ME: A commuter bus service could soon connect Portland and Lewiston-Auburn

Feb. 1, 2024
The Maine Department of Transportation is seeking bidders for a pilot program to provide commuter bus service between the twin cities and Portland.

Jan. 31—A commuter bus service could soon connect Portland and Lewiston- Auburn.

The Maine Department of Transportation is seeking bidders for a pilot program to provide commuter bus service between the twin cities and Portland.

The pilot program would run for at least two years, with the goal to start by this summer.

If successful, it would indicate whether there is strong demand for such a service between the two urban hubs, according to the Department of Transportation.

The frequency of the commuter bus would mirror that envisioned by advocates of expanding passenger rail service in Maine.

State Sens. Joe Baldacci, D- Bangor, and Margaret Rotundo, D- Lewiston, are continuing to push for expanding rail service from Portland to Bangor, with other potential stops in Lewiston and Waterville.

Supporters envision that passenger rail expansion building off Amtrak's Downeaster, which serves Brunswick, Freeport, Portland, Old Orchard Beach, Saco and Wells.

The Department of Transportation has opposed expanding passenger rail service into central and eastern Maine, with Nate Moulton, director of the department's freight and passenger services office, telling lawmakers last April that the interstate between Portland and Bangor is "uncongested, predictable, have traffic speeds of up to 70 mph and provide for efficient travel times for personal vehicles and existing bus services in the corridor."

Expanding passenger rail service could cost an estimated $375 million to $902 million, according to the Department of Transportation.

The proposed commuter bus would include stops at Bates College and the Oak Street Bus Station in Lewiston, the Auburn Transportation Center and the exit 75 park and ride in Auburn, and Monument Square in Portland and the Portland Transportation Center.

That service would run 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends. The department said that bidders can propose variations on the recommended route, stops and schedule.

The Department of Transportation released a study on the proposed commuter bus in September 2023.

___

(c)2024 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

Visit the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine) at www.bangordailynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.