Metro pauses proposal to eliminate Route 8 and create a Portland Peninsula Circulator. Regional transit operators perform a geographically broader study.
By Tony Zeli
Greater Portland Metro hit pause on its efforts to revamp bus routes on the Portland peninsula. The proposal to eliminate Route 8 and create a peninsula circulator route will be shelved and rethought. Metro will further study and integrate bus route changes into a region-wide bus system redesign effort that begins this month.
“We’ve heard many of our riders living on the peninsula tell us how important it is to maintain door-to-door services for people with mobility challenges,” said Greater Portland Metro Executive Director Greg Jordan.
“To best meet those needs and build a better overall transit system that attracts new riders, we know we’ll achieve better outcomes if we opt for a regional approach,” said Jordan.
Regional transit study begins
Beginning in May, Metro will work with the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) to study a region-wide network redesign.
The Transit Together study, as it is called, will look at not only bus routes operated by Metro in Portland, but also South Portland Bus Service, Biddeford-Saco-Old Orchard Beach Transit, Regional Transportation Program, and York County Community Action Agency. The study will lead to recommended route changes.
The study will also examine the administrative and organizational functions of the region’s transit agencies. And it will explore new “micro-transit” services, which could provide on-demand service for riders in low-density or low-ridership areas. This could be the method Metro uses to address the need for door-to-door service at locations like 75 and 100 State Street.
First set of proposed bus route changes shelved
In 2019, Greater Portland Metro began evaluating potential changes to bus routes on the peninsula, with the goal of creating a bi-directional circulator route. Metro proposed adjusting several other bus routes, including eliminating Route 8.
Metro released its first set of route change proposals last December. Some current riders expressed concern that the proposed circulator route would affect older adults and people with disabilities by adding walking distance in several areas of the peninsula.
Metro planned to make adjustments before finalizing the proposed routes this spring. Route changes would have gone into effect in late 2022. The bus agency will now incorporate those next steps into the Transit Together study. Metro expects to complete the study in late 2022.