Traffic mess leads to new St. John River shuttle

Fredericton commuters are being offered a new way to cross the St. John River - by boat.

Boat will run between Delta Hotel and Carleton Park during the Westmorland Street Bridge repairs

Fredericton commuters are being offered a new way to cross the St. John River — by boat.

While vehicle traffic is jammed because of work being done on the Westmorland Street Bridge, the Delta Hotel and Rock the Boat River Adventures will provide a ferry service.

Rock The Boat River Adventures and the Delta Fredericton Hotel are offering a shuttle boat for pedestrians crossing the St. John River. (Delta Fredericton/Twitter)
Corey Cheek, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, says there will be five crossings during the morning rush hour, starting at 6:30 a.m., Monday to Friday, and five during the evening rush, starting at 4:30 p.m.

The shuttle will depart from Carleton Park at half-hour intervals.

Cheek says the boat can accommodate 12 passengers for each trip and as many as three bicycles. The first 58 people to book will get a place.

"They can book a permanent seat for a permanent time slot for a week and it just guarantees their spot so they know they'll always have a place in the shuttle," he says.

"Or, if they wish, they can simply show up at one of the scheduled times and upon availability, use the service."

The price for a week pass has now been set at $50. A single trip will cost $6. 

Cheek says the idea started as a way to help the hotel's own employees get to work. He says when it became apparent crossing the river was going to be a struggle for many people, they decided to open it up to the public.

The hotel already had a business relationship with Rock The Boat, which is a licensed charter company.

A long line of cars waits to cross the St. John River during bridgework Tuesday. (Calvin Milbury/Twitter)
Cheek says the initial response on social media was encouraging, with some people calling it "genius."

"We just knew it was a good idea," he says.

Cheek says some of the scheduled crossings are about half full.​

He says the shuttle boat service will start Monday morning and run until work on the bridge is completed in late August.

The Westmorland Street Bridge is the main traffic artery connecting the north and south sides of the river in Fredericton. Two of its four lanes will be closed for the duration of a $3.35-million repair project, in addition to ramps that provide two of the three access points on the north side.

The bridge is used by approximately 51,000 vehicles a day. During the first two days of the construction work, drivers said a normally 10-minute drive across the river took them an hour, or more.