Naples to Portland: Rural bus starts up

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — It is common knowledge that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

But, for the next five-plus weeks, free bus rides will be offered in the Lake Region.

The Regional Transportation Program (RTP) has announced a start date for its 22-passenger bus that will serve some of the towns west of Portland. On Nov. 25, the bus will start running between Naples and Portland with stops in Casco, Raymond and Windham.

In addition to an official start date this month, RTP will be providing rides free of charge through the remainder of 2013.

According to Daniel Goodman, RTP Customer and Community Relations Coordinator, riders will be charged $3 on Jan. 1, 2014. The $3 fare will pay for a one-way ride, and includes a bus transfer, he said.

“We are going to run the first week or two as a soft run,” Goodman said.

This transition time will allow RTP to get into the swing of operating smoothly, he said.

In fact, RTP has been contacting the people who responded to an online survey conducted during the summer. RTP has also been reaching out to municipalities to spread the word that the bus is finally on the road, he said.

Bus stops have been identified in each town. The service starts at 6 a.m. in the parking lot of the American Legion Post No. 155 in Naples; goes to Bailey’s Drop-Off Center in Casco; travels to Sunset Variety in Raymond; and ends up at the Windham Mall at the double glass doors that lead to Smitty’s Cinema. The last bus run will travel in the opposite direction — from Portland to Naples — leaving Portland at 7:20 p.m., and ending in Naples at 8:30 p.m., according to a copy of the bus schedule.

“I hope that, if time allows, you have a chance to ride the bus,” Goodman said.

For more information or for a copy of the bus schedule, go to www.rtprides.org

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