Sources at the bottom of the gorge have informed the Niagara Falls Reporter that Maid of the Mist boats are being equipped with running lights in preparation for their first in history night tours this summer season.
Hornblower Cruises on the Ontario side began offering night tours last year - their first season providing tours under the falls.
Hornblower also offers timed tickets so riders don't have to wait in line to take tours.
Maid of the Mist operated last season with a first come, first serve basis and wait times during peak times exceeded two hours for their 20 minute tour.
The Maid never offered night tours and closed before sunset, thus avoiding the need for running lights - which are required of boats that sail after sunset.
Last year Hornblower served Canadian riders well into the night.
Other changes may also be coming for Maid boats now facing competition (with Hornblower) for the first time in history.
It is not known if the Maid of the Mist boats will soon be equipped with restrooms, seats and "dry" areas where riders can stay dry as the mist drenches those on deck.
Hornblower boats have these amenities.
In 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined to accept a $100 million greater offer from Hornblower for the lease rent paid to New York and chose instead to stick with Maid of the Mist in New York.
Several leading politicians argued for the state to accept a vastly lower rent from the owners of the Maid of the Mist, James and Christopher Glynn, and with a far lesser offering of services.
Glynns owned the Maid of the Mist franchise since 1972.
in 2014, Hornblower, having won a bidding contest in Ontario, paid $300 million more than Maid offered.
The open bidding, which was so lucrative for Ontario, was sparked by a series of articles in this newspaper following the whistle blowing of Niagara Parks Commissioner Robert Gale.
Historically about 2/3 of boat riders take tours on the Canadian side. With the new competition and ever stricter border crossing regulations which prevent many tourists from crossing to Canada, Maid of the Mist may be able to capitalize on a greater percentage of business by improving the amenities of their fleet.
Since they pay one third the rent to New York that Hornblower pays to Ontario for essentially the same boat ride, this could spell a windfall for the Glynn family.