March  7,  2012     David  Bernhardt   Commissioner,  Department  of  Transportation   16  State  House  Station   Augusta,  Maine  04333     Dear

 Commissioner  Bernhardt:     As  GoMaine  vanpool  riders,  we  are  writing  you  to  request  an  immediate  meeting  to   discuss  how  together  we  might  save  the  vanpool  program.  We  believe  this  can  be   accomplished  without  additional  state  support.     We  were  very  dismayed  and  stunned  by  your  letter  last  week,  informing  us  that  you   planned  to  discontinue  the  program  in  two  short  months  due  to  uncertain  funding   in  the  long  term  to  support  van  replacement.     We  were  further  dismayed  that  your  “comprehensive  evaluation”  failed  to  include   input  from  the  users  of  the  service.  We  are  sure  you  regret  this  oversight  and  hope   you  agree  it  should  be  rectified.  Further,  we  are  confident,  our  inclusion  offers  a   path  to  saving  a  program  that  has  been  well  run,  a  service  to  Maine  citizens,  and  of   value  as  a  piece  of  our  state’s  transportation,  environmental,  and  energy  policy.     Since  we  received  your  letter,  van  riders  have  been  exploring  the  costs  of  switching   to  the  out-­‐of-­‐state  van  provider  as  you  suggested,  as  well  as  reviewing  your   Department’s  own  figures  as  to  what  it  would  cost  to  keep  the  van  pool  program   sustainable.     What  we  have  discovered  thus  far:     • That  switching  to  the  out-­‐of-­‐state  vanpool  operator  could  as  much  as  double   our  van  costs;     • That  maintaining  the  vanpool  program  as  part  of  GoMaine  would  be   considerably  less  for  riders,  even  if  we  picked  up  100%  of  the  costs  for   running  the  program  (including  paying  for  replacement  vans).     Consequently,  what  we  would  like  to  discuss  with  you  at  our  meeting  is  the   following:     1. That  the  GoMaine  program  continue  as  is  for  the  next  12  months  while  we   explore  together  how  the  vanpool  program  can  become  sustainable  with  or   without  additional  state  funding.  Since  your  February  24th  letter  suggests   that  any  issues  with  continuing  the  program  are  long-­‐term  rather  than  short-­‐ term,  the  current  two-­‐month  cut-­‐off  on  May  1  seems  unnecessary  and   arbitrary.  

 

    2. That  we  use  the  next  twelve  months  to:     •   •   • Create  a  task  force  to  explore  other  options  including  programs   offered  in  other  states,  and  external  funding  sources  that  might  be   used  to  help  replace  vans  and  thus  underwrite  the  costs  of  continuing   the  program.    Such  a  task  force  should  include  representatives  of  the   DOT,  riders  of  GoMaine,  interested  members  of  the  Legislature's   Transportation  Committee,  staff  from  Maine’s  congressional   delegation,  the  Maine  Turnpike  Authority,  the  Council  of   Governments,  as  well  as  others  who  might  have  access  to  external   funding  sources  or  good  ideas  on  how  to  proceed.   Survey  riders  on  possible  proposals  and  costs,  and  determine  what   they  might  be  willing  to  pay  to  keep  the  program  going.   Develop  and  review  proposals  for  keeping  the  GoMaine  program   going.  We  are  already  developing  proposals  on  how  we  might  do  that.  

  We  would  urge  DOT  to  gather  input  from  riders  and  to  explore  all  the  various   options.  The  commuter  program  has  existed  in  one  form  or  another  for  more   than  30  years  and  it  seems  like  riders  are  being  left  to  figure  out  how  to  solve   this  problem  on  our  own.  We  are  confident  that  the  GoMaine  vanpool   program  can  keep  going  in  a  sustainable  manner,  and  we  are  convinced  that   it  should  be  kept  going.       We  look  forward  to  meeting  with  you  as  soon  as  possible.  Thank  you.      

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