The $57.5 million high-speed ferry service between Rochester and Toronto has been suspended after only three months of operation because of over $1.7 million in debt.In 2002, Governor George Pataki anticipated that the ferry would help revitalize Rochester, ultimately “boosting tourism, creating new jobs and establishing a quick and convenient transportation link with Canada.” The state gave Canadian American Transportation Systems (CATS), the private firm that operates the project, a $7.5 million state grant and a $6.5 million loan.Presumably, the flow of tourists would be equal between the twin cities. “But, it’s Canada,” freshman Morgan Jolly said. “I never wanted to go to Canada,” freshman Ellen Byng said.In addition to the millions in state grants and loans, the city of Rochester spent at least five million dollars on the private venture. The Port Authority of Toronto was to contribute a $7.8 million terminal, presently unfinished. CATS blamed unanticipated daily $2,500 Canadian Customs fees, $5,200 in daily pilot fees and post-September 11 restrictions prohibiting commercial trucks on the ferry for the shutdown. Commercial trucks were expected to create a third of winter revenue. The majority of the firm’s 200 employees were laid off after the suspension of service. “Only a handful of us remain,” CATS CEO Cornel Martin said in an interview with City Newspaper. “We have a whole bunch of volunteers here working the phones. We’ve been doing our best with the resources we have. But, again, these are volunteers, and you can only demand so much.”However, even the volunteer-manned telephone line is in doubt. Corporate 800, a telecommunications company, filed suit Tuesday, alleging that the firm has paid only $38,043 of a $55,022 bill.”I had really high hopes [for the project] before I found out the tickets were like 30 dollars one way,” senior Ethan Craig said.Alkon can be reached at aalkon@campustimes.org.



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