Marine Atlantic is witnessing firsthand the level of public interest in the Atlantic bubble.
With the newly-announced bubble permitting free movement throughout Atlantic Canada starting next Friday, bookings for ferry trips between Port Aux Basques and North Sydney have increased considerably.
In the 24 hours immediately following Wednesday's announcement from the four Atlantic premiers, Marine Atlantic handled over 900 new reservations. A spokesman for the federal Crown corporation told The Telegram that trend appeared to be continuing into Thursday.
What a difference a week could make
Earlier this month, Marine Atlantic was averaging less than 100 new bookings per day. That changed over the last week as news trickled through suggesting the Atlantic bubble between New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island would become a reality. The average for daily new bookings jumped to 150 to 200 over the last week.
In the spring, Marine Atlantic announced the Argentia to North Sydney ferry service would not proceed for summer. The decrease in overall passenger traffic has also resulted in the use of fewer employees. Last month, a spokesman told The Cape Breton Post more workers would be brought back on as passenger demand increased.
On Thursday, the Marine Atlantic spokesman said it's presently evaluating operations in light of the uptick in new bookings.
"We are currently evaluating our current protocols and passenger limits to determine what, if any, changes may be able to take place," the spokesman said. "Our priority will continue to be protecting the health and safety of our customers and employees. Our decisions will be guided by this principle."