Newfoundland to get new ferry

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ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Marine Atlantic has confirmed that it is preparing to buy a new vessel to add to the capacity-cramped Gulf Ferry Service that links Newfoundland and the Mainland.

The rushed announcement comes after comments made in late March in the province’s provincial legislature, suggesting that a solution is close at hand.

While the new ferry won’t be added this year, a temporary vessel will be leased this summer to help handle tourist traffic. A Marine Atlantic spokesman confirms that the temporary ferry isn’t expected to be able to handle truck traffic, although it will ease the crowds rushing for a limited number of spots on existing ferries.

However, it’s unknown exactly when the temporary vessel will become available. The unnamed service that currently owns the ship is reluctant to give up the equipment until it has access to another vessel to meet its own needs.

At the moment, the Newfoundland-bound service runs two traditional ferries, while a freighter handles dropped trailers during the busy season, says Capt. Sidney Hynes, chairman of Marine Atlantic. While that’s enough for most months, schedules are thrown into disarray with tourist traffic in July and August, he says. “That’s when all hell breaks loose.”

Last year, an existing vessel was pulled off the North Sydney, N.S.-to-Port Aux Basques, Nfld. run to service the route bound for Argentia, Nfld., says Ralph Boyd, president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. “Now, having those three vessels focused on one lane of traffic (to Port Aux Basques), we are all hopeful we’ll be able to see the increased volume in commercial traffic addressed.”

He’d also like to see the solution sooner rather than later. “We’re hopeful it will be operational for this season,” Boyd says. But Boyd seems particularly hopeful of a long-term solution, as he notes that Hynes’ approach to considering all types of traffic is “refreshing”. n

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The Palm handheld device must be purchased separately (it costs under $500). Once the Cummins QuickCheck datalink is plugged into the appropriate vehicle harness, engine data can be viewed in real time or saved to be downloaded later into a personal computer. When the Fault Screen is chosen, QuickCheck will alert the user to any problems. The Parameter Screen can be used to check a range of engine functions in real time. With the Trip Screen, an operator can download engine data for a cumulative trip overview and view data such as maximum speed. n

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