If last Thursday’s first run is any indication, a lot of people will be coming from Portland to Freeport in the morning and at mid-day on Portland Metro’s new express passenger bus service.

That became apparent at Portland’s Monument Square, where people climbed aboard the northbound Metro Breez bus, which seats 17 and also can accommodate people in wheelchairs. It was standing-room-only for the approximately half-hour trip to Freeport, which ends at L.L. Bean. Only one of those 17 passengers got off before Bean stop.

The bus stops at Yarmouth and Falmouth in between.

“The northbound bus will fill in in the morning, the opposite in the afternoon,” said Seth Page, who trains drivers, dispatches and helps with scheduling for Portland Metro.

Kate MacDonald of Falmouth, a young woman who doesn’t drive, said she will probably ride the Metro Breez into Freeport twice weekly.

“I like to go shopping there, and a $3 fare is cheap,” said MacDonald, who works in Cumberland Foreside. “The Freeport bus will create more opportunities for locals. I do love Freeport. It’s a lot of fun.”

Portland Metro on Thursday was rolling out its new service on National Dump the Pump Day, a nationwide public awareness day encouraging people to change their travel behavior and switch from driving to riding a bus or train. The first southbound trip from L.L. Bean to Portland was at 11:30 a.m.

Freeport artist Sebastian Meade, who served on a task force that also included Portland Metro and municipal officials, also plans to be a regular on Metro Breez. Meade, who does not drive due to health restrictions, has various reasons to be in Portland. The task force worked to  fine-tune the details for the arrival of the new service, such as bus style, stops and scheduling.

“I don’t drive, so it’s a great addition for me,” Meade said. “I will take the bus often for business purposes. I make pins for business and nonprofits. My destinations will vary. I’ll go to the Portland art shows and museums. I will put it to good use.”

Meade said that, in talking with people in his capacity with the task force, he expects some professionals – doctors and lawyers – to ride Metro Breez to Portland.

“I talked to a lot of people,” he said. “They don’t want to park in Portland, pay the price to park or deal with the traffic in Portland. And there are environmental reasons. It’s a wide variety of people.”

Ethan Jones of Bath parked his car in Freeport, and headed down on the bus to shop in Portland. Jones said he might take the bus twice a month.

The National Dump the Pump Day festivities began outside Freeport Town Hall at 8:45 a.m. On a gorgeous June morning, there were refreshments, classical music from Freeport trio Shaina’s Strings, consisting of Shaina Graff and sisters Louise and Fiona Ahearne, and speechmaking. Portland Metro and town officials then made a celebratory trip to Yarmouth, where a similar kick-off event was held at the Town Hall, at 10.

In September 2014, the Freeport Town Council approved spending up to $90,000 for a three-year trial of the Portland Metro service from Freeport to Portland, with stops in Yarmouth and Falmouth. The service was to start up last summer, but alterations to the buses and schedule slowed down the process.

”What a beautiful day in Freeport,” said Ed Suslovic, president of the Portland Metro board. “Welcome to this event that so many people have been working on for such a long, long time.”

Melanie Sachs, chairwoman of the Freeport Town Council, echoed that sentiment.

“Thank you to everyone who is here today who brought this project forward over many, many monthsw,” Sachs said.

Portland Metro’s three new Metro Breeze buses were lined up outside Freeport Town Hall for a kick-off event last Thursday morning.

Sande Updegraph, former executive director of the Greater Freeport Chamber of Commerce and a stalwart volunteer, does her thing last Thursday morning, setting up a table outside the Town Hall for a Metro Breez kick-off event.

Freeport-based Shaina’s Strings entertained with classical music last Thursday mornig during a Portland Metro Breez kick-off event at the Town Hall. From left are Shaina Graff, Louise Ahearne and Fiona Ahearne.

Melanie Sachs, chairwoman of the Freeport Board of Selectmen, speaks last Thursday morning during a kick-off day for the new passenger bus service from Freeport to Portaland, called “Metro Breez.”

 

A sign with information on the Metro Breez passenger bus service stands outside the last northbound stop, L.L. Bean in Freeport.

It was standing-room only for the crowd that boarded the Metro Breez bus bound for Falmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport early Thursday afternoon in Portland’s Monument Square.

A closer look:

Metro Breez, Portand Metro’s express passenger bus service to and from Freeport, Yarmouth, Falmouth and Portland, makes nine runs on weekdays, five on Saturdays. Fares are $3, with special $1.50 fees for seniors and people who are handicapped. Freeport stops are in front of L.L. Bean, outside the Town Hall and at the “park ‘n ride” on Casco Street. For route maps and additional information, go to www.gpmetrobus.com or call 774-0351.