Until Bangor gets around to replacing the sheltered bus terminal that was removed from the Pickering Square parking garage last summer, the Community Connector will offer a heated bus to passengers waiting on the coldest days of winter.
The public bus system began offering the running bus as a heated waiting area last week, when the mercury dipped well below freezing on a few days. But it has not needed to deploy the resource during the relatively balmy weather at the start of this week.
For now, it plans to park the bus on the Water Street side of Pickering Square whenever the temperature is 20 degrees or lower, but staff are still finalizing the guidelines for the so-called “warming palace,” according to Tracy Novak, a Community Connector dispatcher and supervisor. A driver will always be in the bus, and its destination sign will say “Special.”
Passengers previously were able to use an indoor waiting area in the parking garage, but that space was permanently closed during last summer’s renovation of the garage. Now, the city is planning to build a new bus terminal with a waiting area on the Water Street side of the square, but that process is expected to take more than a year.
The City Council approved that plan on Jan. 27 after years of debate about whether Pickering Square was the most suitable place for the bus terminal.
In the meantime, some Bangor residents have been pushing the city to install a heated waiting area at the temporary bus hub that will be in place until the replacement opens.