare cases pay its own way. But public transportation is worth the investment. It improves mobility for many people who have no other way to get around. It reduces congestion on the streets. It reduces air pollution. It makes communities more livable.
Lee Karker, executive director
MCH, Coastal Trans