The ferry runs 24/7 all year, except when the wind is too high or there is ice in the Bay (“the Bay” is the inner-harbour part of St Ann’s Bay, to the west of the ferry’s channel). Service is not reliable in winter, but it’s really important to the community, particularly in connecting Englishtown to the rest of us, and in shortening the drive for emergency situations and fuel economy. You can purchase 10-trip punch-card passes for $35 from the ferry crew, in cash, and an unlimited-use annual pass for $240 at Service Nova Scotia and the price is pro-rated if you purchase it later in the year. Households with an annual pass may purchase up to 2 additional annual “secondary” passes at $42 each. Secondary passes can only be issued for vehicles registered to the same home address as the primary pass holder’s. Without a pass, cash fare is $7 one way for all motorised vehicle types under 1 ton. And it IS cash; no cards. Bicycles and walk-ons are free; pay close attention to staff instructions if you’re walking or cycling, especially during loading and unloading. You’re hard to see from cars and trucks. Fares are on line here: https://www.novascotia.ca/JUST/REGULATIONS/regs/ferrychg.htm
You can call the ferry and talk directly to the on-duty crew: 902.929.2404. This link is updated regularly, and simply indicates whether the ferry is operating; good to check if the weather is looking really foul: http://511.gov.ns.ca/en/map/f13_1004.html
The various approaches to the ferry have a signboard with lights that flash if the ferry is NOT operating. They are located at decision points that hopefully help you to decide which highway exit to use off the TCH 105, or whether to avoid the ferry for this trip. Usually, the ferry won’t run in extreme weather – mainly high winds or high seas. Other reasons the ferry might not be operating, besides heavy ice in the channel, include brief halts for refuelling, or service issues like cable replacement or engine maintenance; very rarely, if there’s a general power failure in the community, the ferry will also stop operating.