Free Shuttle Service at UMaine 

It was the first day of school for students at many colleges and universities around the state, including the University of Maine in Orono.This year, there’s another option to the age-old aggravation of parking on campus.Joy Hollowell tells us about the “Black Bear Orono Express.”==============It looks like your typical bat bus, until you take a peak around back. This is the new Black Bear Orono Express and anyone can ride it, for free.”The shuttle will work Monday through Friday from 7 in the morning until 10…in the evening. And then on Saturday, it will be from noon time until 10 in the evening,” says Joe McNeil, Superintendent for Bat Community Connector.The first day of classes was also the first day for the new shuttle service. The bus makes half hour loops from campus to Pat’s Pizza on mill street, stopping at designated spots along the way. Students can save on gas money, but more importantly eliminate the stress of having to find a parking spot at school.”We drove around for a half hour the first day, looking for a parking space,” says Daniel Wendell, a freshman.”Well, it totally sucks, especially in the winter when there’s no place to park. You have to get here a good half hour before any of your classes,” says Sarah Hinman, a senior at UMaine.The idea of a free bus service has been shuttled around for years. Uncle Sam and the state helped seal the deal.”The total cost of operation is about $144,000 a year. The University of Maine and the town of Orono are splitting the deficit. The federal government gave us $90,000 over three years and the state of Maine Department of Transportation provided the two vehicles,” says McNeil.The bus is handicapped accessible, and even has a bike rack.Senior Jesse Meserhati rode the shuttle for the first time Monday morning.”I’m so very glad that there’s a shuttle so now I don’t have to drive everyday. I don’t like have to look for a spot. So, it’s really a good service and I’m really happy to have it,” he said.Joy Hollowell, WABI TV 5 News, Orono.===========The shuttle is not just for students.Folks travelling to and from sporting events and other activities on campus will also be able to take advantage of the free service.