Search on again for ferry operator

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Tina Comeau
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Province issues a formal request for proposals on Friday, Dec. 7. Deadline to submit a proposal is Jan. 24.

All is quiet at the Yarmouth ferry terminal. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

The province has issued the formal request for proposals (RFP) in search of a ferry operator to operate a service between Yarmouth and Maine.

The RFP was issued on Friday, Dec. 7. Interested bidders on a ferry service have until Jan. 24 to submit a proposal.

"I've heard from residents and business owners in southwest Nova Scotia that they want a stable ferry service in Yarmouth that will be there for the long term. And we do too," said Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.

"We've taken the next step in our plan to find a qualified operator to establish a viable ferry service in Yarmouth by issuing a formal request for proposals."

The province used a draft request for proposals, released on Oct. 23, to consult with potential ferry operators. Companies were able to provide their input on the approach outlined in the draft.

"We heard from several ferry operators and considered what we heard to fine tune the request for proposals,” Paris says. “By getting input from potential bidders, it will put us in the best position possible to find a ferry operator able to run a commercially viable service between Yarmouth and the United States.

An expert panel had been asked by the province to review studies on ferry service between Yarmouth and the United States, and meet with interested people and groups to find conditions needed for a viable service.

In its report, released on Sept. 7, the panel said a cruise ferry service can be viable in the long term under the right circumstances.

The province says it is prepared to commit as much as $21 million over seven years to attract a long-term cruise ferry service if certain conditions are met.

To meet the conditions for the province's support package, the operator will need to present a plan that shows a ferry service will be profitable within seven years and reflects the winning conditions set out by the panel.

 The request for proposals is available online at www.gov.ns.ca/tenders/tenders/ns-tenders.aspx .

Geographic location: Yarmouth, Maine, Nova Scotia United States

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  • Keith Falt
    December 17, 2012 - 21:49

    Nova Scotia and New England have been joined at the hip ever since the 1700's. Trade and people have flowed back and forth freely by sea, primarily. The incredibly short-sighted termination of ferry service slashed those ties between SW Nova Scotia and Portland as air travel is very expensive and the drive between Portland and NS adds enough time to make the trip prohibitive for many. Economically judging a ferry service by fares versus cost to operate completely "misses the boat". The indirect benefits to SW Nova Scotia from jobs, taxes on goods and services, taxes from increased property values, increased ability to move NS products to market, not to mention the positive exposure and bonds created by people visiting, far exceeds any subsidy to get and keep it afloat. In my own case I rode the fast ferry on one of its last trips, but we have not been back to NS since because the drive is too long, air fares too high, and the ferry from St Johns not convenient. Everyone pays taxes to support transportation in the form of roads and bridges. Ferries are just the water-borne version.