Nova Scotia

Motorcyclist starts petition for Yarmouth ferry

A Waverley motorcyclist says bikers in the U.S. are upset about the loss of the Yarmouth ferry and has started a petition to get the service back.

A Waverley motorcyclist says bikers in the U.S. are upset about the loss of the Yarmouth ferry and has started a petition to get the service back.

Harold Nesbitt, the author of the Motorcycle Tour Guide Nova Scotia, said he heard complaints from many bikers when he was recently at Americade 2012, one of the largest motorcycle conventions in the world.

"A gentleman said to us, 'Travelled all the way across the U.S. and got to Portland and there was no boat,'" said Nesbitt.

The CAT high-speed ferry used to run between between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine.

In 2009, the provincial government cancelled a subsidy that had kept the Bay Ferries Ltd. ferries running, effectively ending a service that had lasted more than a decade.

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 seasons.

Nesbitt said he collected 260 signatures from bikers across North America, who want the CAT ferry restored. He said he's planning to give the petition to the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, a group of private businesses in southwestern Nova Scotia that has been campaigning to get the ferry back.

"We weren't really working at getting the petition but people were coming to our table and wanting to sign it, talking to their friends about it," said Nesbitt.

"It was a little bit of a conversation there in front of our booth, often with people talking about the ferry boat and their situation of how they missed it."

Gary Dixon, who owns the Privateers Sou'West Harley-Davidson store near Yarmouth, said his business has taken a hit since the ferry service was cut.

"We'd get 30 bikers a day, about 15 coming back from the Cabot Trail or wherever they've been for their vacation, coming back toward town to catch the ferry," he told CBC News.

"Then the boat would land, the new ones would stop on their way, plus the emergency breakdowns. It's really been a huge, huge loss to our small business."

In April, an independent panel was appointed to review all existing studies on ferry service between Yarmouth and the U.S.

The province expects to receive the panel's report by August.

now