Casco Bay Island Transit District to Receive $3.6 Million in Funding for Hybrid Propulsion System

February 18, 2022
Jessica James


Casco Bay Island Transit District to Receive $3.6 Million in Funding for Hybrid Propulsion System

Second Ferry in CBL Fleet to Utilize Innovative Technology and Reduce Emissions

PORTLAND, Maine — Casco Bay Island Transit District (Casco Bay Lines) will receive $3.6 million in funding for the use of an innovative, low-emission propulsion system. The technology will power a new vessel planned to replace the Maquoit II, an aging vessel in their fleet current serving the downbay islands of Casco Bay.

Casco Bay Lines applied for funding last year through the FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant program (49 U.S.C. 5307(h)) which provides competitive funding for projects that support passenger ferry systems in urbanized areas. The funding award will allow Casco Bay Lines to utilize diesel-electric hybrid propulsion in yet another vessel in their fleet.

The transit operation maintains a fleet of five vessels to fulfill its mission of providing safe, dependable and reliable passenger, vehicle and freight service year-round to six unbridged islands in Casco Bay. 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. Casco Bay Lines identified the need to replace two vessels in long-term planning. After securing funding to replace the Machigonne II, efforts shifted to funding the second necessary vessel replacement.

The Maquoit II, an indispensable vessel in the Casco Bay Lines fleet, will soon reach the end of its useful life. The ferry serves as a lifeline for five unbridged islands “down the bay”, carrying passengers and freight nearly 50 miles each day, 365 days a year, and delivering U.S. mail to the farthest reaches of the service area. Equipped with a heavy-duty crane, it is also the primary freight-carrying vessel.

As part of prior work to replace the Machigonne, Casco Bay Lines’ staff and Board of Directors opted to pursue a diesel electric hybrid propulsion system for the new vessel in place of a conventional diesel mechanical propulsion system. With this grant award, the second replacement vessel is also positioned to utilize this innovative battery technology. Casco Bay Lines estimates this propulsion system in the new downbay vessel will eliminate more than 1,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually over the vessel’s 30-year lifespan. It will also dramatically improve the rider and neighbor experience by significantly reducing exhaust fumes and eliminating excessive engine noise and vibrations found on existing vessels.

“It has been our hope, since we began the significant undertaking of replacing these two aging vessels, that we would have the opportunity to utilize this technology and reduce our climate impact in a meaningful way,” said Hank Berg, General Manager of Casco Bay Lines. “As we embark on the Maquoit replacement, this grant award makes it possible to double-down on our efforts. Our partners across the region have acknowledged the importance of modernizing our transit systems and we’re incredibly grateful for their support in this application.”

The project was supported by U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, Maine Department of Transportation, City of Portland, PACTS (MPO) Policy Committee, Greater Portland Council of Governments, Maine Clean Communities and the Island Institute.

The design phase of the Maquoit II replacement project is expected to begin later this year. More information is available at


About Casco Bay Lines: Casco Bay Island Transit District (CBITD), also known as Casco Bay Lines, operates passenger, vehicle and freight service year-round. Casco Bay Lines ensures that passengers have safe, dependable and reliable transportation, and is considered the “lifeline” for the residents of the islands. Casco Bay Lines’ ferries transport more than one million passengers, 35,000 vehicles and over 500,000 pieces of freight annually. Casco Bay Lines also delivers the U.S. mail and transports island students to and from Portland. More at