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Virgin Islands Seeks a Slice of Ferry Fund Pie

May 18, 2009 — Ferry commuters, ferry companies and the V.I. Department of Public Works should keep their fingers crossed: DPW has applied for money under the Federal Highway Administration's Ferry Boat Discretionary Fund.
The FBD "provides a special funding category for the construction of ferry boats and ferry-terminal facilities." The funding amount for 2009 is $67 million, according to the FHWA website. Of that amount, $20 million of the FBD is set aside for the states of Alaska, New Jersey and Washington.
Further, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has added another $60 million to the pot, for a total of $107 million.
The funding could be critical to the only public-transportation link between St. John and St. Thomas.
The Virgin Islands has filed a timely application for the funds, according to Doug Hecox, spokesman for the FHWA.
The DPW did not provide comment for this story by press time.
While the V.I. Public Services Commission rescinded a $1.10 fuel surcharge April 1, those familiar with the fuel industry say that there is little chance that the decrease in fuel prices is going to be around for long.
Ferry commuters face a rate hike of 40 percent on some fares. The PSC voted to raise ferry fares between Cruz Bay and Red Hook, but stayed the increase at a special May 12 hearing on St. John. The decision to stay the increase was made pending review of new information brought to light after a group of commuters questioned the basis for the decision to increase the fare. (See "PSC Holds Off Ferry Fare Hike For New Probe.")
The V.I. Unity Day Group, many of whom many of whom commute daily on the ferries to St. Thomas, petitioned for the review of the rate hike. The group brought the plight of the commuters to public attention with their petition.
Pleased with the news that the DPW had filed a timely application for the FBD funds, Lorelei Monsanto, leader of the group, said that to minimize the burden on commuters the V.I. government should apply for as many grants for the ferries as possible.
"Thank God for that," Monsanto said of the application getting filed. "I am very happy that occurred. As long as the application is in, it is showing movement."
Ferry company executives testified at the PSC's March 30 meeting that with their rates regulated by the PSC, there is little money left over to buy new equipment and maintain existing equipment.
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May 18, 2009 -- Ferry commuters, ferry companies and the V.I. Department of Public Works should keep their fingers crossed: DPW has applied for money under the Federal Highway Administration's Ferry Boat Discretionary Fund.
The FBD "provides a special funding category for the construction of ferry boats and ferry-terminal facilities." The funding amount for 2009 is $67 million, according to the FHWA website. Of that amount, $20 million of the FBD is set aside for the states of Alaska, New Jersey and Washington.
Further, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has added another $60 million to the pot, for a total of $107 million.
The funding could be critical to the only public-transportation link between St. John and St. Thomas.
The Virgin Islands has filed a timely application for the funds, according to Doug Hecox, spokesman for the FHWA.
The DPW did not provide comment for this story by press time.
While the V.I. Public Services Commission rescinded a $1.10 fuel surcharge April 1, those familiar with the fuel industry say that there is little chance that the decrease in fuel prices is going to be around for long.
Ferry commuters face a rate hike of 40 percent on some fares. The PSC voted to raise ferry fares between Cruz Bay and Red Hook, but stayed the increase at a special May 12 hearing on St. John. The decision to stay the increase was made pending review of new information brought to light after a group of commuters questioned the basis for the decision to increase the fare. (See "PSC Holds Off Ferry Fare Hike For New Probe.")
The V.I. Unity Day Group, many of whom many of whom commute daily on the ferries to St. Thomas, petitioned for the review of the rate hike. The group brought the plight of the commuters to public attention with their petition.
Pleased with the news that the DPW had filed a timely application for the FBD funds, Lorelei Monsanto, leader of the group, said that to minimize the burden on commuters the V.I. government should apply for as many grants for the ferries as possible.
"Thank God for that," Monsanto said of the application getting filed. "I am very happy that occurred. As long as the application is in, it is showing movement."
Ferry company executives testified at the PSC's March 30 meeting that with their rates regulated by the PSC, there is little money left over to buy new equipment and maintain existing equipment.
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.