Port Authority Considering Passenger Fee Between Red Hook and St. John

The Virgin Islands Port Authority has never collected ferry passenger fees it is entitiled to from ferry tickets sales by franchised ferry companies, above

Those St. Johnians who object to being charged a fee to return to their home island from St. Thomas on the barge with a vehicle will be in for a rude awakening if the V.I. Port Authority installs “turnstiles” at the new Red Hook passenger terminal to collect the existing VIPA passenger fee of 25 cents as they enter to buy ferry tickets to reach home.

Ferry passengers traveling bet-ween St. Thomas and St. John are supposed to pay the VIPA fee through the ticket sales of the two ferry companies who share the exclusive franchise on the route, according to VIPA Execu-tive Director Darlan Brin. “Because of problems with the PSC, the Port Authority has never collected that fee,” Brin told a V.I. Senate Committee on Government Operations hearing on St. John May 23.

Turnstiles Under Study
The Port Authority is considering the installation of turnstiles at the new Red Hook passenger terminal which would allow VIPA to collect the fee directly, Brin told St. John Tradewinds as he waited for the May 23 senate hearing to begin.

As VIPA officials explore tapping all possible revenue sources — including the controversial recent increases in fees for vehicles traveling by barge between the two islands — VIPA apparently wants its share of the recently-increased ferry rates.

The Public Service Commission, which regulates franchised ferry operations, approved a permanent rate increase for the ferry companies under its control in a May 2 vote, increasing the price of a one-way ticket between Red Hook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John, from $3 to $5.

VIPA Can’t Get Fee
Meanwhile, the Port Authority continues to be unable to collect its ferry passenger fee of 25 cents per ticket from the ferry companies, according to Brin.

“We never collect it,” he said.

Brin declined to comment on whether VIPA also would be collecting a fee for passengers in vehicles traveling on the barges.