The Maine Ferry Service is now offering online ticket sales, so you can purchase them in advance of your trip.

Maine's ferries provide many services. They whisk island residents back and forth to the mainland for work and supplies, carry excited tourists to the many islands off the coast where they can take pictures and imagine what it must be like to live there, and they 'ferry' supplies to the island residents. They're as much a part of Maine's traditions as the lobster boats on the coast.

And now, the Maine Department of Transportation has made riding the state's ferries even easier through the use of online ticketing. So those commuters won't have to worry about buying tickets at the terminal, but can just flash their tickets on their cellphones. Tourists can buy their tickets in advance and know that they'll have a space on the ferry when they arrive.

The announcement this week states that people will be able to print their tickets, once they've been purchased through the Maine DOT ticketing site or, as I already mentioned, they can be displayed on their phones during the boarding process. Now, if you're a traditionalist who likes buying tickets at the terminal, no worries. You'll still be able to get tickets at the ferry terminals on the day you plan to ride.

Ticket prices are not changing.

Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation says the new system should improve travel for passengers, thousands of whom are Maine residents who rely on the ferry on a regular basis.

Many more people from both within and beyond our state's borders use this service to enjoy Maine's beautiful island communities. This modernization will improve transportation for our residents and visitors.

The Maine Ferry Service operates six ferries that provide passenger and vehicle service to the islands of Vinalhaven, North Haven, Matinicus, Swans Island, Frenchboro, and Islesboro. Last year, 447,237 passengers rode Maine ferries.

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