Ferry officials say traffic numbers better than expected for COVID-19 summer
'We were pleasantly surprised that as the season went on the traffic got stronger and stronger'
Ridership on Northumberland Ferries is climbing after dropping 70 per cent in July compared to the previous year.
When the Atlantic bubble first opened, Donald Cormier, vice president of operations and safety management for Northumberland Ferries Ltd., said traffic was at about 30 per cent of what they saw in 2019.
"We were pleasantly surprised that as the season went on the traffic got stronger and stronger," Cormier said.
"We think as people got more comfortable with the notion of travel we saw a steady increase in ridership."
According to Cormier, in the third week of August ridership was close to around 60 per cent of the traffic they experienced at the same time last year — even though they are currently operating at half capacity.
"That sort of result, I think, is very strong indication about the strength of the product, the strength of the hospitality industry in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and the importance of the ferry service."
Cormier said the ferries did continue to run before the bubble opened, but only for truck traffic.
"Once the bubble opened we were able to carry other segments of traffic," he said.
"People that were travelling to see loved ones. People that were involved in business. People that started or wanted to enjoy the tourism sector again."
Onboard, Cormier said they are following the public health guidelines in both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to limit the spread of COVID-19. These include increased sanitation and the use of masks when physical distancing is not an option.
Starting Sept. 8, Northumberland Ferries will be reducing its round trips from six a day to four.
"We're dealing with unprecedented times so we expect that we will certainly not be as busy this fall.
And despite the summer's overall traffic landing at roughly 45 per cent of what it was last year, Cormier maintains this goes to show just how vital the ferry service is.
More from CBC P.E.I.
- An earlier version of this story said Northumberland Ferries would be reducing its round trips from six a week to four as of Sept. 8. The service actually offers six round trips daily, and will be going down to four daily as of that date.Sep 03, 2020 11:09 AM AT
With files from Angela Walker
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