BURLINGTON, VT – As summer approaches, there are growing concerns that the popular ferry line connecting Burlington and Port Kent, New York, which ceased operations four years ago, may never return.

The last direct ferry service between Burlington and New York’s North Country was in 2019, and the prolonged closure has locals and tourists wondering about its future.

Phil Collins, who grew up in Burlington but currently resides in Florida, who worked on the ferry during his time at Champlain College in 1989.

“It was beautiful,” he said. “That’s half the reason why the tourists and the Burlington people would take the crossing. Sunshine on the water, the mountains, they had a snack bar. Souvenir shops on the ferries.”

During a recent visit to Burlington, Collins went to the waterfront to relive his college days but was unable to find the ferry.

“I was kind of bummed, a little sad, kind of melancholy not to see it. A lot of memories down here.”

Leaders on both sides of Lake Champlain, including Chesterfield Town Supervisor Clayton Joseph Barber, say they support the service. Barber said since the line shut down, there has been a drop in visitors to towns like Keeseville, Chesterfield and Ausable. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said the city supports the reopening of the ferry, highlighting the benefits it brought to the local community.

But Barber said that reopening the line is highly unlikely. Lake Champlain Transportation, which operates the line, is planning a boat arena where the Burlington Ferry is located and wants to expand the existing one in Port Kent.

When contacted for comment, Lake Champlain Transportation said the continued closure of the Burlington to Port Kent is due to declining ridership and the lingering effects of the pandemic.

In the meantime, the Grand Isle to Plattsburgh ferry and the Charlotte to Essex ferries continue business as usual.