Local Politics

As Portland’s Population Grows, Its Public Transportation Should as Well

One of Portland’s Bus stops. Photo by Emma Campbell

I went to a concert last week in Worcester, Massachusetts. The tickets were purchased several months ago, and had planned to grab some bus tickets to head down. My car is unreliable and the friend I am attending with doesn’t have a vehicle, so that made the most sense, right? Two weeks ago I decided to jump online to purchase the bus tickets and I was shocked to see no bus or train tickets available for the two hour route on the day of the concert.

It’s pretty apparent that the United States is lacking in terms of public transportation in comparison to other countries. It’s hard to find a way to travel without a vehicle in most parts of the U.S. without having to spend an excess on an Uber. I have always loved traveling to high density cities in the U.S., like New York City and Boston, because there is a form of public transit available.

One hundred years ago the U.S. had public transportation that other countries were envious of. The Great Depression saw most public transit companies out of business, and made it difficult for remaining ones to move forward. Then came the automobile; allowing Americans to drive further distances, and commute by car where public transportation would have been the only option previously.

There have been several attempts at reviving and improving public transportation, but most urban areas still fall short, and suburban areas are lacking almost entirely. Portland is no exception. Portland has a Metro bus that allows residents to travel across the city and into Westbrook, South Portland, and Falmouth. I moved to Maine in 2008 and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never utilized this.

The only real excuse I have for shying away from Portland’s public transit is a lack of understanding. A great way in encouraging people to utilize public transportation would be teaching young Mainers about local options. I lived and attended school in Boston for one year and used its public transportation almost daily because of education from school and plenty of posters throughout the city.

Public transportation in a city like Boston is seen as more important because of the difficulty of having a car, driving it, and finding a place to park it. As Portland’s population grows, public transit should be a more valued aspect of our city. I’ve been looking for a used car for the past year, and have had extreme difficulty due to a shortage of supply, and crazy prices because of that shortage of supply. Having a secure public transit route to all neighboring cities, and no fear of being late to work because of public transit, would be a game changer.

Categories: Local Politics, OpEd

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