So far, the new grant funded bus route is lacking passengers. Courtesy photo

In a highly car-dependent state, the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce is helping create more transportation options with a new bus line — but so far, riders have been few and far between.

The Go Kennebunks/Sanford/Biddeford Ridership Program was launched on July 9 and runs between Biddeford and Sanford through Kennebunk, and then back in the opposite direction. It is both a ridership program that partners with businesses to provide free transportation to employees and a public bus that can be used by all Mainers for a small fee.

The new bus line is thanks to a nearly half a million dollar award to the Chamber of Commerce from the Maine Department of Transportation as part of its Workforce Transportation Pilot Program. The grant is part of a the much larger Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, a state policy enacted in 2021 to invest nearly $1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan money in Maine communities.

The route is operated by Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit, and is line number 71. The schedule and route stops can be viewed at

The new bus route, which was launched with the hope of fostering employment opportunities in the Kennebunks, is still working to build its ridership, said Laura Dolce, executive director of the Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce.

Local businesses and staff from BSOOB and RideMaine attended a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the ridership program on July 12. Courtesy photo

“Our whole purpose was to try to push into Sanford as an alternative source of employees for the businesses in the Kennebunks,” Dolce said. “What (employers) were discovering is that they had great opportunities and some really good hires to potentially make in Sanford but that transportation was a challenge.”


Unfortunately, due to the timeline of securing the grant and getting the program up and running, many employers in the Kennebunks had already hired up for the 2023 hospitality season by the time job seekers in Sanford could have taken advantage of the new route.

Hospitality businesses tend to do their hiring in March, Dolce said, and in early spring the Chamber of Commerce was still waiting on the state to give the program the go ahead.

“There was, at that time (in March), no public transportation. So they hired where they could hire, (taking on people who do not live in Sanford) who could get there,” Dolce said.

The new bus line offers a ridership program to participating businesses that allows their employees to ride for free for two years. Employees who benefit from the program are also eligible to ride any Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit bus line for free, not just route 71.

To participate, partners give a certain amount of money to the ridership program, some matching with hundreds of dollars, others giving thousands. However, only two participating businesses so far have seen their employees take advantage of the program.

Dolce said she’s hoping that will change, and partner businesses will begin to aggressively market this bus option to their employees. She also hopes businesses that hire up during hospitality season will rely on the new bus route next year. She did acknowledge one additional challenge for the program: It does not provide direct service to Kennebunkport. One of the program’s partners, RideMaine, provides a “last mile” ride in a smaller vehicle from the bus line’s Shoppers Village stop to both Lower Village and Kennebunkport.

Courtesy photo

Even so, Dolce said that riders are missing out on a great opportunity.

“The buses themselves are gorgeous. The first day we had two employees from the Nonantum Resort with a bus of their own. They said they felt like queens.”


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