November 21, 2012

Potential bidders discuss restoring Portland-Nova Scotia ferry

Ferry service ended three years ago when Bay Ferries Ltd. stopped operating The Cat.

By Randy Billings
Staff Writer

Potential bidders hoping to restore ferry service from Canada to the United States met on Tuesday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to discuss conditions for an upcoming request for proposals.

The Province of Nova Scotia is looking for a partner to help restore ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Portland.

Ferry service stopped three years ago when Bay Ferries Ltd. stopped operating The Cat, a high-speed ferry that was losing $7 million a year when Nova Scotia stopped subsidizing the service. 

The province is prepared to spend $21 million over a seven-year period to attract a long-term cruise ferry operation in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

A panel of experts assembled by the province issued a report in September saying that a ferry service to Maine could be viable if it provides a high-quality on-board experience, is supported by a sophisticated marketing strategy, and leverages a strong tourist experience in southwest Nova Scotia.

The panel predicted it would take upfront investment of $5 million to conduct baseline research, advertising, vessel acquisition and financing to get the service up and running. Another $13 million would be needed to repair ferry terminals in Yarmouth.

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