New public transportation partnership announced

Oct 16, 2017

Rockland — Mid-Coast Public Transportation and The Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition will join forces in the effort to improve access to public transportation for everyone in Midcoast Maine.

According to Dr. Ira Mandel, director of the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition, a nonprofit organization striving to reduce the rates of drug addiction and its consequences, there is an urgent need to increase access to public transportation for people with addiction who cannot afford a reliable vehicle or have lost their license to drive due to addiction-related consequences.

“Getting help for addiction is complicated and exacerbated by a need for more public transportation options,” Mandel said. “But access to safe and reliable public transportation is a basic need for many people other than those with addiction. Many people in Midcoast Maine are struggling with maintaining employment, meeting life needs and accessing other services due to lack of reliable public transportation.”

The process of increasing access to public transportation is heavily reliant on partnerships, education, coordination and funding. The intention of this new partnership is to collaborate broadly and strategically with stakeholders in the private, public and nonprofit sectors to continually better communicate about public transportation needs and solutions while gaining access to experienced individuals and funding opportunities. This partnership seeks active communication and coordination with all stakeholders and plans to create a strong, highly visible public identity to both stakeholders and those who need transportation services.

Michael E. Hallundbaek, director of Mid-Coast Public Transportation and Mid-Coast Connector MaineCare Transportation Brokerage, said the partnership concept is a cornerstone in his organization's culture.

“Mid-Coast Public Transportation is a coordinated transportation system operated by Waldo Community Action Partners, a nonprofit community action agency working to build strong families and communities by empowering people to achieve economic independence and self-reliance,” Hallundbaek said.

“We have been providing reliable public transportation services in Waldo County for more than 30 years and have, during the past few years, been expanding into Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc counties, as well as Brunswick, to help people with lack of access to reliable public transportation. Recently we opened an office in Damariscotta, and we are seeing a tremendous need to increase resources in our new service area.”

Mid-Coast Public Transportation’s mission is to provide safe, reliable and courteous transportation to everyone in Midcoast Maine.

“Last year we were able to help with almost 300,000 trips through all of our transportation programs,” Hallundbaek said. “But through our community assessment, we know that so many more are in need of especially public transportation options with fixed and flexible routes throughout the region. This chance to partner with Dr. Mandel and the Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition is a great opportunity and adds a number of terrific resources to the current momentum. We need to organize, coordinate and raise funds to help more people get access to public transportation.”

Part of the strategy of the partnership is to establish three permanent local transportation advisory working groups throughout the Midcoast — one focused on Waldo County, one focused on Knox/Lincoln counties, and one focused on Sagadahoc County, including Brunswick and Harpswell — for the purpose of creating a continuous forum for needs assessment, education, communication, and coordination of partnership and funding opportunities.

The first transportation advisory working group meeting for Knox and Lincoln counties will take place Friday, Nov. 3, from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Rockland City Hall Council Chambers, 270 Pleasant St. Upcoming meetings for Waldo County and for Sagadahoc County, including Brunswick and Harpswell, respectively, will be announced soon. Anyone interested in public transportation is encouraged to attend.

For more information, or to join with Mid-Coast Public Transportation and Mid-Coast Recovery Coalition in addressing transportation issues in Midcoast Maine, contact Steffanie Pyle, community engagement specialist, Mid-Coast Public Transportation at 930-7380 or by email at spyle@midcoastpublictransportation.org.

To inquire about existing Mid-Coast Public Transportation schedules, call toll free 800-439-7865 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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