La Vida Local
Irregular Notes on West End Life
By Rosanne Graef
Save the 8!
Bus riders who travel the peninsula are undoubtedly familiar with Metro’s Route 8, a.k.a. the Peninsula Loop. The 8 has many pros, but also a mighty big con. It’s only one-way. Anyone who’s ever taken the 8 from Harbor Terrace to Maine Medical Center via Monument Square, Casco Bay Lines and Hannaford knows well the frustration of having to make that grand tour to reach a destination that would take 5-7 minutes if the bus went in both directions.
In part to address that issue Metro kicked off the Peninsula Loop Reboot (PLR) in Summer 2019. This began with public outreach, consisting of surveys, events, focus groups, stakeholder groups and Metro staff. I went to a well-attended public session held at the Portland Public Library that fall. I was impressed with the effort Metro staff was making and their recognition of the importance of Route 8 as a lifeline for many residents. The probability of a two-way loop seemed to be near the top of the list and attendees were definitely on board.
Peninsula Loop Reboot Goes the Wrong Way
On November 7th, 2019, the Metro PLR Task Force heard Metro staff’s report on their summer outreach. Rerouting ideas developed over the ensuing year. By the time the reboot was ready to be presented to the public in December 2020, any possibility of in-person meetings had fallen victim to Covid-19. Despite having to rely on virtual public meetings, Metro soldiered on with their plan to finalize recommended route changes by the end of the first quarter of this year. They scheduled two Zoom meetings on December 8th to present the rerouting.
The plan includes combining Routes 1 and 8 into a two-way loop; however, it took the 8 out of the interior of the West End and removed it from Downtown Congress Street. Those changes would be devastating for many West Enders who depend on Metro for all their transportation needs. Metro followed those December meetings with an online survey to gather reactions and comments and held an additional Zoom listening session in early March for renters living in two large West End residential facilities.
Metro should reexamine their timeline for this project.
Given the economic, social, and political turmoil, as well as pandemic concerns that have dominated residents’ lives for the past year, many people were and remain unaware of the reboot proposal. Until very recently, there’s been next to nothing in the traditional media about the Peninsula Loop Reboot. Not being able to socialize in the usual ways, residents have been unable to discuss among themselves or weigh in on these plans to help Metro reach a better outcome.
At the March 18th meeting of the Metro Ridership Committee, Greg Jordan, Metro’s General Manager, said revisions to the proposed rerouting will be made and presented via Zoom at meetings to be scheduled in April and May.
We have a little breathing space for the public to get engaged and to act. Check the websites below, talk with anyone you can about this and please show up for the Zoom meetings.
Get the Dates!
Scroll down to “Events & Meetings.” Find the meeting schedule, as well as access to Zoom links and agendas.
Become informed and involved via the West End Neighborhood Association. Rerouting the 8 will have a major impact on our neighborhood. Let’s ensure that impact is a positive one!
Rosanne Graef lives in the West End and is a regular volunteer contributor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.