Essex ferry halts weekend runs

ESSEX — Staff shortages and COVID concerns are being blamed for the temporary cessation of the Essex-Charlotte, Vt. ferry on weekends as well as reduced hours for the third Cumberland Head-Grand Isle, Vt. ferry.

Lake Champlain Transportation Company runs the ferries, and the third Cumberland Head ferry will now sail 7:35 a.m. to 5:35 p.m. Monday through Friday only.

The other two Cumberland Head boats will still operate 24/7, the company said.

Prior slowdowns

The Essex-Charlotte ferry will stop operating weekends, starting this weekend, but will continue Monday-Friday regular hours. In 2020, it stopped running Jan. 4 through spring, citing the pandemic and reduced usage.

The ferry has also ceased running during winters when ice built up in the channel between Essex and Charlotte.

At least open weekdays

Many Essex residents who posted on social media said they’re at least happy the ferry will still run weekdays.

“At least they are keeping it open for doctor visits and commuters,” Becky Hance wrote.

Essex Town Supervisor Ken Hughes said he’s thankful the ferry is at least staying open weekdays this year.

“It is a challenging time indeed on a variety of fronts: staff shortages, heightened COVID concerns, lower ridership in the winter,” he said by email.

“I am very appreciative of the Lake Champlain Transportation Company, that they are able to continue to run a ferry schedule between Essex and Charlotte, even if it means reducing days of the week.”

Meeting needs

People can hopefully still make medical and other appointments in Vermont, he said.

“It is an inconvenience for some, I’m sure, but the fact that they are still open and running even on a reduced schedule still means that medical, educational and professional needs can still generally be met,” Hughes said.

“I hope no further cuts in hours need to be made.”

The Essex ferry will leave New York state docks 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays only effective now.


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