Digging into the new Nova Scotia ferry’s ridership numbers

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Troy R. Bennett wants to remind you that the city has plenty of wildlife, if you just stop to notice it.

What we’re talking about

Jake Bleiberg today dug through the latest ridership numbers on the new Maine-Nova Scotia ferry after its first full month in operation.

We’ve been keeping an eye on those numbers since the ferry resumed in mid-June. The previous owner, Nova Star Cruises, filed for bankruptcy in April after two years of missing its projected passenger counts.

Here’s the biggest takeaway: In July, Portland received tens of thousands of dollars less from the new ferry that runs between the city and Nova Scotia than it did during the same period last year.

There are a variety of factors at play — like the city charges Bay Ferries a lower rate per person than it did last year, and the boat accommodates fewer people. But the overall counts for both passengers and vehicles are lower than in 2015, and according to our estimates, it’s still under capacity.

ICYMI

Maine Catholic diocese pays $1.2 million to 6 victims of abusive priest — Four of the victims alleged in the complaints that Vallely sexually abused them when he was a priest at St. Michael Catholic Church in South Berwick. Another alleged abuse took place at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Portland, when Vallely served there, and the sixth claimed assault in 1969 when Vallely said Mass at St. John Catholic Church in Bangor as a visiting priest while assigned to the parish in Machias.

As development creeps into Westbrook, residents organize against it  — The Press Herald’s Megan Doyle reports on the hundreds of housing units that have been proposed for Westbrook — and the backlash among some residents worried about the pace of development.

‘Going to class every day to a teacher that looks like you, and that can relate to your struggles, and that is an image of success … it’s inspiring’ — Check out MPBN’s profile of Ekhlas Ahmed, an English teacher at Casco Bay High School: 

To build cultural bridges between the Casco Bay community, one of Ahmed’s first initiatives was Abaya day, which was devoted to celebrating differences by encouraging Muslim students to wear their traditional attire.

And despite concerns about a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., Ahmed said she is confident that she can change minds.

“Because I have a very strong belief that a lot of people that have negative stereotypes about Muslims and immigrants maybe haven’t met one yet,” she said. “I think it’s my job to educate them and tell them that I am a Muslim and I am black and there is nothing wrong with that.”

The big idea

Maine got millions to help moms and babies, but has little to show for it — Matt Stone reports:

With a single nurse dispatched to Maine’s rural outposts in 1923, the state launched what would become a key effort to stop infants from dying: public health nursing.

Almost 100 years later, Maine faces similar health challenges. Rural areas still have limited health services, and the state has seen a rise in infant mortality.

Unlike in 1923, public health nursing is no longer the only available service in Maine that sends a trained professional into a new or expectant mother’s home to offer parent coaching and, sometimes, basic health services. Three such programs operate in Maine today, each with different specialties and target populations. But the latest available data show they reach only 28 percent of new Maine parents. …

But in the five years since Maine received $5.7 million to expand home visiting, the expansion hasn’t happened …  


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.