Lake Champlain bike ferry service is primed to restart on June 14, restoring a seamless bike route between downtown Burlington and South Hero … and beyond.
Local Motion director Chapin Spencer and Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce president Tom Torti jointly announced the return of the ferry at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
The link across the lake was severed two years ago as a result of the spring floods that washed away chunks of the causeway in Colchester. The seasonal service remained out of operation as repairs were made to the route.
Local Motion and partner groups raised $1.5 million for causeway repairs and a more frequent ferry schedule. Spencer said a 30-foot, six-passenger craft will make the two-minute trip across the causeway cut on 51 days this year — more than twice as many as in 2010. The ferry will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays from June 14 to September 2, and on Saturday, Sunday and holidays until October 14.
The announcement was made almost two months in advance of the ferry’s return because Canadians and other potential bike visitors to Vermont “are scheduling their summer vacations right now,” Spencer (at right in photo) explained. Torti (at left in photo) added that the ferry is an integral component in a cycling network that serves as a big draw for tourists — and consequently as an economic booster for Burlington and the Champlain Islands.
Ferry passengers have been asked in the past to contribute to the cost of the service, with $10 posted as the suggested donation in 2010. The amount of a requested payment for this season has not yet been determined, Spencer said, but he indicated it would likely be less than $10.
Brian Costello, a Local Motion cofounder and the ferry’s pilot, said at the Thursday press event on the Burlington bike path that daily service in summer and early fall remains “our big goal.” A stride toward it will take place in 2014 when plans call for a larger ferry to operate 75 days, Costello said.