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Island Explorer shuttle bus postponing service amid coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic

The Island Explorer features ten bus routes linking hotels, inns, and campgrounds with destinations in Acadia National Park and neighboring village centers.

TRENTON, MAINE, Maine — Editor’s note: You've probably heard the term ‘flattening the curve’ as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means. 

The Island Explorer bus system, which serves Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities, has postponed service for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To meet social distancing guidelines issued by the State of Maine and the CDC, Island Explorer buses could only carry 12 passengers each as compared to the normal capacity of 30 seated passengers and 14 standing. During busy times of the season, the bus system often operates at capacity and requires passengers to wait in lines for the next bus with room for riders.

“This is the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in my two decades with Downeast Transportation. We recognize that park visitors, residents, and commuters love the bus system, so we do not take this action lightly. But the safety of our employees and the general public is paramount. We’re confident that postponement is the right thing to do at this time.” said Paul Murphy, Executive Director at Downeast Transportation.

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Murphy indicated that Downeast Transportation and its partners will continue to meet throughout the summer to evaluate whether conditions allow for operating the service. Factors to be weighed include social distancing guidelines and the number of drivers that Downeast Transportation is able to hire. 

“Typically, we hire around 120 drivers for the entire season,” said Murphy. “Many of these are local school bus drivers who return to their regular jobs in the fall, so we depend on drivers who travel to the region to provide service in the fall. That could be challenging this year.”

Service for the fare-free transit system would normally begin June 23rd on Mount Desert Island and Memorial Day weekend on the Schoodic Peninsula and run through Columbus Day.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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