After $660,000 refit, Gondola Point ferry breakdowns make commuter fume
William Pitt II recently returned from long refit, only to be taken out of service this week
After a key ferry in the Kennebecasis Valley got a lengthy and expensive upgrade, a Kingston Peninsula woman is wondering why it was out of service so soon after returning to action.
Denise Miller takes the Gondola Point ferry on her daily commute to Saint John. In the last week, Miller said, the William Pitt II,m one of two ferries at the crossing, was down for almost two days straight.
With only one ferry on the crossing, there were long lines during rush hour, so Miller opting for a different route. The detour swelled her usual 35-kilometre voyage to more than 100 kilometres each way.
"It hasn't been here a month," she said. "Why is it breaking down after just coming back from a refit?"
The William Pitt II was designed in 2004 in Nova Scotia and went into service in 2007. According to a spokesperson at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, refits are required every five years.
"This work is required by Transport Canada," Jeremy Trevors said in an email, "to ensure that the vessel is operating at its peak condition by addressing any mechanical, electrical, structural, or hydraulic issue."
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The latest refit of the William Pitt II cost the province $660,000 and began last October. But Trevors said the ferry was taken out of service this week for an unexpected repair to the hydraulic drive.
Miller said the vessel ran for about two hours on Wednesday night before breaking down. Thursday morning, she said, she was feeling optimistic about her trek, only to find the crossing's other ferry down.
"So then we were again another rush hour without that second ferry," she said.
According to Trevors, the breakdown was not related to the recent refit.
"There was no indication that work needed to be done to it upon inspection," Trevors said.
He compared the breakdown to a car getting a flat tire not long after leaving a garage for a tune-up.
Miller said her concerns extend beyond the annoyance of waiting in long lines. Without reliable ferries, she said, the population on the peninsula is put at risk.
"If we have two ferries go down by chance," she said, "that ambulance has no way of getting around until they go around Hampton."
As irritated as she may be with the reliability of the vessel, Miller said the ferry workers at the Gondola Point crossing have been top-notch while dealing with the inevitable traffic.