BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick Town Council is considering a plan to extend a Portland-to-Freeport bus service to Brunswick.

Metro’s BREEZ bus service started this year and runs an express bus route between Portland and Freeport with stops in Falmouth and Yarmouth. In the first year, the Freeport service is projected to see around 30,000 riders, adding to the 30-year-high 1.8 million passengers carried by Metro buses in 2016, according to Executive Director Greg Jordan.

“Transit is exploding nationally. Many people are moving back to downtowns, and want to live in areas where they can live, work, and play in the same areas,” Jordan said at a regular council meeting Dec. 5.

The service, if pursued, would cost roughly $28,000 in the first year, $45,000 in the second, and between $60,000 and $75,000 in the third. It would include 10 trips every weekday. The intent is to have the bus serve as an express service for commuters or people interested in simply getting to Portland – or vice versa – to shop or explore.

“With a service like this it is important to make the speed, not necessarily paramount, but it is very important,” said Jordan. Current projected travel times are roughly one hour. However, there is potential for different routing options to allow for faster commute times.

The council was excited by the opportunity to have additional transit options, but was interested in making sure the cost was sustainable in the future, and who the potential users of the bus might be.

District 4 Councilor John Perreault was curious as to how funding numbers were significantly lower than those he has seen in the past.

The reduction in cost stems from unexpected additional grant funding from the state, which would lower the cost overall. Additional savings would come from having all of the communities that support the service pay an equal share, something that is not currently happening.

“The more partners that are involved, as long as we’re all sharing the costs equitably, I think that’s better for everyone,” said Jordan.

Another question was how the service can tie in to the Brunswick Explorer local bus service.

“Would there have been any interest in a model where our Explorer service was improved so that it fed the Freeport station?” asked District 3 Councilor Suzan Wilson.

The model, said Jordan, could be considered but poses issues.

“That could work, certainly for Brunswick residents wanting to get to Freeport,” said Jordan. “For everybody else, you’re forcing a transfer at that point.”

Craig Zurhorst, representing the Explorer, said: “We are very excited about the possibility of BREEZ coming in. We’re confident that there is going to be a way forward to integrate the two.”

If Metro BREEZ is pursued by the council, it could get started as early as June 2017.

Chris Chase can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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