Ferry FAQs

Find the answers to your most pressing questions about the Local Motion Bike Ferry!


Why “The Cut?”

Before the Island Line Rail Trail was a bike and recreation path, the Island Line Railroad ran along its length from Rutland to Montreal.  A swing bridge was built near the north end of the line to allow the train to cross the gap in the Causeway. Employees lived in a house at the base of the bridge to open and close the bridge to boat traffic as needed, allowing it to pass through to and from Mallet’s Bay and Lake Champlain.  When the railroad was dismantled the bridge also came down, leaving a 200-foot gap in the Causeway. This gap came to be known as “the Cut.”  

What's the distance across the Cut?

The Cut is 200-feet wide.

From The Cut, going onto the Champlain Islands, where can we get something to eat?

There are several options for food up near South Hero, and the Dockside Ambassador or Deckhands will gladly point you in the right direction.  From creemees and a quick bite to fine dining, the small town has many different options. The Island Line Trail Map includes a list of eating establishments within a 5-mile radius of the Ferry, and copies are available at the Ferry, at Local Motion’s Trailside Rental Center, and at several points along the Rail Trail.  

You can also check out our online map of the Island Line Rail Trail, which includes locations and information about food options.

Do you sell food or water at the Ferry?

We do not sell food at the Ferry (the closest options are in South Hero), but we have an on-board filtered water system you may use to refill bottles, and bottled water is available by donation.

Can the Bike Ferry accommodate tandem bikes and e-bikes?

Yes, Bike Ferry can take all kinds of bikes.  We can accommodate tandem bikes, trailers, tag-a-longs, e-bikes, and loaded up cargo bikes.  Please note that if the tandem bike is a rental from Local Motion and you get a flat tire on the Islands, a rescue operation will take some time.

Pets?

Dogs are welcome on the Ferry.  They must be leashed and well-behaved, and please be aware that there are oftentimes children riding on the Ferry.  We cannot take horses across on the Ferry; the land on the Northside of the Causeway belongs to the Department of Fish and Wildlife which prohibits horses on their land.

What if I get a flat tire riding on the Causeway?

We can help you out!  The Bike Ferry is stocked with a small supply of tubes and a bicycle pump.  We ask for a $10 donation for a new tube, and the staff is more than happy to help you change out the float tube for the new one.

What if I rent a bike at Local Motion’s Trailside Center, ride to The Cut, take the Ferry, and while riding on the Islands, I have a bike breakdown?

Please call the Trailside Center for guidance and they’ll help you get back to Burlington. If you’re on the Ferry, or near The Cut, however, we have a cool solution to a broken-down bike - we put you on a “rescue” bike from the Ferry to get back to the Trailside Center, and we take care of the bike with the flat

Why do we pay $8 for a ticket? And $10 on the weekends?

The Island Line Bike Ferry has become a true Vermont destination.  Last season we carried visitors from every state and 28 different countries totaling more than 16,000 passengers.  With success comes the additional cost of staffing, fuel, and boat maintenance to accommodate the growing volume of weekend riders.  Local Motion is a non-profit, and it costs more than $200,000 to run the Ferry for just over 100 days of service each summer. Ticket donations bring in less than half that amount. 

Generous donors, our local sponsors, and our partners at VTrans all help to provide additional critical support for Ferry operations.  Importantly, we still depend on your support through ticket donations to ensure a safe, reliable, and bright future for the Island Line Bike Ferry. 

How about bathrooms? My daughter has to go…

There are two port-o-lets on the Northside of the Cut, about ½ mile from the Ferry dock.  And on the south side, there are restrooms at Airport Park, 4 miles south from the southern ferry dock.

Swimming?

Swimming off the Causeway is some of the best in Lake Champlain!  Be careful getting in and out, the rocks can get very slippery when they are wet.  And like any swimming situation, be sure you know how deep it is before you jump off a rock.  We advise that you do not swim at the Cut near the docks - boat traffic gets very busy and it can be dangerous to swim around that many operating boats.

CAUTION: swimming off the causeway is at your own risk. There are NO lifeguards on duty at any time along the length of the causeway.

What are those little black creatures running around the rocks? Are they black squirrels?

No, they’re minks.  Minks are a common species in Vermont and are one of the most aquatic members of the weasel family, so they love living near the lake.  

What if the weather blows up, or lightning strikes nearby?

We run in all kinds of weather, and the ferry is capable of winds of up to about 30 mph. We WILL close temporarily for lightning storms.  We keep close tabs on the weather in this exposed area; if we choose to close down for an entire day we have an Emergency Closing Plan protocol of informing the public – via our website, with signs posted at both ends of the Causeway, and as a phone message at Local Motion.  It is the sole responsibility of our licensed captains to determine safe operating conditions and when a closure is warranted. If you’re worried about the weather, feel free to call the Bike Ferry line to find out if we are open: (802) 861-2700 ext. 2.