One of the three new buses Mountain Explorer is now operating in the Bethel-Newry area. Western Maine Transportation Services photo

People driving in or near Bethel these days are likely to notice three new Mountain Explorer buses on the road.

Operated by Western Maine Transportation Services, Mountain Explorer provides free, local transportation for residents and winter visitors.

The bus service is supported by the towns of Bethel and Newry, the Federal Transit Administration, the Maine Department of Transportation, Sunday River, Gould Academy, The Bethel Inn Resort, local businesses, associations and other sponsors.

The 2019 Champion Defender buses, which replace Mountain Explorer’s older fleet, were bought with funding from the Volkswagen Clean Air Act Civil Settlement Fund, through the state DOT and the Federal Transit Administration.

The new buses, built on Ford F-550 chassis and powered by clean diesel engines, are decorated with a new graphics package that will go on all vehicles operated by Western Maine Transportation Services.

“We’re very appreciative of MDOT’s help and partnership with this,” said Craig Zurhorst, community relations director for WMTS. “We’d also like to thank all of our sponsors and we are looking forward to the best season ever. These new buses are going to be great for the area.”

One of the new Mountain Explorer buses was driven up Main Street in Bethel earlier this month during the town’s “Light Up Main Street” parade. Santa and Mrs. Claus, along with some WMTS employees, rode the bus during the parade.

Mountain Explorer officials said they expected to have the three new buses in full service by Thursday.

They said once the bus schedule is set, it can be found at www.mountainexplorer.org.

WMTS is looking for more full-time or part-time bus drivers. Those interested must have a commercial driver’s license. If interested, call Tracy Taylor at 207-333-6972, or see www.wmtsbus.org for an application.

The Mountain Explorer was founded in 2000 to provide safe, free, environmentally friendly transportation for residents and winter visitors, whether users are shopping, running errands, heading to appointments, going out for dinner or skiing at Sunday River in Newry.


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