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‘A slap in the face’: Ferry’s inability to haul commercial trucks gets negative reactions


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The Chronicle Herald  /  March 24, 2016

The announcement of the new high-speed ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, now expected to restart in mid-June, is not the cat’s meow to some.

No commercial trucks will be allowed on board, said Bay Ferries president and CEO Mark MacDonald at a briefing in Halifax.

“It’s disappointing,” said Nathan Blades of Sable Fish Packers of Shelburne, who is also president of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.

“That link has traditionally been considered a valuable one for the seafood industry and getting fresh fish to U.S. markets is extremely important to securing that market. It’s a slap in the face to Nova Scotia business.”

The prospect of allowing commercial trucks on board the new ferry was dumped early on in the Bay Ferries’ negotiations with Portland city officials, said MacDonald.

He said Portland’s council was not prepared to permit commercial trucks to use the service because they didn’t want them coming through and parking in the downtown core.

There were additional aspects regarding border surveillance they didn’t want to consider either.

Blades was also a founding member of the Bay of Fundy Marine Transportation Association, which was formed by various local industry representatives such as fishing and tourism operators to lobby keeping the Digby-St John service.

“Portland’s downtown is more tourist-oriented now, so they probably don’t want to upset their tourists,” he said.

“But I don’t understand how a few commercial trucks crossing once a day can cause too much upset. Motor coaches are just as big but they will allow those.”

But Blades thinks the province has missed the boat on the 2016 tourism season.

“Those companies plan a year out, so it’s conceivable many of the tour-bus companies have bailed on the Portland to Yarmouth run.”

“I don’t understand why they would deliberately take away a revenue stream. Had they allowed commercial trucks it would have given our members another option to get fresh seafood more quickly into the U.S. market,” he said.

But he’s glad they at least have the Digby to St. John run. Blades estimates that using the Fundy Rose from Digby cuts their journey by six hours each way.

He says companies using that service still get turned away because the Fundy Rose has less commercial truck capacity than its predecessor, the Princess of Acadia.

“So they still end up driving around through the province and into New Brunswick.”

The service was maxed out during the lobster season in December-January, he said.

Jean Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, didn’t think the decision would affect many of their general freight members.

Picard said the Nova Star’s crossing times didn’t coincide with delivery schedules for many.

“So for them it was just as good to go around rather than wait five hours to board the vessel,” said Blades. “They’ve just continued to do that. They didn’t give the Nova Star enough time to build.”

The high-speed ferry is a 2007-built Alakai owned by the United States Navy, so the company has a charter agreement for at least two years, with the possibility of two one-year extensions.

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US Navy to lease high-speed transport to Bay Ferries

Professional Mariner  /  March 24, 2016

The Office of the Secretary of the Navy has approved an enhanced use lease of a high-speed transport vessel to Bay Ferries Ltd. today.

HST 2, owned by Military Sealift Command, is to be leased to Bay Ferries Ltd., a Canadian company, to operate ferry service between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia under the name “The Cat”.

The lease is for a period between June 2016 to October 2017 with two one-year options after the first two years. At the end of the lease HST 2 will return to the U.S.

The U.S. Navy found HST 2 to be a non-excess, but underused, property and found an opportunity to lease the vessel which will benefit the U.S. Navy. For example, Bay Ferries Ltd. will pay for all repairs necessary for HST 2 to obtain its U.S. Coast Guard certificate of inspection. Additionally, while the vessel is leased to a Canadian company, the U.S Navy requires that HST 2 remains U.S. flagged, crewed by U.S. citizens, maintains a U.S. Coast Guard certificate of inspection, and all work bringing HST 2 into class will be conducted in U.S. shipyards.

HST 2 is one of two high-speed transports that were designed and built by Austal USA as commercial passenger vessels for Hawaii Superferry and were named M/V Huakai and M/V Alakai. HST 2 (ex-USNS Puerto Rico, ex-M/V Alakai) was transferred to the U.S. Navy from the Maritime Administration in January 2012 and has remained under caretaker status in Philadelphia, Pa.

HST 1, owned by Military Sealift Command as USNS Guam and previously known as M/V Huakai, supported humanitarian relief operations in Haiti during Operation Unified Response in 2010. HST 1 is scheduled to enter a shipyard this year to accomplish mission-required modifications to bring the vessel in class and is expected to support the III Marine Expeditionary Force mission in the Western Pacific beginning in fiscal year 2017.

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No transport trucks allowed on new Yarmouth-Portland ferry

Truck News  /  March 29, 2016

Truckers in Atlantic Canada are not pleased with the vessel Bay Ferries and the Nova Scotia government selected to run between Yarmouth N.S. and Portland, Maine as it will not accommodate commercial trucks.

Last week, it was announced that the new vessel is a former US navy ship called the CAT.

Though Mark MacDonald, Bay Ferries president, said the catamaran ferry can hold commercial trucks, it will not take them since city officials in Portland said they do not want more trucks on their streets, according to a CBC report.

With no trucks allowed the new ferry, trucking companies that relied on the service from Nova Scotia to Maine will suffer by having to hire more drivers and adjusting their operations, said Jean-Marc Picard, executive director for the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association in an interview with Truck News.

“It’s certainly disappointing,” he said of the ferry announcement. “Because obviously this means there is one less options for carriers in the area. There’s certain carriers that will be affected more than others because of the products they haul, like seafood. So hopefully this won’t put them out of certain markets in the US…Now carriers will have to plan accordingly to make sure they can still service that market going forward.”

Picard added that the announcement that no transport trucks would be allowed on the vessel was a surprise to the trucking industry.

In addition, it was announced last week that ferry services in the Maritimes were included in the federal budget with an infrastructure investment of $51.9 million. This investment will help ferries operating between Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., and the CMTA ferry service from Souris, P.E.I., to Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. and Saint John, N.B., and Digby, N.S.

Truckers in the area have been frustrated with the ferry situation in Nova Scotia as far back as October of 2015, when the province said it had chosen Bay Ferries as the candidate to operate the route. At that time, government said the company had 45 days to choose a ship. The deadline came and went without a ship being named.


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