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April 6, 2006
(Transportation and Works)

The following statement was issued today by Trevor Taylor, Minister of Transportation and Works. It was also read in the House of Assembly:

I rise to inform this house that government will commence the Straits ferry service between St. Barbe and Blanc Sablon on Thursday, April 13, more than two weeks ahead of the usual schedule.

Starting the service early will allow ferry users such as post-secondary students, teachers, or whomever, to either travel home during Easter break or embark on vacation trips.

The Apollo ferry is an essential transportation link for the general public and the business community in this part of the province. And for many years, residents of Labrador - particularly those on the south coast - have requested that government extend the service.

The combination of favourable ice conditions and an improved fiscal capacity has allowed government to respond to those concerns in this year�s budget with an investment of $759,000.

In total, government will extend the service by 30 days - a full month. Traditionally, the ferry service ran until the first week of January but this season government will extend the service until January 16, pending acceptable weather.

I am also proud to announce that this extension means that the Straits ferry service will now have its longest operating schedule ever.

Because so many residents of our province depend on this service, government took a prudent, strategic approach in deliberating on how to extend the service.

Before finalizing the schedule, government sought the informed input of the newly-assembled Minister�s Advisory Committee on Labrador Transportation. This nine-member group has been established to make recommendations on how best to address future Labrador transportation needs.

The minister�s advisory committee will be instrumental in advising government as we move forward to address issues such as those associated with the Trans-Labrador Highway, the Labrador marine service and air transportation.

2006 04 06                              2:00 p.m.

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