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Thread: Bay Ferries suspends CAT

  1. #1
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Bay Ferries suspends CAT

    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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  2. #2
    Once there was a Tavern PAULBACH's Avatar
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    Sorry to learn the CAT has been clawed by the economy. I hate to see it go and have used it in the past. Taking the ferry meant more time to ride in Nova Scotia. And then there was the slot machines and the duty free shopping. The seats were comfy and perfect for a snooze. For a retired sailor, the CAT was heaven.

    Glad to see there are a couple of options left.

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAULBACH View Post
    Sorry to learn the CAT has been clawed by the economy. I hate to see it go and have used it in the past. Taking the ferry meant more time to ride in Nova Scotia. And then there was the slot machines and the duty free shopping. The seats were comfy and perfect for a snooze. For a retired sailor, the CAT was heaven.

    Glad to see there are a couple of options left.
    In a ship, you pay dearly for speed. To the first order, cost = speed x speed x speed. So, a 26% increase in speed corresponds to a doubling in cost. Accordingly, high speed ferry services usually have financial issues and often operate on the edge.

  4. #4
    Honey Badger Semper_Fi's Avatar
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    That is too bad, my wife and I took it several times, the boarding and deboarding crews were very efficient in loading the ship.

    We ride to NS now, but still sad to see it go - it was a great service, hopefully it can come back
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  5. #5
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    I've looked into taking it three times in the past three years. Whether it saves you time or not depends on departure time, day of the week, and exactly where you are going.

    Each time it was faster and cheaper for me to ride around. Most recently, last September, it would have cost me $220 from Yarmouth to Portland and I would have arrived home (Braintree, MA) about three hours later than taking the boat. I rode the 750 miles instead, leaving the Peggy's Cove area about 10:30 AM and arriving home 12 hours later. (Yeah, I stopped only for fuel, and it was a nice ride.)

    As I said, I still hate to lose it. The first time I saw it was from Schoodic Peninsula and that thing was just boogieing across Frenchman Bay.
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    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear this. I used it on the return leg of a month long ride in ’04. I enjoyed the break from riding and the experience. I have to admit when I have pulled out maps to day dream plan another trip to the Maritime Provinces I have not thought of intentionally using it again. It was always on my lists of options in the event of …?... and if for no other reason than that I will miss it.
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    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
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    whenever we travel we never take the CAT. I took it once to be the first motorcycle on for the first crossing a few years ago but that's it. Far too expensive for our taste. In fact, the two way trip will pay for our fuel to California and back. Two adults (sorta), one bike and a Uni-Go will cost us dearly. From Halifax it is 200 miles..... that gets me 1/3 of the way to Portland. As Tom points out, the schedule can be a bit difficult. Personally I liked the all nighter cruise out of Portland but I tend to be a bit of a romantic.

    I'm really more concerned about the economic ripple effect this will have in both Maine and Nova Scotia. I think a deal will come about though..... negotiations have begun so let's see. -Bob
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    Once there was a Tavern PAULBACH's Avatar
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    I recall booking it well ahead of time and the price was always way under $150 for motorcycle and rider.


    Will have to find a new scow for the Salty Fog Adventure! An ocean cruise was part of the adventure.


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    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    I'm with Bob. I personally have never taken the CAT, though have taken the ferry from St John to Digby. I prefer to ride. But I can imagine how much losing the ferry would hurt Digby, and hope things work out for the small businesses dependent on tourist traffic at either end of the CAT run.

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  10. #10
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAULBACH View Post
    I recall booking it well ahead of time and the price was always way under $150 for motorcycle and rider.


    Will have to find a new scow for the Salty Fog Adventure! An ocean cruise was part of the adventure.

    Paul,

    Have you considered doing some trips in Scandinavia and northern Europe? You can take ferries across the North and Baltic seas. They aren't speedy, gas guzzling CAT's, but they'll get you there.

    Or, what about BC to Alaska?

  11. #11
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAULBACH View Post
    I recall booking it well ahead of time and the price was always way under $150 for motorcycle and rider.
    September 2009 pricing was $180 for bike and rider to Bar Harbor and $220 to Portland.
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  12. #12
    Once there was a Tavern PAULBACH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    Paul,

    Have you considered doing some trips in Scandinavia and northern Europe? You can take ferries across the North and Baltic seas. They aren't speedy, gas guzzling CAT's, but they'll get you there.

    Or, what about BC to Alaska?
    Now that sounds like fun. Would like for a great picture taking adventure.

  13. #13
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Nova Scotians: Restore ferry subsidy
    Yarmouth officials hope to keep The Cat for one more summer and recruit a vessel with more capacity.

    By TOM BELL, Staff Writer
    December 21, 2009

    2008 Associated Press file

    PORTLAND ÔÇö Officials in southwest Nova Scotia are urging the provincial government to reverse its decision to eliminate the subsidy for the ferry service between the province and Maine.

    On Friday, Bay Ferries Ltd. announced that the loss of the subsidy had forced it to end the service, which connected Portland and Bar Harbor with Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Last year, it received $5.65 million from the government to help it offset higher fuel prices and lower passenger volumes.

    Yarmouth officials and business leaders are now asking the provincial government to subsidize the service for one more summer, giving them time to recruit a different kind of ferry service than The Cat, the high-speed catamaran used by Bay Ferries.

    They believe that a traditional ferry has a better chance for success because it would be more fuel-efficient and have more room to carry trucks. The Cat did not carry trucks.

    "The goal is to keep the boat here one more summer and see if we can get a traditional boat with more cargo capacity," said Yarmouth Mayor Phil Mooney.

    He said many people want the vessel to travel between Yarmouth and Portland.

    About 20 officials plan to travel to Halifax on Wednesday to meet with Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and members of his Cabinet.

    If their effort proves unsuccessful, the group plans to organize a demonstration on the steps of Parliament.

    People in the tourism industry from all over Nova Scotia are getting involved in the campaign because they are fighting for economic survival, said Jim Greig, executive director of the Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce.

    "We are hit but not down yet, that's for sure," he said. "We will continue to press the provincial government."

    More than 3,000 people have signed an online petition urging the government to restore funding.

    This summer, 76,000 passengers rode The Cat between Nova Scotia and Maine, down 10 percent from 2008.

    Traveling as fast as 55 mph, the Cat took only 5 1/2 hours to go between Portland and Yarmouth. But the vessel also consumed a lot of fuel, which made its operation vulnerable to high fuel prices.

    "It's like having a Ferrari and going grocery shopping," said Brian Rodney, who owns the Best Western hotel in Yarmouth. "Maybe we don't need that."

    The main industry in southwest Nova Scotia is fishing, particularly for lobsters. Fishermen could save time and money if they could transport their catch to the Boston market on a year-round ferry, Greig said.

    With a cargo producing steady revenue, there should be a market for a year-round ferry service to Portland, Portsmouth, N.H., or Gloucester, Mass., he said.

    Greig said the loss of a ferry service would be devastating to the Yarmouth area. The owners of two large hotels last week said they will likely shut down.

    Moreover, Greig said, the ferry's departure will be felt as far away as Cape Breton because many people used the ferry as a shortcut on one leg of their journey, allowing them to travel a large loop between New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

    With no ferry, tourists would have to drive 1,500 miles round trip between Yarmouth and Portland.

    Greig said the $6 million subsidy generates $50 million in business for Nova Scotia.

    "When you weigh one against the other, it doesn't make sense to pull the plug," he said.

    The state of Maine does not provide any money toward the operating costs of The Cat, and some people in Nova Scotia believe Maine should help out.

    "Our taxpayers have been subsidizing it for nine years now, and Portland and Bar Harbor have been getting a lot of the benefits," said Richard Hurlburt, a member of the Legislative Assembly who represents Yarmouth.

    He said he told Gov. John Baldacci last spring that Maine and Nova Scotia need to form a task force to improve transportation links.

    He said Baldacci was open to the idea, but nothing came of the talks, probably because in June the New Democratic Party took control of the Nova Scotia government.

    Hurlburt, like many in southwest Nova Scotia, is a Conservative and has lost much of his influence.

    Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

    tbell@pressherald.com

    Copyright ?® 2009 MaineToday Media, Inc.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

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  14. #14
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommcgee View Post
    Nova Scotians: Restore ferry subsidy
    Yarmouth officials hope to keep The Cat for one more summer and recruit a vessel with more capacity.

    By TOM BELL, Staff Writer
    December 21, 2009

    2008 Associated Press file

    PORTLAND — edit......
    With no ferry, tourists would have to drive 1,500 miles round trip between Yarmouth and Portland...... etc



    Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:

    tbell@pressherald.com

    Copyright ?® 2009 MaineToday Media, Inc.

    That's a 'red-herring' arguement. I have no knowledge of the number of travellers who are doing a Yarmouth-Portland return run but I bet that one hand will cover the count. To a trucker hauling seafood from Yarmouth to New England I can see the advantage but the cost really sucks so they drive around. Commercial use is less than minimal and the service only caters to the well heeled tourist..... who, by all accounts, seem to be sticking closer to home. And, the cost is in U.S. dollars. Scrap it and bring back the tubs and let it cater a bit more to the commercial enterprises..... and have a moonlight cruise while yer at it b'y! - Bob
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  15. #15
    BUBBAZANETTI
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    never took the cat, but i won $400 dollars on a slot machine when i was 17 on that other slow boat that got fined for all the health code violations. that was our senior class trip, portland to yarmouth and back in the remnants of a hurricane. i was one of the few that didn't get sea-sick but i also slept right through the stop in yarmouth because i stayed up all night gambling and not being sea sick.

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