Bus service budget goes to town meeting

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — During a recent Naples Budget Committee meeting, members voted to not recommend funding the regional bus service that links Naples to Portland.

The primary reason for voting in this manner is because the Regional Transportation Program bus that serves the region has an average of one person a day from Naples using that mode of transportation.

“The problem is that ridership is low,” Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said, citing the budget committee’s reasoning.

The 18-passenger bus makes trips to Portland Monday through Friday, and does not run on the weekend.

Currently, and for the past 18 months, the American Legion Parking Lot in Naples has been the hub for the bus.

RTP has asked five towns for $9,600 each to make up for a budget shortfall in the upcoming year’s operational costs.

During the regular meeting of the Naples Board of Selectmen, the board reviewed the draft of the proposed budget and warrant articles.

At that point, on Monday, the budget committee had yet to vote on other outside agencies seeking funding from the town. The committee had voted unanimously to not recommend allocating money for the regional bus service, according to Paraschak.

Still, residents at Town Meeting will have a chance to weigh the pros and cons, and decide whether or not to back the bus service financially.

The Naples selectmen determined it was best to let the voters’ voices be heard, rather than their own. The board voted to not provide a recommendation either way.

Briefly, Selectman Rick Paraschak pushed for a board vote on the matter.

Selectmen Bob Caron II and Kevin Rogers disagreed with making a recommendation, and letting the taxpayers decide.

“I think we should see what the public thinks,” Rogers said.

“It has only been going one year. Not anything is ‘up and running’ in a year. It seems too new to shoot out of the water yet,” he said.

Rogers advocated for getting more information about the regional bus service.

It was not clear if the town would invite an RTP representative to the Town Meeting to answer the public’s questions.

The board voted to have the bus service article separate from other outside agencies, which would allow residents to discuss it prior to making a decision.

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