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July 11, 2018

More riders boarding Acadia bus service

The Island Explorer

Ellsworth-based Downeast Transportation operates the 30 Island Explorer buses, which run on propane and emit no pollutants, at an annual cost of $2.3 million. The park funds about 60% of that cost and, for the past five seasons, L.L. Bean has contributed $1 million to the operation.

Although the summer's just started, more people have been riding the Acadia region's seasonal, free bus service.

The Bangor Daily News reported that, from the season's beginning, June 23 to July 3, Island Explorer buses carried 66,276 passengers, a 4% increase over ridership during that period last year, Island Explorer Executive Director Paul Murphy said.

The bus service travels 10 routes throughout Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula, linking hotels, campgrounds, points within Acadia National Park and downtown Bar Harbor.

The rise in ridership comes as Bar Harbor grapples with decisions about the crowds who throng the town each summer.

The town is an increasingly busy port of call for cruise ships, 180 of which are expected this year — 14 more than last year, and disembarking 6,000 more passengers. Talks are also underway with a Canadian company to resume high-speed ferry service to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Both the cruise ships and ferries might utilize a vacant marine terminal on Eden Street, but the site is slated to become a public marina, prompting vigorous debate among residents.

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