Eco-friendlier ferry coming to Casco Bay service

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Casco Bay Strains plans to interchange the 33-year-old Machigonne II with a ferry that can use a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system, which is predicted to get rid of as much as 800 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions yearly. Ben McCanna / Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND — Tens of millions in current federal funding will assist Casco Bay Strains outfit its latest ferry for a extra environmentally pleasant and quieter trip between the mainland and Peaks Island.

Casco Bay Island Transit District, which operates Casco Bay Strains, has been awarded near $four million in federal funding to buy a 900-kWh diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system for the brand new ferry that can exchange the ageing Machigonne II. That vessel makes a dozen spherical journeys each day between Peaks and the peninsula.

Ultimate designs are underway for a brand new Peaks Island to Portland ferry that may accommodate 600 passengers and 12 automobiles. Courtesy / Casco Bay Strains

“She is 33 years previous and must be changed,” mentioned Hank Berg, operations supervisor for Casco Bay Strains. “It doesn’t imply she is just not secure, nevertheless it does imply she may be very costly to maintain up.”

The brand new ferry will likely be one of many first personal passenger ferry providers to make use of the expertise. The hybrid propulsion system is predicted to get rid of as much as 800 metric tons of carbon dioxide that the Machigonne II emitted yearly. That’s the equal to the greenhouse fuel emissions from 173 passenger automobiles.

It additionally will generate much less exhaust fumes, engine noise and vibrations throughout its runs.

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The ferry, Berg mentioned, will run on a battery and will likely be quickly recharged in Portland between journeys.

The current grants of $three.2 million from the Federal Transportation Administration’s Passenger Ferry Grant program and $750,000 from the U.S. Division of Transportation’s Maritime Environmental and Technical Help program have been the “the final piece of the funding puzzle” for the $11 million ferry, Berg mentioned. Cash is also coming from the state of Maine, town and Casco Bay Strains.

“This funding will assist make sure that Casco Bay Strains continues to supply secure and dependable transportation to passengers, whereas additionally pioneering an environmentally pleasant engine expertise that can outline the way forward for passenger vessel service,” mentioned Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who helped safe federal funding for the brand new ferry as chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.

“It’s now totally funded to proceed,” Berg mentioned. “We’re in the midst of remaining design and hope to finish that by the tip of the yr.”

Randy Schaeffer, chairman of the Peaks Island Council, mentioned many islanders applaud the brand new engine system.

“Definitely a propulsion system that’s cost-effective, much less polluting with much less of an environmental impression is just about supported by most folk,” he mentioned.

Plans for the brand new ferry initially known as for it to be outfitted with a diesel-power system like Casco Bay Strains’ different ferries, however that modified after they noticed how the expertise is utilized by transportation firms elsewhere.

“This isn’t leading edge expertise. It has been somewhere else for fairly a while. Buses in the USA use this expertise and by way of what we do, in Scandinavia, they’ve been utilizing different propulsion programs for a few years,” Berg mentioned.

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The brand new vessel is being designed to deal with near 600 passengers and 15 automobiles, 200 passengers and three automobiles greater than the present ferry accommodates. The Casco Bay Island Transit District Board determined this spring, nevertheless, to cap the variety of passengers on Peaks Island-bound ferries at 499 and Portland-bound at 599.

Some island residents, Schaeffer mentioned, have been involved in regards to the measurement of the brand new ferry and what it could imply for the island. Others thought an even bigger boat was crucial.

“Basically, the sensation was an even bigger boat would deliver extra vacationers to the island. Folks pushed again on that as a result of we simply don’t have the services right here,” Schaeffer mentioned.

However the ferry can also be a lifeline for Peaks residents, he mentioned, connecting them to the mainland to allow them to go to high school, work, store and get medical care.

The Machigonne II is the second oldest ferry within the Casco Bay Strains fleet that additionally contains Wabanaki (2013), Aucocisco III (2005), Maquoit II (1994) and the Bay Mist, a 1985 vessel that’s used as a spare and for big day charters.

The Maquoit II, which does the Mailboat Run carrying passengers, mail and freight to Little Diamond, Nice Diamond, Lengthy, Cliff and Chebeague islands, would be the subsequent vessel changed. The design course of has not begun, however Berg mentioned cash has been put aside within the long-range plan to design and assemble the vessel. It’s not but identified if a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system can be used for that ferry.

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