Friday, January 22, 2021

Late-evening runs of Lakes Region Explorer temporarily halted

By Ed Pierce

The Regional Transportation Program has announced a temporary suspension of late evening runs of the Lakes Region Explorer bus service because of low ridership.

The Lakes Region Explorer bus that typically leaves Bridgton at 7:10 p.m. and the bus that leaves Portland at 8:40 p.m. were temporarily halted in December. The Lakes Region Explorer provides service along Route 302 from Bridgton to Portland, with stops along the way in Naples, Casco, Raymond, Windham, and Westbrook and is operated by the Regional Transportation Program

Low ridership has forced the Regional
Transportation Program to temporarily suspend 
late-evening runs of the Lakes Region Explorer
bus service between Bridgton and Portland. All
other regularly scheduled runs of the Lakes
Region Explorer will continue as usual.
Regular routes and service for the Lakes Region Explorer was curtailed last March because of the pandemic but was reinstated in May.

According to Jack De Beradinis, the executive director of the Regional Transportation Program, prior to the pandemic, the Lakes Region Explorer was providing about 10,500 trips annually.

“The first run leaving Bridgton at 6 a.m. and the return trip leaving Portland at 5:30 p.m. have been the runs most used,” he said.   

The overall bus capacity for the Lakes Region Explorer is 24 ambulatory seats and placements for two wheelchairs, but because of preventative social distancing as a result of the pandemic, the number of passengers has been limited.

“We are restricting ridership between six to 10 riders at one time in order to maintain the minimum 6-foot distance,” De Beradinis said. “In the summer we usually transport more than 15 riders at one time on these two runs.”

A posting on the RTP website indicated that the late evening suspension of Lakes Region Explorer runs will be resumed once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted and ridership returns to its usual demand levels.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” the posting reads. “As always, we wish you all to stay safe and healthy!”

ADA transportation for those with disabilities offered by RTP in the Lakes Region has continued since travel restrictions were imposed by the state in March.

“The demand has been very limited, and we use taxis to transport these riders unless an RTP van is required,” De Beradinis said.

The fare for the Lakes Region Explorer for a one-way trip is $3 with discounts for monthly passes, seniors and students. Those who cannot afford the fare can ride free of charge.

Established in 1976, RTP was formed by combining the transportation services provided by the Portland Chapter of the American Red Cross, York-Cumberland Senior Services and the Social Services of the Greater Portland Transit District.

RTP is a United Way agency providing low-cost transportation to the elderly, social service agency clients, economically disadvantaged individuals and persons with disabilities throughout Cumberland County and serves a total of 27 communities. <

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