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June 12, 2024

Utah company wins $2.8M contract for L-A, Portland bus service

concord coach bus in parking lot File Photo / William Hall After June 30, Concord Coach Lines will no longer stop in Lewiston or Auburn.

Seven years after Concord Coach Lines brought its intercity bus service to Lewiston and Auburn, the company is pulling out — and a new transit provider will soon be plying the roads instead.

Concord Coach, which dates to 1967 and is based in Concord, N.H., launched service to Portland in 1992 and introduced several Lewiston-Auburn stops in 2017. Buses connect those three cities as well as Augusta, Waterville and Bangor, and run express between Maine and Boston.

However, the bus line will make its last stops in L-A on June 30, according to a recent news release.

"This change affects all operations from Bates College, the Great Falls Transportation Center, and the Park and Ride Lot at Exit 75," the motorcoach operator said. "We understand this may cause inconvenience and thank you for your understanding as we transition."

Under a $2.8 million contract, a Utah company has been tapped by the state to fill part of the gap.

Starting in early July, Salt Lake City-based RTW Management Inc. will provide commuter bus service between L-A and Portland on a two-year pilot basis.

The Maine Department of Transportation sought bidders for the project in January, after spending much of 2023 gathering input from residents, businesses and other stakeholders about where and when the buses would travel. The MDOT said they will offer service comparable to a proposed rail link between the two metro areas, an idea that has been floated for several years.

According to Concord Coach, the MDOT service was not the reason for the company's decision to pass by Lewiston and Auburn.

In a news release Tuesday, MDOT said, "This pilot bus service will serve as an indicator of the latent demand and potential market for enhanced public transportation between the Portland and Lewiston-Auburn regions ... While the focus is on workforce transportation, the service will be open for all trip purposes."

Under the new contract, RTW buses will stop at Bates College, the Oak Street Bus Station in Lewiston, the Auburn Transportation Center, the Maine Turnpike Exit 75 Park and Ride in Auburn, Monument Square in Portland and the Portland Transportation Center. Service will include several runs throughout the day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends.

The DOT said it will work with the contractor to adjust the route, schedule and stops as needed.

Currently, Concord Coach makes four southbound stops a day in the L-A region and three on northbound trips.

It's not yet clear if the new service will dovetail with other current Concord Coach service. The carrier has said it will continue to serve Bangor, Augusta, Waterville and Portland, making nonstop runs between the Portland Transportation Center and Boston.

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