Yarmouth-Maine ferry halts reservations 'until late summer'

Bay Ferries is no longer selling tickets for its service between Yarmouth, N.S., and Bar Harbor, Maine, which was supposed to start earlier this year. 

For the second time this summer, the company is also refunding anyone with an existing reservation.

"We feel terrible about this," company CEO Mark MacDonald told CBC News Monday. "We feel very badly for all the businesses and people that are affected by it, many or most of whom are great friends and great supporters of the ferry service.

 "We're really sorry to have to do this but we think it's the right thing."

MacDonald agreed the latest setback would be a blow to his company's attempts to establish a viable and affordable service between Nova Scotia and the U.S.

"Obviously, it's not good for the service." he said. "We're hoping it becomes a situation of short-term pain for longer-term gain."

Bay Ferries won't restart taking reservations until it is certain its Bar Harbor facilities will receive U.S. Customs and Border Patrol certification. According to the company, the delays in getting approvals have pushed back construction schedules.

But a U.S. border official has said the ferry company was entirely in control of the construction schedule.

MacDonald said the company has had to refund "in the low thousands" of passengers and that at least half of those have agreed to sail instead on the MV Fundy Rose between Saint John, N.B. and Digby N.S.

The company's latest guess on when the service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor might start is "late summer."

Last week a senior Nova Scotia government official said even one crossing would be productive.