FreeportUSA has sent a letter to Governor LePage regarding the continuing opposition of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition to the location of the Downeaster Layover Facility. FreeportUSA concludes: "It is vital to our community that Amtrak be able to continue providing our only public transportation service. Our organization is certain that any delay or disruption to service would be harmful to our local businesses, the Town of Freeport and our entire region." The full letter is below.
August 19, 2014
Dear Governor LePage,
I am writing today on behalf of FreeportUSA, a non-profit destination marketing association that represents more than 155 Freeport businesses. We wish to express our enthusiastic support of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority. The Amtrak Downeaster has had a positive impact on our community, and we encourage you to continue your support of this service that benefits our residents and guests, alike.
Freeport had been without a public transportation option for more than 10 years prior to November 2012. As a favorite Maine destination to more than 3 million annual visitors, our office fielded thousands of calls from not only Boston and New York (where it’s not practical to have a car) but from international visitors who wished to make the trip once they landed. Upon hearing that we could not offer any public transportation options, reactions were always filled with frustration and disbelief. Shortly after Amtrak began service to Freeport, we stopped getting these calls.
The Amtrak Downeaster has helped increase tourism through marketing campaigns that create compelling media about Freeport as a destination. Additionally, the Downeaster supports tourism by leveraging their marketing funds in support of regional and local efforts. The response to the Downeaster service to Freeport has been positive, exceeding daily average ridership projections by 50%.
The Downeaster service is an asset to FreeportUSA and important to the future growth of both our organization and community. Last year, they supported Freeport’s Sparkle Celebration by providing two Polar Express-themed train excursions, which FreeportUSA used as a fundraising opportunity and an anchor event in attracting people to Freeport during the holiday shopping season. Special trips were created for Black Friday/Moonlight Madness, resulting in more than 100 shoppers arriving in Freeport between 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m.
FreeportUSA offices are located at the Freeport Train & Information Center, so we are able to learn firsthand the appreciation that riders have for this service. Residents and guests enjoy the safety, comfort, convenience and economic benefit of train travel. Many Freeport residents regularly use the Amtrak Downeaster as their preferred method to commute/travel to Boston. We frequently hear that the trains heading south to Boston are sold out, and that some travelers have learned it’s always important to purchase their tickets ahead of time. Within our community, Amtrak has helped to alleviate traffic jams and parking shortages.
It is vital to our community that Amtrak be able to continue providing our only public transportation service. Our organization is certain that any delay or disruption to service would be harmful to our local businesses, the Town of Freeport and our entire region. It is our hope that with your support, the Amtrak Downeaster will not only continue its service uninterrupted, but will be able to expand its schedule to meet the growing demand.
Kelly E. Edwards
PO Box 452, 23 Depot St.
Freeport, ME 04032
c.c. U.S. Senator Angus King
U.S. Senator Susan Collins
U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree
The Honorable Olympia Snow
State Senator Stan Gersofsky, Senate District #10
State Representative Peter Kent, House District #63
State Representative Charles Priest, House District #65
State Representative Mattie Daughtry, House District #66
State Representative Sara Gideon, House District 106
Commissioner David Bernhardt, Department of Transportation
Carolann Ouellette, Director Maine Office of Tourism
Chief of Staff John McGough
Patricia Quinn, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority