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The MV Highlanders enters Port aux Basques harbour in March 2021. The Gulf crossing was the only route not to see an increase on passenger fares on April 1. – Rosalyn Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

PORT AUX BASQUES – Marine Atlantic has reversed its Apr. 1 rate increase.

Marine Atlantic had initially increased its commercial fares on the Gulf route by two per cent, and commercial and passenger fares on the Argentia route by 2.5 per cent. Rates for drop trailers had increased by 3.4 per cent on both routes.

On March 12, MP Jack Harris (St. John’s East) called on the Prime Minister to reverse the planned increase, stating that it would negatively impact every consumer in the province during an economy already reeling in the wake of a global pandemic.

By Apr. 5 it appears the Federal government had come to a similar conclusion.

“Transport Canada asked Crown Corporations in the Transportation sector not to implement increases this year due to the significant burden that COVID-19 has placed on the Canadian economy,” stated Corporate Communications Officer Darrell Mercer via e-mail. “While we have had rate freezes in the past, this is the first roll back.”

Mercer also confirmed that passengers who crossed during the 4 day span and had paid by credit card would be refunded the difference.

Marine Atlantic has also been impacted by the COVID-19 and that seems likely to continue for the upcoming summer tourist season.

“Numbers are still below normal traffic volumes as customers appear to be waiting to see what happens with the pandemic. With recent discussion and speculation regarding potential Atlantic and Canadian bubbles in the weeks and months ahead, we did see an increased number of bookings. There is still much uncertainty as to what traffic numbers will be heading into the summer season,” wrote Mercer.

On Wednesday, Apr. 7 Public Health issued a COVID-19 alert regarding recent ferry travel, citing an abundance of caution. Passengers and crew who sailed on the MV Blue Puttees that departed North Sydney bound for Port aux Basques last Thursday, Apr. 1st at 12:15 p.m. are asked to arrange for COVID-19 testing.

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