Hampden exploring Saturday bus service

Posted Oct. 07, 2009, at 6:55 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Town councilors have agreed to revisit discussions about adding Saturday bus service to the regular weekday runs from Hampden to Bangor offered by the BAT Community Connector.

“Basically, we’ve always felt one of our obligations was to make it possible and easy for citizens of Hampden to move around the Bangor area in the most efficient way,” said Councilor Thomas Brann, who brought the idea up at a meeting this week.

The projected cost to include Saturday would be about $28,000, according to BAT Superintendent Joe McNeil. In the past Hampden has been reluctant to add costs, but it remains the only community served by the BAT that doesn’t have weekend service.

“We talked about this a year ago and decided not to invest,” Brann said. “But we’re finding that the demand could very well be there.”

And, Brann said, the timing could be right this time. Hampden recently received $13,000 as part of a federal grant to BAT that could be used to institute Saturday bus service on a trial basis.

“It’s almost like found money, so it could be a chance to see how successful Saturdays could be,” the councilor said. “I think I’ve been stopped four or five times in the last few weeks and asked about this.”

The BAT Community Connector is a fixed-route public transit system operated by the city of Bangor for the communities of Greater Bangor. Participating towns have annual contracts with the city to provide the service.

Hampden now has 12 daily runs from 6:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., but Brann said the bus likely would not run as often on Saturdays.

McNeil acknowledged that Saturday bus service has been popular in other communities, such as Veazie, Orono, Old Town and Brewer, but not as popular as Monday-through-Friday service. He said BAT has the infrastructure to accommodate the change but not the money, so if Hampden wants to pay for it, BAT would happily oblige.

The council plans to discuss the matter further at a meeting this month and perhaps decide by early November whether it wants to start Saturday service.

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