Gagetown — Although the Gagetown Ferry has resumed service this week with a reduced schedule and passenger capacity, the ferry is also now offering a number of on-board attractions in hopes of bolstering its declining ridership and compensating for the high cost of operation.
The cable ferry, which takes 5 minutes to cross the St. John River between Gagetown and Lower Jemseg and saves commuters approximately 40 minutes compared to driving, now includes a swimming pool, dining area, an observation deck and even a gaming room.
Spokesperson for the Department of Transportation Ryan Biggs said although the ferry service will continue to be free, they’re hoping the added entertainment — which will come at a price — will help mitigate operational overhead and may even have the service turning a profit.
“We’ve respected people’s opposition to charge a fare to keep the ferry service open,” said Biggs. “That’s why we decided instead to give passengers the option to ride free, or pay to have a little fun on the long journey across the river.”
As to the new facilities, the pool has a circumference of 5 feet and is 0.2 metres in depth; the dining area includes a hotdog stand, 4 lawn chairs with accompanying fold-out TV trays; the observation area towers precariously above the ship’s deck by 4.5 feet; and the gaming room includes one gas-powered VLT.
Biggs also indicated that they are currently looking into adding a live standup comedy show performed by one of the ferry’s operators. “We have one employee who’s expressed keen interest in providing some laughs,” he said. “From what we’ve heard he has a good reputation of causing a ‘hoot’ down at the Legion.”