How It Began
    The Portland Express Water Taxi, owned and operated by Captain Gene Willard, was chartered by the State of Maine in January 2003 and has been running successfully since that time.

    With the encouragement of several island passengers who had been urging him to get his permit for a water taxi, Captain Willard started his water taxi service but just wasn't sure there would be enough business to sustain it. His fears were soon put to rest. Says Willard, "I had no idea there would be this kind of support from the islands." And much to his delight, the growth has continued.

    Captain Willard, who works full-time for Casco Bay Lines, started his water taxi service as  an "off" hours activity. He is descended from the Willards who lent their name to South Portland's Willard Beach and is the eighth generation in his family to make a living on Casco Bay. His great great uncle William operated the bay's first working tugboat; William's brother Benjamin founded the company that is today Casco Bay Lines; and his grandfather Enoch ran the first water transportation service from Peaks Island to South Portland.

    Willard, who obviously loves what he does, says "I love the water, the people, the feeling of being connected to my roots, being proud of where I come from."

Captain Gene

Meredith Willard's depiction of dad's (Capt. Gene Willard's) boat Osprey