In an effort to promote Waldo Community Action Partners’ (WCAP) transportation program, the public bus line of Waldo County, a coalition has come together to get the word out through the installation of new bus stop signs throughout the city and a campaign including a month of free rides.

Over the past year the coalition, comprised of area organizations including WCAP, Healthy Waldo County, Our Town Belfast, Spectrum Generations, Triad, Belfast Transition Initiative and Friends of Midcoast Maine, has worked to address ongoing transportation challenges in Waldo County – including perception of the familiar cranberry-colored Waldo County Transportation buses.

Addressing the Belfast City Council on Thursday, June 19, Carole Hallundbaek of Healthy Waldo County, a local Healthy Maine Partnership, stated that “very few people in the area realize that the Waldo Trans buses are public. They have been perceived as private, or social services-related, requiring special arrangements. But these are public buses with public routes.”

Ed Murphy, WCAP’s transportation director, obtained a DOT grant to fund this project, which will be at no cost to retailers.

In addition, Murphy also announced his personal gift of a month of free rides in August. He donated the funds to cover the expense, in memory of his wife.

That evening the City Council voted unanimously to pass the motion to install the signs.

The route for this campaign is called the “Belfast Shopper,” and nine signs will be installed close to retailers from the Public Landing up to Reny’s Plaza. Stops will also be designated at local apartment complexes. The striking blue and gold signs will be instantly recognizable. The graphic was designed by Jan Riddle.

“Very early after joining Waldo Community Action Partners in October 2011, I was approached by community members interested in improving the visibility of the Belfast Shopper,” said Keith Small, WCAP executive director. “I was glad to offer WCAP’s support and involvement. I am very appreciative of the collaborative spirit embodied by this committee, business stakeholders and the city of Belfast.”

Murphy added that “the buses run on the same schedule Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and door-to-door service for some residents can be arranged in advance.”

The schedule will be posted on the back of each bus stop sign, which will also include the contact phone number and the $1 fare notice.

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

The campaign hopes to ease transportation challenges in Waldo County, as well as increase awareness and use of the bus line by residents, students, local employees and visitors.

For more information contact WCAP’s Transportation Program at 338-4769.