Friday, January 13, 2012

Hike in ferry rates slowly pricing NL out of constitutional right

It’s costs a hell of a lot more to drive to Newfoundland and Labrador than it does to Prince Edward Island or anywhere else in the Maritimes.

And the sail across the Gulf is about to get more expensive, putting NL at a greater disadvantage in terms of tourism, trade, and the general cost of living.

While the Terms of Union with Canada guarantee freight and passenger service across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they don’t dictate fares.

Effective Feb. 12th, the new fee schedule will mean a one-way fare for a family of four traveling between North Sydney and Port aux Basques will cost $224.77, up from $209.38 last year.

That’s almost $450 round-trip.

Compare that to a return trip to PEI via Confederation Bridge — $44.25.

Critics have argued for years that the cost of sailing the 96 miles between Cape Breton and Port aux Basques (280 miles between Argentia and the mainland) should equal the cost of driving the same distance.

Not even close.

Would the federal government save money in the long run by building a fixed link across the Strait of Belle Isle, 17 kilometres between the closest points?

Only 4-kilometres shorter, the billion-dollar Confederation Bridge did a world of good for PEI’s economy.

Former Liberal Tourism Minister Chuck Furey used to describe the Gulf ferries as “cattle cars.”

The ferries have improved, but we’re paying for it.

We're paying dearly for it.

An argument can be made we're slowly being priced out of our constitutional right.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Playing devil’s advocate here as I’m no fan of Harper or the Conservative Party…but what would the federal NDP do about the rates if it was in power?