Bus to Portland gains traction

BRIDGTON AREA RESIDENTS might be able to commute from Bridgton to Portland early next year if $10,000 can be raised. (Bradt Photo)

BRIDGTON AREA RESIDENTS might be able to commute from Bridgton to Portland early next year if $10,000 can be raised. (Bradt Photo)

A dozen collaborative and ready-to-work citizens turned out for the first meeting to get the Lake Region Bus (LRB) extended from Naples to Bridgton early next year.
“I want to catch the bus from downtown Bridgton to visit my daughter in Westbrook,” said one attendee. “I’ve got a grandchild I haven’t seen yet.”
Sally Chappell reminded everyone that there used to be a regular group concerned about the lack of local transportation.
“Not only did we consider a bus to Portland, we also noted the lack of a taxi service within Bridgton,” she said.
At a meeting with Dan Goodman in Portland last week, local organizer George Bradt was told the annual cost of extending the LRB to Bridgton would cost $10,000 – a $5,000 discount from Dan’s first quote.
Decisions made
In just 90 minutes, attendees decided to raise the $10,000 by Dec. 31, 2014 insuring that the Bridgton-to-Portland connection could begin as early as Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
A name for the Bridgton LRB advocacy group was debated. Skipping over the Squeaky Wheels, the group settled on the Bridgton Transportation Authority — BTA.
“That doesn’t sound like much fun,” said one participant. “Sounds like the ETF. How about the Bridgton Bus Buddies?”
A volunteer executive board was agreed upon: President Catherine Samuels, Vice President Wanda Lembo, Treasurer Dina Rogers and Secretary George Bradt.
Why take the Bus?
“The Bridgton-to-Portland bus opens up opportunities for everyone wishing to visit the city or recreate in our beautiful four-season area,” said George Bradt.
Visitors to Portland may wish to visit the city’s many art galleries or museum, take a class, have a medical appointment, or simply visit with friends.
City dwellers seeking peace and quiet could walk the trails of Pondicherry Park, go antiquing, or dine in any of Bridgton’s creative restaurants.
Not only is the bus handicapped-accessible, the fares are reasonably priced at $3 for adults, and $2 for seniors and students.
Learn more
The earliest upcoming event planned by the BTA is an information table at the town’s polling site (Old Town Hall, 26 North High Street) on Tuesday, Nov. 4.
“We’re hoping people will stop by, learn more about the Lake Region Bus service to Portland, volunteer for future events, and perhaps even make a donation toward bringing the bus to Bridgton,” said BTA President Catherine Samuels.
Mary Lou Moulton, noted local artist, will create a poster for the BTA, but the group also needs someone able to create, launch and update the Bridgton Transportation Authority’s efforts via social media.
Future meeting dates of the BTA are Wednesdays at 5:30 at Bridgton Community Center: Oct. 29, Nov. 12 and 26, and Dec. 10.
New Study Published
Rick Harbison, Land Use & Transportation Planner at the Greater Council of Portland Governments (GPCOG), has released a new, 32-page study of the existing Lake Region Bus route from Naples to Portland.
To download a copy of the study please go to: www.gpcog.HYPERLINK "x-msg://2440/LakesRegionBusReport.pdf"org/transportation-land-use/bikepedtrails/bike-ped-plan.
Although Bridgton isn’t in the report, it is easy to get an idea of what the revised study will look like when the LRB route is extended. Each bus stop is detailed in terms of retail opportunities, walking paths, accessibility and distance from stop.
LRB Home Page
The Regional Transportation Program (RTP), operators of the LRB, maintains a wonderful web page about the service with detailed maps and schedules. For a look at the page please go to:  HYPERLINK "http://rtprides.org/lake-region-bus/" http://rtprides.org/lake-region-bus/
Everyone is welcomed to attend the BTA meetings, which are handicapped-accessible. Any ideas, volunteers, and tax-exempt donations are always welcomed and appreciated. For more information, contact George Bradt, BTA secretary, at 647-2389 or e-mail: applewood1@myfairpoint.net

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