HALIFAX -- A survey commissioned by the provincial government says Nova Scotians who were questioned were split on whether the government should provide financial support for the ferry between Yarmouth and Maine.

The survey, obtained by The Canadian Press through access to information legislation, said 47 per cent of respondents favoured the use of government funds to restore the service, while 48 per cent opposed it.

It also said 41 per cent of people questioned supported ongoing financial support for the ferry, while 55 per cent opposed it.

The survey, conducted by Corporate Research Associates this winter, did not specify a dollar amount for the government support.

The province has committed $13 million in funding this year after spending $28.5 million to subsidize the ferry last season.

Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan is expected to give an update on the ferry service this week as it examines audited financial statements from Nova Star Cruises and decides whether to renew its agreement with the ferry operator.

A request for comment from MacLellan was denied. Department spokesman Brian Taylor said the minister would not be providing comment of the ferry until after the government's update.

In an email statement, Nova Star president Mark Amundsen said government financial support for any venture can be controversial.

"We do believe there is a value in the Yarmouth to Portland route and these numbers seem to imply others may feel that way as well," said Amundsen.

"What we do know is that passengers enjoy our experience, local businesses are grateful for the additional revenue and we are bringing American tourists to spend dollars in Nova Scotia."

After bringing 59,000 tourists to Nova Scotia last year the money-losing service has set an overall goal of 80,000 passengers for this season, which began June 1.

Though passenger traffic was up about 10 per cent in July compared to the same time period last year -- from 19,822 passengers to 21,871 passengers -- MacLellan said recently he has concerns about whether the passenger goal will be achieved this season due to the lower-than-expected number of Canadians travelling to Maine.

The telephone survey was conducted between Feb. 10 and March 1 with 400 people across Nova Scotia and is accurate within plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.