Wind taken out of Fast Ferry sails

TORONTO, (Sept. 8, 2004) — The Rochester-Toronto “Fast Ferry” has been docked indefinitely as the operator tries to restructure its debt and lobby U.S. Customs to allow commercial trucks.

The ferry, named “Breeze” by operators Canadian American Transportation Systems, has shut down its two roundtrip sailings between Toronto and Rochester, N.Y. without any plans for resuming service until at least April 2005.

The ferry is capable of carrying 750 people, 220 passenger cars, and about 10 transport trucks from downtown Toronto to the mouth of the Genesee River in Rochester. The trip takes about two hours and 15 minutes. A one-way ticket for a truck is $105.

CATS blamed start-up delays for its debt, as well as unexpected custom costs, high fuel costs, and the failure to get approval from U.S. officials to transport commercial trucks.

The company said earlier this summer that they were depending on truck cargo to boost revenues — especially during the upcoming off-season — but have not been able to get U.S. Customs to set up an inspection facility at the Port of Rochester to process commercial traffic.

The Toronto Port Authority is in the process of building its own $10.5 million terminal. That site — which was approved by Canadian customs to process trucks — was expected to open in January.

— with files from Canadian Press

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