Ferry group to discuss RFP with government

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

By Tina Comeau

THE VANGUARD

NovaNewsNow.com

 

The chair of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership tells the Vanguard he is going to be meeting with provincial government officials early this week to discuss moving forward now that two ferry proposals have been received.

Keith Condon says part of the discussion will be aimed at having the ferry partnership involved in the evaluation of the two proposals that have been submitted.

“The second thing we’re going to do is update them on the progress we’ve made in the transition and rebuilding of the terminal,” said Condon. “We've taken that task on and have hired an industry professional to help us through that process.”

Asked if he is familiar with the two companies that submitted proposals in response to the province’s request-for-proposals process, Condon said the ferry partnership had researched Quest Navigational Inc. “But I don’t know the other company (Maritime Applied Physics Corporation) except for what you see on the Internet,” he said.

The provincial government says a month will be spent evaluating the proposals. Condon says he hopes the process does not preclude discussions with other companies that may be interested in being involved in a service but perhaps didn’t have time to submit a proposal during the RFP process – a timeframe he feels “the fuse was too short on.”

Asked if there are other companies interested in a ferry service that didn’t submit proposals, Condon says there are.  He agrees, however, that there is a process to be followed and that this begins with evaluating the proposals submitted. He says the RFP is aimed at seeing if people, with their proposals, would qualify for the start-up funding that exists.

“It was also a weeding process too to see who is out there and who is going to come forward because the bar was set fairly high to enter it, so obviously people are serious,” he said. “We shouldn’t second guess that these people may have very good proposals, we don’t know.”

When the RFP closed, some were surprised by company names that weren’t on the list. The Vanguard contacted one company that has been mentioned during ferry discussions in the past – British company P&O Ferries – to ask if it was connected with either of the proposals that have been submitted.

Said company spokesperson Brian Rees, “No, we're not connected to either of those companies.  We've decided not to submit a proposal.  It isn't that we don't see potential for the service, more that we need to focus on our core business on this side of the pond at the moment.”

P&O operates ferries from the United Kingdom to Ireland and in continental Europe.

The Vanguard also attempted to speak with Bay Ferries about the RFP but calls were not returned at the time of this posting.

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership, Quest Navigational, Maritime Applied Physics

Geographic location: United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe

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  • Priscilla Handy Mercer
    February 01, 2013 - 11:47

    I feel Yarmouth must have a ferry service to AID it's economy. There is no air, no bus, no rail! How do visitors and summer residents get to Yarmouth and the rest of Nova Scotia? Tourism is extremely important to ANY economy ANYWHERE. To say it aids only the ferry terminal employees is I think, shortsighted. As far as the CAT was concerned, it took no freight and it was extremely expensive and a ghastly trip across, seated in a small seat the whole trip or staggering down the aisles. It was an uncomfortable trip as well as a fuel guzzler! No wonder they went out of business! A comfortable "cruise" type ferry is the answer, with cabins, dining, and or entertainment available. A ship that can again carry freight in or out, plus cars, trailers, motor homes and bus loads of passengers that can stay in the hotels/motels, eat in restaurants in town, shop and maybe take a tour around our beautiful Yarmouth Co. Since Nova Scotia and New England are tied together so tightly with families and relatives on both sides of the border, how do we/they get back and forth? Driving around is not the answer! It is a day's trip just driving to Boston! I used to see buses and vehicles at the terminal from all over the USA The last few years, NONE! Yes, it is important to have industry, but if you don't have it, tourism can sure help an economy improve!

    • YarmouthDude
      February 04, 2013 - 12:52

      'Tourism is extremely important to any economy anywhere.' Tell that to the folks in Fort McMurray. I worked in the Yarmouth tourism industry for 4 years about 19 - 15 years ago. There was more going on then (in terms of visitors to Yarmouth) than now and it was dying then! I think tourism is wonderful but the town has been touting it as 'the next big thing' for 20 years! I remember foot passengers would often times be very irate when they landed in Yarmouth. 'This is it?! I should have stayed in Bar Harbour.' There are also several other factors that come into play as to why you don't see all kinds of US license plates in Yarmouth Ms. Mercer: high Canadian dollar, Americans are much less likely to go out of country since 9/11, etc.. Anyway, this is an argument that people like me have been losing for years. Just go back to wishing tourism will save us all and we'll catch up in another 10 years.

  • YarmouthDude
    January 29, 2013 - 18:43

    Why are people so hung up on the idea of getting a ferry back in Yarmouth? Is this going to solve ANYTHING? The town has been going down the tubes for years even when the CAT was fully operational. I don't understand why people believe that as soon as the ferry is back, all will be well in the land of Yarmouth. It won't! Having a ferry back in Yarmouth will be a band-aid solution to the economic problems of the town and county. The ferry wasn't making any money and that's why is was shut down. Why will reopening it now be magical? The only economic spinoff a ferry in Yarmouth will create is jobs for the people in the ferry terminal and some customs agents... that's about it. We need something to generate cash flow inside the town before we have something to ship in or out. And to those people who think tourism is the answer... wake up! People who come to Nova Scotia only have 2 destinations in mind: Halifax and the Cabot trail. It's just a fact. All the boardwalks around the waterfront, rappie pie's and Mother Tuckers in the world won't change that. Yarmouth's last glory days were when we had a cotton mill and a tin mine... that's proof right there that unless we have some kind of industry a ferry will not solve anything nor be financially viable.

  • trgo
    January 28, 2013 - 10:54

    What is the ferry history of "Quest Navigation Inc"., and "Maritime Applied Physics Corp."? Has either EVER operated a ferry service? Apparently NO COMPANY with an operational ferry track record is interested in Portland-Yarmouth service. Any small corporation with no ferry experience, and a weak corporate financial structure would be doomed to failure! Bay ferries could certainally do the job, but I suspect that they have no stomach for dealing with the likes of Darrell Dexter and Percy Paris. Within the next several weeks, the province will likely determine that neither "Quest" nor "Maritime Applied Physics", would be suitable ferry operators.