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Regular Updates from Your Association

By charlie rutkowski

Tribal Transit in Maine

On January 16, I travelled to Aroostook County, Maine where CTAA is working with the Aroostook Band of Micmac Indians. Aroostook County is the largest county by area in the State of Maine, and the largest county east of the Mississippi. Micmac tribal members live in and around Presque Isle, Maine as well as in scattered locations throughout Aroostook County. During my visit, I met with Tammy Gagnon, Executive Director of the Aroostook Regional Transportation System (ARTS) in Presque Isle to discuss strategies for serving Micmac tribal members. Although ARTS provides demand responsive transit service in many areas of Aroostook County, very few tribal members utilize it. We are working with the Tribe and ARTS to develop additional services focused on the specialized needs of tribal members and that would attract more tribal ridership. The project emerged from an earlier Tribal Transit Program planning grant from FTA. Our work there is supported through the Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program.

We know that to truly understand the issues, challenges and problems confront small transit programs, we need to see them ourselves. Although we live in an era of instantaneous electronic communications, it cannot replace the face to face conversations that we have with transit managers during our site visits. Our reputation has been built upon the close relationships we have built during visits to rural and tribal America.

On January 17, I visited the Penobscot Tribe on Indian Island, Maine to initiate a transit development project, also supported through the Tribal Passenger Transportation Technical Assistance Program. The Penobscot Tribe occupies tribal lands During my visit, I met with David Pardilla, the Tribes Public Works Director. Penobscot members do not have access to the nearby Bangor Transit System. Our work will help the Tribe develop a dedicated tribal transit program that would provide mobility services within the tribal community on Indian Island, as well as linkages to Old Town, Orono and Bangor.

A footnote….in response to wondering why I, along with many of my colleagues at CTAA, are visiting places like Presque Isle, Maine, along with small rural and tribal communities around the country. We know that to truly understand the issues, challenges and problems confront small transit programs, we need to see them ourselves. Although we live in an era of instantaneous electronic communications, it cannot replace the face to face conversations that we have with transit managers during our site visits. Our reputation has been built upon the close relationships we have built during visits to rural and tribal America. CTAA’s address may be inside the Washington Beltway, but much of our work is far beyond the Beltway.

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The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.