Bay Ferries signs 5-year lease to use The Cat for Yarmouth ferry service
No crossings in 2019 season due to construction delays at Maine ferry terminal
The company that operates the ferry service between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, has secured a new five-year agreement to use The Cat high-speed ferry.
Bay Ferries CEO Mark MacDonald confirmed the agreement between his company and the U.S. Navy on Thursday.
The agreement means the company has the services of the vessel up to and including the ninth year of its 10-year contract with the Nova Scotia government.
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines welcomed the news.
"It's really kind of exciting because, as you know, the Portland destination was at the perimeter of [the ferry's] ability to operate," he said in an interview Thursday at Province House.
"The Bar Harbor destination is well within that. It changes some of the economics and it's a true high-speed ferry so we're looking forward to getting operational at Bar Harbor in 2020."
Details not yet known
This past season was supposed to be the service's first using Bar Harbor as the port of call after previously going to Portland, Maine. The shorter trip is predicted to save on fuel costs and wear and tear on the vessel.
Bay Ferries previously had a four-year lease to use The Cat, at which point the navy put the use of the vessel up for tender.
Terms of the new agreement between Bay Ferries and the navy were not released Thursday and Hines said he's still waiting for the final details.
"My staff will be following up on that [Friday] and letting me know," he said.
Despite having no service this year, the subsidy for the service as well as the construction work — all of which is covered by the province — has amounted to about $20 million.
Hines said his government remains committed to and confident in the service and its future.
"We know that it's good for Nova Scotia. We know that it's good for the rural economy, particularly in that particular section of the province and this is nothing but good news to know that this vessel has been secured for another five years," said Hines.
The Cat departed Yarmouth on Thursday morning to return to Charleston, S.C., where it will spend the off-season and receive standard maintenance.