The Steamship Authority predicts a net income of $2.4 million for 2020, a figure it finds too low. In order to arrive at a net income of $7.4 million, a number the ferry line finds safer, it has proposed increasing fares. The proposed fares include premium rates for weekend travel during the summer.
Under a draft proposal, nonexcursion vehicles 17 feet or less on the Vineyard route would be charged $4 more regular ($85 instead of $81) from April 1 to Oct. 31. However, an unprecedented charge would be incurred on nonexcursion vehicles 17 or less from May 15 to Sept. 14. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, those same vehicles would be charged $19 more ($100 instead of $81). Nonexcursion vehicles over 17 feet crossing on any of the same days between May 15 and Sept. 14 would also see a $19 hike ($110 instead of $91). Nonexcursion vehicles in the off-season, Jan. 1 to May 15, and Sept. 15 to Dec. 31, over and under 17 feet would see a $11.50 increase.
For excursion fares, which are the fares charged to Islanders, an across-the-board $5 increase in-season and off-season is proposed.
A 10-ride vehicle fare book would jump from $730 to $850. All freight rates would see increases both in-season and off-season.
Annual parking rates in Woods Hole and Falmouth lots would increase by $50.
Freight rates for vehicles 20 feet or less will jump between $5 and $19.
Driscoll noted the overwhelming majority of freight comes to the Vineyard on vehicles between 20 feet and 65 feet, and no hikes are proposed for vehicles in that size range.
No passenger fares would increase. Nantucket would also see fare increases.
“It’s driven largely by maintenance costs next year,” SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll wrote in an email to The Times; “we have one more drydock scheduled in 2020 than in 2019, for example, as well as $750,000 in repairs to the Oak Bluffs dock — as well as costs associated with implementing the recommendations of the HMS report, including additional personnel.”
Driscoll said the SSA historically tried to maintain a $7 million net income. The figure cushions the SSA against emergencies and dry dock contingencies — “it’s a long span of time between the budget process and the awarding of the contract,” he noted.
While the subject will be raised Tuesday on Nantucket at the SSA board’s monthly meeting, no vote will be taken. That vote is scheduled for an Oct. 15 board meeting on the Vineyard, he said.