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HomeNewsArchivesPSC Rescinds Ferry Fuel Surcharge, Approves Rate Increase

PSC Rescinds Ferry Fuel Surcharge, Approves Rate Increase

April 1, 2009 — Starting Thursday morning, ferry riders between St. Thomas and St. John can keep a little more jingle in their pockets — at least for the next 30 days.
The Public Services Commission voted to rescind the $1.10 fuel surcharge that has been added on to tickets since last July 6.
Two franchisees, Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services of St. John, operate ferries between the two islands.
While fuel prices have come down from a high of $5.14 for a gallon of diesel last July and August to approximately $2 now, the ferry companies were losing money to the high fuel costs even before the surcharge was implemented, according to Delrise Varlack, speaking on behalf of Varlack Ventures.
The commission voted 4-1 to approve the removal of the charge. Voting in favor were commissioners Joseph Boschulte, Donald "Ducks" Cole, M. Thomas Jackson and Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman, with Commissioner Verne David providing the dissenting vote.
The commission also voted to approve a new schedule for passenger fees. These fees will go into effect 30 days after the ferry companies receive the order signed by the chairman of the PSC, according to commission's attorney, Tanisha Bailey-Roka.
Tacked on to the decision was a caveat to implement an automated ticketing system between Cruz Bay and Red Hook by Sept. 1.
Details still need to be worked out for the ticketing system between Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie before a system can be implemented.
Fees between Cruz Bay and Red Hook will go from $5 to $7 for adults, from $1 to $2 for a child, from $1.25 to $2 for a senior, from $3 to 5 for commuters, from $2.50 to $4 for bulk tickets, from $1.50 to $2 for students, and from $2 to $3 for baggage.
The new fee structure, known as "scenario 5," was derived from a model that took the franchise companies' financial statements, forecasts of riderships and revenue needs submitted by the companies. The model, created by Richard Moore, an economic consultant to the PSC on this project, will allow for efficient real-time estimates of revenue needs.
Moore noted that the data the model used was constantly changing. The data, gathered only recently, is quickly becoming dated, he said. However, the model can be helpful to develop more frequent rate adjustments.
"Things are happening fast now," Moore said. "The dynamic economic conditions are extraordinary in our lifetime."
The ferry companies' attorney, Claudette Ferron, said the companies accepted the recommendation of the hearing examiner as the best of what was offered in terms of scenarios and the rates outlined in the technical report.
"Unfortunately, the rate structure does not take into account the whole panoply of costs and expenses, including replacement vessels," Ferron said. "We will not know until it is implemented what the impact will be in terms of how much more difficult it will be to operate under the current prevailing recession that we are in."
Once again the vote was 4-1, this time with Commissioner Thomas-Trotman dissenting.
Thomas-Trotman said that $14 for a round trip for someone who makes the voyage on a daily basis was too much in light of the current condition of the economy.
"$14 is a little too steep for the residents at this time," Thomas-Trotman said.
Commissioners attending the meeting were Joseph R. Boschulte, Donald "Ducks" Cole, Verne C. David, M. Thomas Jackson, Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman and Sen. Patrick Simeon-Sprauve. Sen. Michael Thurland and Sirri Hamad were absent.
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April 1, 2009 -- Starting Thursday morning, ferry riders between St. Thomas and St. John can keep a little more jingle in their pockets -- at least for the next 30 days.
The Public Services Commission voted to rescind the $1.10 fuel surcharge that has been added on to tickets since last July 6.
Two franchisees, Varlack Ventures and Transportation Services of St. John, operate ferries between the two islands.
While fuel prices have come down from a high of $5.14 for a gallon of diesel last July and August to approximately $2 now, the ferry companies were losing money to the high fuel costs even before the surcharge was implemented, according to Delrise Varlack, speaking on behalf of Varlack Ventures.
The commission voted 4-1 to approve the removal of the charge. Voting in favor were commissioners Joseph Boschulte, Donald "Ducks" Cole, M. Thomas Jackson and Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman, with Commissioner Verne David providing the dissenting vote.
The commission also voted to approve a new schedule for passenger fees. These fees will go into effect 30 days after the ferry companies receive the order signed by the chairman of the PSC, according to commission's attorney, Tanisha Bailey-Roka.
Tacked on to the decision was a caveat to implement an automated ticketing system between Cruz Bay and Red Hook by Sept. 1.
Details still need to be worked out for the ticketing system between Red Hook and Charlotte Amalie before a system can be implemented.
Fees between Cruz Bay and Red Hook will go from $5 to $7 for adults, from $1 to $2 for a child, from $1.25 to $2 for a senior, from $3 to 5 for commuters, from $2.50 to $4 for bulk tickets, from $1.50 to $2 for students, and from $2 to $3 for baggage.
The new fee structure, known as "scenario 5," was derived from a model that took the franchise companies' financial statements, forecasts of riderships and revenue needs submitted by the companies. The model, created by Richard Moore, an economic consultant to the PSC on this project, will allow for efficient real-time estimates of revenue needs.
Moore noted that the data the model used was constantly changing. The data, gathered only recently, is quickly becoming dated, he said. However, the model can be helpful to develop more frequent rate adjustments.
"Things are happening fast now," Moore said. "The dynamic economic conditions are extraordinary in our lifetime."
The ferry companies' attorney, Claudette Ferron, said the companies accepted the recommendation of the hearing examiner as the best of what was offered in terms of scenarios and the rates outlined in the technical report.
"Unfortunately, the rate structure does not take into account the whole panoply of costs and expenses, including replacement vessels," Ferron said. "We will not know until it is implemented what the impact will be in terms of how much more difficult it will be to operate under the current prevailing recession that we are in."
Once again the vote was 4-1, this time with Commissioner Thomas-Trotman dissenting.
Thomas-Trotman said that $14 for a round trip for someone who makes the voyage on a daily basis was too much in light of the current condition of the economy.
"$14 is a little too steep for the residents at this time," Thomas-Trotman said.
Commissioners attending the meeting were Joseph R. Boschulte, Donald "Ducks" Cole, Verne C. David, M. Thomas Jackson, Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman and Sen. Patrick Simeon-Sprauve. Sen. Michael Thurland and Sirri Hamad were absent.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.