Two years after the Steamship Authority last raised its rates, nearly all passenger, vehicle and freight fares are set to go up again on the first of the new year.

Islander-only excursion auto fares will remain unchanged in 2023, after the boat line board of governors made a last-minute adjustment Tuesday that adds an off-season increase for standard vehicles instead.

The board voted in several other changes aimed at making it easier for Islanders to make vehicle reservations. The number of trips available for early booking under the headstart program, which permits Islanders to make some vehicle reservations before booking opens to other travelers, has doubled from five to 10.

The boat line also will increase the number of spaces it makes available for Islanders booking seven days or 24 hours in advance of traveling, add a new category of spaces that are opened to Islanders 30 days ahead of travel, and reserve additional Islander spaces on early-morning boats from the Vineyard and late-afternoon ferries back.

Excursion rates for Vineyard drivers have traditionally covered only about 30 to 35 per cent of the cost of space aboard SSA ferries, general manager Robert Davis told the board.

The restricted fares, which include two adults and two children, were originally set to rise by $1.50 each way. That increase was whittled to $1 by the SSA port council and canceled entirely by the boat line board of governors, with Barnstable governor Robert Jones abstaining from an otherwise unanimous vote.

In discussion, Mr. Jones frankly opposed letting excursion fares off the hook in this round of increases, while raising rates that affect mainland contractors and others doing business on the islands.

Residents of other port communities have complained that they can’t take advantage of the same favorable rates, said James Malkin, who represents the Vineyard on the board of governors.

But at the suggestion of Falmouth governor Peter Jeffrey and on a motion by New Bedford governor Maura Tierney, the board amended the 2023 fare hikes to raise standard automobile rates by $2 each way in the off-season, leaving excursion fares untouched.

The offset will come within about $5,000 of the $245,000 that would have been raised with the excursion fare hike, SSA treasurer/comptroller Mark Rozum said.

The rate hikes, which include 50 cents each way for passenger tickets, a $3 to $10 increase for standard automobiles in high season and an across the board eight per cent freight increase, will balance the boat line’s $132,673,963 budget for 2023.

A 69 per cent jump in fuel costs accounts for much of the nearly 11 per cent budget increase, Mr. Rozum said.

Other projected expenses in the new year include the cost of hiring and paying the Steamship Authority’s first-ever chief operating officer. Boat line officials have conducted more than half a dozen interviews with candidates for the position, Mr. Davis said Tuesday.