Transportation & Housing

Workgroup Information

Primary Contacts

In Aroostook County:

 Joella Theriault

In Washington County:

Judy East,

Linda Belfiore

This task seeks to stop – and/or – reverse the very high (and increasing) costs for housing and travel in our thinly populated region.

Desired Outcomes

  • Decrease in the combined housing and transportation costs per household and increase the proportion of low and very low income households within a 30 minute transit commute of major employment centers
  • Increase in the median household income and stem population loss
  • Alignment of federal planning and investment resources that mirror the local and regional strategies for achieving sustainable communities

Progress to Date

The challenge of providing transit service is significant in the large sparsely populated Washington-Aroostook region. The Transportation & Housing work team in Washington County is building on the work of two recent initiatives:

  • The work of the First Light Transit System Steering Committee that provides a comprehensive report on the state of transit in Washington County with recommendations for future improvements and better coordination of public transit and passenger services, entitled Developing Community Access to Transit in Washington County (December, 2011).
  • A report by Jennifer Gunderman-King (supported by Maine Rural Partners and the Community Caring Collaborative) that reinforced and expanded on the initial recommendations from the First Light Steering Committee, and provided insightful analysis and a preliminary action plan for transitioning from a transit system heavily reliant on MaineCare reimbursement, to a system that would draw most of its ridership from shoppers, daily and occasional commuters, and non-drivers who can afford to pay for transportation, although it would continue to serve MaineCare and other social service agency clients.  The report also recommended enhanced regional support for carpooling (including increased marketing efforts and at least a part-time paid coordinator position to match rider requests with drivers in their local area) as the most practical and cost-effective strategy to reduce single-vehicle travel within the large and sparsely populated expanses of Washington County. Washington County Transportation - Challenges and Opportunities, Final Table (February, 2012).

The Work Team is cooperating with partners in Hancock (Healthy Acadia, Hancock County Planning Commission) and Washington County (Washington County: One Community, Washington Hancock Community Agency) on a Rural Transit summit - held for November 6th, 2013.

Completing work on this task was delayed and challenged by the adoption of a single statewide brokerage for transit services in 2011, problems they encountered in providing that service and the 2013 cancellation of the contract for delivering them.

The Agencies who currently provide Transit Services to Washington County may find Workforce Transit Options to address Workforce Transit Challenges identified in the work of GROWashington-Aroostook.