The province has reached a 10-year agreement with Bay Ferries Limited to manage and operate a high-speed ferry between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine.
Government will provide annual funding for the ferry service, including marketing, at $10.2 million for the first season and $9.4 million for the second. There will also be $4.1 million for start-up costs that will include terminal upgrades and $9 million towards the ferry’s retrofit, in lieu of two years of charter fees.
“This long-term support for a solid ferry operator provides stability and predictability for Nova Scotia businesses and tourism operators from all across the province,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan. “The Yarmouth Ferry is a vital link in Nova Scotia’s transportation system. It is as essential as the TransCanada highway.”
“With this service in place, we will bring more visitors to our province – that means more jobs for the people of Nova Scotia.”
The new service is Yarmouth-based, leaving Yarmouth in the morning, travelling to Portland, and returning to Nova Scotia that evening. It will increase overnight stays in the region and provide an economic boost to Nova Scotia businesses.
It will reduce the travel time in half and eliminate the need for vessel cabins and additional onboard staff. It will also be quicker than driving between Portland and Nova Scotia.
Bay Ferries Limited, who operated the Yarmouth-Portland ferry service until 2009, has secured a vessel from the Military Sealift Command of the United States navy for the service. The vessel is a high-speed ferry with a capacity of 282 vehicles and 866 passengers. It was built in 2007 as a civilian ferry and was used in the Hawaiian Islands.
“We are pleased to once again provide this important service between Nova Scotia and Portland,” said Mark MacDonald, president and CEO of Bay Ferries Limited. “We’re ready to aggressively market the ferry service to Americans and beyond and help boost tourism to Nova Scotia.”
The 2016 season schedule is anticipated to run June 15 to Sept. 30, departing Yarmouth and Portland daily at 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively and returning to Yarmouth at 9 p.m.
“A stable, long-term ferry operation in Yarmouth is great news for tourism operators all across Nova Scotia,” said Graham Hudson, general manager of the Keltic Lodge and Highland Links Golf Course. “As the operator of a tourist destination in Cape Breton, the Yarmouth Ferry is a key transportation link in bringing US tourists to all parts of our province. We will all need to take advantage of the business opportunity this brings us.”
Details of the ferry service can be found at “http://www.ferries.ca .