The Husky Line bus that serves University of Southern Maine students will continue to pick up fare riders boarding at Gorham stops after the Town Council agreed 6-1 Tuesday to join Greater Portland Metro.

Gorham public passengers will continue to be able to ride Metro’s Husky Line bus into Portland. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Membership will cost the town $170,000 this year. As part of the Husky Line pilot program that expired this year, Gorham had been paying Metro $35,000 annually so that non-USM passengers could ride the bus.

Metro told the council last month that unless Gorham became a member, the Husky Line would only board passengers at the campus stop, eliminating public stops in town.

“I would hate to see this stop,” Town Councilor Virginia Wilder Cross, who rides on the Husky Line, said Tuesday.

The service is “critical” for some Gorham citizens, said Councilor Lou Simms.

Council Vice Chair Lee Pratt voted against joining Metro, pointing to ridership numbers.


“I think it’s a great service, but I don’t believe the ridership will ever be high enough to offset the funding required,” Pratt said Wednesday. “Hopefully the town can increase the amount of riders who use it to offset our financial burden.”

Excluding USM ridership, 5,325 trips originated in Gorham last year, according to Metro figures.

The bus line runs from the USM Gorham campus through Westbrook into Portland to the campus there and to the Old Port area. USM students and staff ride with passes and Gorham passengers paying fares can board at a stop on Main Street in the village, Libby Avenue at Main Street and campus. The public fare is $2 and $1 for the disabled, veterans and riders over age 65. All Husky Line passengers can transfer to other Metro routes.

The Husky bus began taking public riders in Gorham in a temporary program that began in 2018. Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said Tuesday a trial run for three years turned into five years because of the pandemic.

As a full-fledged member of the Metro system Gorham now will have two seats on the Metro board.

Town Councilor Phil Gagnon, citing a USM shift to a pay-to-park policy on campus, said a parking problem is developing in Gorham Village and said the town needs to seek a designated parking area to provide for Husky riders.

“These are challenges that will have to be addressed, if adopted,” Gagnon said before the vote, adding that he doesn’t want the challenges to be thrown to the wayside.

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