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Southern Maine transit providers hope cutting fares will increase ridership

A Greater Portland METRO bus pulls up to Prides Corner in Westbrook, May 16, 2018.
Troy R. Bennett
/
Bangor Daily News
A Greater Portland METRO bus pulls up to Prides Corner in Westbrook, May 16, 2018.

Transportation agencies in southern Maine say they will cut fares as a way to try to attract new riders.

Public bus fares in Portland, South Portland, and Saco-Biddeford will be cut in half starting on March 1 and continuing through September.

Chad Heid is the executive director of Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit.

He says the goal is to bring in new and former bus passengers, as ridership is still down by nearly 30% from what it was before the pandemic.

"And we think that will go a long way in encouraging those to return, who might have been hesitant, based on the changes that have occurred since COVID. As well as those who are experiencing pain at the gas pump, seeing what diesel and unleaded costs today," Heid said.

The effort is being paid for with federal COVID relief funds, which Heid says are also supporting frequency enhancements and improvements to bus stops across the region.