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article imageNo More High-Speed Ferry Between Maine and Nova Scotia

By Martin Laine     Dec 28, 2009 in Business
The news that “The Cat” ferry service between Maine and Nova Scotia is being discontinued has sent shock waves through both sides of the border.
Earlier this month, Bay Ferries Ltd., of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, announced that the seasonal service would be ended after being told by Canadian officials that no government subsidies would be available for the 2010 season, according to the Associated Press.
A Yarmouth paper, the Vanguard, reported a delegation from the Yarmouth area met last week with Premier Darrell Dexter and Percy Paris, Nova Scotia’s minister of economic and rural development, in an unsuccessful attempt to convince them of the need for the government subsidy.
Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald cited the weak economy, the strong Canadian dollar, and new American passport rules as reasons for the service’s financial difficulties.
The service had been operating at a profit until 2006, when it began receiving government subsidies to cover its losses. Those amounted to $1.25 million in 2006, $1.25 million in 2007, and $5.65 million in 2008. Figures for 2009 are not yet available.
The 320-foot catamaran, which can travel at speeds up to 40 knots, has operated between Bar Harbor, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, since 1998. In 2006, it began service between Portland and Yarmouth.
Passenger counts, which ranged from 100,000 to 150,000 passengers in the late 1990s has dropped off to 76,000 this year.
“We need to evaluate it and the impact on the tourism industry,” said Pat Eltman, director of Maine’s Office of Tourism.
Yarmouth mayor Phil Mooney expressed disappointment with the premier’s decision.
“I don’t think he knew the potential impact,” Mooney said.
The effects of the closure are already being felt in Yarmouth, with hotels reporting room cancellations as a result of the lack of ferry service.
To make matters worse, Starlink Aviation has stopped flights between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth and Halifax, Nova Scotia, because it, too, faces a loss of government subsidies.
More about Ferry service, Cat, Bay ferries ltd
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