COVID temporarily parks Downeast buses

TRENTON — Downeast Transportation, which operates year-round bus service between Bar Harbor, Ellsworth, Bangor and several other Downeast communities, has suspended all service until Monday, Nov. 16 because an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

“Although not required by the Maine CDC, we are taking this action out of an abundance of caution,” said Downeast Transportation Executive Director Paul Murphy.

He announced the suspension of service Nov. 6.

“We have notified all members of the public who may have come in contact with our employee, as well as our business partners,” Murphy said. “All buses and facilities will be thoroughly disinfected and cleaned during the service suspension.”

Downeast Transportation’s offices and bus maintenance facilities are at the Acadia Gateway Center in Trenton.

The company offers Monday-Friday commuter service between The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and Ellsworth, Bangor, Brewer, Franklin and Milbridge, with stops at several other Downeast locations. In-town shuttles run once a week in Bar Harbor, Ellsworth and Bucksport.

Murphy told the Islander that the employee who tested positive for the coronavirus is a bus driver.

“This driver drives several different routes during the day including a Jackson Lab commuter route and between Ellsworth and Bar Harbor in the middle of the day,” he said.

“We’ve been really careful, and we’ve been fortunate until now.”

Downeast Transportation has been carrying an average of about 60 passengers a day this fall.

“That is way less than half what it would normally be [without the pandemic],” Murphy said. “Our service has been curtailed since March, so there are not as many opportunities for folks to ride.”

During the summer and early fall, Downeast Transportation operates the fare-free Island Explorer bus system, which serves Acadia National Park and its neighboring communities. The Island Explorer did not run this past season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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