Northumberland Ferries Limited
|Headquarters||Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island|
|Area served||Northumberland Strait|
|Key people||Mark MacDonald, President & CEO|
|Parent||NFL Holdings Ltd|
Northumberland Ferries Limited (NFL) is a ferry company operating in eastern Canada and headquartered in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. NFL is also the owner of subsidiaries Bay Ferries Limited and Bay Ferries Great Lakes Limited through its holding company.
Wood Islands–Caribou Ferry
NFL has operated the ferry service that carries the Trans-Canada Highway across the eastern part of the Northumberland Strait between Wood Islands, Prince Edward Island and Caribou, Nova Scotia since it was established in 1941 by the Government of Canada. This service is seasonal and only operates between the months of May and December on account of heavy sea ice and the lack of icebreaking ferries.
NFL currently operates two vessels owned by the Government of Canada: Confederation built in 1993, and Holiday Island built in 1971. While Confederation has been operated exclusively by NFL since she was built, Holiday Island joined NFL in 1997 after being declared surplus by previous operator Marine Atlantic who operated the vessel between Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick and Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island upon completion of the Confederation Bridge. NFL also operates the ferry terminals in Wood Islands and Caribou, both of which are owned by the Government of Canada.
Fares are paid only when exiting Prince Edward Island; the round-trip fares as of November 2012[ref] were C$66.00 for automobiles, $40.00 for motorcycles, $20.00 for bicycles, $17.00 for adult passengers (13–59 years of age) and $15 for seniors (60+). Children under 12 years of age receive free passage.
The other major Northumberland Strait crossing, the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick, currently[ref] charges its C$44.25 per car[ref] toll only when exiting Prince Edward Island as well. Therefore, travellers entering the island on the ferry and exiting on the bridge or vice versa only need pay for one of the links.
As an interprovincial ferry service, the route qualifies for a federal subsidy which is provided to NFL to offset losses in return for operating the vessels and terminals. This subsidy was fully renewed for 5 years in March 2005.
Transport Canada had initially proposed a reduction in funding to permit operation between the months of May and October only, and after 2008 the service was to be reduced to only one vessel. The proposed service changes raised protests in both Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia by residents and politicians, forcing the federal government to maintain the status quo until March 2010.
In December 2009 it was reported that Transport Canada is considering only renewing the subsidy for 1 year to cover the 2010 operating season, after which it is speculated that the federal government will reduce or eliminate the operating subsidy for future years. This will likely result in the retirement of the MV Holiday Island and the reduction to a 1-vessel service from July–September, or possibly the complete abandonment of the ferry service after 2011. Residents of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are beginning to lobby federal and local politicians and bureaucrats to see the 2-vessel May–December service maintained and enhanced as an alternative to the Confederation Bridge in the event of a disaster forcing closure of the span.
List of ferries formerly operated by NFL:
- MV Prince Nova (1941-1958), formerly MV Erie Isle where she operated on Lake Erie from Leamington, Ontario to Pelee Island. She was purchased by NFL and entered service in 1941, serving until 1958 with arrival of MV Lord Selkirk. Laid up in Pictou where she caught fire and burnt at wharf later that year. Scrapped on site.
- SS Charles A. Dunning (1941, 1946-1964), formerly SS Sankaty where she operated in Massachusetts and Maine. She was purchased by NFL but before entering service was requisitioned for service in the Royal Canadian Navy for minelaying duty as HMCS Sankaty. Returned to NFL in 1946, serving until 1964 with arrival of MV Prince Nova. Sold for scrap but sank en route to Sydney.
- MV Lord Selkirk (1958-1993), built for Government of Canada by Ferguson Industries, Pictou in 1958, serving until 1993 with arrival of MV Confederation. Sold to company in Panama. Status unknown.
- MV Confederation (1975-1993), built for Government of Canada by Halifax Shipyards, Halifax in 1962 where she was operated by CN from Borden, Prince Edward Island to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick. Still owned by Government of Canada, she was transferred in 1975 to NFL from CN, serving until 1993 with arrival of MV Confederation. Sold in 1994 to shipping line Groupe Desgagnes, Quebec, refitted and renamed Nordik Passeur for service from Riviere au Renard, Quebec to Havre St. Pierre, Quebec via Anticosti Island. Mothballed in 1997, she was scrapped in Turkey in 2007.
- MV Prince Nova (1963-1997), built for Government of Canada by Ferguson Industries, Pictou in 1963, serving until 1997 with arrival of MV Holiday Island. Sold to Cross Sound Ferry, New London in 1998, refitted and renamed the MV Susan Anne for service across Long Island Sound. Currently operating.
- MV Prince Edward (1972-1997), built for the Government of Canada by Ferguson Industries, Pictou in 1972, serving until 1997 with arrival of MV Holiday Island. Sold to Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997, refitted and renamed the MV Captain Earl W. Windsor for service to Fogo Island and the Change Islands. Currently operating.