October 3, 2013

Metro bus service hopes to expand north of Portland

New routes likely would extend along the I-95/Route 1 corridor to Freeport.

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Greater Portland Transit District officials are hoping to extend bus service to Cumberland, Freeport and Yarmouth by taking advantage of a federal grant program to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

click image to enlarge

A Metro bus runs along Congress Street in Portland. Greater Portland Transit District officials plan to apply for a federal grant that would help fund expanded service. The rest would come from local sources.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The bus district, better known as Metro, presented a service-expansion proposal this week to officials from municipalities in the Portland area during a joint meeting.

Metro has not yet determined how many new routes would be added, or where they would go, spokeswoman Denise Beck said.

“The project’s in very early stages of development,” Beck said.

The most likely routes for expanded service would be along the Interstate 295/Route 1 corridor, she said, including a commuter route extending from Portland to Freeport.

Freeport Town Planner Donna Larson said town officials have been talking for years about a possible bus service to Portland, and that the Metro proposal is the closest it has come to being a reality.

“There is certainly support for looking into this and seeing what type of service could work for the town,” Larson said.

The plan is to apply for a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant that would fund 80 percent of a two- to three-year pilot program for expanded service. The other 20 percent would come from local sources, Metro said.

The program’s total cost would depend on the number and extent of new bus routes, it said.

Metro has nine existing bus routes: Congress Street, Riverton, North Deering, Westbrook, Maine Mall, Washington Avenue, Falmouth, Peninsula Loop and a modified Peninsula Loop route during tourist season.

Metro has asked top administrators of participating communities to meet this month to develop up to three options for expanded bus service, and to explore possible scenarios in which the private sector would contribute funds.

The transit district presented a proposed time line to municipal leaders that would proceed as follows:

October: Develop service options and explore private-sector participation.

December: Present service options to municipal councils and develop a consensus on the preferred option.

January: Submit a grant proposal to the Maine Department of Transportation, which oversees Maine’s allotment of the federal grant program.

If a grant is awarded, extended bus service would start in the summer of 2014.

The program would be evaluated for a two- to three-year period to determine whether it should be implemented permanently, Metro officials said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 207-719-6390 or:


Twitter: @JCraigAnderson


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)