Truckers in Atlantic Canada demand answers about Yarmouth-Portland ferry

by Truck News

YARMOUTH, N.S. – The trucking industry is growing increasingly frustrated over the ferry situation in Nova Scotia.

According to the Truro Daily Newstrucking companies in the area are anxiously waiting to here if the Yarmouth-Portland ferry will be able to accommodate them. So far, the Liberal government hasn’t announced exactly what type of boat or vessel will be used for the Nova Scotia-to-Maine run and if it can accommodate tractor-trailers who rely on the service.

In late October, the province said it had chosen Bay Ferries as the candidate to operate the route and government said the company had 45 days to choose a ship. The deadline came and went without a ship being named.

Brian Reynolds, owner of B. Reynolds Trucking in Port La Tour, N.S. says the sooner a vessel is announced for that route, the better.

“It’s not affecting me yet, but it will this summer,” he said in an interview with Truck News.

According to Reynolds, whose business hauls fresh seafood, if the vessel that is chosen cannot accommodate him, it will increase his business costs tremendously. Instead of putting his trucks on the ferry, he will have to assign drivers to haul the fish by road.

“There’s two ways for us to go. One is the ferry…the other is by road,” he explained. “If I have to go by road, it’s going to affect me as a company because now I have to hire two drivers, there’s going to be more wear and tear on the vehicles, more fuel to buy… overall it’s going to increase the costs for me to (run the business).”

Reynolds added that with the time-sensitive product he hauls, he would have to assign each truck two drivers to make the delivery on time.

“I would have to send two drivers on one route, or have one driver deliver the product a day late,” he said. “But we haul fresh seafood, so that’s no good. It has to be there on time and in so many hours.”

Reynolds’ frustration with the ferry situation in Nova Scotia has just been accumulating because of the similarities he experienced when Bay Ferries changed the vessel in Digby last year.

Earlier this month, the Atlantic trucking industry voiced its concern about the new ferry, Fundy Rose which replaced the larger Princess of Acadia over the summer. Fundy Rose had nine fewer spaces for trucks, causing delays and added expenses for trucking companies that relied on the vessel.

“The ferry is Digby was way too small,” Reynolds said. “It holds 12 trucks, maximum 13. Most of the time, there’s 20 trucks in the parking lot trying to get on a ship that only holds 12. It just creates more problems because you can’t create new business with a ship that doesn’t hold as much as it used to.”

Eventually, Bay Ferries added a second crossing several times a week for the Digby-Saint John run.

Jean-Marc Picard, executive director for the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) said the situation is one that could cause an inconvenience to local carriers.

“At the end of the day, there’s an alternate route, it’s a longer route, but I guess if you’re relying on that service, your fares and rates are based around (using the ferry),” he said to Truck News. “So for sure it’s going to have an impact on local carriers in that area. If they have to raise their rates because of (no ferry service), there may be loss of customers.”

Picard added that it’s hard to say exactly how much it will impact the trucking industry in Atlantic Canada until a decision on a ship has been made.

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  • Seems logical to me that we find an alternate port that will accommodate the ferry with trucks and tourists. Bar Harbour worked for years I expect they would be happy for the increased traaffic; by ferries is an old customer.
    Must be some intresting politics and corp. policy at work here. Should be a no brainer when ns. are putting up all the money.