At least three Nova Scotia shipping companies are wondering if a rebooted Yarmouth ferry would have follow the old route to Portland, Maine and whether it would use Canadian crews.

The provincial government invited people to a public meeting Tuesday to discuss a plan to renew the ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States.

"Well, various issues have cost implications, have issues involving social and economic impacts. What we seek out of this process is clarity," said Don Cormier, vice-president of Bay Ferries.

The ferry, which started its run in 1997, was able to carry 900 passengers and 240 vehicles. It ran every day in the summer and five days a week in the spring and fall shoulder seasons.

The NDP government cancelled a $6 million subsidy for the service in 2009.

"Devastating. This wasn't just Yarmouth and South West Nova Scotia. This was province-wide, " said Keith Condron representing Yarmouth business.

John Somers, speaking for priorities and planning in the provincial government, said the province is bringing some start up cash and a set of standards to the process, but it's not buying anything.

"The province can't do it alone. It's going to take three levels of government on this side of the border and probably a similar effort on the other side of the border," he said.

There is talk of a ferry beginning again in 2013 or 2014, but it requires both a boat and a profitable business plan.