Proposed Route Changes to Route 8

Transit Together proposes several significant changes to the Route 8 that will improve service for existing passengers and serve new areas that do not currently have transit access.

Proposed Route Changes


Transit Together recommends adding a duplicate, opposite-direction loop to pair with the existing Route 8. This route, tentatively called the 8A, will run close to the same route as the existing Route 8 (which would become the Route 8B), but in the opposite direction. This effectively doubles Route 8 service, and allows passengers to use the Route 8A and 8B to avoid making a full loop around the peninsula for a round trip. Note: This improvement is in a pilot phase.

Run along Commercial Street in the Old Port

Rather than running down Middle Street, which is a short block away from Congress Street and its numerous transit options, Transit Together recommends that Route 8 run along Commercial Street to provide direct access to the Old Port waterfront.  The route would extend down Temple Street to Union Street and Commercial Street, with at least two stops in each direction along Commercial Street. The existing stop at Casco Bay Lines would be moved to Commercial Street near the State Pier.

More efficient service in West Bayside

METRO's current service in the Bayside neighborhood is somewhat redundant, at points running along Cumberland Avenue, Lancaster Street, and Marginal Way, three parallel streets within 1/3 of a mile of each other. This adds travel time without substantial coverage benefits. Transit Together recommends running from Cumberland Avenue to Pearl Street to Somerset Street, before running along Marginal Way to access Hannaford. 

Service to East Bayside

METRO does not currently serve the East Bayside neighborhood, which has numerous potential ridership generators including Kennedy Park and numerous breweries and other such establishments. Extending into East Bayside via Fox Street, Diamond Street, and Marginal Way also allows METRO to serve the Marginal Way Park and Ride. 

Swap Route 5 and Route 8 service on Park Avenue/Congress Street

In order to improve the coverage area of the Route 8 loops and improve transit frequency on the Commercial Street corridor, Transit Together recommends running the Route 8 on Park Avenue, and the Route 5 on Congress Street. This allows METRO to retain transit service along Park Avenue, including destinations such as Deering Oaks Park, the Iris Network, Hadlock Field, and the Portland Expo, but also reduces the redundancy that exists by running service along Congress Street in the West End in addition to West Street, a short walking distance. Route 5, running along Congress Street, would contribute to a High-Frequency Corridor, combining with several other routes to provide bus headways on Portland's major east-west street of 15 minutes or less.

Benefits of Recommended Route Changes

More than double the level of service

The proposed bidirectional Route 8 will maintain existing service frequencies in the current direction, while also adding the same service in the opposite direction. For Route 8 riders, this represents a 100% increase in service. It will also reduce travel time for Route 8 passengers, as they will no longer need to ride the entire loop to complete a round trip. In addition to the bidirectional Route 8, Transit Together also recommends extending the hours of operation to about 10:00pm on weekdays, a 33% increase in service hours.

Expanded coverage area

The recommended changes to the Route 8 improve the reach of the route, expanding the options for Route 8 passengers.  Compared to the existing route, the recommended Route 8 alignment brings transit service within 1/4 mile of about 1,900 more people and about 1,400 more jobs, one additional park and ride lot, numerous more recreational attractions. The expanded coverage area also brings the route within walking distance of three additional public housing buildings in East Bayside, and removes the need to cross Franklin Street.  

No changes to critical service stops

In 2019 and 2020,  METRO proposed a more substantial reboot to the peninsula loop that would have removed front-door service to numerous locations within the neighborhood. After hearing feedback at public meetings discussing those proposed changes, Transit Together does not recommend these changes, and instead keeps front-door service to major housing, medical, and shopping locations including Hannaford, Maine Medical Center, Harbor Terrace, Butler School, 75 State Street, and Franklin Towers. 

Possible Drawbacks of Recommended Route Changes

Less front-door service on Congress Street

The current Route 8 runs along Congress Street between the Parkside and West End neighborhoods. Transit Together recommends running on Park Avenue in Parkside instead. METRO understands that many major destinations are on Congress Street; the model of the peninsula loop route lends itself well to connecting as much of the peninsula as possible. Given that Congress Street is still quite accessible within a short walk of the recommended Route 8 alignment, and that Congress Street will get additional Route 5 and Route 7 service in Parkside, a reduced amount of Route 8 coverage on Congress Street is justified. 

Possible slowdowns, particular in the summer

Running service through the Old Port is challenging, particularly in the peak of summer. METRO is optimistic that the additional coverage area, and visibility of METRO as a transportation option, will improve ridership on Route 8, and that the improved efficiency of the route will make up for any additional traffic delays that the Route 8 may encounter in the Old Port. METRO will make adjustments as needed if traffic congestion deteriorates on-time performance to an undesirable degree.

Less front-door service in West Bayside

The current Route 8 alignment provides direct service to Cumberland Avenue, Elm Street, Lancaster Street, and Marginal Way. This can be beneficial to those who live or work in this area; however, this routing is redundant, and adds travel time. The recommended alignment, which includes East Bayside and no substantial reduction of coverage in West Bayside, requires about 25% less travel time. 

Changes to specific trips

Any change to a transit route will undoubtedly inconvenience some people, even if the change is an overall improvement. Some existing trips that require no transfers or only a short walk to a destination may change. 

Existing and Recommended Service Maps

See below for existing and recommended service maps. Note that some routes are not shown for the sake of clarity. 

Existing Route 8 service

Map showing the existing Route 8 Peninsula Loop route.

Recommended Route 8 service - Click Here for interactive map and submit comments

Map showing the recommended Route 8 Peninsula Loop.