SYDNEY, NL —Marine Atlantic has put the commercial truck ferry, MV Leif Ericson, on standby after a drop in bookings this year.
Jean Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) commented: “They gave us some numbers—it was about 100 spots per week—which should be enough to handle traffic based on their prediction. ”
“Right now we’re not concerned,” Picard said. “But who knows what the summer traffic will look like once we’re into it.”
Marine Atlantic has 10 percent fewer commercial bookings than 2013.
Darrell Mercer, spokesman for Marine Atlantic, said that the company didn’t anticipate the “dramatic change in traffic patterns.”
As a result, the MV Leif Ericson will be on standby and only used when there is enough demand for its Sydney – Port aux Basques route. The ferry is the Marine Atlantic fleet’s largest carrier of restricted goods and has over 1.5 km of deck lanes for commercial trucks and other vehicles.
“Instead of sailing vessels that would be less than half full, we are certainly trying to maximize the deck space that is available,” Mercer said. “The biggest impact is going to be the MV Leif Ericson. That vessel is usually in the schedule for most of the summer and sails for most of the week.”
Marine Atlantic cites Newfoundland’s stalling housing market as one of the reasons for the drop in bookings as less building materials and supplies need to be trucked and shipped in.