Burlington ferry service unlikely to return in ‘near future’

Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington waterfront has long been home to a ferry terminal, but the crossing to Port Kent, New York, hasn’t run for three seasons and officials now say they have no immediate plans to bring it back.

The last direct service from Burlington to New York’s North Country was back in 2019. Lake Champlain Transportation company will only say the line is postponed for this year, but the ferry apparatus appears to be gone from where it used to sit. In a statement, the company said that with ongoing staffing constraints and economic challenges from the pandemic, the decision has been made to discontinue the service for “the near future.”

Over in Chesterfield, New York, Town Supervisor Clayton Barber says he doesn’t believe that the line is coming back. “I’ve had many constituents complain that it’s very inconvenient for people in the town of Chesterfield and the town of Au Sable -- that it’s very inconvenient for them to travel to Plattsburgh or Essex to catch that ferry,” he said. “We have a lot less tourism that comes to the town of Chesterfield or Au Sable for businesses here.”

Barber says the problem has been compounded because Amtrak service, which used to provide another transportation link while the ferry was in operation, now only stops in Port Kent by appointment.

Burlington residents like Chloe Warner now say they have to drive to Charlotte or Grand Isle to access the ferry to meet family. “We had to spend an hour, where they were at the Au Sable Campground. Wasn’t ideal but we still wanted to see them,” she said.

Mayor Weinberger’s office responded to Channel 3 in a statement regarding the ferry’s unlikelihood of return in the near future, “The Mayor has repeatedly urged Lake Champlain Transportation Co. to resume the ferry service. However, LCT operates as a private company, which does not receive any subsidies from the City; neither the City nor the State has any regulatory oversight over the ferry route.”

Other indications the LCT does not intend to resume the service include the move of their maintenance operations to Grand Isle and a proposal to build a restaurant on the site, Questions remain about what kind of redevelopment would be allowed for the ferry property, which sits on filled land.

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Plan to scuttle ferry in Lake Champlain called off

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