Bay Ferries is increasing the number of crossings between Saint John and Digby for the remainder of the month to try to reduce the backlog of commercial vehicles brought on by a busy fishing season.
Beginning today, the MV Fundy Rose will run twice a day on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, which the company says are traditionally the busiest days of the week. There are typically two crossings a day, one each from Saint John and Digby.
Until the end of January, departures from Saint John will also be earlier in the day — at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m.
Scott Cormier, the vice-president of operations and safety management for Bay Ferries, said the earlier departure time will allow the ferry to make another run if traffic warrants.
"Commercial customers will book in advance so we'll monitor to see how traffic is building and see if there's a potential need for an additional sailings," he said.
Representatives from the company met with members of the trucking and fishing industries last week in Yarmouth. Companies that ship scallops, salmon and lobster have been asking for more ferry crossings.
Cormier said local businesses wanted to see the increased service continue until the end of March. The company will consider adding more runs after January if the demand remains high, he said.
"There's definitely the potential and possibly the need for more sailings," Cormier said.
Neil LeBlanc, the owner of the trucking company Chebogue Fisheries Ltd. in Yarmouth, said he doesn't know if the change will eliminate the backlog of trucks — but he's optimistic this will take the pressure off.
"They showed some flexibility and they've also said it allows them to make additional runs because they started earlier and they finish later," he said. "Only time will tell if this is going to work or not."