BAR HARBOR (AP) – Responding to concerns from the local business community, Acadia officials have agreed to withhold information about parking availability from a new statewide travel information system. But the real-time information will be made available on the park’s Web site and its two-months-old phone information system.

The park’s decision came following a discussion Thursday with representatives of the Maine Department of Transportation and the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

The state’s 511 Travel Info system, unveiled last week, will provide toll-free telephone access for motorists seeking information on traffic delays throughout Maine.

The voice-activated system will provide callers a menu of options, and one choice was to have included information about parking conditions at popular Acadia attractions.

But Clare Bingham, executive director of the local chamber of commerce, expressed concerns that real-time information would discourage long-distance travelers from coming to the area.

“When they hear (a parking lot) is full, they think the park is full and that they can’t get in,” she said. “It will discourage them from coming.”

Bingham said the decision to eliminate parking details from the system had eased her “immediate concerns.”

But surveys of park visitors show that travelers want real-time parking information, said David Register, the McLean, Va., consultant hired by the state transportation department to develop the information system.

The park had hoped to use the parking information to encourage visitors to use the Island Explorer bus system in order to ease longtime parking concerns, said Len Bobinchock, Acadia’s acting Superintendent.

He said he was willing to withdraw the parking information from the system for the coming season, suggesting the parties meet again in September to evaluate its success.

AP-ES-05-23-03 0838EDT

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