News: Marine Atlantic reduces rate on Argentia ferry service

Feb 26 - Western Star

Marine Atlantic announced Wednesday a 30 per cent reduction in price for the North Sydney, N.S., to Argentia ferry service starting today, a move which Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte Gerry Byrne says he applauds.

He has just one expectation — the discount should be applied “equally and across the board” to the Gulf ferry service from North Sydney to Port aux Basques as well.

Byrne said there’s no reasonable explanation that can be given as to why a 30 per cent rate cut should be offered exclusively to the Argentia run, but not to the constitutionally-obligated Gulf service. That run, he said, is the service for which every person in the province pays a surcharge every time they buy perishable goods or medicine.

He also questioned how, on the same day an 85 per cent cut in Marine Atlantic’s annual operating budget was announced, a 30 per cent rate reduction can also be announced.

“This just shows the Government of Canada and Marine Atlantic are totally out of control with what should happen for our Gulf ferry services and their ability to manage them efficiently and effectively,” he said.

Chris Noseworthy, meanwhile, feels the rate reduction amounts to an unfair subsidy for the east coast of the island.

Noseworthy, who serves as president of the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, doesn’t believe it’s likely the discount will bring in much new traffic to the province. Therefore, he said, the increase would come from traffic that would have otherwise driven through western Newfoundland and availed themselves of tourism opportunities during the summer months.

“If Marine Atlantic has any success with this by increasing traffic on the Argentia run, that success is going to come at the expense of western Newfoundland and central Newfoundland,” he said.

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