Saco River ferry to provide commuter passage to UNE community in three-week trial | People
Biddeford - Starting Monday, April 9, there will be an exciting new option for University of New England, Biddeford campus commuters traveling from the Saco-Old Orchard Beach area—an option that not only saves time, gas money, and parking aggravation, but also provides an opportunity to be part of history.
UNE’s Undergraduate Student Government has funded a three-week pilot river ferry, which will transport passengers between Camp Ellis, Saco and the UNE pier in Biddeford. Anticipated operations will occur Monday through Friday, beginning this Monday, April 9th and ending April 27th. The 18-seat ferry will make rounds during two different time blocks each day—7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and again from 4:00 p.m-5:30 p.m., with each one-way trip taking approximately 10 minutes. This venture will mark the first time that there has been an active Saco River ferry since 1925.
Rides on the ferry during this three-week trial will be free of charge for all UNE students, faculty and staff. Passengers will be required to wear a personal flotation device, which will be provided to them, while on the ferry and the UNE dock. To prevent too many phone calls to Captain Carl Lagerstrom, known simply as “Captain Carl,” for emergency rides home, passengers will also be asked to sign up for GoMaine at gomaine.org, a program that offers carpooling and vanpooling options for commuters, as well as a Ride-Home Guarantee, which provides up to two free taxi rides home per month or up to eight per year.
The ferry pilot is being launched not as a means to alleviate the financial burden of rising gas prices or the need for more parking spaces on campus, but as a part of UNE’s Climate Action Plan signed by UNE President Danielle Ripich in 2008. By eliminating many of the miles driven by cars to and from the University, the operation of the commuter ferry will reduce UNE’s carbon emissions by removing approximately 90 cars and commutes per day.
According to Alethea Cariddi, the University’s sustainability coordinator, "UNE's carbon footprint includes the emissions produced by our commuters and is the hardest metric to control as an institution. Helping our students, faculty and staff find an alternate means of transportation and shorten their commutes helps our greenhouse gas emissions. The River Ferry is creative and unique and a true collaborative effort; we're all very excited about this opportunity and hope our community takes advantage of it."
Though not everyone who may choose to ride the ferry lives within walking distance of the docking location of the boat at Bare Knee Point Kayak Rentals in Camp Ellis, for many, a shorter commute to Bare Knee Point, where parking is available, will help keep UNE-related carbon emissions levels down. Alternatively, passengers may bike-ride to the dock and either take their bikes with them on board the ferry for use on campus or lock them to the racks available at Bare Knee Point Kayak.
All participants will be asked to complete a survey at the end of the trial in order for UNE to gauge interest and acquire feedback. Depending on ridership numbers and the results of the survey, the ferry service may continue to run, though future funding sources have not yet been identified.
For more info, contact Alethea Cariddi in UNE's Sustainability Office at 602-2507 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.