Campobello ferry to run all winter amid worsening COVID situation
Originally scheduled to end on Dec. 31, ferry service now extended till May 31, Transportation Department says
Ferry service to Campobello Island will continue throughout the winter months and into May, the government says, overturning a decision just weeks ago to stop seasonal service at the end of December.
In late November, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure said that ferry service would be discontinued Dec. 31. That meant Campobello residents would have no choice but to travel through Maine to reach mainland New Brunswick.
But as COVID-19 cases surge in Maine, and in New Brunswick — which reported a record number of active cases Wednesday — the department has revisited that decision.
"With rising case levels, especially in Maine, we thought it was important to provide certainty to residents," department communications manager Mark Taylor said Thursday.
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Rather than reviewing the service's availability month by month, which the department has previously done, the decision was made to rule out any disruption and continue the service right through until regular seasonal service resumes in June, Taylor said.
"Obviously, with the arrival of Omicron, it's important … for residents to have ferry service they can depend on in these difficult times. We wanted to provide that certainty."
Taylor said the cost of extending the ferry service is about $60,000 a month.
The ferry will run four times a week, dependent on weather and on days determined by East Coast Ferries, which owns and operates it.
Schedules are posted and updated on the company's website and on its Facebook page.
Islanders welcome the news
The news got the thumbs-up from island residents, many of whom who responded to the government's and East Coast Ferries' announcements on Facebook with enthusiasm.
Island resident Heather Cline told CBC News the extension of service was a huge relief.
"I have chronic health issues, and try to plan trips when the ferry is running," Cline said. "The current setup is appropriate for sightseeing and tourism, but is impossible to get to the mainland, get necessities, and be able to catch the ferry again for the return trip."
Cline said she'd love to see the ferry running year-round every year, noting it would not only be a convenience for residents but would also be a boost to New Brunswick's economy.
"I think a lot more money [would] be spent in Canada if we are enabled to do so," she said.
In a Facebook post, organizers of the Campobello Island Seaglass Festival said the announcement had Campobello Island "feeling almost Canadian today."
"This is exactly what we needed to hear," the post read.
"A direct link to Canada is the very definition of an essential service, and it is something that Islanders and visitors all deserve."