Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the Casco Bay Island Transit District (CBITD) has been awarded $3,200,000 to purchase a diesel electric hybrid propulsion system to power its soon-to-be constructed new vessel. This funding was awarded through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) competitive Passenger Ferry Grant Program. Earlier this year, Senator Collins sent a letter in support of Casco Bay Lines’ grant application.
“Casco Bay Lines is an essential transportation link for those who live and work in our island communities off the coast of Portland, providing passenger, freight, and postal services, and transporting students to high school and people to their jobs,” said Senator Collins. “This investment will help ensure that Casco Bay Lines continues to provide safe and reliable transportation to passengers, while also pioneering an environmentally friendly engine technology that will define the future of passenger vessel service.”
“CBITD has been working for several years to update our aging fleet with a new vessel to service Peaks Island. As we considered design options, it was abundantly clear to all stakeholders that a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system offered significant advantages over a conventional system. We couldn’t be more thrilled that CBITD, and Maine, will now have the opportunity to realize the benefits of this innovative technology and, perhaps, serve as a model for adapting this technology across other transit applications,” said Hank Berg, General Manager of CBITD. “Ongoing support from Senator Collins has been critical to our success in securing competitive grant funding and we are extremely grateful.”
Casco Bay Lines estimates that the diesel electric hybrid propulsion system will allow them to eliminate up to 800 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, while also reducing exhaust fumes, excessive engine noise, and vibrations common on existing vessels. This will be one of the first public passenger ferry systems in the country to fully utilize this new electric hybrid technology.
Operating since 1981, CBITD provides year-round ferry service to six inhabited islands in Casco Bay. In a typical year, CBITD’s five ferries transport more than one million passengers, 30,000 vehicles, and 5,300 tons of freight annually.
As the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins has championed funding to improve Maine’s infrastructure. Earlier this month, Casco Bay Lines was awarded more than $2.6 million through a section of the CARES Act Senator Collins authored that directed more than $83 million for Maine’s public transportation systems earlier this year.
In 2016, Senator Collins announced a $2.5 million grant to fund Phase II of Casco Bay Lines’ terminal renovation. In 2018, Senator Collins helped Casco Bay Lines obtain a $6 million grant from FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program for the construction of a $10 million replacement vessel for its ferry service to Peaks Island. In 2019, she announced a $3.4 million grant to support Phase III of Casco Bay Lines’ project to renovate its terminal infrastructure.