Transportation and Works
March 28, 2007

Government Releases Consultation Document to Guide Vessel Replacement Plan

Government’s Vessel Replacement Strategy continues to unfold with the release today of a document to guide the consultation process for vessel replacement on the island portion of the province.

The consultation document, released by the Honourable John Hickey Minister of Transportation and Works, is a summary of a review originally produced by BMT Fleet Technology Limited (BMT) in October 2006.

"With the release of this consultation document, government is yet again reaffirming its Blueprint commitment to address the provincial ferry service and stimulate rural economies,” said Minister Hickey. “We have already made the decision to build new vessels, but before accepting or rejecting any of BMT’s other recommendations, we will be consulting directly with ferry-user committees and other stakeholders across the island to get their input.”

On February 17, 2007, government issued a Request for Expressions of Interest from shipbuilding contractors within the province to build and supply two new auto-passenger ferries for the provincial service, as the first phase of a multi-vessel replacement strategy. However, no decisions have been made about where the new vessels will be deployed and how the overall service will be reconfigured. These consultations will help guide government’s decisions in these matters. Government anticipates the two new ferries will cost approximately $25 million and will create approximately 330,000 person hours of employment. Government also plans to build another three vessels over the next five years.

Today’s announcement regarding upcoming improvements to the provincial ferry service comes on the heels of government’s recent $1.5 million announcement to reduce ferry rates, bringing them in line with road equivalency.

“Improvements to transportation infrastructure will ultimately have a positive impact on services such as health care, post-secondary education, and social development by providing more efficient access to social networks, travel and recreation, and goods and services,” said Minister Hickey.

Input on marine services within Labrador has already been received through the consultation process in the development of a Sustainable Transportation Plan for Labrador. Thus, the current consultations will be limited to those services for the island portion of the province and will begin during the second week of April.

"We encourage ferry users to provide us with their thoughts and ideas,” said Minister Hickey. “Both government and ferry users want the best service possible so we will be relying on their feedback as we move forward with vessel replacement.”

In support of the consultation and planning process, the consultation document is available through the Department of Transportation and Works’ Web site at: www.tw.gov.nl.ca/publications/vrp-consultation.pdf

The public can request a copy of the consultation document via e-mail vrp@gov.nl.ca and are encouraged to provide their input by either submitting the feedback form contained in the document or through more detailed written submissions.

Feedback can be submitted to the department via e-mail at vrp@gov.nl.ca or by regular mail to:

Vessel Replacement Plan
Policy and Planning Division
Department of Transportation and Works
PO Box 8700
St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6

-30-

Media contact:
David Salter
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 691-3577
davidsalter@gov.nl.ca

2007 03 28                                  3:00 p.m.


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