Nova Star ferry to get another $13M from government
Michel Samson outlines government's plan to support ferry service in Yarmouth
The Nova Scotia government says it will spend another $13 million to bankroll the ferry service between Yarmouth and Portland, Maine, this year.
Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Michel Samson announced Wednesday in Yarmouth the government has signed a one-year contract with the operators of the Nova Star.
"We are confident that the $13-million subsidy is going to be more than adequate for the Nova Star to have a successful operating season," said Samson.
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The province says, in the spring, it will issue a request for a proposal to operate the service for 2016.
Keith Condon, a Yarmouth businessman who had previously expressed an interest in taking over the ferry service, declined to comment Wednesday on whether he would put in a proposal.
"Hopefully, they've corrected some of the issues, so good luck to them. This is their day," he said.
This year the ferry will run from June 1 to Oct. 14 and begin its run in Maine. Nova Star says it will operate seven days a week and is offering what it calls "flexible pricing" in 2015 including discounts for travellers on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The company says it will charge a one way fare of $94 for an adult. Return travellers will get a 10 per cent discount.
Nova Star officials are predicting 80,000 passengers in 2015.
"We believe this is going to be a good year and we're targeting 80,000 passengers and we feel that's a good goal," said Mark Amundsen, president and CEO of Nova Star Cruises.
During its inaugural season in 2014, the ferry carried 59,000 passengers. The province said those passengers spent $13 million in Nova Scotia.
In 2014, taxpayers spent $28.5 million on the Nova Star, including burning through a $21-million, seven-year subsidy during the first season.
Ferry service resumed last year after a four-year hiatus. The previous New Democratic government cancelled a provincial subsidy on the grounds it was too expensive.
In a briefing Wednesday, government officials said the new agreement contains more measures to lower costs and provide more auditing.