Waldo Community Action Partners looks to increase bus transportation visibility

By Ben Holbrook | Jul 04, 2012

Belfast — In an effort to attract more riders, Waldo Community Action Partners will begin installing bus stop signs around the city of Belfast after receiving approval from the City Council.

Ed Murphy, WCAP director of transportation, said the new signs will include prices and schedules for the buses as part of a concerted marketing effort. Murphy said he has already received permission from property owners and apartment complexes to install the signs, which will be paid for with grant money and funding from WCAP.

“We want to provide a better service to the residents of Belfast. We have a very small ridership, but I’m really excited about this project,” Murphy said.

In addition to installing signs to promote the bus routes, Murphy said he also personally donated money to cover the cost of rides in August in memory of his wife.

Councilor Marina Delune said she supports public transportation, especially because the city is committed to saving energy. However, she noted the way the bus operates is confusing to people.

Councilor Roger Lee agreed and said he would like to see the buses operated similarly to the way buses in Bath do, having regularly scheduled and consistent runs.

“I think the problem with the bus you run is that is doesn’t have any regularity,” Lee said.

Murphy disagreed and said the buses run on the same schedule Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but the problem is trying to coordinate runs throughout the 26 towns that comprise Waldo County on a limited budget.

He also pointed out that the buses do a door-to-door service for some residents who schedule a ride in advance, but those times aren’t always consistent. The buses also make trips to Bangor every week and trips to Augusta, Waterville and Rockland every two weeks.

“We just ask that people reserve a ride two days in advance,” Murphy said.

He said the bus services also offer accommodations for people who cannot ride on the normal route with a two-day advance reservation.

As a possible way to increase the number of people using the public transportation system, Councilor Nancy Hamilton suggested having a bus meet the tourist ships at the waterfront.

Murphy said he approached the captain of one of the tourist ships about offering transportation, but was redirected to the ship’s main office. After speaking with personnel in the office, Murphy said, he got the impression they weren’t excited about the proposition.

“I think we should just do it later in July and see if anybody uses it,” he said.

Before concluding discussion about the new bus stop signage, Murphy encouraged councilors to ride the bus.

“Over the past year we traveled over 2.6 million miles, and that is spread across 26 volunteer drivers,” he said.

Councilors unanimously approved the installation of bus route signs.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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