By scott Bogren

It’s not everyday that you’re afforded the opportunity to talk about community and public transportation with an ideal mix of transit operators, local elected officials, state elected officials, state DOT leadership, local business leaders, workforce development advocates and even passengers and transit users. Yesterday, I had just that chance thanks to Sandy Buchanan and Craig Zurhorst at CTAA member Western Maine Transportation Services. It was a productive set of discussions.

CTAA has always worked and advocated at the federal level for community and public transportation. Many of the skills we’ve developed doing this work are well suited for deployment at the state level — where in this age of “devolution” an increasing amount of vital decisions on transit are being made. It was great to spend a day in one of my favorite places in the world, the great state of Maine, talking transit with diverse, interested group of local and state leaders.

My slide deck (PDF) provided an overview of emerging issues, data and opportunities; but it was the conversation that was most noteworthy.

From a rural transit perspective — Western Maine operates both small-urban fixed route and rural services in its vast service area — the discussion focused on regional operations and the demanding nature of a dispersed, often aging population. Employment generators, isolation and changes in delivering on-demand transportation were all part of the conversation.

Within the region’s urbanized area (Lewiston/Auburn), we talked about new concepts in fixed-route service delivery and how many communities were undertaking re-design efforts to align operations to ridership potential. Frequency, not surprisingly, was featured.

With a group of state elected officials near the end of the session, the group looked at how to increase state transit investment in Maine. It’s always a good sign when a legislator looks straight at you and asks: “So what would you like me to do?”

CTAA has always worked and advocated at the federal level for community and public transportation. Many of the skills we’ve developed doing this work are well suited for deployment at the state level — where in this age of “devolution” an increasing amount of vital decisions on transit are being made. It was great to spend a day in one of my favorite places in the world, the great state of Maine, talking transit with diverse, interested group of local and state leaders.

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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.