12/04/2014 11:34 EST | Updated 02/03/2015 05:59 EST

Privatization not on table for ferry fleet: Nova Scotia transportation minister

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's transportation minister says an ongoing review of the province's aging ferry fleet is not considering privatization as an option.

Geoff MacLellan says his department is looking at ways to improve service on the province's seven ferry runs while getting the best value for taxpayers.

MacLellan says the cost to operate the nine-vessel fleet, which includes two replacement ferries, is about $9 million while the service only brings in about $1 million in revenue.

He says many of the ferries are approaching 30 years of service and decisions have to be made about how to proceed.

MacLellan says in the case of Cape Breton's Englishtown ferry, a separate feasibility study is comparing the value of the service with the potential costs of a bridge for the area.

In the meantime, he says the Englishtown ferry, which has been undergoing a refit at a Pictou drydock since July, could be ready to return to service within the next week or more.

MacLellan says he will attend a public meeting Dec. 17 with the residents of Tancook Island to discuss their ferry, which was taken out of service last month for engine repairs.