BAR HARBOR — The company that planned to offer ferry service between Bar Harbor and Nova Scotia beginning in June is now offering refunds for all reservations for the 2019 season.
“Efforts are being made to accelerate the start date” a statement issued Monday from Bay Ferries, Inc. said, “but, in the meantime, all customers holding bookings on the season will be offered full refunds on their reservations and no new reservations will be accepted.”
Mark MacDonald, the CEO of Bay Ferries, told the Islander the site work is progressing, including the “installation of underground conduit” for electrical wires, and work on the dock facilities should be completed this week. Work on the customs plaza will begin soon, he said, followed by paving.
“The CBP approvals process is ongoing,” he said, referring to meeting the requirements laid out by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), “and will continue throughout the balance of construction.”
Town Manager Cornell Knight called the delays “unfortunate,” noting, “There’s a lot of details to getting a CBP-compliant facility.”
He also said the state of the building, which was vacant for 10 years, “is slowing things down.”
The delay does not affect the lease agreement between Bay Ferries and the town, he said. “They’re paying the rent based upon the lease, whether they’ve started or not.”
Bay Ferries has offered refunds and alternate travel arrangements to passengers whose reservations have been cancelled. More than half of those customers have accepted an exchange for tickets on the ferry between St. John, N.B. and Digby, N.S.
Bay Ferries expects to begin service “in the late summer range.”
The company is returning to Bar Harbor after 10 years away. The company operated here between 1997 and 2009.
Last June, Bar Harbor voters authorized the purchase of the ferry terminal from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) for $3.5 million. The town closed on the purchase of the property Jan. 31.
Prior to that, in October 2018, the Town Council approved the five-year lease agreement.