To the Editor: Taxpayers getting stuck again

To the Editor:

I am appalled after reading an April 14 Islander article, “Island Explorer buses resuming normal service, Plus a few routes, schedule add-ons.” Does not sound all that bad, does it? Sounds like things are just getting back to normal this tourist season.

However, if one reads the entire article, the Bar Harbor taxpayers are being held up yet again, this time to pay for additional Island Explorer bus routes. In 2019, Bar Harbor taxpayers paid $45,216 to support the fare-free Island Explorer buses. In this year’s municipal budget, we’re being asked to pay $284,878, well over six times the amount from 2019, the last year that the buses ran a full schedule!

Why the huge increase? Per the article, there are two reasons. The first is to add a separate bus route for the Highbrook Road area. The second is to double the number of buses running to Sand Beach on cruise ship days, as, per Paul Murphy, Downeast Transportation’s executive director, is quoted as saying, “Sixty-eight percent of groups boarding the Sand Beach route arrived in Bar Harbor on a cruise ship.” So a bus is needed every 15 minutes to take cruise ship passengers to Sand Beach. The Bar Harbor taxpayers are expected to fund this little ride to the tune of over a quarter of a million dollars.

I am sorry, but I am still reeling from the huge property tax increase of last year, which was approximately a 25 percent increase, and to find out that my local tax dollars will be used for the purpose of shuttling cruise ship passengers to Sand Beach makes my blood boil. Giving cruise ship passengers a free ride to Sand Beach is not how I want my tax dollars to be allocated.

I have two suggestions. The first is that maybe it is time to consider imposing a fare on the Island Explorer buses. The people using it should shoulder the burden of keeping it running. The second is that the upcoming municipal budget, which will be voted on at the June 7 town meeting, be rejected as long as it contains this huge increase in funding for the Island Explorer buses.

Enough is enough!

Scott Hughes

Bar Harbor

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