PORTLAND — Beginning Monday, Greater Portland Transit District METRO will no longer offer its free Lunch Hop service in Portland.

METRO’s Lunch Hop service has been providing free bus rides from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. along Congress Street, between Longfellow Square and Exchange Street.

METRO’s board of directors voted to eliminate this service at its Oct. 27 meeting, following a public hearing. METRO said it has carefully reviewed financial alternatives to balancing its operating budget, while minimizing impact on bus riders and the community.

“The decision to discontinue this free service was based on the need to collect fares and increase revenue,” said METRO’s general manager, David Redlefsen.

METRO averages 1.4 million riders annually in Portland, Westbrook, Falmouth and the Maine Mall area of South Portland.