Casco Bay Island Transit District (Casco Bay Lines) is currently in the process of updating a portion of its existing fleet of vessels. Casco Bay Lines maintains a Transit Asset Management Plan to track the inventory of transit assets (including vessels), their condition and costs associated with their maintenance. This is common practice for any business seeking to plan and budget for the inevitable depreciation and increased maintenance costs of their assets. Typically, passenger vessels have a “useful life” of approximately 30 years. While they can still be utilized safely beyond that point, repairs and maintenance become prohibitively expensive. The Casco Bay Lines Transit Asset Management Plan identified that the Machigonne II is beyond useful life and the Maquoit is approaching the same status.

As part of a long-range planning process undertaken by the Casco Bay Lines Board of Directors (Board) between 2015 and 2016, the Board agreed to a number of goals and priorities, one of which was to secure funding for the design and construction of a new ferry. With the support of the Federal Transit Administration, the State of Maine, the City of Portland and the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS), Casco Bay Lines has, as of November 2018, secured sufficient funds to design and construct one new vessel.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission currently allows for Casco Bay Lines to utilize a fleet of no more than five vessels, four for regular operations and one spare. To help determine which of the current vessels should be replaced with a new vessel, Casco Bay Lines issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a qualified consulting firm to evaluate the current schedule and fleet and make recommendations to the Board. Through this process, referred to as the Schedule/Fleet Analysis, the Board and a vessel advisory committee determined that a new vessel should be designed and constructed to provide vehicle and passenger service to Peaks Island. This process included historical data analysis, a survey of all users of the ferry system, an open house at the Casco Bay Lines terminal, and public meetings on each island. At the public Board meeting on May 17, 2018, the Board voted to use existing funds for a new vessel for Peaks Island service and to move forward in seeking additional funding for a new Down Bay Islands’ vessel.

Casco Bay Lines then developed an RFP to select a vessel designer, inviting over eleven firms to consider submitting a proposal, and advertising the RFP. Four firms submitted proposals, two were short listed for interviews and Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) from Seattle, Washington, was selected. Casco Bay Lines entered into a contract with EBDG in May of 2018 and they began the work of assessing the vessel requirements.

Equipped with information from both sets of consultants, Casco Bay Lines invited members of the Board and the public to join a vessel advisory committee and conducted a public kick-off meeting with the committee and EBDG on May 22, 2018. Since then, EBDG has been working to determine possible vessel configurations that meet the needs of Casco Bay Lines and conform to the various regulatory requirements and operational constraints. A second advisory committee meeting was held in October 2018 for EBDG to share progress and seek additional input. As of November 2018, EBDG is finalizing their recommendation with the evaluation of various propulsion systems. Following completion of this analysis, they will present their comprehensive recommendations, including size, capacity, hull shape and propulsion, to the public at a public meeting. EBDG’s recommendations, along with public comments from this meeting, will be presented to the vessel advisory committee and then the Board, for their consideration. Should the Board agree with the proposed design, the design will be completed and construction will begin.

Questions? Contact: Paul Pottle, Director of Projects for Casco Bay Lines at 207-774-7871 or .