Presque Isle’s Loop Bus Service Ends
The PI Loop changes direction after multiple efforts to bring a new operator for the fixed route service. In March, as part of their response to COVID-19, Aroostook Regional Transportation System (ARTS) suspended indefinitely their role as operator of the service. The PI Loop Leadership Team made a valiant effort to contract with a new provider through a request for proposals issued earlier this month, however it did not yield any viable options. Due to these circumstances, the PI Loop has come to an end.
“Although we are saddened that the service will not resume, we are pleased that the legacy of the project will directly benefit two of the partner organizations that were instrumental in getting the initiative off the ground, and would have supported its continuation had that been possible,” said Jamie Chandler, co-chair of the Going Places Network (GPN), along with LeRae Kinney. Chandler and Kinney served as representatives for GPN on the PI Loop Leadership committee.
The major donor of the project, Mary Smith, with the support of the leadership team of the PI Loop, has redirected the buses to MSAD 1 and Northern Maine Community College. These two Presque Isle-based organizations, were partners in the Going Places Network and will put both buses to good use in new ways of serving the community.
The PI Loop was created to provide community members, a sustainable, dependable, all inclusive, alternative public busing system in Presque Isle. The PI Loop began operations on October 15, 2019 to better connect community members to education, employment and more. From October through the end of March, when operations were suspended, the PI Loop provided over 3,600 rides in the Star City.
In addition to the GPN leaders, The PI Loop Leadership Team was comprised of representatives from the City of Presque Isle, ARTS and Aroostook County Action Program (ACAP). The group had taken over responsibility for oversight of the project after it was launched last October by the Going Places Network.
The Going Places Network is a collaborative group of multiple community representatives seeking solutions to challenges the community of Presque Isle faces. The network, formed through an initiative supported with grant funding by the Maine Community Foundation, selected transportation as the priority of their work. While continuing to receive updates on The PI Loop, GPN earlier this year began to explore new projects with more County-wide transportation implications, including a program expected to be released by the State this summer to provide working cars to working families.
Working with the support of ACAP, selected by the group as their fiscal agent last summer, GPN Leadership will spend the next few weeks communicating with the generous donors of the PI Loop to provide options for redirecting support to other worthwhile initiatives or returning gifts designated for The PI Loop project. GPN will also convene to continue their work in other areas in collaboration with the Maine Community Foundation in the third and final year of the initial grant designated to support the needs of families with young children and early care and education providers.
“Our work to bring solutions to the transportation challenges that face are community continue,” said GPN Co-Chair LeRae Kinney. “The need for better and more transportation for residents of Aroostook County remains. Although we are saddened that the PI Loop, as we knew it, will not return, we are undaunted and ready to move forward as a network of partners with our work to find new and innovative solutions to a problem that has long-faced our communities.”
In addition to MSAD 1, NMCC, City of Presque Isle, ARTS and ACAP, members of the Going Places Network include: Aroostook Agency on Aging (AAA), Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Aroostook Council for Healthy Families, Katahdin Trust Company, Northern Light Health, Presque Isle Housing Authority, Public Health Nursing, United Way of Aroostook, and parents/grandparents/guardians of children under the age of 5.