Sen. Curry introduces bill to improve ferry service reliability through MMA scholarships

Sun, 04/16/2023 - 11:00am

AUGUSTA — Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast, recently introduced LD 1139, “An Act to Improve Ferry Service Reliability by Providing Scholarships at the Maine Maritime Academy,” to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.

This bill aims to address staffing shortages in the Maine State Ferry Service by providing scholarships for maritime training, according to a news release. 

LD 1139 would allocate funding for a minimum of 115 scholarships, valued at up to $1,250 each, to Maine residents who want to take basic training courses through the Maine Maritime Academy’s Center for Professional Mariner Development, based in Bucksport.

The scholarships aim to help develop a well-trained workforce that can support the Maine State Ferry Service and maintain the vital connection between the island communities and the mainland, the release stated. 

The bill seeks to address critical staffing shortages within the Maine State Ferry Service, which have led to service disruptions and negatively impacted the livelihoods of island residents.

This issue also impacts the numerous mainland businesses that provide services to island residents. By offering financial support for maritime education and training, LD 1139 seeks to ensure that more Mainers have the necessary skills and credentials to work in the Ferry Service, thereby addressing the staffing shortages, per the release. 

“Maine’s ferry services are a vital lifeline for our coastal communities, and it’s essential that we address the staffing challenges impacting its reliability,” said Sen. Curry. “By investing in the education and training of our future maritime workforce, we can ensure the continuity and improvement of this service for all Mainers.”

LD 1139 faces additional action in the committee.