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N.S. releases ridership numbers for CAT ferry's first month back in service

The Nova Scotia government released passenger numbers for the CAT ferry's first month back in service, a day after the province's public works minister told reporters the government wouldn't post them until the end of the season.

In a news release Friday, Kim Masland said she decided to release the ridership numbers for the ferry's season so far. She says Bay Ferries Limited, the company that operates the CAT ferry, provided the data to the Department of Public Works Thursday night.

According to Bay Ferries numbers, between May 19 and June 16, a total of 2,888 people have taken the ferry trip.

Of the total number of passengers, 1,661 people took the trip from Maine to Yarmouth, while 1,227 people travelled from Yarmouth to Maine.

Bay Ferries says a total of 1,323 also made the crossing during that period. 

Last week, the company said they had sold 15,000 tickets so far, with the majority of those trips happening in July and August.


According to Masland, she decided to release Bay Ferries' passenger numbers after the company declined to provide daily updates on its website moving forward.

"Our government feels very strongly that Bay Ferries owes it to Nova Scotians to be fully transparent about how the service is performing," Masland said. "This is why we are providing these numbers directly today. If Bay Ferries will not be fully transparent, we certainly will be."

However, in an email to the Department of Public Works Thursday night, Bay Ferries said it was concerned about releasing early numbers because the company is in a "rebuild mode" and didn't want early-season data to be misinterpreted as indicative of overall prospects.

"That said, if shorter-term reporting on actual passenger and vehicle traffic is a priority, we will work with your department to develop a reporting structure which addresses this need in some reasonable fashion," read the email from Bay Ferries. "We are hoping to give the service its best chance of success in this ever-changing economic environment but also respect the needs and priorities of the government."

The company said in a news release Friday that its reason for declining to provide daily updates was because it is not in the company's agreement with the province to do so, and it would "create an impossible working environment for our company and its people."


The CAT ferry sat idle for about three years due to a lack of a terminal in Bar Harbor, Maine in 2019, followed by two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ferry's first trip back in service was on May 19.

Nova Scotia taxpayers have paid millions of dollars for the vessel, even while it wasn’t in service. The CAT has an operating budget of about $17 million this year. Nova Scotia’s contract with Bay Ferries runs until 2026.

Currently, the CAT ferry runs four days a week. It will begin daily crossings on June 24 and continue daily runs until its final sail on Oct. 10. Top Stories

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