Personally, I'd rather ride around, but I still hate to see it go.

Plug pulled on CAT ferry

Dec 18, 2009
Bay Ferries Limited announced Friday that it will end its high-speed CAT ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Portland and Bar Harbor. The change takes effect in the spring of 2010.
According to a press release, approximately 120 people will lose full or part-time employment as a result of this decision. The financial viability of the service has been impacted by reduced passenger traffic due to a series of factors including new US passport rules, a strong Canadian dollar and the weak economy in key US markets.

Mark MacDonald, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bay Ferries Limited, communicated the news to affected employees at a staff meeting in Yarmouth this morning. Separate meetings were held in Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine.

"This was an extremely difficult decision to make, particularly given there has been some form of ferry service out of Yarmouth since the 1800s," said Mark MacDonald, president and chief executive officer of Bay Ferries Limited. "Although Bay Ferries recognizes this is a sad day for our workers and the communities we serve in southwestern Nova Scotia and Maine, our company is not in a position to absorb the significant financial loss we would experience in the absence of government support."

The ferry operated seasonally from late-May to October each year. MacDonald said the company had successfully operated the service for nine years without government support. The service has not been viable without government support for the past several years.

"First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to our employees for their tireless efforts to provide safe and reliable transportation between Nova Scotia and Maine," added MacDonald. "I am sorry to be sharing this news just before the Christmas holidays, but I felt it was the right thing to do to communicate promptly with our employees once we had a clear picture of what support was available for 2010."

More than 76,000 people traveled on the high speed service in 2009, a 10 per cent drop over 2008 figures when 85,000 people used the service. In stronger market conditions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, annual volumes ranged from 100,000-150,000. More than 1.5 million people have travelled with Bay Ferries between Yarmouth and Maine since 1997.

"I would like to thank our customers for supporting the Yarmouth ferry services through the years," added MacDonald. "To our many friends, colleagues and partners in the travel, tourism and hospitality business, thank you for working with us in looking after the people travelling to and from Nova Scotia."

Friday's announcement comes after the company was informed by the government of Nova Scotia earlier this week that government support would not be extended for the 2010 operating season.

"Bay Ferries deeply appreciates the support it has received from the Nova Scotia government in many forms, as well as the support from communities on both sides of the Gulf of Maine, most importantly, Yarmouth, Bar Harbor and Portland," said MacDonald. "While there is no longer a viable private sector business case for our company to run ferry services out of Yarmouth without government support, we fully respect the right of the Nova Scotia government to make the decision it feels is best for the province."

Bay Ferries Limited and its sister companies, Northumberland Ferries Limited and Bay Ferries Management Limited, will continue to operate year-round ferry service between Digby, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick, spring, summer and fall seasonal service between Caribou, Nova Scotia, and Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island. No decision has been made on the future of the actual CAT ferry vessel, the second one owned by Bay Ferries since 1998.

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