The University of Southern Maine (USM) Student Senate has signed a resolution in support of METRO's expansion of bus services into Gorham and Westbrook, expected to begin this fall.
“Therefore, be it resolved, that the 46th Student Senate … enthusiastically support the partnership between the University and METRO as a way to facilitate student transportation across the Portland metropolitan area in a manner that is inexpensive for students and that will encourage them to venture further outside the Portland and Gorham campuses,” the document reads.
The Greater Portland Transit District ("METRO") partnership with USM to offer an Unlimited Access Transit Pass ("U-Pass") Program to students, faculty and staff was announced this past fall.
The agreement allows for launch of the "Transit West Project" in August of this year, plus a series of public transit improvements in Gorham, Westbrook, Portland and South Portland.
The project includes three major features:
- Husky Line — a limited-stop, higher-speed transit service with a distinct brand, the Husky Line will introduce METRO service to the Town of Gorham, connect the USM Gorham-Portland campuses and increase the level of transit service along the William Clark Drive/Main Street corridor in Westbrook and the Brighton Avenue corridor in Portland.
- Blue Line — Another new bus route directly connecting northwest Portland and Westbrook with the Maine Mall area of South Portland.
- USM U-Pass Program — METRO and USM have reached an agreement to provide an unlimited access transit pass program (U-Pass) for the approximately 8,000 students enrolled at USM. Like METRO's successful partnership with Portland Public Schools, the U-Pass program will provide USM students unlimited access to METRO's transit system. The U-Pass program not only provides students access to the Husky Line and travel between the two campuses, but also allows on- and off-campus students access to METRO's entire transit network for all trip purposes.
METRO and USM anticipate the U-Pass program will advance the following goals:
- Improve student and employee mobility and access to classes, jobs and recreation.
- Lower household cost of transportation.
- Reduce traffic congestion, carbon footprint and improve air quality.
- Improve connectivity between the USM Gorham and Portland campuses.
- Contain costs and reduce need for additional on-campus parking, allowing for better uses.
USM President Glenn Cummings applauded the agreement at a press conference in August.
"From USM's point of view, this is an absolute triple win," Cummings said. "This means better service, financial savings and environmental improvement. You can't get much better than that."
METRO is Maine's largest public transit agency and provides more than 1.8 million boarding per year throughout the communities of Falmouth, Freeport, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Yarmouth and Brunswick