Steamship Authority customers were spared a fare increase in 2022, but more than $3 million in red ink on next year’s draft operating budget spells higher prices for riders in 2023.

Boat line expenses are expected to increase by nearly 11 per cent next year while revenues rise by only 4.8 per cent, according to a report from SSA treasurer/comptroller Mark Rozum.

A whopping 69 per cent increase in the cost of vessel fuel is a primary driver of the increase.

“The price per gallon is going from $2.37 in 2022 to $3.93 in 2023,” Mr. Rozum said, during an online meeting of the SSA port council Tuesday.

The boat line is expected to use more than 3.5 million gallons of fuel oil next year, with an estimated cost of almost $14 million — some $5.6 million more than this year’s fuel oil budget, according to Mr. Rozum’s presentation.

Other costs have also increased, but far less steeply, he said.

Mr. Rozum’s bottom-line numbers show operating expenses rising from $119,653,201 in 2022 to nearly $133 million in 2023.

Operating revenue is predicted at $129,661,107, leaving a $3 million-plus shortfall that Mr. Rozum said can be made up with fare increases.

On the Vineyard route, the boat line has initially proposed raising standard automobile fares by $3 to $5 each way, with the $5 increase applying to peak weekend days, for additional revenue of $1.54 million.

Excursion fares were penciled in to rise by $1.50 each way, raising $280,000, until Tisbury port council member John Cahill asked if it could be simplified to a round $1.

Mr. Rozum quickly agreed to the change, saying the boat line could adjust peak excursion fares to make up the difference in revenue.

The new fares would raise more than $1 million by increasing by 8 per cent the rate for vehicles 20 feet in length or longer, and an additional $1 million with passenger fare hikes of $.50 for a single ticket, $4 for a 10-ride pass and $9 for a 46-ride pass.

Parking fee increases of $50 a year for annual permits and $1 a day for daily parking would produce $350,000 in revenue, according to Mr. Rozum’s presentation, which is archived with the port council meeting agenda on the SSA website.

The boat line board of governors meets Sept. 27 to review the draft budget and the suggested fare and parking increases, with approval expected in October.