The Steamship Authority is considering increases to parking and freight fares for the Martha’s Vineyard route to offset a projected rise in the cost of service.
Meeting last week in Nantucket, the Steamship Authority board of governors saw a preliminary draft of the proposed 2014 operating budget. According to SSA treasurer Robert Davis, total operating expenses in 2014 are expected to be nearly $85.3 million, an increase of about 0.6 per cent over estimated expenses in 2013. According to a meeting summary, the authority will need to raise an additional $1 million in revenue to have a net operating income of about $3.2 million.
The SSA management proposed that the additional revenue should come from rate increases on the Vineyard route because that is the route that was attributing to the increased costs. Freight rates for trucks longer than 20 feet would increase by 5.25 per cent, which would raise $400,000. The SSA management also proposed increasing the daily parking rates and annual parking permit costs in Woods Hole and Falmouth. This increase would bring in about $600,000 in additional revenue.
The SSA is not proposing an increase in passenger, automobile or excursion fares. The meeting summary notes that rates for trucks longer than 20 feet on the Martha’s Vineyard route have not been increased since 2007.
If the proposed rate increases are adopted, 57.1 per cent of the SSA’s revenues would come from the Martha’s Vineyard route, while the route accounts for 57.2 per cent of the authority’s total operating expenses.
The final budget will be voted on at the October boat line meeting, which will take place in Vineyard Haven.
In other business, the SSA is moving forward with a new vehicle/passenger ferry that would have a passenger capacity of 512, including crew. A request for qualifications was sent to about 40 design firms with naval architects, and the management said about four or five of the firms will be prequalified to submit proposals to design the ferry. SSA governors are expected to award a design contract at their meeting in December.