SOUTH PORTLAND — After more than five years, the city Bus Service is returning to Knightville.
Route 21 buses will add four stops in the neighborhood starting Sunday, March 4, utilizing the loop formed by Waterman Drive and Ocean Street.
Arthur Handman, the city transportation director, said it is premature to speculate about whether ridership will grow with the expanded service, although the change is being made at the request of neighborhood residents.
Richard Sargent, operations supervisor for the Bus Service, said there was enough time in the schedule to add stops to the route without making adjustments, and no new buses or drivers will be needed to accommodate the expansion.
“We have a nice hometown service,” Sargent said. “We’re always looking to improve and tweak the service.”
The last major change in the bus service was the addition of Sunday service in September 2016.
Handman said the growth of condominiums and businesses in Knightville suggest the Route 21 change should be attractive to riders.
The service stopped running through Knightville more than five years ago, while the city upgraded the neighborhood’s infrastructure and streets. When that project ended, a portion of Ocean Street remained one way, which made bus service impossible. Two-way traffic was restored to the street in May 2016.
Starting Sunday, the Route 21 bus, which also serves Willard Square and Southern Maine Community College, will use Ocean Street and Waterman Drive instead of E Street to travel between downtown Portland and the Mill Creek Transit Hub.
New bus stops inbound to Portland will include Ocean at D Street, Ocean at A Street, Waterman Drive opposite B Street and Waterman at the Water Resource Protection access road.
Stops outbound from Portland will include Waterman Drive at McDonald’s, Waterman at B Street, Ocean at A Street, and Ocean at D Street.
Route 24A and 24B buses will not use Ocean and Waterman. They will continue to travel on E Street and use the inbound stop at Legere Park on E Street.
Besides being more convenient for Knightville residents, the change could have an impact on businesses in the neighborhood that attract customers, and drivers, from Portland.
Foulmouthed Brewery owner Julia Dilger on Wednesday said she was not aware of the expansion, but welcomed it, saying it is a good service for the community and she would be happy to use it more herself.
“I think it would increase business by bringing people to the area,” Dilger said. The brewery is at 15 Ocean St., at the corner of A Street.
City Councilor Kate Lewis said she and her family use the Route 21 bus three to five times a week, to go to work or for social events. Lewis said the bus service has allowed her family to own just one car, and she appreciates the change.
She noted the expansion comes at a time when parking is at a premium in Knightville, and should make the neighborhood more vibrant and healthy without adding too many vehicles.
“It’s a great service and makes the community safer,” Lewis said.
South Portland Bus Service Route 21 buses will provided expanded service in Knightville beginning Sunday, March 4.
A map of changes coming Sunday, March 4, to South Portland Bus Service Route 21 in Knightville.