METRO drops Freeport library stop, eyes service to Brunswick

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FREEPORT — The METRO express bus route that launches next month between Portland and Freeport could be extended to Brunswick next year.

The three-year pilot program, which will start June 16, was discussed Monday night by the Greater Portland Transit District at the Freeport Community Library.

Meetings about the service have also been held in Yarmouth, Falmouth and Portland over the past week. Almost 20 people attended the meeting in Freeport.

The express service will initially run from Portland to Freeport, with stops in Falmouth and Yarmouth. There will be nine trips each weekday and five on Saturdays. The service will only stop in Falmouth three times each day.

But the bus will not stop, as originally planned, at the Freeport library.

METRO General Manager Greg Jordan said Brunswick may be added to the service by next summer, with discussions taking place over the next year. METRO had extended the offer to Brunswick in 2014, but the Town Council and Town Manager had concerns about the cost.

The Freeport Town Council approved its portion of the agreement in October. The service will stop in three Freeport locations: L.L. Bean corporate headquarters on Casco Street, Town Hall, and on Main Street in front of the L.L. Bean flagship store.

A fourth stop was planned for the Freeport Community Library, but some residents objected because of safety concerns involving school children.

Jordan said removal of the stop wasn’t a problem, because it had only been added so the bus could easily turn around.

Now, after the bus stops at the L.L. Bean flagship store, it will turn around by taking a left turn onto Justins Way, a right onto Snow Road, a right onto Elm Street, and then a right back onto Main Street.

A round-trip ticket between Portland and Freeport will cost $6. There will also be 10-ride passes and monthly passes, which Jordan said will be available for purchase at town halls, libraries and at METRO’s Portland office.

METRO is creating a real-time bus tracker through Southern Maine Transit Tracker for all its services. He said riders will be able to track buses online, via text message, and on an app.

Jordan said METRO purchased three buses for the express service; two will be the primary vehicles and the third will be a backup. The buses are wheelchair accessible, can hold 19 passengers, and will have Wi-Fi.

The working name of the service for now is Portland North Bus Service; Jordan said an official name will be revealed soon.

METRO is in the process of installing 29 new bus shelters in Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth. No shelters are being planned in Yarmouth and Freeport, but Jordan said discussions will be held over the next year. Officials from both towns have said they will not allow advertising on shelters.

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

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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.
  • Chew H Bird

    Now we should figure out how to rid ourselves of the Amtrak money pit and replace it with a more environmentally friendly (based on ridership), and lower cost bus solution.