Helping Lower Walnut: demanding public transportation

The Rev. Angela Mather, minister of the Lower Walnut Universalist Church, has been hearing the grumblings at the grocery store and bank. Gasoline and diesel fuel prices have skyrocketed and other prices are beginning to follow. She knew it was bad when the an egg salad sandwich went up a quarter at Niko’s Cafe. Niko and Sophie wouldn’t raise prices in Wolastoq County unless it was absolutely necessary.

Public transportation is a source of relief, if a less than desired one. There’s a lot of pride in Lower Walnut, and private transportation has been a hallmark of success and independence. But at $4 a gallon, something has to give.

In Wolastoq, the thin public transportation system is run by the Senior Citizens Council, mainly for shopping and medical appointment transport, but has always supported other residents of any age who need to get around. Riders have to call ahead and many don’t even know the service exists. Even so, the system is stretched to the limit. Not that stops people from asking.

The subject came up at the Unitarian Universalist ministers’ cluster meeting. A groan and a question from a minister new to the state. “Where can I find out more?” Angela piped up, “look up your county at There’s a pull down menu for the states.” Someone else pointed out that Maine has a public transportation guide, which is perhaps more than other states can provide.

And one older colleague added: “I think it’s high time we called the state Department of Transportation and the members of our congressional delegation to see where we can push for funds for expanded service. People can’t live — much less work — if their homes are their prisons.”

Angela retorted: “I’ve got my laptop. Let’s Google them.”

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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