Big changes are here for the Greater Portland Metro bus system: On Monday, it's launching two new routes. One, called the Husky Line, will replace and expand what used to be a private service that shuttled University of Southern Maine students between its Portland and Gorham campuses.
Metro General Manager Greg Jordan says the Husky, named for the U-S-M mascot, will be open to all riders.
"In addition to serving the transportation needs of the university, it's going to provide better service, effectively 15-minute-frequency service between Westbrook and Portland and visa-versa," Jordan says. "It's also introducing new service to the town of Gorham."
Another new line will run from the Riverton neighborhood of Portland, through Westbrook, to the Maine Mall. In addition, Jordan says Metro is making some smaller changes to routes and schedules, adding more bus shelters, and introducing some new buses, equipped with WiFi service.
Jordan says federal funding will help pay for the first three years of service, and he believes Metro will be able to cover the cost of these routes for the long-term.
"As that funding goes away, the CMAQ money goes away, we also have other federal funding coming in to replace a portion of it," he says. "So, we'll replace a portion of it with other federal funding, other local funding, fare revenue rises as the service becomes more popular, and we believe we will be perfectly sustainable going into the future."