Professional Videomaker, Housing Cooperative Member, Volunteer for Visible Community, Lots to Gardens, Maine People's Alliance, The Dempsey Challenge, and Spoke Folks Community Bike Shop
I think this is a great proposal, and I'm happy to see it has bi-partisan support. The more we can connect our cities together with affordable transit options, the more opportunities Maine people will have to access jobs and services. I think it's important we develop these transit systems as soon as we can.
Adjusting the minimum wage for inflation makes perfect sense, and it's the least that could be done to encourage a bottom-up economic recovery. Even with such an adjustment, there are far too many workers who are undervalued by our society. I don't care how "simple" someone's job appears to be, every person's hour of work should be worth a livable wage (at least $11 an hour for a single person). The disparity in income between working people and the administrative/owning class - which has continued to grow since the weakening of unions since the 70's - is not morally justified.
The BAT is a great system, and I would love to have a more integrated network of buses serving a region larger than just L-A. Bangor also spends between 2x and 3x as much money per-capita on their bus system as we do. The reason why I don't actually understand your questioning of the need for buses is because my personal experience is that the buses ARE being used by many different people: seniors, students, workers, shoppers, car-less, people with disabilities, etc. I rode the College Street bus yesterday and had to stand for a little while because of crowding. And there are many other people who want to use the bus if only some of the routes and stops were modified. And those are some of the most important changes being proposed. Little Canada, for example, isn't served by the bus at all right now. Neither is B-Street or the three senior housing centers surrounding it. When the bus system was studied and improved 8 years ago, ridership nearly doubled to something like 230,000 riders/year. "Better bus routes and times and Saturday Service" was the most urgent thing the Visible Community heard about from people when we did the People's Downtown Master Plan. And the independent study of Tom Crickelair put forward a good analysis of where and when bus service is needed. It's not 100's of new routes. It's mostly modified routes with better coverage, more time to complete the routes, and longer service hours to accommodate people who work and go to school. I think its a modest proposal for a system that has great demand.