If a proposal to restore Halifax's late-night ferry can survive city council's budget debate, the service could return in time for spring.

On weeknights the ferry runs until  10: 30 p.m. linking downtown Halifax and downtown Dartmouth.

Coun. Gloria McCluskey's moved a motion to extend the ferry's hours as late as midnight or even 1 a.m.

"It's a service that people can go to a function in Halifax and still come home on the ferry and you don't have people worrying about drinking and driving and taking cars and looking for parking," she said.

Extended hours would be a relief to late night workers like Terrance Jack.

"I think it is a fine idea. Myself personally I have two jobs, which requires me to go fairly late in the evening and we close at 11 most days, 1 a.m. others," he said.

Businesses are heralding the proposal as well.

"You're limiting the number of people that can travel back and forth. Especially being down on the waterfront or even people on Argyle Street as well, I am sure they are suffering the same fate as we are," said Todd Abbass, owner of Stayner's Wharf Pub & Grill in Halifax.

The late service was reduced in August. City hall said running the ferry late is expensive and few people are using the service.

Reinstating the runs could cost $150,000. Council is expected to vote on the proposal in April.

Quarter hike

Meanwhile the city's audit and finance committee endorsed Metro Transit's proposed budget on Wednesday including a fare hike for transit users.

It still has to be approved by regional council this spring.

Metro Transit officials have proposed an increase of $0.25 per ride, beginning later this year. If approved, the increase would bring the fare for an adult to $2.50 per ride.

There would also be a 6.2 percent hike for those who use tickets or monthly passes except for university students with a  U-passes.

Metro Transit said the money would allow for automatic stop announcements, fare boxes that recognize smart cards and a system that will tell when the next bus is arriving.

The upgrades could cost $36 million over the next three years.