Freeport council OKs pact for METRO bus service

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FREEPORT — The Town Council finalized an agreement with the Greater Portland Transit District for METRO bus service to Portland.

Councilors on Tuesday approved the agreement with the amendment that bus shelters will have no advertising. Also, it was decided that the town will clean the shelters.

METRO’s general rule regarding bus shelter advertisements is if a town or city doesn’t want ads, it must pay the agency $1,000 to cover lost revenue. The money is used to clean and maintain the shelters.

Since the town has chosen to clean the shelters itself, it will only have to pay $750.

Last month, councilors tabled finalizing the agreement because they had questions about the advertising and whether it would fit with the character of the town.

METRO General Manager Glenn Jordan had the contract rewritten to remove the requirement for advertising.

METRO first proposed the bus route, which will also stop in Falmouth and Yarmouth, in June 2014Over the past year, METRO has worked with the towns to modify bus schedules, fees, and stops.

Yarmouth finalized its agreement with METRO on Sept. 17 and decided not to have any advertising on its shelters.

Although METRO originally intended to start running the buses this summer under a three-year pilot program, the start has been pushed back to summer 2016.

Whether Freeport will even have bus shelters is still up to the council, although discussion on Tuesday suggested they support the structures. Jordan said shelters are generally a good idea because of inclement winter weather.

The town and METRO also must officially determine bus stops. There are four under consideration, at or near the Freeport Community Library, at 10 Library Drive; at the L.L. Bean Flagship store on Main Street; the L.L. Bean corporate headquarters, at 15 Casco St., and the Shaw’s shopping complex, at 200 Lower Main St.

Jordan said final decisions on the locations and numbers of stops may not be made until after the pilot program. At that point METRO would have a better sense of which stops are necessary and which ones get less use.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.