TREMONT — The price of walking onto the Maine State Ferry Service’s Captain Henry Lee and riding between Bass Harbor and Swans Island or Frenchboro would go up March 28 under a “rate adjustment” proposed by the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT), which operates the ferry service. A hearing on the proposal is set for Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the Swans Island School. Hearings also will be held later this month on Islesboro and Vinalhaven.
For Maine residents who take a car, pickup or van to Swans Island, a round-trip ticket would cost slightly more than it does now, but the price would drop for people from out of state. Conversely, taking a vehicle to Frenchboro would cost less for Maine residents and more for out-of-staters.
Similar rate changes are proposed for the ferries between Lincolnville and Islesboro and between Rockland and North Haven, Vinalhaven and Matinicus.
According to state law, half of the ferry service’s annual budget, which this year is about $11 million, is to come from passenger and vehicle transit fares and from parking fees. The other half is to come from the state’s highway fund. In recent years, transit and parking fare revenue has averaged only $4.5 million, about $1 million short of the overall target for customer fees.
Over the past year, the DOT considered several options for increasing the ferry service’s revenue before settling on the proposed fare adjustments.
The DOT estimates that the rate adjustments will boost annual ferry service revenue by about $738,000 to just under $5.2 million.
The proposed rate adjustments call for the price of a round-trip ticket between Bass Harbor and Swans Island for an adult without a vehicle to go from $9.75 to $12 for Maine residents and from $17.50 to $19 for out-of-state residents. A round-trip ticket to Frenchboro would rise from $11.25 to $12 for in-state residents and from $11.25 to $19 for people from away.
Children’s round-trip fares would see similar percentage increases.
Round-trip tickets for passenger vehicles on the Bass Harbor-Swans Island route would rise from $27.25 to $29 for Maine residents but drop from $49.50 to $44 for out-of-staters.
The price of a round-trip between Bass Harbor and Frenchboro would drop from $32.25 to $29 for Maine residents and increase from $32.25 to $44 for people who live out of state.