AT_Fig2.5The State of Alternative Transportation in Maine

Jeff Meltzer, Leah Powley, and Alex Wilsterman

Executive Summary

The “State of Maine’s Alternative Transportation 2014” is the second chapter in The State of Maine’s Environment 2014, a report produced by the Environmental Policy Group in the Environmental Studies Department at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. In this chapter of the report, we analyze the status of alternative transportation in Maine.

Climate change poses a serious threat to Maine’s environment and economy, and the transportation sector accounts for 28% of climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions. Developing and encouraging more environmentally-friendly transportation options is one way to reduce the effects of transportation on the environment. In this chapter, we provide information about the state of three modes of alternative transportation in Maine: electric vehicles, bicycles, and public transportation. We describe the history of each of these modes of transportation, summarize relevant regulations and stakeholders, and assess the status of each mode in Maine. We find that only 0.06% of vehicles in Maine are plug-in electric vehicles, only 0.5% of Maine commuters travel to work by bicycle, and only 0.8% of Maine commuters use public transportation. We analyze the economic, human health, and environmental implications of adopting alternative transportation systems in the state. We conclude that by adopting electric vehicles, bicycles, and public transportation, consumers can save money, improve their health, and lessen their impacts on the environment. We recommend that the State government, local NGOs, and other important stakeholders should collaborate to educate Mainers about the benefits of alternative transportation. Additionally, the State government should create a “complete streets” urban plan and implement economic incentives to encourage the use of alternative transportation.


Anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribute to climate change, which is causing more frequent and intense storms, reduced ice cover in the Arctic, sea level rise, species extinction, heat waves, and water shortages (USEPA, 2014c; USGCRP, 2014). Maine is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. For example, increased temperatures are altering species composition in Maine forests by shifting species’ ranges and increasing habitat that is favorable for invasive plant and insect species (Wagner, 2014). Forests are not the only ecosystems at risk: the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans, and this temperature change will significantly impact the lobster and other fishing industries as well as the many Mainers who depend on these industries for their livelihoods (Whittle, 2014). Other potential consequences of climate change in Maine include increased coastal erosion, latitudinal fishery shifts, and stronger heat waves, all of which would threaten Maine’s top industry: tourism (Lausier, 2014; Miller, 2014).

Our current standard of living involves many GHG-intensive processes, but some—such as electricity production, heating, and transportation—are more polluting than others. In 2012, 28% of US GHG emissions came from the transportation sector (USEPA, 2014e). The relationship between transportation and climate change is not one-directional, however. The extreme storms caused by climate change are likely to threaten the reliability, functionality, and cost of transportation infrastructure in the US (Schwartz et al., 2014). Growing efforts to reduce emissions from the transportation sector range from increasing vehicles’ fuel economy to adopting cleaner, alternative forms of transportation. Alternative transportation has the potential to limit climate change threats by reducing GHG emissions. Maine, however, compared to other New England states and regions across the country, has been slow to adopt alternative transportation. We believe this slow rate of adoption is due to the state’s small population, low population density, and high average age (US Census Bureau, 2010). Most of the state’s residents travel by conventional automobiles, which are often seen as the most convenient mode of transportation to connect Maine’s relatively scattered population to homes, schools, and workplaces (Hinkley, 2014).

In this report, we define alternative transportation as modes of transportation that have the potential to emit fewer GHGs per traveler than conventional gasoline or diesel powered vehicles (Egbue & Long, 2012; Krause, Carley, Lane, & Graham, 2013). A wide variety of transportation alternatives exist—including biofuel-powered vehicles, walking, taxis, and carpooling services—but in this report, we focus on electric vehicles (EVs), bicycles, and public transportation as representative examples of alternative transportation.

We chose these three different forms of alternative transportation in part because data were readily available. We chose EVs because sales of EVs and hybrids are expected to rise to 7% by 2020 (Faria, Baptista, & Farias, 2014; USDOE, 2014b), but as of late 2014, EVs only comprise 0.06% of all vehicles in Maine (Hinkley, 2014). Widespread EV adoption would require a drastic shift in Maine’s transportation infrastructure and public driving habits. We use the term EV to denote plug-in electric vehicles, which refer to two different technologies: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs exclusively use electric, rechargeable batteries rather than internal combustion engines used in conventional vehicles (CVs). PHEVs, on the other hand, contain both an internal combustion engine and a rechargeable battery in order to increase range.

Bicycling is a zero-emission form of transportation that is critical to Maine’s valuable tourism industry, yet only a small percentage of all commuter trips in the state are taken by bicycle (Milne & Melin, 2014). We decided to research bicycling in order to better understand why this mode of transportation is unpopular, what factors affect its rates of use, and what the State government and other stakeholders currently do—and what they can do—to promote bicycle use.

Public transportation offers the ability to move large quantities of people using few vehicles. Because Maine has the lowest population density across New England, Maine faces unique issues for public transit (ACS, 2012). We only address public bus systems and exclude other forms of public transit because bus systems are the most prominent form of public transportation in Maine. We did not examine railroad public transit in Maine due to the small number of rail lines and low annual ridership compared to public buses.

EVs, bicycles, and public transportation have the potential to diversify Maine’s transportation sector and reduce related GHG emissions. Each mode operates on a different scale and has its own limitations: EVs require modifications of the existing infrastructure and travel habits; bicycles are largely local, seasonal, and used for shorter distances; and public transportation can require large investments in new infrastructure and equipment as well as changes in behavior.


In this chapter of the State of Maine’s Environment 2014, we focus on the role and status of three modes of alternative transportation in Maine: EVs, bicycles, and public transit systems. We begin by providing background information about each type of transportation. We then summarize existing laws governing each mode of transportation on national and state levels, identify key stakeholders, and describe barriers to adoption and the current state of relevant infrastructure. We also discuss the implications these forms of alternative transportation can have on human health, the economy, and the environment. We conclude with a set of recommendations intended to improve alternative transportation options in Maine.


In this section we provide background information about EVs, bicycles, and public transportation both generally and in Maine.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

EVs are far from a recent invention; in 1900, EVs accounted for a third of all vehicles on US roads (USDOE, 2014b). However, the popularity of EVs declined with the advent of inexpensive gasoline-powered vehicles, such as the 1908 Ford Model T. It was not until the Arab Oil Embargo and the passage of the Clean Air Act in the early 1970s that EVs emerged again as a potential cleaner and cheaper alternative to conventional automobiles (EAA, 2014). However, mass-produced alternatively fueled vehicles were not introduced to the public until the late 1990s when Toyota released the Prius hybrid and Honda, GM, Ford, Nissan, Chevy, and Toyota began selling fully electric vehicles. Although the Prius gained market share, fully electric vehicles, such as the GM EV1, were discontinued in 2001 because automakers claimed they could not make them commercially viable (PBS, 2009).

EVs made another resurgence in 2006 with the formation of Tesla Motors, a new EV startup company. Tesla inspired other companies to begin developing their own EVs and also prompted the US Department of Energy to invest in EV research and infrastructure (USDOE, 2014b). The first modern plug-in EV released in the US was the Tesla Roadster in 2008, followed by the Nissan LEAF in 2010 and the Chevrolet Volt in 2011 (Chevrolet, 2014; Nissan, 2014; Tesla Motors, 2014).As of November 2014, there were approximately 275,000 EVs on US roads and consumers purchase an average of 100,000 new ones each year (EDTA, 2014; USDOE, 2014b).

Worldwide, EVs and hybrids made up over 3% of new vehicle sales in 2014, but studies show they could comprise up to 7% of car sales by 2020 as prices decrease and battery technology improves (Faria et al., 2014; USDOE, 2014b). One constraint to this growth is the availability of public charging infrastructure. Public chargers need to be widespread, affordable, convenient, and able to use the existing energy grid. Although most EV owners charge at home, many employers and businesses are installing charging stations to encourage the adoption of EVs (Puser, 2014; USDOE, 2014a).

As of 2014, most new fully-electric, or battery electric, vehicles (BEVs) have an average range of 70-110 miles per charge, although some high-end models like the 2014 Tesla S BEV have the ability to travel about 300 miles on a single charge (Tesla Motors, 2014). Unlike BEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) contain both rechargeable batteries and conventional gasoline-powered engines to allow for further travel after the electric batteries’ charges are drained. Both types of EVs are largely considered environmentally-friendly alternatives to gasoline-powered vehicles because they emit fewer GHGs (Sierra Club, 2012). Even though PHEVs still use gasoline, they use substantially less than the standard car. Because BEVs run completely on batteries, they have zero tailpipe emissions, but there are emissions associated with the generation of the electricity used to charge the battery (e.g., coal burning, solar power, etc.) (Scown, Taptich, Horvath, McKone, & Nazaroff, 2013; Sierra Club, 2012).


Bicycling is another form of alternative transportation that has the potential to simultaneously reduce the use of CVs and limit GHG emissions, but unlike EVs, bicycling can also improve (Puser, 2014)physical fitness (Milne & Melin, 2014; Pucher, Dill, & Handy, 2010). Bicycling can be both a utilitarian and a recreational activity, providing a mode of transportation to and from work and also a mechanism for personal exercise and enjoyment (Milne & Melin, 2014). Cities around the world, such as Perth, Australia and Arhus, Denmark, are promoting bicycle use by establishing new or additional bicycle infrastructure, hosting special bicycle-focused events (e.g., “Bike to Work Day”), and amending vehicular traffic laws to create safer environments for bicyclists (Pucher et al., 2010). The rate of bicycle use depends on numerous variables, including age and gender demographics, ethnicity, car ownership, existing infrastructure, distance between locations, and climate (Hunt & Abraham, 2007; Pucher, Buehler, & Seinen, 2011; Rietveld & Daniel, 2004). Policymakers and other stakeholders must understand these factors and their influences in order to successfully promote and implement bicycling as a method of alternative transportation.

Throughout history, US bicycling rates have remained fairly low, yet data from the past few decades demonstrate a small increase (McKenzie, 2014). A 2014 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking found that only 1% of all trips—recreational and work-related—taken in the US are by bicycle (Milne & Melin, 2014). This rate, however, is three-times as high as the national bicycling rate in 1977 (Pucher et al., 2011). Among commuters, bicycling is the least popular mode of transportation: only 0.6% of commuters (786,000 individuals) nationwide travel to work by bicycle, compared to 86.2% by individual vehicles, 5.0% by public transit, and 2.8% by walking (McKenzie, 2014; Milne & Melin, 2014). This rate, however, represents a 60% increase in commuter bicycling from 2000 levels (McKenzie, 2014).

The Northeastern region of the US, which encompasses Maine, has the lowest bicycling rate in the country (Pucher et al., 2011). The region’s low bicycling rate does not, however, automatically denote increased vehicle use in the region, for the commuter walking rate in the Northeast is higher than in other regions (McKenzie, 2014).

Public Transportation

Public bus systems are another mode of alternative transportation that can reduce GHG emissions. The public (e.g., multi-person) nature of bus systems allows individuals to travel in fewer vehicles, thus reducing both the number of vehicles on the roads and subsequent GHG emissions. Although many buses still run on gasoline, an increasing number of bus systems now use alternative, “cleaner” fuels, such as biofuel, natural gas, or electricity. Governments and municipalities that choose to implement public bus systems—especially systems powered by alternative fuels—can become leaders in local alternative transportation movements and act as examples for other cities seeking to make their transportation systems more sustainable in an economically feasible way.

Public transportation began in Maine in 1860 when the Portland and Forest Avenue Railroad Company was founded (GPTD, 2011). By 1890, the company had changed its name to the Portland Railroad Company and was the largest rail company in Maine, owning a fleet of 54 rail cars across 14 miles of tracks (GPTD, 2011). As electric streetcars became popular across the country, the next year, in 1891, electric streetcars were implemented and integrated into the city of Portland. By 1941, all towns within the greater Portland area operating electric streetcars shut down operations for good. The next year, the Cumberland County Power and Light Company was absorbed by the Central Maine Power Company and replaced its streetcars with buses (GPTD, 2011). In 1966, the Greater Portland Transit District took control of the privately owned company and purchased the existing buses (GPTD, 2011). Additionally, the district ran the Portland and South Portland School Bus systems, operating a total of 68 buses (GPTD, 2011).

In 1988 and 1990, the Transit District purchased its first flexible handicapped-accessible buses in order to expand its customer base and increase overall public inclusion (GPTD, 2011). In 1995, the district instated two new battery powered electric buses for a commuter shuttle service, which demonstrated the district’s commitment to the implementation of alternative fuels (GPTD, 2011). This commitment continued in 2006, when the district purchased 13 new natural gas-powered buses and set up fueling stations to accommodate their alternative energy needs. Today, private bus companies still remain in Maine such as Concord Coach Lines, established 1967, and Greyhound Lines, established 1914. Due to their status as private companies, they are unwilling to release ridership data and have therefore been omitted from this report.


To assess the current state of alternative transportation in Maine, we gathered and analyzed information from existing literature, websites, and personal communications. We first evaluated and reviewed existing peer-reviewed literature relevant to the topic of alternative transportation using Academic Search Complete, Scopus, and Google Scholar. We obtained additional print literature from Colby’s libraries and through the Interlibrary Loan system with Bates and Bowdoin Colleges. We also gathered information from the websites of federal, state, and local government agencies—including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Maine Department of Transportation, and the Greater Portland Council of Governments—and non-governmental organizations. We conducted five informal, in-person interviews with local stakeholders and communicated with 23 experts from Maine and other New England states via telephone and email. We also used new car sales data from the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles to determine the emissions reductions associated with buying electric vehicles instead of conventional vehicles.

We obtained Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data from the Alternative Fuels Data Center and from Garry Hinkley of the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles to use in the electric vehicle map. We used data from the Maine Office of GIS and the US Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys to map the rates of bicycle use in Maine. We also acquired data from the Maine Department of Transportation and the US Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys to map the annual public bus rides per capita in Maine’s transit regions.

Laws and Regulations

Multiple laws govern the use of electric vehicles (EVs), bicycles, and public transportation in the US. The majority of these regulations pertain to one of the three modes of alternative transportation, so there is little overlap. One of the most important federal laws pertaining to electric vehicles (EVs) is the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the Stimulus Bill (Table 2.1). The Obama Administration set a goal of having one million EVs on US roads by 2015. The Stimulus Bill allocated $2 billion for federal consumer tax credits and the development of public charging infrastructure (Egbue & Long, 2012; Krause et al., 2013).

Many US states also offer incentives for EVs, such as an additional tax credit, subsidies for home charging stations, access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes, free parking, and discounted vehicle registration fees (Krause et al., 2013). Maine, however, has few policies that provide incentives for EVs compared to states like Vermont and Massachusetts.

Important legislation for bicycles includes one international treaty regarding the general use and relevant safety requirements of bicycles: the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (ECE, 1968). The US, however, failed to sign and ratify this treaty and is thus not obligated to abide by it (ECE, 2007). Relatively few bicycle-related federal and state laws exist and those currently in place do not govern bicycle use in particular. Five federal laws regulate funding and development of national bicycling programs and infrastructure (Table 2.1). These five federal laws help to create educational and safety resources for bicyclists and fund national bicycle infrastructure projects. Of particular significance to bicycling is the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). The Act’s passage in 2012 substantially reduced federal funds for bicycle and pedestrian activities and infrastructure by combining and reducing total funds for the Transportation Alternatives program, Safe Routes to School program, and Recreational Trails program (Hall, 2012).

Table 2.2 includes the two most relevant Maine bicycling laws. The Bicycle and Roller Skis Safety Education Act, which requires helmet use, is of particular interest as laws mandating helmet use often lead to reduced bicycling rates (Pucher et al., 2010).

Table 2.1 Selected federal laws and regulations pertaining to electric vehicles, bicycling, and public transportation in the United States. ISTEA, TEA-21, SAFETEA, and MAP-21 all span multiple disparate sections of USC Title 23, so for the sake of space, only the title number is listed.

Urban Mass Transportation Act1964Provided $375 million in capital assistance over three years for the advancement of economic efficiency and livability in areas of future development; established the Federal Transit Administration49 USC §53
Department of Transportation (DOT)1966Establishes the DOT and its Secretary in order to develop and advance aviation, international, and other transportation policy; establishes the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tribal Government Affairs and the Office of Climate Change and Environment49 USC §102
Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act1976Promotes (1) research and development, (2) demonstrating the economic and technological feasibility, (3) removing barriers to, and (4) promoting the substitution of conventional vehicles with electric and hybrid vehicles15 USC §2501
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accommodations and Projects1984Establishes eligibility requirements for federally-funded bicycle infrastructure projects; requires federally-funded highway and road projects to accommodate the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists23 USC §109, 217, 315, 402
Clean Air Act Amendment1990Requires reduced emissions from cars, trucks, and buses and establishes tighter pollution standards for emissions from automobiles and trucks42 USC §7401
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA)1991Appropriates National Highway System (NHS) funds to each state for the employment of State Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator(s) tasked with promoting bicycle use and developing bicycle infrastructure23 USC
Energy Policy Act1992Requires a certain percentage of new light-duty vehicles acquired by federal fleets to be alternative fuel vehicles, which includes electric vehicles42 USC §13212
Transportation Equity Act for the 21 st Century (TEA-21)1998Requires the Secretary of Transportation to develop a “national bicycle safety education curriculum”; requires the Secretary of Transportation to work with other parties to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in future roadway design 23 USC
Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA)2005Establishes and provides funds for the Safe Routes to School program to encourage schoolchildren to bike or walk to school; provides $370 million for nationwide development and maintenance of recreational trails; provides $2.3 million for grant appropriations to non-profit bicycle- and pedestrian-related organizations to create educational programs and improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety23 USC
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act2009Provides $115 million to promote an electric vehicle charging infrastructure and makes a tax credit of up to $7,500 available for the purchase of a qualified new plug-in electric vehicle26 USC §1
Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 st Century Act (MAP-21)2012Contains a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane exemption, wherein states can allow certified low emission vehicles to use the HOV lane; consolidates three previous transportation programs into the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and reduces funds for bicyclist and pedestrian programs in 2013 by $391 million49 USC §30171; 23 USC

Table 2.2 Selected State laws and regulations pertaining to electric vehicles, bicycling, and public transportation in Maine.

Department; Commissioner1987Charges the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) with coordinating and developing a balanced transportation policy and planning that facilitates convenient transportation facilities and services for the well being of its people23 MRS §4205
Efficiency Maine Trust Act1987Allows insurance companies to credit and refund a portion of the insurance premium to clean fuel vehicle owners10 MRS §963-A
Public Transportation Administration1987Divides Maine into transportation regions in order to fairly distribute funds; establishes the Interagency Coordinating Committee to promote cooperative efforts and strategic planning of public transit across these regions23 MRS §4209
Public-private partnerships; transportation projects1987Applies to a proposal or agreement for a private entity to form a public-private partnership when the department estimates that the initial capital cost of a project is $25,000,000 or more23 MRS §4251
Bicycle and Roller Skis Safety Education Act1999Requires bicyclists and roller skiers under the age of 16 to wear properly-fitting helmets29 MRS §2323
An Act to Create a Smart Grid Policy in the State2009Promotes the development of infrastructure related to plug-in electric vehicles35-A MRS §3143
Rules of the Road2009Requires bicyclists to ride with the flow of traffic (on the right side of the road); requires motor vehicles to pass bicyclists on the left and at a distance of no less than three feet29 MRS §2063, 2070
State of Maine Commercial Laws & Regulations2012Outlines registrations and owning restrictions of commercial vehicles in Maine29-A MRS


The majority of stakeholders relevant to alternative transportation in Maine fall into one of five categories: government bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), producers and retailers, employers, and the general public. In the following section, we identify stakeholders specifically involved with electric vehicles (EVs), bicycling, and public transportation.

Government Agencies

Numerous government agencies direct transportation activities in the US and in Maine. However, the majority of the agencies that are relevant to the three modes of transportation discussed in this chapter relate mostly to EVs and public transportation.

Federal Government

Multiple federal agencies in the US are involved directly and indirectly with alternative transportation. Of most importance are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The stated mission of the EPA is “to protect human health and the environment” (USEPA, 2014a), specifically through the lenses of energy, agriculture, economic growth, trade, and transportation (USEPA, 2014d). The EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality works most closely with alternative transportation. This Office regulates mobile sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) (i.e., vehicles) and other air pollutants, develops clean technologies and fuels, and promotes alternatives to vehicular transportation to minimize emissions (USEPA, 2014b).

The DOE is the federal body most involved with EVs. The 2009 Stimulus Bill gave the DOE the authority and funds to issue consumer tax credits for EVs and contribute to the development of EV and battery technology (USDOE, 2014b). Additionally, in 2009, the DOE implemented the EV Project, which provided $230 million for the installation of 13,000 charging stations and for the analysis of usage data from over 8,300 EVs (ECOtality, 2013).

The DOT significantly influences bicycle policy. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, which operates under the DOT, serves as a promotional and educational body and develops programs designed to increase bicycle ridership and improve existing bicycle infrastructure and safety measures nationwide (FHWA, 2014a). The FHWA Bicycle and Pedestrian Program provides significant annual funding to states for bicycle and pedestrian services, programs, and infrastructure. In 2013, Maine received over $480,000 from the FHWA for bicycle- and pedestrian-related developments (FHWA, 2014b). The program also advises communities about integrative bicyclist and pedestrian development projects (LaHood, 2010).

The federal agency in charge of public transportation in the US is the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Its goal is to provide financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems (USDOT, 2014). The FTA is one of ten administrations that fall under the umbrella of the DOT (USDOT, 2014). It was originally formed as the Urban Mass Transit Transportation Administration in 1964 after President John F. Kennedy requested that Congress establish a federal program for capital assistance in the public transportation industry (USDOT, 2014). The FTA today regulates all public transportation including buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, monorail, passenger ferry boats, and trolleys. Financial assistance helps to develop new transit systems as well as to improve, maintain, and operate already existing systems (USDOT, 2014).

State of Maine Government

The Maine State government is responsible for regulating and establishing incentives for the three modes of alternative transportation we studied. Specifically, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Governor’s Energy Office are responsible for joining regional agreements and setting emissions standards. The Maine Public Utility Commission (PUC) manages all utilities in Maine and oversees the Efficiency Maine Trust, which funds energy efficiency projects. These governmental bodies have the ability to incentivize alternative transportation and their associated infrastructure in Maine.

The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) Bicycle and Pedestrian Program works with community members, government authorities, health officials, and city planning agencies to ensure bicyclist safety and reform policy and infrastructure to suit the needs of the bicycling community (MaineDOT, 2014). The program educates communities about the benefits of bicycling, responds to citizen concerns about infrastructure and safety, and conducts frequent construction projects to develop and improve bicycle trails and sidewalks (MaineDOT, 2012, 2014).

The Maine Transit Association (MTA) regulates public transportation in the state. The MTA devotes its work to providing leadership, resources, support, and technical assistance to transit agencies throughout Maine (MTA, 2014). The association works much like the MaineDOT as it works as a parent association to smaller organizations dispersed throughout the local Maine communities (MTA, 2014). Additionally, the MTA provides transit assistance to anyone who needs a ride—from an elderly person in need of a ride to the doctor’s office to a weekend visitor looking to explore one of Maine’s popular tourist destinations. In 2012, the MTA serviced more than seven million travelers throughout Maine (MTA, 2014).

Local Governments

Local governmental bodies, such as the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), can further encourage the adoption of alternative transportation. In 2011, GPCOG formed the EV Stakeholder Group (see State of Electric Vehicles section). Additionally, GPCOG leases a Nissan LEAF, which it lends out to its member municipalities and stakeholders in order to educate them about the benefits of EVs (Puser, 2014).GPCOG’s website features videos and testimonials of some of the 11 municipalities that have borrowed its EV, and states that the program has led to the adoption of five EVs and the installation of seven EV charging stations in the Portland area (GPCOG, 2014). GPCOG also conducts research on EVs and their feasibility in Maine.

Some local governments also incentivize alternative transportation by providing charging stations and offering preferred parking spaces for EVs, installing public bicycle racks, implementing bicycle-sharing programs, and establishing bicycle and bus lanes. The City of Portland, for example, is currently working with the EPA to conduct cost-benefit analyses and feasibility studies regarding the implementation of a citywide bicycle-sharing program (Levine, 2014; USEPA, 2013).

While the Greater Portland Metro District may be the first thing that comes to mind when considering public transportation in Maine, other community programs account for the majority of mass transit rides in the state (MaineDOT, 2011). The Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and the York County Community Action Corporation are two examples of local agencies providing the most assistance with regards to ridership (KVCAP, 2013; YCCAC, 2013). While these programs do not help to aid the advancement of public transportation, they do provide means of transit to those citizens who need it most, such as an elderly non-driver who needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment. Additionally, local governments in some of the more populated regions in Maine such as Bangor, Bath, and Penquis have established small bus systems (PTP, 2013).

Non-governmental Organizations

To our knowledge, no national organization exists that focuses exclusively on EVs, bicycling, and public transportation nationwide or in Maine, but several organizations emphasize alternative transportation in general. For example, the international Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) promotes bicycling, walking, and public transit through outreach and educational programs (ITDP, 2014). There are also many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the US and in Maine that promote alternative transportation as a way of reducing GHG emissions. National organizations include the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Complete Streets Coalition; state organizations include the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM).

National and state level NGOs pertaining to EVs, bicycling, and public transportation individually also exist. National organizations include Plug-in America, National Drive Electric Week, the Adventure Cycling Association, the League of American Bicyclists, the American Public Transportation Association, and the Community Transportation Association of America. Relevant state level organizations include the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM).

Several industry-sponsored groups are dedicated to lobbying lawmakers to develop regulations that promote the adoption of EVs, encouraging their members and the public to purchase or lease EVs, and informing consumers about the benefits of EVs. These include Plug-in America, the GoElectricDrive Foundation, and National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) (NDEW, 2014). One way the NDEW promotes EVs in Maine is through the annual National Electric Drive Day. At the 2014 event, members from the NRCM, Electric Mobility New England, GPCOG, and existing EV owners were present to promote EVs. Additionally, local car dealerships provided opportunities for people to test drive multiple EV models. The goal of the event was to get as many people as possible to test drive EVs with the hopes that they would one day purchase or lease them (Lausier, 2014; Puser, 2014; Woods, 2014). To our knowledge, the only state NGOs pertaining to EVs are smaller chapters of various national organizations.

Multiple non-governmental bicycle advocacy organizations exist on the national level. A few of the largest and most significant bicycle-related organizations in the US include the Adventure Cycling Association, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, the League of American Bicyclists, and the National Center for Bicycling and Walking. These groups provide detailed bicycle route maps, lead guided bicycle tours, and organize workshops and events to educate bicyclists and their communities. Furthermore, these groups promote bicycle use and infrastructure development through advocacy and training, reform urban planning designs for improved bicyclist and pedestrian safety, and advocate for legislation reforms to provide equal rights and safety measures to bicyclists (ABA, 2014; APBP, 2010; LAB, 2013; Plotz, 2014).

Maine has more than 12 bicycling clubs and over 50 bicycle advocacy committees (BCM, 2012b, 2012c). The best known bicycling group is the BCM, which focuses on reducing humans’ impact on the planet through increased bicycling and walking (BCM, 2012a). The Coalition organizes frequent bicycling events and trips throughout Maine to educate citizens and promote a positive bicycling culture and environment. The BCM also works with the Maine legislature and MaineDOT to improve bicycle infrastructure and safety regulations (BCM, 2009).

There are multiple NGOs whose sole purpose is to advance the implementation and use of public transportation on both the state and national levels. The two largest of these organizations are the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA). These groups advocate for increased public transit availability in order to improve overall quality of life and ease of daily program by working to increase the availability and efficiency of public transportation systems (APTA, 2014; CTA, 2010). These groups want communities to expand their public transportation capabilities in order to cut emissions, decrease congestion, and improve air quality. This is accomplished through advocacy, innovation, and information sharing as well as lobbying in Washington and in state and local governments (APTA, 2014). Due to Maine’s aging population, the CTAA is especially relevant due to its focus on the growing number of senior citizens from the baby boomer generation (Burkhardt, 2000).

Producers and Retailers

Producers and retailers in general play an important role in promoting and influencing the use of alternative transportation through equipment and fuel production, technological innovations, and product sales. In the EV market, this includes vehicle and equipment manufacturers and distributors, car dealers, and electricity producers, many of which formed to take advantage of shifting consumer preferences or to better comply with federal and state emissions regulations (AFDC, 2014; Bakker, Maat, & van Wee, 2014).

Utilities and electricity producers are another important stakeholder group as EVs are powered by electricity. To stabilize demand, some utilities offer lower energy rates during off-peak hours (dual-rate pricing), which incentivizes overnight charging of EVs when general electricity demand is usually low (USDOE, 2014a). In order to build a new transmission line in Maine, the State PUC required Central Maine Power (CMP), a large electricity provider in Maine, to implement a three phase EV project titled the “Maine Power Reliability Program” (Cutter, 2014; Farber, 2014). In the first phase, CMP added EVs to its own fleet. In the second, CMP provided grants to membership organizations towards the purchase of EVs and their associated infrastructure. In the third phase, CMP submitted a proposal to the PUC, which outlines several ways to reduce barriers to EV adoption through legislative and regulatory policy changes, alterations in utility practices, and increased education (Farber, 2014).

Bicycle manufacturers and vendors are significant stakeholders in the arena of bicycle policy, as the industry’s success depends on continued bicycle use, improved infrastructure, and community support. The National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) is an umbrella group comprised of over 1,500 independent manufacturers and bicycle vendors and whose values strongly align with those of many non-governmental bicycle advocacy groups (NBDA, 2014). The NBDA (2014) promotes bicycle use and safety, sound environmental practices in both manufacturing and transportation, and the development of adequate infrastructure.

Maine is home to over 50 bicycle retailers and shops. Located throughout the state, these include Allspeed Cyclery and Snow, Bethel Bicycle, Busytown Bikes, Green Machine Bike Shop, Kingdom Bikes, Mojo, and Sidecountry Sports (BCM, 2012d). These retailers sell bicycles and bicycling equipment, provide maintenance services, educate bicycle owners, and constitute an important stakeholder group in the arena of bicycle policy.


Employers and businesses also incentivize and promote alternative transportation. Perhaps most importantly, they can provide or install the appropriate infrastructure for these technologies, such as charging stations for EVs, bike storage and shower facilities, and bus stop shelters (Bakker et al., 2014). Each installation would make it easier and more convenient to use these modes of transportation when shopping, traveling, or commuting to work. Employers can also commend those who use alternative transportation, such as by publicly recognizing them in company newsletters.

Regarding EVs in particular, many believe that if businesses and workplaces install chargers, customers and employees would be more likely to purchase EVs (Dong, Liu, & Lin, 2014; Lausier, 2014). Battery range and range anxiety—the fear that one will run out of charge in the middle of a trip—are two of the most commonly cited deterrents to EV adoption (Brown, 2014; Genest, 2014; Lausier, 2014; Puser, 2014; Woods, 2014). Providing public EV chargers in areas of high traffic could greatly ameliorate range anxiety. Assuming that people charge their EVs at home, the ability to charge an EV at work or while shopping would hypothetically double a vehicle’s driving range (USDOE, 2014a). While the investment in charging infrastructure may be costly, employers and businesses that install EV charging stations could improve employee and customer recruitment and retention, further sustainability goals, improve public image, and raise employee and consumer satisfaction (USDOE, 2012, 2013).

Shower facilities and safe bicycle storage options—such as lockable bicycle racks and bicycle lockers—significantly and positively impact commuter bicycling rates (Herlihy, 2004; Hunt & Abraham, 2007; Milne & Melin, 2014). Employers who provide these facilities can therefore encourage their employees to commute by bicycle.

Just as consumers benefit from a properly working public transportation systems, so too do the businesses within its routes. Areas like Portland realize the benefits of public transportation most due to systems such as the Greater Portland METRO Bus, where consumers are able to travel about many parts of Portland with relative ease (Sterns, Antenucci, Nelson, & Glasgow, 2003). Additionally, businesses within the public transportation realm also benefit directly from its existence because consumers are able to navigate commercial areas with greater efficiency and visit more shops in less time. If employees are able to use the system for commuting to and from work, overall emissions are reduced, several individual cars are removed from the road, and traffic congestion decreases (Starr McMullen & Noh, 2007). In the case of the Greater Portland METRO Bus, which reaches the towns of Westbrook, Falmouth, Portland, and South Portland, there are eight operating lines and over seventy stops. This opens the door for thousands of residents to use the buses daily (GPTD, 2013).

General Public

EV drivers, bicyclists, and public transit riders are critical to the adoption and use of alternative transportation.

Vehicle owners are some of the most obvious and most important stakeholders for EVs. For automobiles, consumers generally fall into five separate categories: those who (1) purely want the cheapest vehicle in the short-term, (2) consider the long-term price of vehicles, (3) want the most reliable vehicle, (4) want to be environmentally responsible, and (5) want to test out new and luxury technologies (Egbue & Long, 2012). Regardless of consumer category, it is necessary to inform consumers about EVs and available incentives, as studies show that 95% of people are unaware of EV incentives and 75% of people underestimate the advantages of driving and owning EVs (Krause et al., 2013).

Although many consumers are concerned that the range of EVs would not fit their daily needs, the average US vehicle traveled 32.7 miles per day in 2009, which is well within the range of most EVs (USDOT, 2009). If people do need to take trips longer than their EV battery’s range, they would either have to recharge or take another vehicle altogether, which would likely not be an issue for most households that own more than one vehicle. Recharging will likely become even less of an issue in the future as charging infrastructure spreads and EV technologies improve (Lausier, 2014).

As the main beneficiaries of safe and adequate bicycling infrastructure, bicyclists can play a large role in encouraging the government to improve bicycling facilities and are key to keeping bicycle retailers in business. Bicyclists can also indirectly contribute to increased bicycling rates through a positive feedback loop of “normality in numbers”: if individuals see many other people bicycling, they are more likely to bicycle themselves (Macmillan et al., 2014). Additionally, higher numbers of bicyclists typically translates to fewer vehicles on the road, which in turn leads to lower rates of perceived and actual risk to bicyclists (Macmillan et al., 2014).

Public bus transportation is available across Maine due to high demand from consumers and is critical to those without a personal vehicle. Additionally, because Maine relies so heavily on tourism for economic stability, the State equips itself with the necessary systems to provide public transit that not only accommodates the needs of the year-round residents, but also the needs of the tourists.

State of Alternative Transportation in Maine

In evaluating the state of alternative transportation in Maine, we found that electric vehicles (EVs), bicycling, and public transportation vary in popularity and face different barriers to adoption.

Electric Vehicles

EVs do not have much of a foothold in Maine; out of the 1.1 million actively registered passenger vehicles in Maine as of October 2014, only about 623, or 0.06%, of those were plug-in EVs (Hinkley, 2014). Additionally, as of October 2014, Maine had only 18 public EV charging stations, which were located at car dealerships, colleges, recreational areas, city councils, and energy companies (Figure 2.1). EV ownership is highest around Maine’s major cities and highways, as is most public charging infrastructure (Figure 2.2). The fact that EV ownership is highest where there are public charging stations suggests that charging stations encourage the adoption of EVs, which provides impetus to install more chargers. This finding aligns with those of several experts who found that charging stations are critical for the public acceptance and adoption of EVs (Sadeghi-Barzani, Rajabi-Ghahnavieh, & Kazemi-Karegar, 2014).


Figure 2.1 Public electric vehicle charging stations in Maine by location type (n=18) (AFDC, 2014).


Figure 2.2 Electric vehicle ownership (only including every Toyota Prius Plug-In, Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Ford C-MAX Plug-In, Ford Fusion Plug-In, Tesla Roadster, and Tesla S registered in Maine through 2014 and 2015) by zip code in Maine, in addition to public electric vehicle charging stations, major highways and roads, and major cities (AFDC, 2014; Hinkley, 2014; US Census Bureau, 2012).

Maine lags behind other New England states in EV adoption; while Vermont has 6.54 public EV charging stations per 100,000 people (a rate which we use as a proxy for EV ownership and popularity), Maine only has 1.36 (Figure 2.3) (AFDC, 2014). As shown in Figure 2.3, the four New England states with the highest density of charging stations (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have signed the Zero Emission Vehicles [ZEV (EVs are a ZEV)] Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) while the two states with the lowest density (New Hampshire and Maine) have not (AFDC, 2014). This suggests that the Memorandum is successful in increasing the popularity of EVs and that states like Maine could promote EV adoption by signing it. The ZEV MOU, which Governor LePage declined to sign in 2013, includes an action plan with 11 concrete goals—including the deployment of 3.3 million ZEVs by 2025—and requires each signatory state to conduct research on ZEVs, and report on their implementation progress (Anderson, 2013; ZEVPITF, 2013).


Figure 2.3 Public electric vehicle charging station density by New England state as of October 2014, in addition to the four states that have and the two states that have not signed the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (AFDC, 2014; US Census Bureau, 2013b).

Another potential reason why Maine lags behind other New England states in EV adoption is its lack of a state tax credit. Vermont ($500 from Drive Electric Vermont at participating dealerships) and Massachusetts (up to $2,500 from the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles program) each offer a consumer credit towards the purchase of an EV, but Maine does not. There was a recent State bill proposing a $1,000 tax credit for EVs in Maine (LD1086 “An Act to Promote Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales”), but it failed to pass through the State government. However, Maine was one of the first states to implement a sales tax credit for hybrid vehicles (MCC, 2011).

Many groups across Maine—such as the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), Central Maine Power (CMP), National Drive Electric Week (NDEW), and the EV Stakeholder Group—are working to increase EV adoption and overcome perceived barriers. As stated in the Stakeholder section, GPCOG formed the EV Stakeholder Group in 2011 to promote the adoption of EVs in the state and includes members from Maine businesses, NGOs, and local and State agencies (Puser, 2014).

At the 2014 stakeholder meeting, the Group discussed the progress they had made in the previous three years, current projects they were working on, and problems that needed to be addressed. Emmie Theberge, the Outreach Manager and Clean Energy Policy Advocate at the NRCM, presented the preliminary results of a mail survey for EV owners in Maine. Preliminary results suggested that (1) about half of the respondents leased their EVs and half owned them, (2) the top two reasons for owning EVs were to save money on gas and to reduce air pollution, (3) the average user drove about 250 miles a week, (4) 50% of those miles were powered solely by the electric battery (instead of the gas-powered engine in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), (5) 56% of respondents saved more than $50 in gas expenses per month, and (6) about 52% saw no real change in their electricity bills (Theberge, 2014). The EV Stakeholder Group discussed the lack of lower electricity pricing during off-peak hours in Maine, the lack of support from the State Legislature, and the role of car dealerships in encouraging EVs. Members of the Group proposed that the State Legislature establish EV purchase incentives, conduct studies on EVs, and increase the gas tax to disincentive traditional automobiles.


Bicycling is a minor mode of commuter transportation in Maine. Only 0.5% of Maine commuters travel to work by bicycle (Milne & Melin, 2014). This rate falls below the national average of 0.6%, but lies in the middle of commuter bicycling rates in the six New England states, exceeding Rhode Island (0.4%), Connecticut (0.3%), and New Hampshire (0.2%), but ranking third behind Vermont and Massachusetts (0.7% each) (Milne & Melin, 2014).

Although only commuter bicyclist data were available on state- and county-specific scales, these estimates do not account for all bicycling. According to the 2014 Benchmarking Report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, 39% of bicycle trips are made by individuals under the age of 16, who are not included in the US Census Bureau’s (2011) commuter bicyclist estimations (Milne & Melin, 2014). Six percent of bicycle trips are also made by individuals over the age of 64 (Milne & Melin, 2014), a group which likely includes some retired individuals who no longer fall into the US Census Bureau’s commuter category. Combining bicycling rates of these three groups—individuals under age 16, commuters, and retired older adults—would provide a better, and likely greater, estimate of overall national bicycling rates. Incorporating recreational bicycling would also yield a higher total bicycling rate in both Maine and the US. Because data from all of these categories are unavailable from the US Census Bureau, however, calculating this exact total is not possible.

Regarding infrastructure and bicyclist safety, Maine ranks quite high. Maine’s bicyclist fatality rate per 10,000 individual bicyclist commuters is 1.1, ranking second-best behind Montana’s rate of 1.0 (Milne & Melin, 2014). Furthermore, of the federal transportation funds provided to Maine in 2011 and 2012, the State used 2.7%—0.6% more than the national average—for bicycle- and pedestrian-related infrastructure projects and educational programs (Milne & Melin, 2014). These funds totaled over $6 million (Milne & Melin, 2014) and may explain Maine’s high rate of bicycle trails per capita (Figure 2.4).


Figure 2.4 Miles of bicycle trails per capita in five New England states. Trail mileage was normalized by 2013 state population levels. Information for Vermont was unavailable at the time of this report (Paddleford, 2014; RIDOT, 2014; Stewart, Killam, Dow, Warren, & Martin, 2010; Tedesco, 2014; US Census Bureau, 2013b).

Despite the State’s liberal spending on bicycle infrastructure and programs, Maine policies do not adequately encourage and incorporate bicycling. Maine is the only New England state that lacks a statewide master plan pertaining to bicycling activities and improvements in safety, infrastructure, and bicycle use. Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont have all adopted comprehensive master plans targeting both bicycling and pedestrian activities, while Massachusetts and Rhode Island have created separate plans for each activity (Milne & Melin, 2014). Furthermore, Maine is the only New England state that has not incorporated bicycling into its carbon emissions reduction plans and climate change mitigation strategies (Milne & Melin, 2014).

Higher population density, effective urban planning, young age, and adequate infrastructure appear to promote increased bicycling rates, while trip distance and harsh weather can deter individuals from bicycling. Gender also influences bicycling rates, as men bicycle more often than women (Forester, 1994; Hunt & Abraham, 2007; McKenzie, 2014; Milne & Melin, 2014; Workman, 2014).

The Maine census tracts with the highest rates of commuter bicycling are in Cumberland County, which includes the urban centers of Portland, South Portland, and Freeport (Figure 2.5). This high bicycling rate is likely attributed to Cumberland County’s high population density; at 337.2 people per square mile, Cumberland County’s population density is the highest in the state (US Census Bureau, 2010). These findings match those of studies that show higher population densities are correlated with increased levels of commuting via bicycling and walking (McKenzie, 2014; Milne & Melin, 2014). Similarly, individuals who live closer to their places of work are more likely to bicycle or walk to work (McKenzie, 2014), so more urbanized areas encompassing both residences and work facilities would likely have higher commuter bicycling rates than areas in which distances between residences and workplaces are greater (Forester, 1994).

Many urban land use plans are not conducive to bicycling, however, and thus bicycling rates in these areas remain rather low. Physical design and city planning can significantly affect rates of pedestrian and bicyclist activities through the provision (or lack thereof) of safe and appropriate infrastructure (Frank, Andresen, & Schmid, 2004; Sallis, Frank, Saelens, & Kraft, 2004). Suburban sprawl increases the distance between individuals’ homes and their places of work, necessitating vehicles for efficient transportation (Workman, 2014). Such a spread may also be characterized by a lack of sufficient walking and bicycling routes and pathways. For example, many individuals working in Waterville, Maine live outside of the city and travel by vehicle rather than bicycle due to long distances and insufficient bicycling infrastructure connecting their homes to their workplaces (Workman, 2014).



Figure 2.5 Commuter bicycle ridership in Maine by census tract (US Census Bureau, 2008-2012, 2012). Data are based on responses from workers age 16 and older and indicate the type of transportation used most frequently for traveling to work during the week prior to the survey response date (US Census Bureau, 2011).

Bicycling rates can also be a function of age. Throughout history, most bicycling has been done by children (Forester, 1994), and data from the American Community Survey indicate that younger workers bicycle more frequently than older workers (McKenzie, 2014). The reason Maine’s bicycling rate falls below the national average could be attributed to the fact that, with a median age of 44, Maine’s population is the oldest of all 50 states and thus is home to fewer young workers who are more likely to bicycle (US Census Bureau, 2013a).

The type and amount of bicycling infrastructure, such as separate bicycle lanes and pavement type, also contribute to rates of bicycle use (Herlihy, 2004; Hunt & Abraham, 2007; Pucher et al., 2010). Studies find a significant positive correlation between the number of bicycle lanes and bicycling rates (reviewed in Pucher et al., 2010). Additionally, of the multiple types of bicycle lane designations and demarcations available, Macmillan et al. (2014) find that “physically segregated” lanes—those that separate bicyclists from motorists with curbs or other barriers—are the most effective at alleviating bicyclists’ fear of risk or injury and thus encouraging bicycle use (p. 342). A positive correlation also exists between bicycling rates and road surface quality (Hunt & Abraham, 2007). In 2012, over one-third of Maine’s major roads were in inadequate or poor condition (e.g., contain cracks and potholes) (TRIP, 2012). Although it is unlikely that bicyclists use all of these roadways, such poor conditions likely deter bicycling, especially if minor roadways and paths that are used more frequently by bicyclists are of similar condition.

Additionally, the availability of post-bicycling infrastructure, such as storage and shower facilities, is very influential in determining bicycle use. Studies find that fear of bicycle theft discourages bicycle use more than most other reasons, and that the implementation and designation of secure storage facilities at strategic locations can ameliorate this concern (Herlihy, 2004; Milne & Melin, 2014; Pucher et al., 2010; Rietveld & Daniel, 2004; Unwin, 1995). Bicycling rates also increase when shower facilities are available at final destinations (Milne & Melin, 2014), although showers have a less significant impact on bicycling rates than do storage facilities (Hunt & Abraham, 2007).

Separate from bicycle-specific infrastructure but similarly influential to bicycle popularity is the existence of public transportation. When combined, public transportation and bicycling constitute a “multimodal” transportation system that allows commuters to travel longer distances more quickly (Forester, 1994; Workman, 2014). Many citywide and regional bus and train systems have attached bicycle racks to their vehicles to encourage bike-and-ride travel combinations (City of Madison, 2014; CTA, 2014; King County, 2014; WMATA, 2014), and all METRO buses in the City of Portland, Maine include bicycle racks (GPTD, n.d.). During the summer months, the Acadia National Park Island Explorer bus system also offers a “Bicycle Express” service that allows visitors to transport their bicycles in on-bus racks (Island Explorer, 2014a). Bicycle racks on buses and trains and storage facilities at bus and train stops have made public transportation more bicycle-friendly and have led to an increase in the use of both modes of transportation (Martens, 2007; Pucher & Buehler, 2013). Such a pairing of bicycling and public transportation can encourage increased use of both modes of transportation, and the existence of public transportation options for winter traveling ensures that at least one mode of transportation, other than conventional vehicles, is available year round (Workman, 2014).

One of the most obvious factors affecting bicycle use is the length and distance of the proposed trip (Heinen, Maat, & van Wee, 2011; Unwin, 1995). Hunt and Abraham (2007) find a significant negative correlation between trip time or distance and willingness to commute by bicycle. While for some trips, distance and travel time may be excessive and not conducive to bicycling, many trips taken by automobile are actually relatively short (Macmillan et al., 2014; Moudon et al., 2005). One-third of all gasoline burned by vehicles in the US is used for traveling distances of three miles or less (Herlihy, 2004), and half of all vehicle trips are under five miles (Maibach, Steg, & Anable, 2009), both of which are practical bicycling distances.

Maine’s cold weather, snow, and icy conditions during fall and winter months may deter people from bicycling more frequently (Forester, 1994). Some studies, however, find that cold weather does not significantly impact bicycling rates in a negative way and that the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada—two of the coldest inhabited places in North America—have the highest bicycling rates on the continent (Milne & Melin, 2014; Pucher et al., 2011). Snow and ice can have different impacts than drops in temperature, and despite the possibility of snow-cycling, bicycling in snow can be dangerous, requires riders to adopt a different riding style, and may necessitate different snow-specific equipment (Seaton, 2010; Workman, 2014). These changes may be enough to discourage individuals from bicycling in snowy conditions.

Previous bicycling experience, however, has been shown in certain instances to “mitigate the effect of weather” (Forester, 1994, p. 74), thus demonstrating that cold temperatures or rainy conditions are not absolute deterrents for bicyclists (Milne & Melin, 2014). Bicycling experience also plays a critical role in influencing general public perception and acceptance of bicycling as both a utilitarian and a recreational form of transportation; the more bicycling experience one has, the more likely he or she will be to bicycle and to view bicycling as a socially acceptable mode of transportation (Hunt & Abraham, 2007; Workman, 2014).

In the US, bicycling is a mode of transportation largely dominated by men: according to Milne and Melin (2014), only 26.9% of bicycle commutes in the US are made by women. In Maine, women riders make 31% of all bicycle commutes (Milne & Melin, 2014). Although little explanatory information for this trend exists, bicycles are likely an impractical means of transportation for working women whose business attire consists of dresses and skirts (Workman, 2014). Additionally, a study by Pucher et al. (2011) finds women to be “more sensitive to cycling dangers than men” (p. 455), a conclusion previously validated by Oja, Vuori, and Paronen (1998) and Garrard, Rose, and Kai Lo (2007). Similar to the norm of a business dress code, social workplace expectations can affect commuter bicycling rates. The prospect of arriving to work sweaty and odorous may deter commuters from choosing bicycling which, when compared to vehicular and public transit, can be considered a physically strenuous mode of transportation (Pucher et al., 2011; Workman, 2014).

Public Transportation

The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) divides the state into eight transit regions in order to better organize and manage public transportation. These regional divisions allow companies whose reaches stretch greater than a single town to still report their revenues and ridership geographically (MTA, 2014). While Maine is the largest state in terms of size in New England, it ranks last in population density. Thus, connecting population centers means traveling longer distances. Furthermore, commuter use of public transportation systems in Maine also ranks the lowest among New England states: it is tied with New Hampshire at 0.8% of commuters (ACS, 2012). Compared to Massachusetts (9.3%), Connecticut (4.6%), Rhode Island (3.0%), or Vermont (1.2%), Maine has a long way to go to catch up (ACS, 2012). Part of the problem for Maine’s public transportation participation is the state’s comparatively high rate of residents who work within ten minutes of home (18.4%, excluding at-home workers) (ACS, 2012). This makes it very inconvenient to use public transit unless living in an urban setting due to lack of frequent transit stops.

Most of Maine’s public bus ridership outside of the larger cities comes from the people who have no choice but to use public transportation as a means of travel. MaineDOT’s Locally Coordinated Transit Plan for the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP) in Transit Region 4 shows that social services passenger trips account for 86% of trips in 2012 (KVCAP, 2013). In Region 8 where the York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC) operates, social services passengers accounted for 67.69% of trips in 2012 (YCCAC, 2013). Consistently, in the areas outside of the major cities, public transportation is not so much of a convenience as it is a necessity. Maine has the oldest median age in the nation with 30.6% of its population aged 55 or older in 2014 (ACS, 2012).

Programs like the KVCAP and the YCCAC rely heavily on government subsidies to operate and fare revenues account for only 1.05% and 1.31%, respectively, of the total operating revenue for 2012 (KVCAP, 2013; YCCAC, 2013). The majority of these government subsides come from the healthcare subsides of MaineCARE. In fact, MaineCARE is so involved in public transportation systems in Maine that out of the 19 major systems, only eight do not rely on MaineCARE for funding. For those that do, MaineCARE funding represents anywhere from 29.8% (Wests Transportation Inc.) to 96.8% (Community Concepts Inc.) of total operating revenue (Figure 2.6). Furthermore, this government aid accounts for 64.9% of total operating revenue for all public bus transportation across Maine and is the life support for most public bus transit systems (Figure 2.6).


Figure 2.6 Percent of Total Operating Revenue breakdown by funding type for the 19 major bus transportation systems in Maine. Due to unavailable data CCI, CCB, CTI, and BCB are based off of 2010 numbers (MaineDOT, 2011, 2013). The following transportation systems are included in the figure: CYR Bus Line (CYR), Community Connector of Bangor (CCB), Greater Portland METRO District (Metro), South Portland Bus System (SPBS), ShuttleBus, Downeast Transportation Inc. (DTI), West’s Transportation (Wests), Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee (LATC), Bath City Bus (BCB), Aroostook Regional Transportation System (ARTS), Coastal Transportation Inc. (CTI), Western Maine Transportation Services (WMTS), York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC), Kennebec Valley Community Action Program (KVCAP), Regional Transportation Program (RTP), Waldo Community Action Partners (WCAP), Washington Hancock Community Agency (WHCA), Penquis Transportation Program (Penquis), Community Concepts Inc. (CCI).

The Greater Portland Metro Bus in the Portland area is the oldest example of a public transportation system in Maine. It is the only system that operates in a similar fashion to those of other large cities in the United States. As mentioned in the stakeholder section, the Portland and Greater Portland areas have over 70 stops, operating on multiple lines every day (GPTD, 2011). The METRO is the largest public transportation system in the state servicing over one million passengers annually, with 2012 numbers reaching as high as 1,464,643 riders (GPTD, 2013). While the Greater Portland METRO Bus is still heavily subsidized by federal, state, and local governments, it holds the title as the bus system in Maine with the second highest percentage of total operating revenue from fares with 27.74%, only behind the CYR Bus Line at 81.04% whose operating revenues and passenger numbers are a mere fraction to those of the METRO bus (CYR Bus Line, 2013; GPTD, 2013). A 1999 case study on the Houston bus transit system finds that large service increases, fare reductions, metropolitan employment, and population growth all increase mass transit popularity (Kain & Liu, 1999). In fact, the researchers deduce that the factors that contributed most were large subsidies from federal and state government (Kain & Liu, 1999).

Because tourism revenues are so important to Maine, the State must cater to those who are not permanent residents. To accommodate tourists, Maine has implemented special buses in key areas of tourism throughout the state. The Sugarloaf and Sunday River ski areas are two such examples. The Sugarloaf Explorer and the Mountain Explorer are public buses that help tourists travel to and from the mountains. The two explorers shuttled a combined 366,088 passengers in 2012 (WMTS, 2013). While these transportation systems were set up for the ski resorts, just like the KVCAP and YCCAC, the majority of the riders are social services passengers, accounting for 55.85% of 2012 passengers (WMTS, 2013). On the eastern shore of the state, buses such as the Shoreline Explorer and the Island Explorer facilitate travel amongst some of Maine’s most popular summer destinations such as Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, and Acadia National Park.


Figure 2.7 Annual public transportation rides per person in each of the eight transit regions. Due to unavailable data CCI, CCB, CTI, and BCB are based off of 2010 numbers (ACS, 2012; MaineDOT, 2011, 2013).

The Island Explorer in particular is a good example of the positive benefits a well-run public transportation system can provide. The routes of the Explorer run all throughout Acadia National Park. In 2012, Downeast Transportation Inc., the company that runs the Island Explorer, provided transit to over 500,000 passengers traveling around Acadia and the greater Acadia region (DTI, 2013). This large ridership gives Transit Region 2, where Acadia is located, one of the highest ridership rates per capita (Figure 2.7). What makes the Island Explorer so popular is that the Acadia section of the system is free. This popularity was most apparent during the recession when the Island Explorer experienced a ridership increase of 14.9% from 2007 to 2008 (Figure 2.8). The ridership increase shows that national parks provide a relatively inexpensive option for a family vacation, and that by integrating public transportation into tourist areas, the destinations become more available to the public. To support this program of free rides, the system relies heavily on funding from the Federal Transportation Association and the local government, which provided almost 80% of total operating revenues in 2012 (DTI, 2013). Additionally, when the Island Explorer was founded in 1999, the L.L. Bean company of Maine gave it a $3 million grant (Friends of Acadia, 2014). This initial investment allowed Downeast Transportation to invest in environmentally friendly, low-emission, fuel-efficient propane-powered buses to work its routes. Since its inception, the Island Explorer has provided transportation to over 4.3 million passengers and has helped to eliminate an estimated 1,710,939 private vehicle trips, equating to a reduction of 24.5 tons of smog-causing pollutants and 15,942 tons of greenhouse gases (Friends of Acadia, 2014).


Figure 2.8 Annual Island Explorer ridership near Acadia National Park since its establishment in 1999 (Island Explorer, 2014b).


In this section, we evaluate some of the economic, human health, and environmental implications of electric vehicles (EVs), bicycles, and public transportation. If Maine citizens were to adopt these modes of transportation on a large scale, Maine could achieve significant reductions in local air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a higher degree of energy independence, and substantial cost savings (Dong et al., 2014; Egbue & Long, 2012; Krause et al., 2013; Scown et al., 2013).

Economic Implications

Our analysis shows that alternative transportation has potential cost savings, especially in the long term. EVs generally have higher upfront costs than comparable conventional vehicles, but they actually have the potential to save Maine citizens money: their lifetime ownership costs are often lower than those of standard automobiles due to fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs (Figure 2.9). The purchase prices and lifetime costs of EVs would be even lower if the Maine State government were to offer monetary incentives. As stated in the EV State of the Topic section, many other states, including the New England states of Massachusetts and Vermont, offer consumer tax credits for EV purchases (AFDC, 2014). Several studies show that consumer preference for EVs increases when EV prices decrease (Al-Alawi & Bradley, 2013), so although such incentives are costly, they are some of the most effective ways to promote EVs (LeBel, 2014).


Figure 2.9 Lifetime costs of ownership comparison between a generic conventional vehicle, a generic hybrid vehicle, a 2014 Chevy Volt, and a 2013 Nissan LEAF in thousands of dollars (EPRI, 2014).

Cost savings related to bicycling are even greater than those of EVs (Massink, Zuidgeest, Rijnsburger, Sarmiento, & van Maarseveen, 2011; Unwin, 1995). In terms of initial purchase, bicycles are almost always cheaper than motorized vehicles, and the cost savings increase when one considers the maintenance costs, gasoline purchases, and registration fees associated with vehicles (Milne & Melin, 2014). Additionally, studies find that areas with attractive bicycle infrastructure and bicycling events attract more tourists, which can improve local economies (Milne & Melin, 2014).

Due to the varying functions of public transportation in Maine, the economic benefit of mass transit fluctuates in different parts of the state. The Portland area may have an overall positive economic benefit due to the reduction in carbon emissions, congestion relief, and gas savings from the removal of personal vehicles. However, the use of public transportation in more remote parts of Maine is the result of citizens lacking any means of transportation and does not provide an economic benefit. Additionally, with the large inflow of tourists into Maine every year, those areas with proper public bus systems will benefit the local economies by allowing more visitors access to commercial areas.

Human Health Implications

Alternative transportation can provide human health benefits indirectly by reducing GHG emissions, pollutants, and associated health problems. Although not all forms of alternative transportation directly affect human health, bicycling and public transportation do provide significant health benefits.

Bicycling’s implications for human health and its related costs are significant. One study estimates that the benefits of bicycling, particularly those relating to physical health, outweigh the related costs of establishing and maintaining infrastructure by 6-24 times (Macmillan et al., 2014). Bicycling can lead to significant reductions in health costs related to respiratory problems caused by vehicular pollution, traffic accidents, and health concerns related to physical inactivity such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure (Frank et al., 2004; Milne & Melin, 2014; Oja et al., 1998; Pucher et al., 2010; Rietveld & Daniel, 2004; Sallis et al., 2004). A study in Portland, Oregon demonstrates the great cost-saving potential of bicycling investments: every $1 investment in bicycle infrastructure in Portland leads to health cost reductions of over three times the investment amount (Milne & Melin, 2014).

Maine’s population currently ranks as the 27th most obese in the nation, with a higher obesity rate than all other New England states (Trust for America’s Health & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2013). Maine’s high obesity rate demonstrates the potential for health improvement among the state’s population. As obesity rates in the US continue to grow, bicycling offers a relatively simple and promising way to fight obesity and related health concerns. A study by Frank et al. (2004) finds that every additional hour spent in a car each day increases an individual’s risk of obesity by 6%; this trend could be stopped and even reversed by encouraging a behavioral shift to bicycling.

Although larger numbers of bicyclists could potentially lead to increased accidents with vehicles and subsequent injury, studies find an inverse relationship to exist between bicycling rates and bicyclist-vehicle accidents (Macmillan et al., 2014; Milne & Melin, 2014). Multiple positive feedback loops create this effect: (1) as bicycling rates increase and more people bicycle, vehicle drivers become more aware of bicyclists and can drive more carefully around them; (2) as people switch from commuting by vehicle to bicycle, there are fewer vehicles on the road to cause possible accidents; and (3) higher numbers of bicyclists can have a greater influential impact on policy decisions and demonstrate the need for safe and sufficient infrastructure which, when built, will encourage additional bicycling (Macmillan et al., 2014; Milne & Melin, 2014).

Switching from vehicular travel to bicycle travel can also partially decrease rates of respiratory illnesses caused by vehicular air pollution (Macmillan et al., 2014; Milne & Melin, 2014). CVs create a significant amount of air pollution heavy with volatile organic compounds and particulate matter (two types of air pollutants that are detrimental to human health), especially in congested traffic conditions (Betts, 2012; Milne & Melin, 2014; Pucher et al., 2010). Increased bicycling would result in a reduction of these emissions and in related respiratory illnesses.

A 2009 comparative study in London finds that the effects of both increased active urban transit and increased use of more efficient vehicles would have large positive impacts on public health (Woodcock et al., 2009). By walking or biking, citizens remove vehicle trips while at the same time improve their health (Woodcock et al., 2009). Part of this change in daily routine relies heavily on the influence of social norms, and altering the way people view public transportation. Simply using guilt as means to increase public transportation shows not to help; the way people think about transportation must be changed (Bamberg, Hunecke, & Blöbaum, 2007).

The oldest state in the country is only getting older, and therefore the use and implementation of public transportation is crucial in areas of low population density. Senior citizens who are unable to drive any longer and who cannot rely on friends and family for rides to a doctor’s office must be able to receive that ride from another source. While the human health benefits of improved air quality should be noted, the major human health implication public transportation has in Maine is the ability to provide rides to the elderly in order to maintain their already-deteriorating health.

Environmental Implications

As previously mentioned, alternative transportation has the potential to drastically reduce GHG emissions and slow the harmful effects of climate change. Although the batteries in EVs require rare earth metals that are often mined in environmentally-intensive ways, the emissions of EVs, regardless of the electricity source, are often much lower than conventional vehicles (AFDC, 2014). This is especially true in a place like Maine, which generates 85% of its electricity from renewable and low-emission sources like natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, and biomass (AFDC, 2014). While the average vehicle emits about 13,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2)—one of the main drivers of global climate change—into the atmosphere annually, the average hybrid vehicle emits the equivalent of about 8,600 pounds, the average battery electric vehicle (BEV) emits the equivalent of about 4,300 pounds, and the average plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) emits the equivalent of about 6,100 pounds (Figure 2.10).


Figure 2.10 Average annual emissions by vehicle type—battery electric vehicle (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), generic hybrid vehicle, and generic conventional vehicle—in Waterville, Maine where about 42% of the electricity is from natural gas, 30% is from nuclear, 12% is from coal, 7% is from hydro, and 6% is from biomass (AFDC, 2014).

In its 2013-2014 fiscal year (July 13, 2013-June 30, 2014), the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles registered about 68,000 new motor vehicles (Hinkley, 2014). Assuming that Maine residents purchase this many vehicles each year, we calculated the emissions reductions if either 1, 5, 10, or 25% of all new vehicle purchases were BEVs instead of standard vehicles (Figure 2.11) [as stated in EV background section, studies show EVs could comprise up to 7% of car sales by 2020 (Faria et al., 2014; USDOE, 2014b)]. If 1% of new vehicle purchases were BEVs instead of conventional automobiles, Maine would avoid emitting about six million pounds of CO2 each year, 30 million pounds at 5%, 60 million pounds at 10%, or 149 million pounds at 25%. One hundred forty-nine million pounds of CO2 is the equivalent to the annual emissions of 14,228 passenger vehicles, the annual CO2 emissions of 6,167 homes’ energy use, or the annual carbon sequestered by 55,398 acres of US forests (USEPA, 2014d). These emissions savings would reduce the contribution of Maine’s transportation sector to climate change.


Figure 2.11 Pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions Maine would avoid annually if 1, 5, 10, or 25% of all new vehicle purchases (assuming 68,000, as in 2013-2014) were battery electric vehicles (BEVs). BEVs have average annual CO2 equivalent emissions of 4,295 pounds, whereas conventional vehicles have average annual CO2 emissions of 13,043 pounds (AFDC, 2014).

Because bicycles are powered by human pedal power, they do not emit GHGs in operation (Macmillan et al., 2014; Massink et al., 2011). Although the bicycle production process is not emissions-free, the lifetime emissions of a bicycle (including production, use, maintenance, and even the calories required to “power” a bicyclist’s metabolism) are ten times less than the lifetime emissions of a motorized vehicle (Blondel, Mispelon, & Ferguson, 2011). This significant difference demonstrates the GHG-emissions-reducing potential of widespread bicycle use.


Alternative transportation in Maine could follow one of multiple future paths. Based on the factors that we believe are most significant—such as government funding, population density, infrastructure, and volatility of oil prices—we present the following scenarios depicting possible futures for alternative transportation in Maine.

Highway to Hell

Conventional vehicles (CVs) remain dominant, as electric vehicles (EVs), bicycling, and public transportation fail to gain much popularity and public support in Maine. Because EVs are not subject to Maine’s gas tax, the State government imposes harsh taxes on EV owners in order to fund road maintenance; these taxes deter Mainers from purchasing EVs. The Republican Party maintains control of the State government and reduces funding for public bus transportation because ridership remains low, and existing public bus companies raise fares to compensate for reduced State funding. These higher fares further deter people from using public transportation, and companies must reduce service areas or declare bankruptcy. As the effects of climate change worsen, harsh weather and increased storms continue to deter individuals from traveling by bicycle and accelerate the depreciation expense of existing infrastructure. The State government reappropriates funds from new alternative transportation projects to maintenance efforts on existing infrastructure. Gas prices drop due to increased domestic production, so Maine citizens become less concerned with conserving gasoline and purchase large vehicles with poor fuel efficiency. The federal government fails to renew the federal tax credit for EVs, making CVs much comparatively more affordable and discouraging automakers from producing EVs.


EVs, bicycles, and public transportation continue to make modest gains, but not enough to significantly alter the current system. EV charging infrastructure is not expanded at a rate consistent with consumer demand, and most consumers remain dissatisfied with the low battery ranges of the most affordable EVs. A majority of the public finds bicycles and limited public bus routes inconvenient. The State government remains complacent and fails to pass legislation providing incentives for alternative transportation and does not provide sufficient funds to expand public transportation infrastructure. Gas prices remain relatively low and prevent people from reconsidering their transportation habits. CVs remain cheaper than EVs and more convenient than bicycling and public transportation. Climate change impacts are realized at a slower rate than in the previous scenario and are insufficient to spark public concern or cause behavioral shifts.

Complete Streets to Heaven

Modes of alternative transportation—specifically EVs, bicycles, and public transportation—gain popularity and become more common modes of transportation. Gas prices spike and storm severity increases causing the State and federal governments to introduce specific incentives for alternative transportation. The State provides tax credits to Maine citizens for EV purchases and expands charging infrastructure. Protected bicycle lanes are established along major state roads and policies require bus systems to provide bicycle racks for their riders. The State provides grants for public bus systems to update vehicles with cleaner energy sources, such as electricity and natural gas, and expand the length and frequency of routes. Employers and businesses offer priority parking for EVs, safe storage facilities and showers for bicyclists, and monthly stipends for employees using public transportation. CVs become relatively more expensive due to increased gas prices.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Although multiple modes of alternative transportation exist in Maine, they are currently underutilized compared to other New England states. Electric vehicles (EVs) comprise only 0.06% of all actively registered passenger vehicles in Maine, and the state has the fewest public EV charging stations (18) per capita of all New England states. Partly due to the state’s high average age and low population density, Maine’s commuter bicycling rate—0.5%—falls below those of Massachusetts and Vermont. Twenty local bus systems currently operate in Maine, and on average, each Maine citizen uses public transportation 5.2 times annually. However, fewer commuters use public transportation in Maine than in the rest of New England.

To address the challenges that the state is likely to face in the coming years, Maine should develop a new comprehensive transportation plan. Although many promising modes of alternative transportation exist, we believe that the state can reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the most feasible and economically-efficient manner by trading in conventional vehicles for EVs, bicycles, and public transportation. We acknowledge that each of these modes of transportation is imperfect—EVs require behavioral changes and infrastructural modifications, bicycles are largely local and seasonal, and public transportation is mostly limited to urban areas with high population densities. However, when municipalities implement the appropriate combination of these technologies, they can help lead Maine down the road towards a clean and sustainable future. If implemented in an effective manner, a multimodal alternative transportation system could provide a cost-effective, environmentally-sound, and socially-enriching alternative to the current transportation system.


Current efforts aimed at educating the public about alternative transportation are too limited and disconnected. The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) and Department of Environmental Protection, NGOs, and other stakeholders—particularly public health advocates and professionals, transportation agencies, and environmental organizations—should create an Alternative Transportation Stakeholder Group that meets regularly to educate Maine citizens about the benefits of alternative modes of transportation. The Group should employ a public awareness campaign—using forums, advertising, and promotional events—to inform Maine citizens about the economic, health, and environmental benefits of alternative transportation and to promote favorable policies. The Group should function as an umbrella organization facilitating communication among smaller municipal stakeholder groups, their citizens, and state agencies.

Economic Incentives

The Maine Legislature should pass laws establishing economic incentives to encourage Mainers to purchase electric vehicles (EVs), ride bicycles, and use public transportation. Such incentives include tax credits towards the purchase of EVs and their chargers, subsidies for bicycle purchases, and grants for updating public transportation technologies and infrastructure. Additionally, the State should provide tax credits for employers that subsidize the public transportation fares of their employees.

Urban Planning

To encourage and increase use of EVs, bicycles, and public transportation, MaineDOT should adopt a Complete Streets Policy. Such policies aim to incorporate multiple modes of transportation—namely walking, bicycling, vehicular travel, and public transit—on each street. Complete Streets Policies require state and city transportation agencies to consider and accommodate all of these modes of transportation in their future roadway designs and operations (Milne & Melin, 2014). The National Complete Streets Coalition is a non-profit national organization that provides guidance to states and municipalities hoping to implement integrative transportation plans (NCSC, 2014). MaineDOT should use guidance from the Coalition and from the existing Complete Streets Policies adopted in Auburn, Lewiston, and Portland to help inform a Complete Street Policy at the state level that incorporates public EV charging stations, bicycle lanes and storage facilities, and public bus lanes (City of Portland, 2012; LaBonte, 2013; Lewiston City Council, 2013). Publications like the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Urban Bikeway Design Guide can also offer specific policy and infrastructure recommendations (NACTO, 2014). To incentivize EVs in particular, public charging stations should be installed at parking garages, park and rides, colleges and universities, hotels, grocery stores, transportation hubs, municipal buildings, public libraries, shopping centers, gas stations along major travel corridors, and hospitals (ABA, 2014; Genest, 2014; MCC, 2011). One possible way the State could fund public charging stations is to use a portion of the gas tax to subsidize charging station installation costs on private property and allow the chargers’ owners to earn a profit by selling electricity to EV drivers at a slightly marked up price.

Economic Disincentives

Increased gas taxes and high oil prices have historically led to increased adoption of alternative modes of transportation. During World War I, World War II, the Great Depression, and the 1973 energy crisis, rates of bicycle use in the US increased significantly because owning and operating conventional vehicles became a luxury that many Americans could no longer afford (Herlihy, 2004). Gas prices are associated with the adoption of alternative transportation (Egbue & Long, 2012; Scown et al., 2013), so the Maine State government should consider raising the gasoline tax. Increased gas prices would increase ownership costs of conventional vehicles and could encourage the adoption of alternative modes of transportation. With additional revenue from gas taxes, the State will be more able to provide monetary incentives for EVs, bicycles, and public transportation and establish additional infrastructure.

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