Nova Scotia

Trucking company fears ferry interruption will raise costs, compromise safety

A Maritime trucking company is worried that a planned temporary shutdown of the ferry service between Digby, N.S., and Saint John, N.B., will expose its drivers to greater risks on winter roads and increase costs.

Ferry service between Digby, N.S., and Saint John, N.B., will be interrupted from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21

The Fundy Rose will be out of service from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21 while work is being done on the loading structure in Saint John, N.B. (Roger Cosman/CBC News)

A Maritime trucking company is worried that a planned temporary shutdown of the ferry service between Digby, N.S., and Saint John, N.B., will expose its drivers to greater risks on winter roads and increase costs.

Brian Reynolds of Reynolds Trucking in Shelburne, N.S., said the interruption in service runs counter to what representatives of Bay Ferries promised him last year.

"They sent two men to my office in October and said there'd be no interruptions this year in service," Reynolds told CBC News.

Bay Ferries announced Monday the Fundy Rose ferry will be out of service from 11 a.m. AT on Jan. 24 to 4 p.m. AT on Feb. 21.

The company's website cites infrastructure maintenance as the reason for the interruption in service.

Rhonda Latter, director of corporate services for Bay Ferries, told CBC News that work needs to be done on the loading structure in Saint John and the ship "cannot be in service while the work is ongoing."

Transit time will increase

Reynolds said truckers are restricted in the number of hours they can drive a day and having to go by land will more than double the transit time from three hours to seven. 

He said the extra driving will also expose truckers to treacherous winter road conditions.

In addition to increased wear and tear on trucks from the extra driving, he estimated going overland will add an additional $500 in cost in each direction. 

He also said the shutdown will occur during one of the busiest times of the year for truckers in the region — the period around Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.

Lobster is in high demand for Chinese New Year celebrations in the U.S., said Reynolds, and the increased cost of shipping as a result of the detour may end up affecting the price to the consumer. 

Reynolds said his company isn't the only one concerned about the interruption in service. 

"I'm talking not only from me, I'm talking for several companies," he said. "There's a lot of trucking companies that depend on that service."

Worries about perishable products

Ronnie Fitzpatrick of the Beach Point Processing Company in Prince Edward Island said he's concerned about how the extra transit time will affect perishable seafood.

"Our mortality rate will go higher because lobsters are longer out of the water, and the customers get upset because the product is not getting to them on time," said Fitzpatrick, who uses Reynolds Trucking to move product.

Latter said Bay Ferries tried to minimize disruption to ferry users when it chose the dates for working on the project. 

She said the decision was based on the need to complete the repairs and an "evaluation of traditional traffic patterns for the seafood industry."

"The overriding consideration at all times is the safety of the operation and the assets with which we are entrusted," she said. 

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Vernon Ramesar

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Vernon Ramesar is a reporter and video and radio journalist originally based in Trinidad. He now lives in Halifax.

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