A Bangor City Council member hopes that upgrading the city’s bus fleet over the next five years will lead to Bangor offering night service.
The city is replacing half of its aging, 22-bus fleet over the next five years, using a mix of federal, state and local funds. The upgrade would give the city-operated Community Connector transit service the inventory it needs to one day offer rides after 5:45 p.m., the time the last buses now leave the downtown Bangor bus depot.
The older buses wouldn’t have been able to handle the extra use from longer hours, officials said, and transportation advocates have been pushing for later services — an idea that has garnered the support of some city councilors, including Sarah Nichols.
“It’s making it so we can get one step closer to reaching our goal of expanding the hours,” Nichols said.
But later service is still a ways away.
Five of the new buses, which are being paid for through a $2.1 million Federal Transit Administration grant, will not be delivered until about 2021, and expanding the hours would cost the city about $300,000 in personnel and maintenance-related costs, said Debbie Cyr, the city’s finance director.
“The riders would love nighttime services,” said Laurie Linscott, the Community Connector’s superintendent. But “the city council and the city would need to make an investment. And it’s a big investment, and we have to make sure we’re ready to do that as a city.”
Later service would allow downtown businesses to attract more workers without vehicles for evening shifts, advocates said. The extended hours could also allow residents to take the bus to dinner at a local restaurants or to a concert at the Waterfront, said Linscott.
“Transit attracts a younger workforce,” Nichols said. “It’s good policy. It’s good for the environment. It makes Bangor a more livable, desirable place to be.”
The Connector uses 14 buses at a time during peak hours.