Persistent Marine Atlantic ferry delays in April frustrating to truckers after long winter

Chris Shannon, The Cape Breton Post
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NORTH SYDNEY — More than 200 trucks and drop trailers remain stuck at the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal in North Sydney, awaiting winds to die down after the latest storm blew through overnight Tuesday.

More than 200 trucks and drop trailers remain stuck at the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal in North Sydney, awaiting winds to die down after the latest storm blew through overnight Tuesday.

Sailings were cancelled during the day Tuesday in advance of the inclement weather. The next scheduled sailing is slated for 11:45 a.m. today.

It’s been a very frustrating winter season for truckers who depend on the ferry service to get goods, including perishable food, to Newfoundland.

Now into the second week of April, they were hoping for the number of weather-related delays to dwindle.

“There’s not much we can do but be patient,” said Jean-Marc Picard, the executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.

“It’s been a very tough winter for delays and all that, and frankly, we thought we were out of the woods but this last seven to 10 days has been the icing on the cake, I guess.”

Marine Atlantic spokesman Darrell Mercer said the Leif Ericson, a smaller ferry, will be brought back into service today to handle some of the commercial backlog.

“We’ll have four vessels operating. The Leif Ericson will leave Port aux Basques once weather conditions permit (today), and the Highlanders, Blue Puttees and Atlantic Vision will depart North Sydney as well,” he said.

“We should be able to clear up a significant portion of that backlog once we get all three of those vessels in North Sydney operating.”

Mercer said some progress was being made into clearing the commercial traffic following last week’s heavy ice in the Cabot Strait that resulted in a number of cancellations.

This latest storm system has only added to an already “significant” backlog at the North Sydney terminal, Mercer said.

Picard said he’s counted at least 25 cancelled sailings since January. And he understands the ferry service must take the necessary safety precautions for both passengers and crew.

But time is money, and when goods remain stuck in transit it costs producers and trucking companies revenue.

Picard said, ultimately, the consumer will pay for delays in getting product to store shelves.

“People will eventually end up paying more for whatever they buy in the store here in Newfoundland,” he said.

“Carriers are not going to sustain these extra costs for longer than they have to.”

Organizations: Marine Atlantic, Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, North Sydney terminal

Geographic location: Newfoundland, North Sydney, Port aux Basques

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