It’s been two months since the CAT Ferry first set sail from Yarmouth, and the passenger numbers are steadily growing week-by-week.

It is still going to take some massive growth in the final weeks of the service to reach the government’s self-imposed goal of 60,000 bookings.

According to the city of Portland, 5,619 people booked passage to Nova Scotia in July, while 5,194 travelled to Maine. The total of just over 10,800 far exceeds June’s numbers, but it’s not enough to satisfy critics.

“Fewer people are coming on this ferry than on the last one,” says Nova Scotia Opposition Leader Jamie Baillie.

Others say the numbers are headed in the right direction, showing a steady weekly increase since the first sailing on June 15th.

“The success is growing the numbers, the success is seeing that continued growth as we have this season,” says Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan.

Bay Ferries refused to comment on Monday on whether ticket sales are continuing to increase in August and September. They’ll have to increase significantly, if the service is to reach its 60,000 passenger target.

Since ticket sales began in April, Bay Ferries has offered a number of incentives for travellers.

“One of the big things they’re not telling us is, how many of these are paying customers,” says Baillie. “They’re doing all kinds of giveaways now. The cost to the taxpayers is going to go up and up.”

Neither Bay Ferries nor the provincial government are addressing speculation the company will be paid more than the $23.3-million the province has already handed over. The CAT contract says the province is responsible for any shortfalls.

“There are a number of different factors at play, obviously on the revenue side and of course on the expensive side as well,” says MacLellan. “So we’ll wait to the end of the season.”

MacLellan says the true test of success is the economic impact on the entire province, and that’s something mayors at both ports are hoping for.

“This is about all of Nova Scotia, we’re trying to double tourism numbers,” said Yarmouth’s Mayor Pam Mood over the phone. “How are we going to get people here? You know the CAT is doing that.”

Portland’s Mayor says his city is tracking the numbers closely.

“We will compare those to past years and see if it continues to get stronger,” says Mayor Ethan Strimling.

It is something Nova Scotians will be watching closely as well.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie