A private shipping company in St. John’s is baffled as to how the city council could pass a motion calling on the federal government to lower rates for people who use the Gulf ferries.
Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary brought forward the motion at last week’s St. John’s City Council meeting. O’Leary said Marine Atlantic is mandated to recover 65 per cent of its costs by the federal government, which makes things more expensive for customers.
Sid Hynes, the president and CEO of Oceanex, says his company accounts for 74 per cent of all freight moving through St. John’s Harbour, employs about 300 people and is one of the largest taxpayers in the city. Lower rates for commercial traffic on Marine Atlantic would be detrimental to Oceanex.
Hynes says it’s one thing for someone to come up with an idea but to have it passed by council without any analysis is another thing. It reminds him of Muskrat Falls – something which was poorly thought out.
Hynes says O’Leary’s numbers are wrong in that Marine Atlantic collects only 47 per cent of the costs incurred.
He says the service is subsidized by 53 per cent, and that they come up with the 65 per cent by excluding ship costs and pensions. He says if freight traffic was charged the proper fares, passengers would be able to travel for free.