As I sit to hear the disappointing numbers yet again and government officials trying to put their positive spin on the Yarmouth ferry, I am left pondering a myriad of questions.
Is there an actual business model that would make this profitable?
There have been a few tries at this route now, and not one has shown to be profitable. But yet here we are yet again with a ferry that we are tied into for ten years, with the taxpayer covering the losses. When you can drive from Maine cheaper and in less time why would you bother to take the ferry? And if this CAT is unable to take tractor trailers and tourist buses how can it ever dream of turning a profit?
Here is the question that has never been asked. Of the four main ferries that operate here in Nova Scotia, (Nova Scotia to PEI, Digby to Saint John and the Newfoundland ferries) why is the Yarmouth ferry the only one not owned by Transport Canada? All the others are inter-provincial and owned by the federal government, with Bay Ferries having the contract to operate them. One would think that an international ferry would therefore fall under federal domain, yet here sits the CAT with the Nova Scotia taxpayer footing the bill. The only logical answer is the Yarmouth ferry is nothing more than a very expensive vote buying scheme that the government does not want to discuss. The government didn't want to release any passenger numbers, and when they were released, they don't actually relate to how many tourists actually came to Nova Scotia from the US, as they don't break down the passenger numbers.
Now, I'm generally not one to talk about problems without offering solutions, so here's what I am left to wonder. If the money lost on these ferries would have been put into improving the airport in Yarmouth to give it international status, would that not have been more advantageous to the region? Then larger cargo aircraft could transport fishery catches, and tourists could fly in from numerous areas in a quarter of the time of the ferry. I believe that would be far more advantageous then any ferry in the long run, and far more cost effective for the region as a whole.
Unfortunately, I don't see anyone with the foresight in government to look for alternate solutions.
Yours very truly,