Background and History

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METRO operates a fixed-route bus service in the communities of
Portland, Westbrook and Falmouth with connections to local and regional transit systems.

Click here: Background on METRO and member communities. History and additional information.
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 METRO-logo-with-web---phone
  Providing safe, frequent, efficient, reliable and affordable transportation
  throughout the Greater Portland Region.

 

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History of Public Transportation in the Greater Portland area

1860
Portland and Forest Avenue Railroad Co. began operation of horse car lines.

1865
Name changed to Portland Railroad Co.
1890
Was largest in state of the horse railroads operating 54 cars, employing 115 persons, owning 265 horses and carrying 2,728,935 passengers over 13.81 miles of lines.
1891
Electric street cars were introduced.
1892
Portland and Westbrook line began.
1895
Portland and Cape Elizabeth street railroad began.
1896
Riverton Park opened - Willard Beach casino opened.
1898
Willard Beach casino burned. Cape Cottage casino built.
1902
Company shop and car house built on St. John Street.
1912
Cumberland County Power and Light took over operation with a 99 year lease.
1918 
Company was operating 106 closed passenger cars and 100 open cars. (nicknamed Hayracks or Breezers) 106 miles of track.
1932
Old Orchard line ceased to operate electric street cars.
1933
Interurban and Yarmouth lines ceased to operate electric street cars.
1939
Spring Street and East Deering lines ceased to operate electric street cars.
1939
Cumberland County Power and Light purchased buses because the street car system could no longer operate efficiently. The convenience of automobiles and more and better paved highways had already captured the imagination of the American public. Electric Railways could no longer turn a profit and many lines were abandoned.
1940
South Portland ceased to operate electric street cars.
1941
Portland ceased to operate electric street cars.
1942
Central Maine Power Company assumed CCP&L 99 year lease. World War II created ridership of 52,000/day.
1944
CMP divested itself of the 88 bus system. Portland Coach Company assumed operation.
1966
Greater Portland Transit District formed.
1969
Greater Portland Transportation Company purchased failing system. District purchased land and buildings at St. John Street and leased them to operator for $1/year.
1973
District took over operation of the system by purchasing equipment from last private operator.
1974
District purchased 18 new buses.
1976
Adopted the name METRO and purchased 19 additional buses. During this era, the METRO had 130 employees, 78 of whom were bus operators, operated 18 routes in Portland, Westbrook, South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and Yarmouth and provided school transportation to Portland and South Portland school systems with 68 buses at peak service.
1978
Cape Elizabeth withdrew from the District.
District ceased operations to Yarmouth.
1983
South Portland withdrew from the District.
1984
New facility completed at St. John Street.
1985
Portland School Department assumes responsibility for pupil transportation. District reduced to 23 buses with 17 operating on peak service.
 
1988
Purchased 4 - 40’ Flxible handicapped-accessible buses.
1990
Purchased 17 - 35’ Flxible handicapped-accessible buses.
1995
METRO takes delivery of two battery powered electric buses for commuter shuttle service.
2004
METRO begins service to Falmouth.
2006
Natural gas fueling station was constructed. Thirteen compressed natural gas buses were purchased and officially added to fleet on May 1, 2006.
 
2007
An updated METRO Downtown Transportation Center (METRO PULSE), with public rest rooms and additional seating, opens at the Elm Street Garage on June 13, 2007.
2009
The Town of Falmouth officially joined Greater Portland Transit District METRO on April 3, 2009.
METRO extended service in Falmouth on May 11, 2009 to include Johnson Road, Route 88 and Depot Road. A community celebration was held May 14, 2009.
2011
In May, METRO and South Portland Bus Service introduced a Regional Monthly Bus Pass, sold for $45, for travel on both systems.

METRO received seven clean diesel Gillig buses. Funding for the seven new buses came from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with additional funds provided by MDOT.

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This timeline is based on historical files at Greater Portland Transit District. Questions or comments regarding above information can be directed to METRO staff contacts.
Saturday the 19th. 114 Valley Street Portland, ME 04102 (207) 774-0351
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