Background & History

About METRO

Greater Portland METRO operates fixed-route bus service in the communities of Brunswick, Falmouth, Freeport, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, and Yarmouth with connections to local and regional transit systems. METRO's 2017 ridership exceeded 1.85 million.

History

The history of Public Transportation in the Greater Portland region begins in 1860 and spans over 150 years.

  1. 1860 to 1939
  2. 1940 to 2000
  3. 2000 to Present
  • 1860: Portland and Forest Avenue Railroad Co. began operation of horse car lines.
  • 1865: Name changed to Portland Railroad Co.
  • 1890: Was largest in state of the horse railroads operating 54 cars, employing 115 persons, owning 265 horses and carrying 2,728,935 passengers over 13.81 miles of lines.
  • 1891: Electric street cars were introduced.
  • 1892: Portland and Westbrook line began.
  • 1895: Portland and Cape Elizabeth street railroad began.
  • 1896: Riverton Park opened. Willard Beach casino opened.
  • 1898: Willard Beach casino burned. Cape Cottage casino built.
  • 1902: Company shop and car house built on Saint John Street.
  • 1912: Cumberland County Power and Light took over operation with a 99 year lease.
  • 1918: Company was operating 106 closed passenger cars and 100 open cars (nicknamed Hayracks or Breezers) over 106 miles of track.
  • 1932: Old Orchard line ceased to operate electric street cars.
  • 1933: Interurban and Yarmouth lines ceased to operate electric street cars.
  • 1939: Spring Street and East Deering lines ceased to operate electric street cars.
  • 1939: Cumberland County Power and Light purchased buses because the street car system could no longer operate efficiently. The convenience of automobiles and more and better paved highways had already captured the imagination of the American public. Electric Railways could no longer turn a profit and many lines were abandoned.

Timeline Information Questions

This timeline is based on historical files at Greater Portland Transit District. Questions or comments regarding above information can be directed to METRO staff contacts.