On Thursday afternoon, March 19, 2020, Casco Bay Island Transit District’s General Manager and President of the Board announced a temporary reduction in service that will take effect Saturday, March 21, 2020.
This decision followed the CBITD’s Board of Directors’ vote to delegate temporary authority to the General Manager and the President of the Board to manage operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The amended schedule can be viewed here, has been posted on our website and on the vessels, and is available in the terminal. The schedule considers recent ridership data and allows for continuation of passenger and vehicle service during morning and afternoon peak times, as well as during midday hours.
This decision, while not taken lightly, was driven by CBITD’s desire to continue to protect the health and safety of our employees, riders, islanders, and our communities while planning for continuity of operations.
Reducing the level of service will allow CBITD to minimize COVID-19 exposure for as many of our crew members and shoreside staff as possible which is critical as we seek to do our part in flattening the curve of community spread.
Our entire team remains deeply dedicated to the island communities we serve which depend on us for access to the mainland, and we will continue to work diligently to uphold our mission to provide this service. Under this amended schedule, Peaks and Down Bay/Inner Bay service can each be provided by one boat crew, respectively, per day. A crew will work for a two-week period in an effort to preserve 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.
In addition to the marine crew reduction, shoreside staffing will change beginning March 21. 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.
The schedule reduction represents the latest operational change made in response to COVID-19. All committee and public meetings have been canceled through the end of the month of March, total ridership on board each vessel has been limited and will 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 social distancing and are being asked to rip their own tickets and place in a collection receptacle prior to boarding the vessel until further notice. Passengers are encouraged to limit their use of our ferries to essential travel only.
As the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly, customers should be prepared for future additional changes or further temporary reductions in service. Suspension of all service would occur only in the event there is insufficient crew available to meet required Coast Guard regulations.
Information about CBITD’s ongoing efforts related to COVID-19 can be found here.