BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Explorer further cut its hours last week due to a shortage of bus drivers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Western Maine Transportation Services announced the bus service hours will be reduced by two hours in the evening. The Brunswick Explorer will still provide service Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Starting last week, one Brunswick Explorer bus is on the road, providing four round-trips daily from Mallard Pond Apartments on Baribeau Drive to Sweetser on Bath Road and back. The first bus leaves eastbound from Mallard Pond Apartments at 8 a.m. traveling through town until reaching Sweetser on Bath Road. The last bus of the day now departs from Sweetser at 3 p.m. and ends at Mallard Pond Apartments at 4 p.m. Any trips to and from Brunswick Landing are now by request only.

“This puts us in the sweet spot to help the majority of people who are on our bus,” said Craig Zurhorst, a spokesman for Western Maine Transportation Services.

The Brunswick Explorer stops at Woodlawn Towers and Pejepscot Terrace which are senior housing, and to Hannaford Supermarket and Walgreens on Maine Street, Merrymeeting Plaza and Cook’s Corner Mall as well as Walmart. The bus also stops at Mid Coast Hospital and Sweetser, a nonprofit community mental health provider.

“It’s because of some very dedicated employees that we’re able to do this,” Zurhorst said.


The bus service, which is classified by Gov. Janet Mills as an essential business, is seeing a drop in ridership. Zurhorst said ridership averaged 75 riders in January but dropped to about 18 in April. Zurhorst said as a business, “you try to lose as little money as possible.”

Federal relief may help. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has awarded $83 million to help Maine’s public transportation systems respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This funding was provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Zurhorst said the funding is intended to keep transit running during the pandemic, through Western Transportation is still learning what that means.

The schedule change last week follows adjustments made last month to the Brunswick Explorer in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Brunswick Explorer began running a single bus instead of two but increased hours of service.






Comments are not available on this story.