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Business and Economy

Portland Regional Chamber Of Commerce Says Improving Public Transit Could Attract New Talent

Maine Public File

The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to support improvements to the region's mass transit systems.

Representatives from several different transportation agencies discussed current successes and future plans at the group's recurring "Eggs and Ideas" event Wednesday morning.

At the meeting, Greater Portland Metro General Manager Greg Jordan said that ridership has increased 45 percent in 5 years. He touted mass transit's potential to attract new talent to the state.

"If you build it they will come,” Jordan said. “The riders are coming, if you provide good service and show them that they can get around the region using transit."

Representatives said the region needs increased funding to make commuters' experiences seamless when moving between transit opportunities like bus, passenger rail and highways.

Officials from the Maine Turnpike Authority, Greater Portland Metro and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority stressed the need in the area for increased interconnectivity between different services, and they discussed the complications posed by what some called a "fractured" system. Some said the region's goal should be to make public transportation "frequent and fast."

Moderator Kristina Egan, with the Greater Portland Council of Governments, told attendees that businesses have an interest in supporting mass transit initiatives.

"Talent wants transit,” said Egan. “Younger workers, they want to live in walkable neighborhoods, be able to roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and get to their job."