It’s no breaking news that we are experiencing a severe staffing shortage in the state and even around the country. Go to your favorite coffee shop or store in the middle of the afternoon and you’re no longer surprised when the doors are locked and there’s an apology taped to the door.

This is due to varying reasons but the inconveniences are the same. This holds true for the Maine State Ferry Service, which has had to cancel several dozens of ferry runs since early May due to this crisis.

Maine State Ferry Service Staffing Shortage

According to News Center Maine, the Penobscot Bay ferry has had 29 cancellations across all six routes to Maine islands between May 9 and July 4 and has had to cancel even more since then.

Availability and pay are the main challenges.

As the article shares, the positions require very specific training and certification so while it’s tough to fill any role these days, these are especially hard positions to get hands on deck for. Pay is another consideration, as they can’t raise the pay because it is governed by the state employee union contract.

The Ferry Service is doing what they can to make the job more financially desirable, including $2,000 stipends and bonuses offered to those who can fill the nine open positions. It takes 4-5 trained and credentialed seamen to operate each vessel and it’s been tough to hit those numbers on a regular basis.

This is a major inconvenience for those who require the ferry transportation for work and to get home, using it as a daily means of transportation for their needs. The Ferry Service is doing what they can and even retired mariners and ferry workers have stepped up to help out but they have still been unable to fill the gaps.

This is just one of many examples we are seeing across the state of sad outcomes of low staff.

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