Bike Ferry History

WINOOSKI RIVER BIKE FERRY :: 1998 - 2003Winooski_River_Bike_Ferry_at_Auers

Local Motion's first bike ferry ran across the mouth of the Winooski River between Delta Park in Colchester and the Auer Family Boat House in Burlington.  It all started when Brian Costello stopped Chapin Spencer on Burlington's College Street in 1997.  Brian told Chapin of his vision to connect the Colchester Causeway Park with the Burlington Bike Path.  Brian donated a motor and Chapin donated a boat.  Charlie and Christine at Auer's Boat House agreed to host the ferry service.  Governor Dean and community leader Bill Hauke were a couple of our first passengers in 1998.

Regular service across the river didn't begin until the fall of 2000 -- after more than a dozen public meetings and a couple court challenges.  A few Colchester residents worried that the ferry operation would hurt their neighborhood.   Fortunately, once regular service started, concerns dissapated.  The ferry ran 100 days a year and boarded between 19,000 and 25,000 passengers each season.



The last Winooski River ferry ran on October 13, 2003 as the new trail bridge was being constructed.  This would be the last day of service for old Bike Ferry I -- it was retired after six years of service.  Bike Ferry II would move up to "the cut" in the causeway.


Thank you to all who made this service possible: Governor Howard Dean, Senator Dick Mazza, Colchester Selectboard members Marc Landry and Bill MacLeay, Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, Charlie Auer, Chistine Hebert, Jennifer Ely, Lee Winchester, Captains Robert Peterson, Chris Farmer, Ed Gorginzky, LM Staff Bob Reichel, VTrans staffers Amy Bell, Curt McCormack, Brian Searles, Sam Lewis and many others.



CAUSEWAY BIKE FERRY :: 2000 - Present2005_Ferry_Operation_Two_Boats_xsm

With a donated Colchester Police Boat sporting bike racks, we hosted our first demonstration crossing on July __, 2000.  Without docks and only a few boards for ramps, the loading and unloading onto the marble block causeway was challenging.  WCAX was filming this historic crossing when a 55-year-old passenger lost his balance on the ramp and fell into the lake.  He was quickly rescued and the WCAX interviewer asked "So what do you think of the service now?"  He replied "I love it.  This is great!"

Each year we improved the service.  Volunteer Steve Hard build our first real stairs down to donated docks in 2001.  In 2004, Bike Ferry III was christened the "Bill and Carole Hauke" thanks to the generous lead gift that enabled its purchase.  As a larger, more stable pontoon boat, it could provide more reliable service.  In 2005, a quick capital campaign raised $55,000 to install new ramps and docks.

Each year ridership and support has grown.  In 2005, we started operating two 6-passenger ferries at the cut to handle demand.  By 2008, we were boarding an average of 510 passengers per day.  Thanks to our 60-100 volunteers who make this demonstration service possible.



While ridership continues to grow during demonstration service, we are still limited to a weekends in August schedule.  Why you ask?  Because we don't have sufficient infrastructure to handle regular service.  We need wave attenuators, a commercial vessel with a bathroom, and turnarounds on the causeway for emergency and maintence service.  Help us out.  Get involved.  Become a member today!



Bike Ferry Wind & Weather

”Colchester Reef” is a nearby weather station on the lake.

Interested in receiving bicycle guide maps for the Lake Champlain Region?

Click here for more info.

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Ferry Fares

The ferry doesn't run on love alone... though we wish it did!  The service costs about $154,000/yr for 114 days of service-- and fares cover about 50%. Thanks for your support!

Round Trip:

$8 adults  

$5 youth 7-17  

free 6 & under 


One Way: 

$5 Adults and Youth 

free 6 & under 



$40 for adults, $25 for youth age 17 and under . Available at the Ferry & Trailside Center.

Contact charlene@localmotion.org802-861-2700 X103, with questions. 

Buy your Bike Ferry Season Pass here!



For groups larger than 20 please email or call 802-861-2700 x110.

*see full fare policy below*


View Bike Ferry Map on google maps here

Ferry & Islands Article

Dig In VT blogger Sheila McGrory-Klyza wrote a story about her time on the Bike Ferry and in the Champlain Islands. Click here to read it.

More on Ferry Fare Policy

In addition to the fare information above, we offer the following detail: 

The fares listed above and through other channels are suggested fares.  We acknowledge that many people arrive at the cut in the causeway without money or with not enough money.  Some trail users arrive at 'the cut' not knowing that a ferry ride is needed to get to the adjacent community.  Others in our community, for economic reasons, are unable to afford the full fare amount.  For all of these reasons, we will welcome passengers to board who are unable to pay the full fare.  We will offer them remittance envelopes for the opportunity to send in money when and if they are able.  Local Motion believes this bike/pedestrian ferry serves as an important transportation and recreational resource in the region and should be able to be enjoyed by all.  This policy seeks to balance the needs of the community with the financial needs of providing this service. 

For more information, please contact Local Motion (802-861-2700).

Local Motion · 1 Steele St. #103 · Burlington · VT 05401 · (802) 861-2700 · Contact Us
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