SSA describes who pays for whom in rate analysis

An analysis of the Steamship Authority (SSA) rate structure, prepared by boatline management, shows that the cost of service on the Martha’s Vineyard routes increased by 3.8-percent from 2009 to 2010. Excursion fares for Vineyarders are subsidized by other fare categories to the tune of more than 60 percent of the allocated costs. Nantucket service costs rose by 1.3 percent. The subsidy for Nantucket excursion fares was nearly as great.

SSA treasurer presented the cost report at the members’ monthly business meeting, held in Hyannis Thursday, May 12.

SSA rates are based on the costs of service allocated to each route and category of use. Fuel costs and vessel maintenance accounted for some of the increase.

“In the event the need arises for a rate increase,” general manager Wayne Lamson wrote in his management summary of the meeting, “one of the purposes of this analysis is to see which categories of customers are effectively being subsidized by other categories of customers and therefore, in the interest of fairness, might be called upon to pick up a little more of the cost of service.”

In his analysis, Mr. Davis described the degree to which standard-fare vehicles subsidize the excursion rates charged Vineyard year-round residents. He described the cost to transport vehicles by category and revenue on the Vineyard route.

“On average, automobiles covered 92.0-percent of their allocated cost of service, with standard-fare automobiles covering 125.4-percent and excursion-fare automobiles covering 37.7-percent. By comparison, on average, trucks were covering 106.1-percent of their allocated cost of service.”

By comparison, standard-fare vehicles on the Nantucket route covered 152.8-percent, and excursion-fare autos covered 38.7-percent. On average, Mr. Davis said, trucks were covering 84.5-percent of their allocated cost of service.

Mr. Davis also reported that the number of spaces occupied increased by 6,646 from 2009, and the occupancy rate was 78.8-percent for the year

In other news, Mr. Lamson said the SSA expects to have a dedicated mobile web application available prior to Memorial Day, to allow ferry customers to check the status of boats, obtain directions to ferry parking lots, and view schedules, according to a management summary of the meeting.