A Brunswick Explorer bus. Town officials are working with the DOT to look at surrounding public transportation and possibly re-design the route to add more stops, particularly to Brunswick Landing. Photo courtesy of the Brunswick Explorer

BRUNSWICK — Riders, both existing and potential, of Brunswick’s Explorer bus route said they want to see expanded service to Brunswick Landing and Maplewood Manor when the route is redesigned in an ongoing project.

Brunswick councilors approved a $100,000 Maine Department of Transportation transit study in February to explore ways to better link the town’s existing public transportation services (the Explorer, Metro BREEZ, Bath City Bus, Amtrak Downeaster, Concord Coach and Greyhound) and increase service to growing and underserved areas of town.

Project consultants proposed three alternatives to riders. According to Jill Cahoon, project manager and associate vice president of AECOM, about 43% of the 131 survey respondents said they want the first alternative route option, which would serve Brunswick Landing on every trip and provide service to Pegasus Landing, Coastal Shores Assisted Living, Coastal Landing and destinations on Neptune Drive.

Currently, the 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. bus service’s only Landing stops are Southern Maine Community College, the corner of Burbank and Orion, the YMCA and the Brunswick Naval Aviation Museum. The scheduled stops only run at 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and the YMCA and museum are by request or flag only.

Michael Ahillen, project manager at Fitzgerald and Halliday Inc., said there was also clear interest in extending the hours the bus runs and adding a service extension to Maplewood Manor, a mobile home park. However, those options would necessitate slightly less frequent service overall.

“The more areas you serve, the less frequent the service is going to be,” said Ahillen. “Of course this changes if additional funding becomes available, but if we’re maintaining that cost-neutral service, then certain trade-offs need to be made. We’re trying to work among all these competing interests to find a solution that works best.”


It’s still too early to say what price tag a non “cost neutral” option might carry, Town Engineer Ryan Barnes told The Times Record, and the issue will have to go before the town council before anything is decided.

The council initially authorized the $98,180 transit study in response to rapid growth at Brunswick Landing due to continued business and housing development as well as the arrival of dozens of asylum seekers from Africa the previous summer.

The town is responsible for about $20,000 of the funding and will pay for it with transportation tax increment finance (TIF) funding.

TIFs are a common financing tool used by municipalities that funnel any increased tax revenue in a defined district toward specific purposes like infrastructure developments that will help spur economic development without increasing property taxes across the board.

Ahillen said he was encouraged to see that under 5% of survey respondents said they want to keep the existing bus route, which he said is uncommon in transit studies.

“When you propose changing the routing, there is often a lot of community pushback on that,” he said. “What we’re seeing is riders, both existing and potential, are interested in seeing change. We’re excited to see there’s some real promise here.”

A report is anticipated by the end of December, with improvements eyed for the first quarter of 2021, according to a Maine DOT representative.

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