Bridgton-to-Portland bus update

THIS LAND USE map depicts the Lakes Region Bus stop, at the Community Center, out to a one-half mile radius. (Courtesy of GPCOG)

THIS LAND USE map depicts the Lakes Region Bus stop, at the Bridgton Community Center, out to a one-half mile radius. (Courtesy of GPCOG)

Feeling the wonderful wind of public support beneath our wings, the Bridgton Transportation Authority reaffirmed its goal of launching the Bridgton–Portland commuter bus on Jan. 5, 2015.
“We’re launching an all out blitz to raise the required $5,000 to start the bus early in the new year,” said BTA President Catherine Samuels. “Local foundations, contacting prospective donors, selling ads on the outside of the bus … you name it, we’re thinking about it.”
Full Steam Ahead
Steve Sudduth, owner and director of the ever-popular Wyonegonic Camps in Denmark, has endorsed launching the bus with a contribution without even being asked.
“A LRB service along the Route 302 corridor is a wonderful value added benefit to recruit the hundreds of camp counselors that summer camps bring to the Lake Region,” Sudduth said. “The directors of Maine summer camps need to know about the LRB service, and I will get the word out at our annual meeting.”
Sue Mercier, executive director at the Bridgton Chamber of Commerce, is similarly helpful with, “Whatever we can do to help promote the cause and get the bus running to Bridgton, just tell us.”
The BTA has plans for a scale model of the bus and a fundraising thermometer to be stationed outside the chamber offices on Portland Avenue.
“We’re hoping the ‘bus’ will be in the Parade of Lights; all we need is someone with a few carpentry skills,” said Samuels.
Zoe Miller, at Opportunity Alliance, voiced her enthusiasm for the Lakes Region Bus from the very start.
“We were so sad not to have Bridgton included in the initial run, but we’re happy to hear so many local people are supporting the effort now. The bus to Portland will be wonderful for Bridgton,” she said.
BTA met Selectmen
The BTA, in an effort to bring the Bridgton Board of Selectmen up to speed on the current issues surrounding extending the bus line to Bridgton, got on their Tuesday agenda.
Selectman Paul Hoyt led the board in trying to understand just why it is that Bridgton is on the hook for $10,000 to get the RTP bus route extended to Bridgton from nearby Naples.
“Perhaps,” he asked, “we could get a percentage of the fares collected rebated to the town?” In an effort to understand how much use a local bus to Portland would garner, Hoyt asked how many riders boarded the bus in Naples.
Anne Krieg, Bridgton’s Economic Development Officer, said she had a meeting scheduled meet with RTP and would be happy to get answers to selectmen’s questions and report back at their Dec. 9 meeting. Further discussion on the matter was tabled until then.
Selectmen then addressed the petition (602 signatures) the BTA had circulated on Election Day, asking that local property owners foot the $10,000 bill through a 1 cent increase in the local mil rate.
Town Manager Bob Peabody said there were two routes the town could take in recognition of the petition.
“You can either call a special town meeting, or simply put it on the agenda for a vote at the annual town meeting in June,” Peabody said. Selectmen voted unanimously in favor of the June meeting.
Ways to Donate
The Regional Transportation Program (RTP) is the BTA’s umbrella when it comes to donations. The RTP is a 501-©-3 nonprofit so all contributions are tax deductible in 2014, so long as they are postmarked by year’s end.
Donations may be sent directly to RTP, dropped off at Bridgton’s Community Center or at the Chamber of Commerce, or sent locally to George Bradt.
“Regardless of where donors send their checks they must write ‘1515’ in the memo line of their checks, and write their checks out to ‘RTP’,” said BTA secretary Bradt.
The RTP mailing address is 127 St. John Street, Portland, ME 04102. For inquiries, the RTP telephone number is 774-2666. The RTP is also equipped to accept donations on major credit cards.
Donations may be mailed locally care of George Bradt, 9 Pleasant Street, Bridgton, ME 04009.
The next BTA meeting is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Bridgton Community Center.
For more information about the Bridgton Transportation Authority please contact Catherine Samuels at 803-8027, and visit on Facebook.

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