Island Explorer Carries Four Millionth Passenger
Bar Harbor, ME – On Friday, August 19, 2011, supporters of the Island Explorer greeted the bus system’s 4 millionth passenger at the Bar Harbor Village Green. The Sherlock family from Cherry Hill, NJ, disembarked from the Sand Beach bus at 10:20 a.m. to the news that they were the 4 millionth passengers. Representatives from Acadia National Park, L.L.Bean, Friends of Acadia, and Downeast Transportation applauded the family’s decision to ride the environmentally friendly bus and awarded them with a gift tote and gift card from L.L.Bean and a gift membership to Friends of Acadia.
The Island Explorer is a fare-free, propane-powered bus system that runs through Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities. Since the transportation system’s inception in 1999, the buses have eliminated almost 1.4 million private vehicle trips and prevented emissions of approximately 13 thousand tons of greenhouse gases and over 20 tons of smog-causing pollutants. If all cars and recreational vehicles (RVs) removed from the roads by the Island Explorer since 1999 were placed bumper to bumper, the traffic jam would extend from Bar Harbor south to the Florida Keys and back up the west coast of Florida through Mobile and New Orleans, almost to Baton Rouge.
“We thank Downeast Transportation and the Island Explorer bus drivers for providing such excellent service to Acadia’s visitors,” said Len Bobinchock, deputy superintendent of Acadia National Park. “It is a wonderful benefit to visitors to have a choice of taking environmentally friendly public transportation to their destinations in the park and surrounding communities.” Annual surveys on the buses show that on average 80% of passengers are visitors, and 20% are local residents.
The Sherlock family boarded the bus at Blackwoods campground in the park and were en route to a hike up the North Ridge Trail of Cadillac when they were surprised with the news that they were the 4 millionth passengers. Leaving their recreational vehicle (RV) behind at the campground, the Sherlocks mentioned that they had ridden five of the Island Explorer’s bus routes, and would ride another by the end of the week when they switched their campsite over to Southwest Harbor.
Stephanie Clement, conservation director of Friends of Acadia added, “We thank the Sherlock family for choosing to ride the buses. Not only does the Island Explorer provide great recreational opportunities for millions of visitors, but it also helps fight global climate change and air pollution. Every visitor who rides the bus should feel confident that they are being good stewards of Acadia National Park.”
The Island Explorer is supported financially by Acadia National Park, the US and Maine Departments of Transportation, contributions from L.L.Bean and Friends of Acadia, local municipal appropriations, fees from businesses that receive front door service, and passenger donations. During the Island Explorer operating season, a portion of every weekly and annual Acadia National Park pass purchased is dedicated to funding the Island Explorer’s operations.
Since 2002, L.L.Bean has contributed more than $3.25 million to Friends of Acadia to support the Island Explorer buses, research fellowships in the park, and youth education programs at the Schoodic Education and Research Center. As a result of the company’s contributions, the Island Explorer has been able to extend bus service through Columbus Day each year, and the Bicycle Express service was added in 2005. Four vans and two bicycle trailers have carried more than 67,000 cyclists from the Bar Harbor Village Green to the carriage roads at Eagle Lake since the beginning of the Bicycle Express.
Clement thanked L.L.Bean for its commitment to the Island Explorer, “We owe much to L.L.Bean for their outstanding support of the bus system and Acadia National Park. Their corporate stewardship of Acadia is a model among the National Park System and is lauded every year by visitors on the annual Island Explorer passenger survey.”
Paul Murphy, general manager of Downeast Transportation, the operator of the Island Explorer, commended his staff and the donors to the bus system. “I’d like to thank the drivers and managers of the Island Explorer who work tirelessly to ensure a good transportation experience for all passengers riding the bus system. We also owe much to L.L.Bean, our tremendous corporate supporter, the National Park Service, the Maine Department of Transportation, Friends of Acadia, and local towns and businesses for supplying the funding that enables us to operate the system each year.”
The Island Explorer runs eight routes and the bicycle express through Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities. Daily service to Ellsworth was also added this year. The buses will run their full schedule through August 31 and then will operate on a reduced basis through October 10. Information and schedules are available online at www.exploreacadia.com.
About L.L.Bean, Inc.
L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. While its business has grown over the years, L.L.Bean still upholds the values of its founder, including his dedication to quality, customer service and a love of the outdoors. L.L.Bean products are rigorously tested, guaranteed to last and always shipped free. In the past five years, L.L.Bean has donated over $6 million toward conservation and land stewardship. The 200,000 sq. ft. L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, ME, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and welcomes more than 3 million visitors every year. L.L.Bean can be found worldwide at www.llbean.com, L.L.Bean Facebook, L.L.Bean Twitter and L.L.Bean YouTube.