Auburn agrees to consider Portland commuter resolution


AUBURN — Studying the need for commuter bus or rail service between Portland and the Twin Cities is the first step toward getting service started, according to Mayor Jonathan LaBonte.

“When we had state rail plan meetings a few years ago, the rooms at all the meetings were standing room only,” LaBonte said. “They were asking why the state is bypassing Lewiston and Auburn in favor of Brunswick, and the answer was ‘because.’ It’s time for us to become more proactive.”

Councilors agreed Monday to vote on a resolution calling for commuter service on a future meeting agenda.

LaBonte met with Portland’s Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee last month. That’s one of the Portland City Council’s standing committees that reviews legislation before the full council votes.

The draft resolution notes that both communities would benefit from regular transit service between them and says that all three cities would benefit from reduced car trips on Central Maine’s roads.

It calls on the Androscoggin Transportation Resource Center, the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System and all three cities to work together to study transit service and come up with workable options.

“It is relatively innocuous,” LaBonte said. “It does not say where any money is coming from, but it does lay out the value for economic development, for goals, for enhancing livability and encouraging development in the downtowns.”

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