Two weeks ago, GoMaine van riders were informed the program would be abruptly ending on May 1. Riders were stunned not just because this is an excellent program and good for our environment and our roads, but also because program revenues from rider fares have exceeded program costs by $160,000 over the past four years.

We thank the Transportation Committee for agreeing a two-month notice to the 255-plus monthly riders was not enough. MDOT has subsequently agreed to extend the deadline to Sept. 1 and will present its plan to the committee today at 1 p.m.

But why end the program at all, especially one that is paid primarily through rider fares and not state funding? MDOT says it is because there is not sufficient long-term funding to pay for replacement vehicles.

If that is so, we say let’s take the time to work together to find the funds to make the program sustainable. The $160,000 surplus might be a good start, enough to pay for four replacement vehicles MDOT says it needs right away.

A one-year extension provides time for a committee of riders and representatives from MDOT, Maine Turnpike Authority, the Greater Portland Council of Government, which helps manage the program, and others to formulate a plan to keep this invaluable service going.

Mass transportation has its benefits to the public. Look at the Downeaster and municipal buses as examples. GoMaine vanpools annually save hundreds of thousands of miles from being put on Maine’s roads and the costs associated with road repairs, air quality controls and traffic congestion. Let’s take a year to improve this service for everyone.

Deborah Turcotte

Bangor

Robert Stein

Portland

Winifred Malia

Scaborough

Anti-birth control stance isn’t about religious freedom

Apparently Maine needs a new attorney general, one who has at least a general understanding of the law. The current AG, William Schneider, clearly does not.

Schneider added his name to a list of right-wing attorneys general opposing the Obama administration’s requirement that organizations affiliated with religions obey the law and provide contraceptive health care. Schneider says the requirement violates religious beliefs and that makes it strictly a legal issue, hence his involvement.

That is simply not true and if Schneider does not know that, he is unfit to be Maine’s attorney general.

Religions are not exempt from the law, and neither are the organizations they own, such as hospitals and charities. Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a 1990 decision: “To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.”

Scalia is an avowed Catholic and social conservative. The particular case dealt with a worker who held that his religion required the use of peyote. When he was fired and denied unemployment benefits, he sued. The Supreme Court upheld the firing and benefits denial, decreeing that religious freedom alone is insufficient grounds for being exempt from the law.

This is well-settled legal precedent, and any attorney should know this.

Clearly Schneider prefers to politicize the office of AG when he should be enforcing the laws of the land.

Jeff Toorish

North Yarmouth

Since 99 percent of sexually active American women and 98 percent of affected Catholic women have at some time used contraception, this women’s issue has been settled.

However, I have a question for the men out there who feel that their opinion is more important than the obvious desire of women in the United States: What is the difference between telling a woman that she can’t have contraception and telling her that she has to wear a veil?

Jim Kavanagh, R.N., M.S.N.

South Portland