Nova Scotia

LaHave ferry riders complain price hike too steep

The cost of riding provincially run ferries in Nova Scotia went up April 1 — and in some cases, the fares doubled, with commuters saying the new prices will leave them on the dock.

Cost of a punch pass for 10 trips is up 160 per cent

The cost of riding provincially run ferries in Nova Scotia went up April 1 and some commuters say the new prices will leave them on the docks.

The LaHave ferry in Lunenburg County has one of the highest price hikes. The cost of a punch pass for 10 trips is up 160 per cent, from $13.50 to $35. 

The ferry cuts about 45 minutes of driving time around the LaHave River. Tim Richardson, a South Shore resident, said he relies on the service.

Gael Watson owns the LaHave Bakery. She bought many ferry passes before the price hike to help staff get to work. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

"It's a bit steep, but if it keeps the ferry going I guess it has to be done," he said.

A return trip is now $7 and for residents earning minimum wage, it's a big hit to their budget.

Moira Frier said she is going to have to think about what the increased cost will mean to her bottom line.

"I'm on the ferry to five to six times a week, sometimes four times in one day," she said. "I'll have to reconsider where I'm going to live and reconsider job options."

Moira Frier commutes on the LaHave ferry to her minimum wage job in Lunenburg. (Elizabeth Chiu/CBC)

The owner of the LaHave Bakery is worried about the impact on her staff. Gael Watson took the step of collecting ferry passes before the increase, buying 50 before the price went up.

"I thought I'll take no chances," she said. "There are people that work here that cross the river so I bought a pack so that they would at least, for the next few months, would be able to afford to cross."

The LaHave ferry transports about 90,000 cars a year at a cost of $1 million to operate. The new price will see revenues rise to nearly $290,000.

Geoff MacLellan, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, said the new prices reflect what is needed to keep the service operating.

"At this point these were the fees that were required to close the gap on the cost versus revenue and that's where we're at," he said.

Anna Bald said many others are upset and the province should prepare for pushback.

"I'm mad, I'm really mad about it," she said. "It's not like this is a luxury boat or a museum piece. It's actually a functioning part of our highway system that connects vital communities."

Bald said there is a plan to lobby MLAs.

MacLellan admits the price hike isn't popular and says he'll be watching to see if it steers drivers away from riding the ferry.

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