Chi-Cheemaun posts increases in vehicles, passenger traffic in 2022

File photo.

OWEN SOUND—The Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) reports that, without COVID-19 capacity restrictions, the Chi-Cheemaun has carried more vehicles and passengers over last season.

“Owen Sound Transportation Company (OSTC) is pleased with the success of the 2022 sailing season,” Kaleena Sanford said in a release. “Final traffic numbers fared better than expected, given this being our first season operating without COVID-19 capacity restrictions since the 2019 season. As of October 1, the Chi-Cheemaun has carried 21 percent more vehicles (57,320 vehicles) and 31 percent more passengers (154,312) over the 2021 sailing season.”

Although some cancellations occurred, as is typical with all ferry services, OSTC is proud of its crew and staff dedication to provide optimal service and minimize the impact of unexpected events. In total, there were 28 cancelled trips (10 due to weather and 18 due to mechanical issues). OSTC expects to end the 2021 season with a 97 percent reliability rate.

In 2020, the service usage figures were just over half of the previous year, despite operating for 31 fewer days and only running trips at half capacity. With Transport Canada regulations in place, ferry operators could carry no more than 50 percent of their certified passenger capacity. That half-full number for the Chi-Cheemaun is about 300 passengers. Food and beverage service had to be completely shut down for the season and the ferry did not run at all in May that year.

Vehicle counts for 2020 were down 43.03 percent from 2019 levels but were only down 3,144 in September and October combined, or 17 percent compared to the previous year. The ship ran 714 sailings, compared to 1,036 in 2019.

Passenger counts were down slightly in 2020 compared to vehicle numbers. Some 103,698 people took the ferry as opposed to 202,020 in 2019, a 48.67 percent drop from the previous year.

In 2019,  the Chi-Cheemaun had a vehicle count of 80,874, up 2.19 percent from the 2018 total of 79,144. This recovered to the levels experienced in 2017 of 206,718.  Passengers increased by 1.06 percent in 2019, from 2018, for a total of 202,020 over 199,896 in 2019. However, this figure did not reach the 2017 level of 206,718.

“With an optimistic outlook for the 2023 sailing season, OSTC plans to strengthen its community stakeholder engagement and reinstate our noteworthy onboard experiences such as spring and fall repositioning cruises, the concert cruise series and interpretative presentations,” said Ms. Sanford.

The Chi-Cheemaun’s final scheduled run of the season took place last Sunday, October 16,  departing South Baymouth at 3:50 pm. On Monday, the ship departed Tobermory for her wintering berth, arriving in Owen Sound Harbour at approximately 12 pm.