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'Transit Tomorrow' Could Improve Public Transportation In Southern Maine

A new effort is intended to improve and expand public transit in several southern Maine communities.

Christina Egan is the executive director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments. She says there are many public transit systems in southern Maine communities, but they're not necessarily working together. And she says the service falls short in a couple important ways.

“Right now if you're going to take public transit, you're averaging a 40-minute ride, but if you get in your car, you're averaging a 24-minute rise. So it's not competitive enough time-wise,” she says. “It may be competitive cost-wise, but it's not getting people to where they need to go fast enough of reliably enough.”

Egan says"Transit Tomorrow," which launches today, will work on nuts-and-bolts issues like adding buses, ferries and trains, increasing trip frequency, and making people more comfortable while they're waiting.

Participants include Biddeford, Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Portland and South Portland, as well as the Casco Bay islands.

The initiative also aims to help area communities better access federal transit dollars.

“Right now we're looking at actual investments in more buses, more frequent buses and ferries and trains, what kinds of vehicles we need for the future, what kind of stations and stops to make our riders comfortable, like do we need more shelters, do we need multi-modal centers, so it's the hard infrastructure costs that we're looking at,” Egan says.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.