A temporary change in fees for ferry service between St. Thomas and St. John was approved Thursday, Jan. 19, by the V.I. Public Services Commission (PSC). According to the new rate structure, adults will be charged $5 to travel between Red Hook and Cruz Bay, and $11.50 to travel between Charlotte Amalie and Cruz Bay.
This is the second change in five months to fares which had not increased since 1989. Rising fuel prices were blamed for both fare hikes.
Before an August fuel surcharge was approved by the PSC, the costs were $3 and $7, respectively.
In August, the PSC added a $1 surcharge to adult and commuter fares, and 50 cents to children and senior citizen fares.
The latest rate hike, instituted as a temporary increase while the PSC decides how much of a surcharge to grant ferry companies, ended Thursday with the implementation of a new fare structure.
The new rate increase will begin Feb. 1 and will run for 60 days, during which the PSC will decide how much of a permanent increase in fares is necessary.
Children, Elderly Exempt
Children and senior citizens are exempted from the rate increases, and will see a decrease in the amount they pay to travel by ferry. They will pay the amount they were charged before the August fuel surcharge to travel between Red Hook and Cruz Bay.
Commuters, who paid $1.50 before the August rate hike and $2.50 since then, will continue to pay $2.50 under the new fare structure.
The $2 baggage fee, which was put into place in August, will be raised to $3 for travel between Cruz Bay and both Charlotte Amalie and Red Hook.
The two ferry companies with exclusive rights to the routes, Varlack Ventures and Transpor-tation Services, told the PSC they are operating at a loss, according to published reports.