FARMINGTON — Selectmen took no action Tuesday on a request to add $25,000 to the town’s  infrastructure budget for Western Maine Transportation Services.

“What is spurring this is the continued issues surrounding county funding for Western Maine Transportation Services. We were dropped from county funds,” Community Relations Director Craig Zurhorst said.

The service has gotten through the pandemic by using recovery funds, Zurhorst said, adding he has been advised at money will abruptly be coming to an end.

“We have to find a sustainable way to provide public transit in Franklin County, but more specifically in Farmington, which has the highest use of any town that we (serve),” Zurhorst noted.

There were 6,506 one-way trips in Franklin County from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, not including trips on the Sugarloaf Express or Sugarloaf Explorer, he said. Of those, 4,676 originated in Farmington. Riders 60 and older accounted for 1,288, with another 2,732 rides for those ages 12 to 59, he said.

“There were 197 unique riders we know of,” Zurhorst said. “The Green Line doesn’t take reservations, just does a boarding count. Of those 197, 94 are elderly. About half of the riders are elderly Farmington residents using our services.”


He noted trips identified for specific reasons:

• 360 were for work or education

• 372 were for health care

• 624 were for shopping or other services

The Green Line commuter service provided 475 rides originating in Farmington, Zurhost said.

“What you are looking at is a lot of opportunity, a lot of well-being, a lot of economics all crammed into our buses,” he stated.


WMTS has one regular bus on the road in Farmington, Zurhorst said. The service suffers from a lack of drivers and a lack of buses, but what is available is safe due to mechanics doing “wonderful work,” he noted. “There is a lot of need here in Farmington,” he added.

WMTS is infrastructure, not a human or social service, Zurhorst said before requesting Farmington institute a line in its budget for WMTS that would be available without having to seek money annually.

WMTS is seeking $25,000, which would be eligible for matches equaling another $36,000, he noted. Some of those matches are 50/50, some are 80/20 and all together are about 60/40, he added.

Rider fees vary: $3 for an adult; $1.50 for elderly, disabled or 5- to 11-year-olds riding with an adult, Zurhorst said in response to a question from Selectman Joshua Bell.

“Fares make up about 10% of the operating costs (and) can’t be used toward matches,” Zurhorst said. “Fares need to be affordable.”

Without state or federal subsidies it would be about $8 per trip with a per mile fee of about $1.50, he added.


The buses seat 12, and there is a wide variance in use. A lot of people are using it at the beginning of the month, Zurhorst said. There are about three to four riders average per bus run, he noted.

When Bell asked if there would come a time when WMTS wouldn’t need funding, Zurhorst said he hoped so.

State funding would remove the need for local support, he said. Other states are investing more in public transit, he said.

“We appreciate what you do for the community,” board Chairperson Matthew Smith said. “My family has had to use it a few times. It is a much needed resource for the community.”

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