SSA votes rate hike on both routes

The Steamship Authority (SSA) met Tuesday in Hyannis and approved a package of rate increases designed to raise an additional $2.55 million in revenue, which boatline officials said they need to meet 2011 operating expenses.

The SSA divides operating expenses between the two islands, based on a formula designed so that each community pays for its respective costs of service. Of the $2.55 million shortfall, the Vineyard route would be asked to make up $1,050,000 and the Nantucket route $1,500,000.

On the Vineyard side of the ledger, the cost of a one-way adult fare will rise from $7 to $7.50. Already-discounted passengers fares would also rise slightly. The rate for bicycles, surfboards, and windsurfers would be increased from $3 to $4.

The SSA projects operating revenues of $83,899,000, including $2,550,000 in additional revenues from the rate hikes, in 2011, which is expected to generate a net operating income of $3,440,000.

On the Vineyard route, the last passenger fare increase, a supplemental increase because of the skyrocketing oil prices, occurred in May 2008. Prior to that it was January 2007 when the adult passenger rate rose by $0.50.

In other business, the board approved proposed 2011 summer and fall operating schedules. The Sankaty will replace the Governor during the height of the summer, and berth overnight in Vineyard Haven instead of Woods Hole.

The change will eliminate the last daily 10:50 pm freight trip from Vineyard Haven but add a daily 6:15 am freight trip, freeing up space on other morning off-Island trips.

The SSA also learned it will receive $500,000 in federal funds for improvements to its Fairhaven maintenance facility. The entire project is expected to cost $700,000.