A top government official in Nova Scotia intends to ask Maine Gov. Paul LePage for help financing the Nova Star Cruises ferry.

The Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Chronicle Herald reported that Michel Samson, Nova Scotia’s economic development minister, said Thursday that he didn’t have a confirmed date yet for face-to-face talks with LePage, and that the governor’s staff is trying to find a time.

“I think it would be the responsible thing to do on behalf of Nova Scotians to see how we can find ways of developing partnerships and reducing the financial burden to Nova Scotians regarding the ferry,” he said.

The province already has released all of a $21 million public subsidy to fund the ferry service – money that was supposed to last seven years. The ferry service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, was revived this year after a five-year hiatus.

Included in the province’s support is $5 million to back a line of credit for general operations. Nova Star Cruises, the ferry operator, has not received any money from Maine, and has yet to obtain a $5 million line of credit from a Maine bank, which it has been seeking since November. At the time of negotiations to re-establish service, LePage said his administration would help the company secure the line of credit, according to the Chronicle Herald.

Calls made by the Portland Press Herald to the governor’s office seeking to confirm a prospective meeting were not returned. Dennis Bailey, a spokesman for Nova Star Cruises, said he had no information about a potential meeting between LePage and Samson.

Restoration of the ferry service was hampered by a delay in acquiring a key federal permit, which prevented marketing the service and selling tickets. Since it started in May, passenger counts have been well below expectations.

But the ferry service recently had an increase in boardings. Nova Star Cruises reported 13,043 passengers boarded Nova Star in July for an average of 217 passengers per one-way trip. As of Aug. 15, the ferry had booked 17,255 passengers for trips in August.

Though the ship has a capacity of more than 1,200, Nova Star officials have said they would be happy with an average of 250-350 passengers per one-way trip.

The ferry is the first service between the province and the United States since 2009, when Nova Scotia cut off subsidies for a high-speed ferry that operated on the same route.

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