The inaugural ride of the new Husky Line — Greater Portland METRO’s new express bus service between Portland and Gorham — began Aug. 27th with cheers and fanfares.
The service gives all USM students, faculty and staff unlimited use of all METRO lines, particularly the inter-campus connection that now runs every half hour on weekdays.
The Husky Line exists due to cooperation among leaders from METRO, USM and the cities of Portland, Westbrook and Gorham, USM President Glenn Cummings said.
“It is about USM’s standing and growing commitment to be deeply embedded in our community and our region. We want to be a positive player in providing a good workforce, in providing good ethics, in providing good guidance and in providing a good partnership,” Cummings said. “For us, this is the embodiment of exactly that obligation and principal from our students, from our faculty and from our staff.”
Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree helped celebrate the opening. She praised the cooperation, the environmentally friendly buses powered by compressed natural gas and the likelihood that the buses will encourage some people to leave their vehicles at home.
“Anything that gets traffic off the road and makes traveling a little easier is a benefit to everyone,” Rep. Pingree said.
She also peeked inside the buses, calling them “beautiful.”
The new buses, each decorated on the side with giant Husky images, are larger than the standard METRO buses. They seat 40 people and include space for three bikes. The buses also feature Wi-Fi and in-seat USB charging ports. Overall, the passenger area appears bright with colored seats and stainless steel frames and stanchions.
All students, faculty and staff may use their USM Campus ID Card to board any METRO bus.
METRO officials warn that the new service will be working to make improvements as the fall semester begins.
“Since this is a new service with a new schedule and more transport options, there will be a breaking in period for both METRO and passengers,” said METRO General Manager Greg Jordan. "USM and METRO advises patience to users of the Husky Line during the first two weeks of service. METRO will be closely monitoring ridership patterns, operations and customer concerns to ensure the Husky Line hits its stride as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
For more information on the buses, their schedule and pick-up and drop-off locations, go to the METRO Husky Line website.