Metro is increasing its fares and announced the federal grant that established the Breez is expiring resulting in those served communities to increase their subsidy. If Cumberland County had effective political representation in Augusta, all public transit in the county would be free, enhanced, and not subsidized by property tax assessments. How can this be?

Since 1995, only Cumberland County has had an E (emissions) sticker requirement as part of the state’s annual auto safety inspection program. The E sticker requires Cumberland County residents to pay an additional six dollars to check that the gas cap seats tight and the check engine light is not on. If the light is on, which can be very expensive to fix, no sticker. For every other county, the check engine light can be on.

In the early 1990s Cumberland along with ten other of Maine’s sixteen counties were not compliant with federal air quality standards, primarily from out of state pollution. However, only Cumberland County was required to implement the E sticker program because only Cumberland met the population threshold. Due to the billions Americans have spent on cleaner vehicles and industrial plants, by 2006 only eight counties exceeded the air quality standards. In 2007, that dropped to zero, and remains so to this day. However, unlike upwind red Kentucky and blue Minnesota that have petitioned the EPA and eliminated the E sticker program, Maine has not. Why? Because MDOT receives $18 million per year from the feds for continuing the program.

Logically and ethically to reduce air pollution, this money should be dedicated solely for mass transit in Cumberland County. Metro’s 2019 annual budget is $11.4 million: $4 million from property tax assessments and $0.17 million from the state. Call your state representatives!

Carl Wilcox

New Gloucester