MAINE, USA — Greater Portland Metro, Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit (BSOOB), South Portland Bus Service, and the Regional Transportation Program (RTP) will suspend all fare indefinitely beginning Friday, March 20.
The Metro, BSOOB, and RTP will also be reducing service. Here's what Metro said about the reductions in a press release:
• All METRO routes will operate a “Saturday” schedule on Weekdays (Monday-Friday). Service on Saturdays and Sundays will operate according to regular schedules for those days. METRO’s Transit Center at Elm Street and Congress Street (“the Pulse”) and office at 114 Valley Street will be closed to the public.
• All Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach local routes and Portland Intercity connector will run Monday through Saturday and end at 6:30pm. There will be no service on Sundays. Zoom Turnpike Express service to Portland’s peninsula will remain unchanged. Saco Transportation Center will be closed to the public until further notice.
• South Portland Bus Service will initially maintain regular weekday bus service provided there are sufficient drivers to operate the service.
• Regional Transportation Program (RTP) is currently operating its demand/response service at a substantially reduced level.
When it comes to the fare reductions, Metro said the following:
This move makes service free for all riders and is being taken to eliminate the cross-handling of cash and paper media between bus operators and riders and maximize social distancing. Fares may be reinstated at any time as conditions warrant, so passengers are advised to routinely check agency web sites for updated information.
Transit agencies strongly encourage riders to use public transit only when absolutely necessary.
“The region’s public transit agencies are working very hard to maintain transit service so people can travel for the most critical needs including grocery shopping, pharmacy visits, non-emergency medical needs, critical job access, and to assist family members.” METRO General Manager Greg Jordan said. “We are asking riders to help Maine and the country slow the spread of COVID-19, and avoid using public transit when sick and for unnecessary trips.”
METRO, BSOOB Transit and the City of South Portland are indefinitely delaying implementation of the planned April 1 fare increase and activation of the new Automated Fare Payment System. The system features contactless payment options that allow passengers to pay with a tap of their smartcard or scan of their smartphone and a new e-discounting method called “farecapping.” A new implementation date is not determined, but the delay of the new fare system will allow time for the community outreach needed to effectively educate our riders on how to use the new mobile app and smartcards for the new system.