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Full speed ahead for 2018, says Bay Ferries CEO

A flotilla of kayakers sees the Cat off from Yarmouth at the start of its 2017 season.
A flotilla of kayakers sees the Cat off from Yarmouth at the start of its 2017 season. - Carla Allen

Portland officials talking with U.S. Customs to work out solution for required upgrades

YARMOUTH - Officials continue to work on a solution for upgrades required by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before Bay Ferries begins service in 2018.

Discussions are underway between Bay Ferries, CBP and the City of Portland and the outlook is positive.

Julie Sullivan, senior adviser to the city manager, says they are still talking with CBP to find a way to make things work for 2018.

“There is no way the city would be able to fund the full cost of the upgrades. That's about all we know at this point,” she said via email.

Mark MacDonald, chairman and chief executive officer for Bay Ferries, says when discussions such as these are ongoing, the company does not comment.

However, he did say they are “full speed ahead” in planning for the 2018 season, including marketing plans.

CBP met with representatives from the City of Portland and other impacted stakeholders on Dec. 14 and provided them with detailed information on infrastructure upgrades and process changes that would need to be made prior to the start of the 2018 ferry season.

These changes are critical for passenger and officer safety and national security.

Overall upgrades are estimated to cost $6 to $7 million, although the cost for essential upgrades required for 2018 usage would be considerably less.

If the changes are made and agreed to, CBP is committed to providing service for the Portland-Yarmouth ferry at the Ocean Gateway Terminal during the 2018 ferry season.

Additionally, if, by Oct. 15, 2018, the City of Portland provides CBP with a funded and complete plan to provide a compliant CBP facility that would reasonably be completed prior to the 2021 season, CBP will commit to providing clearance services at the Ocean Gateway Terminal for the 2019 and 2020 ferry seasons. The City of Portland and other impacted stakeholders are in the process of evaluating this information.

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