Ferry breakdowns leave tourists, truckers waiting or heading to bridge

Steve Sharratt
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MV Confederation is out of service for the entire week as the company awaits replacement parts for a rudder problem

Northumberland Ferries

WOOD ISLANDS — The peak tourist season may be over but an unusual number of breakdowns at the Northumberland Ferries service may have reduced July tourism numbers through that entry point.

The 20-year-old flagship MV Confederation is out of service for the entire week as the company awaits replacement parts for a rudder problem.

That’s left tourists, and especially truckers, either lining up and waiting or heading for the Confederation Bridge. The NFL service here connects with Caribou, N.S.

It marks the fourth time this year NFL has had to augment its schedule and leave all traffic travel to the stalwart Holiday Island.

“It may be time for a new ferry,” says local MLA Charlie McGeoghegan. “I don’t know if the federal government has an appetite for that, but this hasn’t been a good year for consistent travel.”

The Confederation broke down on three other occasions during the height of the busy tourist season this summer, leaving the 43-year-old Holiday Island to handle the customers. The Holiday Island has had new engines installed and, according to crew, the vessel built in 1971 runs faster than ever before and with even greater efficiency.

“No one can predict a breakdown, but it was unfortunate to see this happen over and over again during the 2014 celebration summer which was designed to attract more tourists,’’ said McGeoghegan. “They knew more traffic was expected and the truckers were hoping they wouldn’t be caught up in even more delays.”

The ferry is the only water link to the mainland and with constant entertainment acts this summer, many visitors have had to turn to the bridge.

It might be the reason ferry traffic was down 4.9 per cent according to the July tourism numbers released by the province Wednesday.

As of September, ferry crossings begin a traditional and annual schedule reduction. No one from the company responded to enquiries.

The Confederation is expected to resume service sometime on the weekend or early next week.

Geographic location: Holiday Island, WOOD ISLANDS

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Recent comments

  • More Runs?
    September 04, 2014 - 22:18

    Why not add more runs?They are saving money in fuel and wages with only one boat,pretty poor planning from NFL

  • North sider
    September 04, 2014 - 20:20

    I think a newer more modern ferry would be a good plan. Must be some really good used ones on the market. Or perhaps a "cat" like once operated fm Yarmouth. Just a little smaller version. The speed of one you could operate just one boat to offset the costs and pretty well keep almost same idea of crossings. Be nice to cross in 25 min approx. or what about an ice breaker and go a longer season. The grand manan ferry is a great example of a nice ferry. Great design

  • David
    September 04, 2014 - 13:45

    I have to wonder does NFL give back some of the millions of tax dollars they were given by the federal Government to run the service since they have not been running the service at full service. Why as taxpayers do we have to keep paying them when they are only running at half service. In any other industry if the service is not being provided or only half service is being provided then we would not have to pay for full service. This company and service have shown many times they are unreliable and they should be scrapped.

  • Blake
    September 04, 2014 - 11:49

    may be time for another bridge.

  • Quiet Observer
    September 04, 2014 - 09:32

    Ferry? We still have a ferry?

  • East ender
    September 04, 2014 - 07:32

    Maybe instead of a new boat we should look at a year round option like another bridge. The confederation bridge is over half way through its life expectancy (I think). It would create a lot of construction jobs. After it is built this end of PEI might grow a good bit like the west end.

    • Observer from the East
      September 04, 2014 - 12:27

      Actually, the Confederation is supposed to have a 100 year life span (it likely won',t but let's say 70 years). It opened in 1997 - 17 years ago. No, it's not anywhere close to being halfway through its lifespan.

  • Brian from Stratford
    September 04, 2014 - 07:31

    Actually, the "stalwart Holiday Island" is the ferry that had broken down all of the previous times this summer. This is the first time this year that the Conferderation has broken down. At least according to articles in The Guardian on July 18 and August 1.