On Wednesday afternoon, March 25, 2020, Casco Bay Island Transit District announced that service will be further reduced beginning on Saturday, March 28, 2020.
On Thursday, March 26, 2020, CBITD revised the schedule to now include a new 4:45 AM departure from Portland to Peaks Island and a new 5:00 AM departure from Peaks Island to Portland.
The amended schedule, with this update, can be viewed here, has been posted on our website and on the vessels, and is available in the terminal. These additional, temporary reductions are being made in light of the need to expand protections for the health and safety of our employees, riders, islanders, and our communities, and recent declines in ridership. The schedule provides continuity of essential passenger and vehicle service.
The amended schedule effective through March 27 can be viewed here.
This decision follows an initial reduction in service that went into effect on March 21, 2020. The additional reduction allows CBITD to further minimize COVID-19 exposure for as many of our staff as possible, cutting the number of necessary marine crew approximately in half from what is being used under the current, reduced schedule. This also preserves the availability of non-active crew members to sustain service should others test positive for COVID-19, thereby decreasing the likelihood of a suspension of all service.
As the Governor and the City of Portland work quickly to take additional steps to protect public health, it is critical that we do our part to limit exposure. The ridership numbers have declined dramatically, which should allow those who are utilizing the ferry for essential travel to practice physical distancing.
Limited freight service will remain available. Only one Freight Agent will be on duty at any given time. Consequently, there may be delays in any freight that requires extra handling (i.e. forklift, assistance unloading). Additionally, large commercial deliveries (pallets, lifts of lumber, etc) will only be shipped on the 12:00 pm Downbay trip from Portland. Perishables and small personal items will continue to be shipped as soon as possible.
CBITD continues to monitor and make operational changes as necessary in response to COVID-19. The previous decision to cancel all on-site committee and public meetings has been extended through the end of April, total ridership on board each vessel has been limited and will continue to include only regular service. The sale of all specialty cruise tickets has been halted. In addition to expanded sanitation efforts, all regular service passengers are encouraged to practice physical distancing and are being asked to rip their own tickets and place in a collection receptacle prior to boarding the vessel until further notice. Ticket and freight point of sales will be accepting credit cards only.
Customers are encouraged to review the City of Portland’s Stay at Home Emergency Order and limit their use of our ferries to essential travel only. Future additional changes or further temporary reductions in service remain a possibility. Suspension of all service would occur only in the event there is insufficient crew available to meet required Coast Guard regulations.
We are grateful to our staff who remain deeply dedicated to the CBITD island communities and are working diligently to uphold our mission to provide essential transit service.
Information about CBITD’s ongoing efforts related to COVID-19 can be found here.