FREDERICTON (CNB) – The provincial government is following through on its commitment to deliver better vehicle and passenger ferry services to Grand Manan, White Head and Deer islands.

The Department of Transportation will be entering into negotiations with Coastal Transport Ltd. of Saint John to finalize agreements under the Fundy Islands Ferry Services Project.

“We are negotiating with Coastal Transport Ltd. to seek an agreement that provides value to the taxpayers and quality service for those who rely on the ferries,” said Transportation Minister Denis Landry.

The current contract with Coastal Transport, as operator of the Grand Manan and White Head services, expires in March 2011. The Department of Transportation operates the Deer Island ferry.

The department has issued a request for qualifications and a request for proposals to place all three ferry services under one contract. This would include the operation and maintenance of the vessels and associated wharves for 16 years.

“This government has demonstrated its commitment to provide safe and reliable ferry service for residents to the mainland,” said Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “Through the construction of new vessels for Grand Manan ($65 million) and White Head ($4 million) and a future procurement planned for Deer Island, we are meeting the needs of these communities well into the future.”