Ferry rate increase proposed

Few things affect the lives of islanders more than the ferry does. Missed or limited work, appointments, funerals and sporting events, or having to pay for a mainland hotel are all too often some of the costs of island living. The cost of ferry tickets is often a disproportionate part of an islander’s budget, so a major increase in ticket prices would spell disaster for many island residents.

Donna Wiegle spoke up and encouraged us to voice our dissent: “Many of you may have heard about a proposed ticket increase, which is slated to begin in March 2018. The Maine State Ferry Service is proposing a seasonal and nonseasonal one-tier system for tickets, so one price that we all will pay regardless of whether your trip originates from the island or the mainland. It is uncertain at this point whether the increased prices will be for four or five months with lower rates being the other seven or eight months. Here are some of the increased prices: vehicle ticket: $50 ‘in season,’$26 ‘off season’; adult RT ticket: $19 ‘in season,’ $8 ‘off season’; child RT: $9 ‘in season,’ $5 ‘off season’; commuter pass: $70 ‘in season,’ $39 ‘off season.’ [Note to readers: The ‘in season’ rates are nearly double what year-round, island-originated rates are now]. We have not had an increase in a number of years, and I understand the need to generate more revenue, but this proposal will be crippling for many islanders! The increase on the current mainland-originated tickets is only 50 cents for a vehicle, $1.50 for an adult ticket and 50 cents for a child age 5-12. The increase for tickets in the summer for islanders is really unbelievable, and the minimal reduction on the ‘off season’ prices does not make up for the summer price increase.”

“I was at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting last week, … I have spoken to Kathy Clark, our ferry advisory board member, and Sonny Sprague, our alternate advisory board member, … and I have been in contact with Rep. Walter Kumiega about this. Walter is not supportive of this type of increase. Walter said, ‘Yes, the idea was to come up with ticket prices that raised more money in the summer so you could get a break the rest of the year that more than makes up for it.’ Walter had not seen the proposed price increase when we communicated. He was very surprised and shared with me that he expected the reduced, ‘off season’ rates to drop substantially, and that these proposed prices were unacceptable.

“Sen. Dave Miramant, whose district includes North Haven and Vinalhaven, wrote the following to a Vinalhaven resident: ‘We have been watching the process and plan to meet with the DOT next week to find out if they listened to the public during the public meetings. One of the folks in the department (MDOT) is confused about the bill that passed last year. He interprets improving customer service as increasing rates to the islanders so Representative Kumiega and I will go act as interpreters for him. While I support a change that reduces or eliminates a subsidy for summer visitors, it was supposed to be done to ease the burden on the residents, not be a big revenue increase for the DOT.’ Vinalhaven and North Haven residents are up in arms about this increase. The Vinalhaven town manager, Andy Dorr, put a chart with the proposed increases in their local newspaper. Both islands are strongly encouraging residents to contact Rick DuBois, director of multimodal operations for the Maine State Ferry Service. Rick needs to hear from us. You can contact him in one of the following ways: MSFS office 624-3312, cell phone 596-2243 and email [email protected]. I would also add, contact your legislators: Maine State Rep. Walter Kumiega at [email protected] and Maine State Sen. Brian Langley at [email protected].”

Happy birthday to Donald Carlson, Betsy Matheson, Calvin LeMoine, Kathy Burns, Sarah Jae MacDonald, Johnny Rozenski and Kathy Burns. Anniversary blessings to Steve and Judy Green.

Kimberly Haller

Kimberly Haller

If you have news to share, email or call me by Sunday noon if you need it to be included in the following edition. Email me at [email protected]or call me at 526-4488.

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