Thank you to the Press Herald for its continuing coverage over the past year and a half of Metro’s partnership with the University of Southern Maine and the communities of Portland, Gorham and Westbrook, which will expand mass transit across the region, including improved bus service between our Portland and Gorham campuses.

As a community-engaged university, we are thrilled to be a part of this effort to strengthen our regional transportation network, but our No. 1 reason for joining this partnership is that it is without question in our students’ best interest.

For our students, new benefits include improved Wi-Fi on buses between our Gorham and Portland campuses, longer service hours, more frequent pickup times, expanded Saturday hours, Sunday service and year-round service.

Most important, the partnership provides our students with free access to the entire Metro system. This will enable our students not just to go back and forth between campuses, but also to use other Metro lines to get from their homes to our campuses, to get to health appointments, to shop and to get to internships and jobs. In that sense, this is a workforce development initiative as much as a transportation one.

We also expect the Metro service to alleviate our Portland campus parking issues, which have been exacerbated as our enrollments continued to grow over the past couple of years.

Our students and our university will be receiving these new benefits, all for the same price we had been previously paying. While we will continue to use private charter companies to transport our athletic teams and organizations to games, out of town events and special trips, this new partnership with Metro just made too much sense for our students, our university and our surrounding communities.

Bob Stein

executive director, public affairs and marketing, University of Southern Maine