Tough fall leads to decrease in M.S. Chi-Cheemaun riders

Chi-Cheemaun Ferry

OWEN SOUND—It was not a good fall for the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun ferry service, which led to an overall decrease in passenger and vehicle numbers over the season in comparison to the 2017 ferry season.

“It wasn’t a great fall. Prior to having to cancel sailings (October 11-12) we were on par with last year’s traffic numbers,” said Susan Schrempf, of the Owen Sound Transportation Company, on Tuesday. “We lost three full round trips due to heavy wind conditions, and the Highway 17 and Agawa Canyon shut down just before our last weekend of sailing forced a lot of cancellations as well.”

Ms. Schrempf explained, “our final statistics for the season show that we had a total of 199,896 passengers, which is a decrease of 3.3 percent from 2017; and the Chi-Cheemaun had a total of 79,144 vehicles, a .03 percent decrease over last year.”

Last year the Chi-Cheemaun saw an increase in passenger numbers over the 2016 sailing season.

The OSTC announced on October 11 and October 12 the cancellation of three round trips for the Chi-Cheemaun due to extreme wind and wave conditions. “The wind was the problem,” Ms. Schrempf told the Recorder. “It’s not that the ship can’t handle the wind and rain, but if the waves are high enough that it is basically causing people to be knocked off balance on the ship-people could get injured. The ramp at the dock in Tobermory had to be up last night so the boat wouldn’t be moving around.”

“We are not looking at many changes on the ship for next year,” continued Ms. Schrempf. “For the public hallway and stairways we will be capitalizing on our marketing and creative imagery in terms of colour and motif to help guide visitors on the ship back to where their vehicles are, prior to getting off the ship. And we are looking at ways to allow hot food customers to be able to get through the lines faster in terms of better automation.”