May 19, 2016 6:22 pm
Updated: May 19, 2016 6:25 pm

Bay Ferries won’t release ticket sales for Yarmouth ferry

Bay Ferries says it won't release ticket sales for the Yarmouth ferry service, and the Liberal government says it didn't negotiate releasing sales or passenger numbers during contract talks. Global's legislative reporter Marieke Walsh has the story.


Bay Ferries says it won’t release ticket sales for the new Yarmouth to Portland, Maine ferry.

The new ferry operator was announced in October, after Nova Star Cruises didn’t live up to expectations and cost the government millions more than expected.

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“We will not be commenting on ticket sales,” Bay Ferries spokesperson Rhonda Latter said in an email to Global News.

READ MORE: Yarmouth ferry lease hiccup could result in loss of passenger numbers, revenue

The subsidy for the CAT is based on the ferry transporting 60,000 passengers in its first year. The government is pegging the price tag in the first year at $23.3 million including start-up costs. If the passenger count is lower than predicted, taxpayers will be on the hook for more money because the contract requires Nova Scotia to cover all of the ferry’s costs.

At a March technical briefing, Bay Ferries chairman and CEO Mark MacDonald told reporters that 10,000 passengers translates to $2 million in revenue.

Releasing numbers not a contract requirement: Transportation Minister

Transportation minister Geoff MacLellan said he thinks the numbers should be made public but he will first talk to MacDonald to see whether he’s okay with it.

“I haven’t asked specifically about the release of the numbers so we’ll have that discussion without question and we’ll see what his comfort level is,” MacLellan said.

Basing the ferry subsidy on passenger numbers makes the information a key measurement for the ferry’s success. MacLellan said if MacDonald agrees with publishing the numbers, he would like to see them released midway through the season. At that point MacLellan said he’d also like to see how many passengers are booked for the remainder of the season.

Ultimately though, he said the “true test of what the season was” will come when the season’s over.


More proof of a ‘very, very bad deal’: Baillie

The Progressive Conservatives say the latest news is another example of the deal lacking transparency. The ferry deal doesn’t limit how much public money can go to Bay Ferries and it keeps secret the bonus that the company is getting from taxpayers.

“The fact that everyday there’s a new revelation about how bad it is, just shows how off track they are,” Tory leader Jamie Baillie said

He wants to see ticket sales or passenger numbers released monthly so that the public is in the loop on the ferry’s success.

“It’s a very, very bad deal. Taxpayers pay for everything and the government isn’t even going make sure we get to find out how the boat’s doing,” Baillie said. “This is about leadership and accountability.”

The ferry will start sailing the Yarmouth to Portland route on June 15 and end the season on September 30.

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