YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia — Bay Ferries Ltd. announced Friday that it will end its high-speed CAT ferry service between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor.
The decision, which also ends Yarmouth-Portland service, takes effect in the spring of 2010.
Approximately 120 people will lose full- or part-time employment as a result of the decision.
In a statement on the decision released Friday, Bay Ferries Ltd. officials said the financial viability of the service has been affected by reduced passenger traffic due to a series of factors, including new U.S. passport rules, a strong Canadian dollar and the weak economy in key U.S. markets.
Affected employees were informed of the decision Friday at meetings in Yarmouth, Portland and Bar Harbor.
“This was an extremely difficult decision to make, particularly given there has been some form of ferry service out of Yarmouth since the 1800s,” said Mark MacDonald, president and chief executive officer of Bay Ferries. “Although Bay Ferries recognizes this is a sad day for our workers and the communities we serve in southwestern Nova Scotia and Maine, our company is not in a position to absorb the significant financial loss we would experience in the absence of government support.”
The government of Nova Scotia announced earlier this week that government support would not be extended for the 2010 operating season.
Officials said the service has not been viable without government support for the past several years.
“First and foremost, I would like to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to our employees for their tireless efforts to provide safe and reliable transportation between Nova Scotia and Maine,” MacDonald said. “I am sorry to be sharing this news just before the Christmas holidays, but I felt it was the right thing to do to communicate promptly with our employees once we had a clear picture of what support was available for 2010.”
More than 76,000 people traveled on the high-speed service in 2009, a 10 percent drop from 2008 figures when 85,000 used the service.
In stronger market conditions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, officials said, annual volumes ranged from 100,000 to 150,000.
For more of the latest news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.