BAR HARBOR — After years of absence, the Cat ferry is expected to come back to Bar Harbor in the spring of 2022.

“At this stage, we are full speed ahead for next year and really look forward to the return of ferry service to Bar Harbor,” the company said in a statement to the Islander.

For 12 years, the ferry ran between Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Bar Harbor until the route was ended in 2009. The ferry then moved to Portland, but the plug was pulled on that route in 2018. The high-speed ferry was slated to come back to Maine this year but operations were suspended in February because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bay Ferries, the company that runs the Cat, recently conducted inspections of its pier at the site of the former state ferry terminal, said Bar Harbor Harbormaster Chris Wharff.

According to the company, everything looked fine and it may try to do some practice runs this fall, he said.

With the border to Canada only recently reopening and still subject to several restrictions, the company noted that restarting an international ferry route requires substantial upfront investment that would be impossible to recover in a shortened season.

The ferry has been hit with challenges as it tries to get the service back up and running for the first time in several years. Bay Ferries had hoped to return for the 2019 season but it failed to get the ferry terminal renovated and approved by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in time. Then any hope of return to service in 2020 was scuttled by the pandemic.

Bay Ferries leases a portion of the pier from the town, which bought the former state ferry pier in 2019. The town has been talking about demolishing the structure to build a marina, though officials said they would continue to meet any obligations of the contract with the ferry line.

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