L.L.Bean Extends and Grows Support for Island Explorer

L.L.Bean has pledged $1.5 million to support operations of the Island Explorer bus service over the next five years.

Visitors disembark off an Island Explorer shuttle at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

BAR HARBOR, MAINE–Friends of Acadia announced this week that L.L.Bean has pledged $1.5 million to support operations of the Island Explorer bus service over the next five years, an increase of fifty percent over their previous annual contributions. This pledge is the fifth time the outdoor retailer has committed funding to the bus system, bringing their total contributions and pledges in support of the Island Explorer to $5.5 million since 2002.

“We are immensely grateful to L.L.Bean,” said Eric Stiles, Friends of Acadia President and CEO. “Their sponsorship has sustained fare-free public transportation through Acadia National Park and the surrounding communities over the last 20 years, greatly enhancing the visitor experience, reducing traffic congestion, and connecting visitors and residents to trailheads, carriage road entrances, and local communities.”

L.L Bean has supported the Island Explorer since 2022, pledging more than $4 million through Friends of Acadia. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

L.L.Bean’s contributions have enabled the Island Explorer to make significant service improvements, such as the addition of fall service and the purchase and operation of the Bicycle Express vans and trailers that take bicyclists from Bar Harbor to Eagle Lake throughout the summer.

“We are proud to continue our support of the Island Explorer bus system as it aligns so closely with our purpose of enabling people to enjoy the restorative power of the outdoors,” says Shawn Gorman, Executive Chairman of L.L.Bean. “Traffic and visitation have increased dramatically in Acadia National Park over the last few years and the impact of the Island Explorer bus system to reduce congestion is more important than ever.”

The Island Explorer operates on routes through Mount Desert Island and the Schoodic Peninsula. The buses run from June 23rd to Indigenous Peoples’ Day each year with service starting just before Memorial Day on the Schoodic Peninsula. Island Explorer buses are fare-free, wheelchair-accessible, and can carry four to six bicycles per bus. The fall Island Explorer schedule began this year on August 23rd.

Overall, the Island Explorer has carried more than 8.7 million passengers since it began operating in 1999. Friends of Acadia estimates that the Island Explorer has prevented an estimated 3.35 million private vehicle trips through the park and reduced emissions of smog-causing pollutants by more than 46 tons and greenhouse gases by more than 30,000 tons.

“Transit solutions are critical to the future of Acadia and other national parks in reducing traffic congestion while enabling visitors to access key destinations within the park. Thanks to the generous support of L.L. Bean and Friends of Acadia, visitors will be better able to access all that Acadia National Park has to offer,” said Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider.

Visitors ride the Island Explorer shuttle on Park Loop Road in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Lily LaRegina/Friends of Acadia)

In addition to support from L.L.Bean, the Island Explorer is funded through transportation fees that are part of Acadia’s entrance passes, federal tax dollars apportioned to the states for rural transit, municipal appropriations, passenger donations, and contributions from area lodging establishments.

Paul Murphy, Executive Director of Downeast Transportation, the non-profit organization that operates the Island Explorer said, “One of the things I most appreciate about the L.L.Bean partnership is that their funding can be used flexibly to take care of the Island Explorer’s greatest operational needs—whether driver wages, bus maintenance, fuel costs, printing of schedules, or even a private match for federal funding. It’s tremendous to have a corporate partner like L.L.Bean that recognizes a need, is nimble, and enables growth.”

For more information about L.L.Bean’s support of the Island Explorer, visit www.llbean.com/llb/shop/517997. To view Island Explorer schedules, visit www.exploreacadia.com.

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