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Business and Economy

Maine's Public Transit Systems Gear Up To Restore Services As State Continues To Reopen

Irwin Gratz
Maine Public
A Metro bus, seen Aug. 27, 2018.

As Maine reopens, there are more places for residents to go - and now more ways for them to get there. In southern Maine, the Greater Portland Metro Bus service is returning to regular weekday service on several of its routes, while other transportation companies also gear up to restore services.Metro saw a 75 percent drop in ridership in May, compared with May of 2019.  General Manager Greg Jordan said that had narrowed to a 63 percent decline in June. 

"Still a pretty dramatic decrease," said Jordan, but similar to what airlines, trains - indeed all forms of public transit - have seen.  Still, Jordan said, "We're gratified to see ridership slowly beginning to come back."

For now, riding Metro buses is fare free. That policy is also being followed by South Portland Bus Service and the Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach buses. The absence of fares allows riders to board buses using the rear door away from drivers. 

The Community Connector bus service in Bangor and nearby towns has resumed fare collection. But on Community Connector, as on the other bus services, riders must now wear face coverings.

Other public transportation services are returning as well. In the Lewiston-Auburn area, CityLink restored service on its Pettingill Park Route. And in northern Maine, Cyr Bus Lines has restored once-a-day service between Caribou and Bangor. The buses leave Caribou at 7 in the morning, and return from the Concord Coach lines terminal in Bangor.

Concord Coach service remains suspended. On its website, the company says it is "modifying our fleet of motorcoaches, updating our terminals, expanding our cleaning procedures, and adapting our travel and ticketing policies" for riders' safety and peace of mind.