Updated as of February 28, 2020
The foundation of the current Casco Bay Island Transit District (Casco Bay Lines) regular-service schedules dates to well over 50 years ago. During that time, Casco Bay Lines made schedule changes in an ad hoc fashion in response to isolated requests. Over the years, the system grew increasingly inefficient. Recently, the Casco Bay Lines Board of Directors (Board), with support from staff and consultants, undertook a multi-year review of both the Peaks Island and Down Bay regular service schedules. With the conclusion of the Schedule Analysis Project, as a result of this work, a new schedule for Down Bay went into effect on February 29, 2020.
The new Down Bay schedule can be viewed here. There will be no changes to the Peaks Island schedule.
As part of a long-range strategic planning process undertaken by the Board between 2015 and 2016, the Board agreed to a number of goals and priorities, one of which was to conduct an analysis of the existing schedules to determine whether new service schedules should be implemented in order to improve both efficiencies and customer satisfaction. The Board developed a Project Overview Statement and a special advisory committee to guide this work. The Schedule Advisory Committee (SAC) was structured by the Board to include seats for members of the Board, staff and general public representing the islands served by the ferry system.
The Board agreed on goals for any new schedule considered, including that it should improve transportation options for residents, tourists and other visitors, be presented in a manner that is user friendly on paper and online, include a documented process for future schedule changes, improve efficiencies, create schedule uniformity, simplify service and not result in an immediate fare increase. The Board determined that the process of creating the new schedule must consider Collective Bargaining Agreements, fleet composition, existing facilities, preserve all major lines of service and include robust public participation.
In April 2017, Casco Bay Lines issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a marine transportation consulting firm to conduct the analysis and make a recommendation to the Board. Four firms submitted proposals, two were short listed for interviews and KPFF from Seattle, Washington, was selected. Casco Bay Lines entered into a contract with KPFF in July of 2017 and they immediately began the work of gathering information on ridership, freight, vehicle and financial data, as well as learning about the existing schedule and the current fleet of vessels. The SAC met to kick-off the project with a public meeting in July 2017.
Working with KPFF and the SAC, Casco Bay Lines issued a public survey to gather stakeholder input anonymously to inform the process. The survey, focused on various aspects of the sailing schedule and ferry usage, was open online from August 24 to September 15, 2017, and was promoted via Casco Bay Lines’ email list, other email lists used on the islands, the Casco Bay Lines website, posters, and an open house at the Terminal on August 29 2017. Paper surveys were also made available. At the survey’s close, there were 640 total responses.
The team then held public meetings on Peaks Island, Little Diamond Island and Great Diamond Island on September 26, 2017, and Long Island, Cliff Island and Chebeague Island on September 27, 2017, to solicit additional input and discuss preliminary analysis of the survey results.
Following a review of all public input and an analysis of existing conditions, KPFF began the work of drafting alternative schedules for the Board’s consideration. KPFF was tasked with realizing the Board’s goal of developing schedules that provide efficient and effective ferry service to meet traveler needs, align with sound operating practices, and are sustainable over time. Schedule development was also informed by operational parameters such as dwell time requirements for freight operations, crew scheduling requirements, and vessel capabilities. In order to ensure that any new schedules would increase service without increasing cost, draft alternative schedules considered sailing times, service hours, vessel usage, crew shift schedules, and fuel use.
An SAC meeting was held on May 16, 2018, and a Board meeting on May 17, 2018, for both groups to review findings and potential recommendations as part of initial draft alternative schedules.
The initial draft alternative schedules were then the subject of an additional round of public meetings to provide the public with an opportunity to review, discuss progress and provide additional feedback on potential schedule changes. This second round of public meetings was held on May 23, 2018, at the Terminal, June 5, 2018, on Peaks Island, Little Diamond Island and Great Diamond Island, and June 7, 2018, on Long Island, Cliff Island and Chebeague Island.
Throughout the Schedule Analysis Project, input from the public was a critical component of the analysis. Utilizing input collected from the survey, public meetings, and outreach directly to staff, the needs of all ferry riders, as expressed through their feedback, have been seriously considered at every juncture in this process to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that new schedules meet the needs of the entire community while understanding it would be virtually impossible to meet the needs of every individual. Following the June 2018 public meetings, KPFF considered input received on their initial drafts and worked with Casco Bay Lines to complete final updates to proposed alternative schedules.
In March 2019, Casco Bay Lines received a final Schedule/Fleet Analysis report from KPFF. Among other things, the report includes revised alternative schedules which incorporated much of the additional feedback received on the initial drafts.
Between July 29th – 31st, Casco Bay Lines hosted another round of public hearings to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on these revised proposed alternative schedules. Representatives from Casco Bay Lines stopped at each island with the Bay Mist to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide feedback on the revised drafts.
A vote of the Board was required for final approval of the revised alternative schedules. The SAC met on September 18th to review the schedules, public feedback and CBITD staff recommendation before providing their own recommendation to the Board.
Based on the findings in the report and the public feedback, CBITD recommended that both revised alternative schedules, as presented in the “Casco Bay Lines Schedule and Fleet Analysis” report by KPFF dated March 25, 2019, be implemented for a two-year pilot program. Staff recommended an implementation effective the beginning of the 2020 summer schedule for the Peaks Island schedule and January 2020 for the Down Bay schedule. Staff proposed to present preliminary implementation results at the September 2020 Board meeting.
CBITD staff provided the SAC and Board with all public feedback received on the revised alternative schedules as well as potential amendments developed for both the Peaks Island and Down Bay revised alternative schedules. These potential amendments were meant to address select concerns raised by the public through the many public feedback opportunities provided by CBITD for the revised versions of the schedules. They were vetted carefully by CBITD staff to ensure that they would not have a system-wide impact on the optimized schedules developed. CBITD staff recommended the SAC and Board consider approving these amendments.
The general consensus of the SAC was in favor of CBITD staff’s recommendation. The Board then considered the revised alternative schedules for Peaks and Down Bay at their September 26th meeting.
A majority of those Board members present voted down the revised alternative schedule for Peaks Island and voted to postpone a vote on the revised alternative schedule for Down Bay until their October 2019 meeting.
During their October 2019 meeting, the Board voted to accept the revised alternative schedule for Down Bay service with one amendment. This amendment added stops at Chebeague and Cliff to the 9:15 PM departure from Portland on Fridays in the proposed Winter schedule. The Board also agreed to a plan to consider three remaining items related to the Down Bay schedule within the next ninety days.
In December 2019, the Operations Committee met and voted to recommend to the Board six additional changes to the schedule to address remaining items. At their December 19, 2019, meeting, the Board approved the six changes.
There were no changes to the Peaks Island schedule.
The approved new Down Bay winter schedule began on February 29, 2020 and is available to view on the CBITD website schedule page (click on island for schedule).
The Down Bay spring/shoulder, summer and fall/shoulder schedules have also changed to align with the approved new schedules and those dates and times have been added to the CBITD schedule page as well under the respective seasonal schedules.
Staff will continue to collect public feedback and will present preliminary implementation results at the September 2020 Board meeting. Ultimately, the goal of the Schedule Analysis Project, and the resulting new schedules, was to improve service through purposeful change while also balancing the viability and sustainability of Casco Bay Island Transit District.
As we begin to implement changes to something that has been in place for 50 years, we ask all to be open to the collective benefits of this process for the entire transit district and consider the sheer impossibility of designing a schedule perfectly suited to each individual’s preferences. We are passionate about our mission to serve Casco Bay’s island communities and visitors with year-round passenger, freight and vehicle ferry service and we look forward to doing so for generations to come.
Public feedback may be submitted to moc.s1603443173enily1603443173abocs1603443173ac@tc1603443173ejorP1603443173elude1603443173hcS1603443173 or Casco Bay Lines Attn: Schedule Project, P.O. Box 4656, Portland, ME, 04112-4656, and all comments sent to this inbox/mailing address will be shared with the Board of Directors prior to their consideration of the proposed alternative schedules.
Questions? Send via email to moc.s1603443173enily1603443173abocs1603443173ac@tc1603443173ejorP1603443173elude1603443173hcS1603443173 or mail to Casco Bay Lines Attn: Schedule Project, P.O. Box 4656, Portland, ME, 04112-4656. Please Note: while CBITD makes every effort to respond to all questions, we ask for your patience as we may be receiving large volumes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1) Why did Casco Bay Island Transit District (CBITD) update their schedules?
The current regular-service schedules are based on schedules developed over 50 years ago. Over time, as changes have been made in an ad-hoc fashion, the system has grown increasingly inefficient, resulting in lower customer satisfaction and increased operating expenses. In recognition of these concerns, the Board agreed to conduct an analysis of the existing schedules to determine whether new service schedules should be implemented in order to improve both customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.
2) Will customers benefit from the new schedules?
Ultimately, the goal of the Schedule Analysis Project, and the resulting new schedules, was to continue to constantly improve service through purposeful change while also balancing the viability and sustainability of CBITD. Changes were designed to align with the needs of our customers as expressed through their feedback, while also simplifying the schedule and increasing overall customer satisfaction. CBITD serves over one million passengers annually and, given the complexity of this task, recognizes that it will be impossible to design a schedule perfectly suited to each individual’s preferences.
3) Are there still different versions of the schedule for different seasons?
Yes. The new Down Bay winter schedule will run February 29 – May 20, 2020. The Down Bay spring, summer and fall schedules have also been changed to align with the approved new schedules. Those dates and times are available here on the website. (Link to schedule page)
4) Will new schedules impact the freight delivery schedule?
The revised proposed alternative schedules, along with the installation of a crane onboard the Wabanaki, would provide additional opportunities to deliver freight, including commercial freight and vehicles, to the Down Bay and Inner Bay islands. The existing schedules provide two dedicated trips for commercial freight; the proposed schedule would provide three – 8:00 AM, 12:00 Noon and 4:00 PM trips. The 8:00 AM trip allows freight to arrive much earlier in the day on the islands than the current 10:00 AM trip allows.
5) How was the Schedule Analysis Project paid for?
The work done by marine transportation consulting firm, KPFF, was 80% funded by Federal Transit Administration grants with a 20% local match from CBITD.
6) Will changes in the schedule result in any fare increases?
There are currently no plans for a fare increase. Remarkably, CBITD regular fares have not increased in over 10 years. CBITD’s efforts to identify and implement more efficient schedules are designed to enhance the financial stability of CBITD and stave off the potential need for future fare increases.
7) What is the Schedule Advisory Committee?
The Schedule Advisory Committee (SAC) is a concept that came out of Board strategic planning to ensure that a smaller group would have the opportunity to serve in an advisory role to the Board on the project. Such committees are a common tool used by public entities to increase quality of public participation in such a process. The composition of the committee was also set during Board strategic planning to include members of the public, CBITD staff and Directors from the Board. All SAC meetings are posted and open to the public. The SAC has no authority to create or approve policy or make any final decisions. As the Schedule Analysis Project is complete, the SAC has been dissolved.
8) What are the next steps in the Schedule Analysis Project?
At their October 2019 meeting, the Board approved the revised alternative schedule for Down Bay with one amendment. They also agreed to consider three additional items related to the schedule within the 90-day period following the vote. At their December 2019, meeting, the Board approved changes to the schedule to address these items. The updated Down Bay schedule went into effect on February 29, 2020.
9) What is the best way to share my feedback?
CBITD encourages all members of the public to share their feedback during this process. Feedback can be sent via email to moc.s1603443173enily1603443173abocs1603443173ac@tc1603443173ejorP1603443173elude1603443173hcS1603443173 or Casco Bay Lines Attn: Schedule Project, P.O. Box 4656, Portland, ME, 04112-4656, and all comments sent to this inbox/mailing address will be shared with the Board of Directors prior to their consideration of the proposed alternative schedules.
10) How can I get more information?
General questions can be sent to moc.s1603443173enily1603443173abocs1603443173ac@tc1603443173ejorP1603443173elude1603443173hcS1603443173. Media or FOAA requests are best directed to Hank Berg, General Manager of Casco Bay Lines at moc.s1603443173enily1603443173abocs1603443173ac@bk1603443173nah1603443173. More information will be posted on the CBITD website as well as in the CBITD email newsletter.