The Nova Scotia ferry probably won’t hit its passenger goal for the season

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. It’s the weekend. You made it.

What we’re talking about

Jake Bleiberg today wrapped up how the new owners of the CAT ferry seem to be doing as the line enters its final month of the season. In one word: “eh.”

He reports:

The new CAT ferry between Maine and Nova Scotia has generated cash flow for Portland this season, but the line appears at risk of falling short of a ridership goal set by the Canadian provincial government, which has heavily subsidized the ferry. …

From June 15 through August, the ferry carried 32,831 passengers and 9,796 cars on the passage between Maine’s largest city and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The ferry carried more passengers in August than in either of the two preceding months.

That’s gravy for Portland, but it may not be enough to satisfy the Canadian provincial government, which is giving the ferry company incremental subsidies that will total the equivalent of nearly $20 million.

The ferry company’s contract with the Nova Scotia government is based on a business plan for carrying 60,000 passengers over the season that is set to end Oct. 1, Canadian media have reported. It is unclear how missing this goal might affect the service between Maine and Nova Scotia, but the subsidies have become a hotly contested political issue in the province.

The goal of 60,000 passengers over a season is close to the number the previous Nova Star ferry carried in its last two years of operation. The old ferry — which was larger, slower and had a longer season than the CAT — carried 59,018 passengers in 2014 and 51,038 passengers in 2015.

The full story has an interactive chart, which you can see here.


This Spose video was shot in downtown Portland in one take — Troy R. Bennett this morning posted the new Spose video. It’s pretty awesome.

North Dakota pipeline protest in Congress Square tomorrow — The Penobscot Nation and Maine green groups will hold a rally in Portland Saturday to decry a proposed North Dakota oil pipeline and demand further action from the Obama administration.

After months of ardent opposition led by the Standing Rock Sioux, the federal government last week issued a temporary halt to construction of Dakota Access. The $3.7-billion pipeline project would carry oil from western North Dakota under the Missouri river to Illinois. The company behind the project contends that pipelines are the safest way to move oil, but the Sioux and other opponents say the project would cross ancestral land and poses grave environmental risks.

The rally in Congress Square follows many similar events across the country this week. It begins at 12:30 p.m. and will include speeches by several Penobscot leaders. — Jake Bleiberg

Why I’m not a pirate — Matt Garand lives aboard a sailboat in Casco Bay and does not think your pirate jokes are funny. (This is my favorite headline of the week.)

Local politicians — they’re just like us! — Asking someone more famous than you to pose for a photo is always a little awkward. MPBN politics reporter Steve Mistler captures that with a video of Mayor Ethan Strimling asking Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine for a selfie. (Here’s the photo in question.)

‘At Ruski’s, a regular gets a fitting send-off — with Schlitz’James Patrick has this nice story on the party held in honor of a bar regular who died earlier this month of lung cancer. 

The Big Idea

‘Patagonia’s philosopher king’  — Yvon Chouinard is a Maine native and the founder of a hugely successful outdoors clothing company. He rarely turns on his cell phone. He doesn’t have email. He spends months wandering around, fishing, surfing and climbing. Where do I sign up for this gig?

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

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. 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.