Bay Ferries Proposes Bringing The Cat Back to Bar Harbor
On July 11th Bay Ferries Limited submitted a 20 page proposal to the Town of Bar Harbor, to return ferry service between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia. The proposal entitled "Helping Bar Harbor Build Its Future" calls for ferry service to begin between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia in June 2019 and asks for a determination on or about October 1, 2018 whether the lease arrangement and related projects are to move forward.
The proposed ferry schedule and footprint on the Bar Harbor Ferry Terminal are markedly different than the last time the Cat operated to and from Bar Harbor back in 2009. Bay Ferries is proposing to use the High-Speed Vessel Alakai, a US registered vessel owned by the US Navy's Military Sealift Command and commercially branded by Bay Ferries as "The Cat". This is the same vessel that is currently operating between Portland and Nova Scotia. It is interesting to note that as a US registered vessel the marine crew consists of American certificated mariners and currently 11 of the 28 crew members are graduates of Maine Maritime Academy and an additional 6 are Maine residents.
Bay Ferries proposes a seasonal ferry service which would begin at the earliest during Memorial Day Weekend and extend to approximately Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Weekend, or longer if traffic warrants. There would be daily service during July and August and the rest of the time service would range from 5 to 7 days per week.
The Cat would overnight in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and depart there at 9:30 AM (all times are local) and arrive in Bar Harbor around 12 Noon. The Cat would then depart Bar Harbor at approximately 3 PM and arrive back in Yarmouth at 7:30 PM. Bay Ferries does not propose double daily round trips as was the case previously.
Bay Ferries does not anticipate any requirement for a Security Zone adjacent to the ferry when the ferry is in Port.
Bay Ferries anticipates the following work needing to be completed prior to the beginning of Ferry service.
- Marine side installations including ramp based on floating pontoon, necessary for loading vehicles and individual customers onto the vessel. The key elements of this installation are a floating pontoon onto which the moveable ramp structure rests, together with a bridge structure extending from land to the moveable pontoon. In addition a series of piles would be installed adjacent to the existing dock structure to enable the vessel to securely rest without any berthing loads being absorbed by the existing dock structure.
- Land side improvements outside of the terminal building. Bay Ferries will develop a plan with the Town and subject to all United States Customs and Border Protection requirements to structure traffic flows within the property and coordinate onsite parking. A plan for required parking spaces and other onsite parking required by the Town will be developed in collaboration with the Town
- Terminal Building Improvements - The existing terminal building must be brought to a safe standard enabling seasonal operation. Bar Ferries is working with Fraser Architects of Bar Harbor. The building requires primary inspection stations for pedestrian and motor coach passengers with secondary interviewing and hold rooms as well as bag inspection areas. Traffic lanes must have radiation portal monitors, license plate readers and RFID document readers.
Bay Ferries proposes to pay the Town of Bar Harbor a base rate of $4500/month in non operating months and $7500/month in operating months. Bay Ferries would be responsible for all heat, utilities etc. during the operating months. They would pay $2.00 per passenger; $3.00 per vehicle and $20.00 per bus.
In Year 1 Bay Ferries believes that they would pay to the Town of Bar Harbor $261,800 in fees. In Year 2 this would increase to $294,000 and in Year 3 $326,200. This is based on initial year traffic of 60,000 passengers, 24,000 vehicles and 40 buses increasing to 70,000 passengers and 28.000 vehicles and 50 buses in year 2 and 80,000 passengers, 32,000 vehicles and 60 buses in year 3.
Bay Ferries and the Province of Nova Scotia would make a capital investment in shore-side and marine-side facilities anticipated to be $3million. The minimum rent guaranteed to the Town of Bar Harbor is $200,000. If rents exceed $250,000 Bay Ferries would be able to claim back up to $100,000 per year as a contribution against the 3 million capital expenditure.
Bay Ferries is proposing a 5 year term covering the 2019-2023 operating seasons with future option periods to be discussed. It is anticipated that the Province of Nova Scotia would guarantee the payments to the Town of Bar Harbor for the 1st 5 years.