Quebec ferry service interrupted after ferry hits dock

A ferry connecting Matane with Quebec’s North Shore struck a dock in Gobout Wednesday, in the latest setback for the province’s beleaguered service.

The Saaremaa I wasn’t damaged, but the dock’s ramp will have to be repaired and that will take several days.

In the meantime, passengers will be redirected to Baie-Comeau, adding another hour to the trip.

According to the statement released Wednesday by the Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), the departure schedule of that ferry remains unchanged.

In other words, no special scheduling is planned despite the expected increase in riders.

The statement says the STQ recognizes the inconvenience of the situation.

“Passenger safety is the priority that dictates decisions in the current conditions,” the STQ says.

The STQ says the damage was minor and an investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the collision.

“The hydraulic cylinders that allow the lifting of the boarding ramp have been damaged.”
Alexandre Lavoie, spokesperson for STQ.

Problem after problem leads to investigation

The accident is the latest in a string of problems involving Quebec ferry services, coming within a week of Quebec Premier François Legault’s announcement that the auditor general is probing into issues with the NM Félix-Adrien Gauthier.

“Quebecers are not only losing money, but have also gotten very poor service these past few months,” he said.

The F.A. Gauthier was docked for repairs last December, just three-and-a-half years after its inauguration. It’s still out of service.

The STQ implemented a series of temporary solutions, including the purchase of the Apollo.

That vessel was in such bad shape that it was removed from service after only 42 days.

Roughly 200,000 passengers take the ferry annually between Baie-Comeau, Godbout and Matane.

The Saaremaa I can hold up to 600 passengers and more than 150 vehicles.

It took over from MV Félix-Antoine-Savard, whose ferry crossings were frequently cancelled for several weeks because of restrictive conditions imposed by Transport Canada.

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