The Community Connector bus system that links the greater-Bangor area through public transit is considering changes in the way it operates. A recent public survey available during February asked people in the surrounding communities to give their feedback on the current system.
After the survey closes, public opinion data will then be used to determine what sorts of changes will be most beneficial to the area’s residents, according to Laurie Linscott, Bangor bus superintendent.
“People want different things now than they did 10 years ago,” Linscott said. “Transit is just one of those things that has to be evolved in a community and change with the community. And if it doesn’t, it just stays stagnant and you don’t keep the ridership.”
In the transit industry, Linscott noted, major overhauls like this are attempted every 10 or so years. The last time the Bangor-area transit system was revisited was around 2010.
In 2003, the Bangor bus system underwent substantial rebranding changes, including the introduction of a new logo, a new name and new uniforms. Throughout the rest of the decade, other major changes were made in bus routes and operation times.
This time, new changes could include a modernization of the technology on the buses and changes to operation times. Ultimately the specific changes will be highly dependent on feedback and suggestions made by the contactor.
“[It] would be great if the bus ran more often than hourly, but there’s not enough riders for that,” Alex Perry, a third-year anthropology major, said. “But the transit aspect is fine for the area we live in.”
In regard to the Orono and Old Town routes, Linscott predicts that the contractor may suggest increasing the frequency and operation times of busses going to and from Bangor and Orono.
“I’m hoping that this transit study and all the changes that come with it really move us up the chain in becoming more of a professional transit system,” Linscott said.
In December of last year the Bangor City Council voted to approve nearly $100,000 for the study, which is being contracted out to Stantec, an Edmonton, Alberta, based design and consulting firm. In 2015, the Chicago Transit Authority selected Stantec to be the lead designer on a $2.1 billion project to modernize and reconstruct sections of Chicago’s metro system.
Under the current Community Connector system, students from the University of Maine, Husson University, Eastern Maine Community College, Beal College and the University of Maine at Augusta ride free in Bangor.
After this period of public feedback, surveys will be released to employers and employees in the area to determine how they use or could be using public transit. UMaine is among the organizations whose feedback will be sought in the coming months.
“The employer and employee surveys are for unmet need,” Linscott said. “We’re trying to really tap into the businesses,” Linscott said.
Stantec’s recommendations for changes to the Community Connector system will be due around the end of May, Liscott said.
The survey to provide feedback on the is available until Feb. 27 and can be found at http://bangortransit.study/.