Individual passengers in vehicles transported by the state's ferries will be charged to ride under new tolls proposed by the state Department of Transportation, but it is unclear when the new tolls will take effect.
A state House transportation committee voted unanimously Thursday to ask the state Attorney General's Office whether Gov. Beverly Perdue's order delaying the collection of higher ferry tolls for a year is legal.
A representative from the governor's office said the governor consulted legal experts before issuing the order. But Gerry Cohen, director of the General Assembly Bill Drafting Division, told the committee that he believes Perdue's order is unconstitutional and doesn't have "any force or effect."
When the fares do increase, the cost of riding the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry will rise to $10 each way for the car and driver of a vehicle less than 20 feet, plus $2 each way for each additional passenger. Drivers currently pay $5 each way, and additional passengers are free.
Also, pedestrians will pay $2 each way, up from $1; bicyclists will pay $3 each way, up from $2; and motorcyclists will pay $5 each way, up from $3. Costs for vehicles more than 20 feet long will double.
Under the new rules, a one-year pass on the Southport-Fort Fisher route will cost $50 for pedestrians and passengers, $200 for bicyclists, motorists and vehicles less than 20 feet, $250 for vehicles 20 feet to 40 feet and $300 for vehicles longer than 40 feet.
On all ferry routes with tolls, children 12 and younger ride for free, and seniors 65 and older receive a 10 percent discount.
The N.C. General Assembly last year mandated that the DOT raise more revenue from ferry riders, and more expensive tolls were expected to take effect April 1. But Gov. Beverly Perdue recently issued an executive order placing a moratorium on the increased rates for a year, citing economic conditions in eastern North Carolina.
Irish Ferries owner Irish Continental Group has warned of the effect of rising fuel costs on its balance sheet but remains "confident" about its prospects.
The ferry and freight services group — which also owns the Eucon and Feederlink businesses — saw its fuel bill rise by 26% to €52.1m last year.
The group yesterday reported financial results for 2011, which represent what management called "a solid performance", with revenue up 4.2% at €273.3m.
While still profitable, pre-tax profits fell by 30% to €28.2m and operating profit was down more than 8% to €28.9m.
Basic earnings per share fell by 29% to 111.1c; earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were down by 8.4% to €49.1m; there was a near 24% rise in the group’s net debt position to €7.8m; and an 85.7% increase in its net pension deficit to €32.5m.
ICG chairman John McGuckian said the group had shown a "solid performance" in generating such profit figures, despite the fuel bill increases.
"The current year will be challenging, as fuel costs have further increased, but with our disciplined approach to capacity, I am confident of the group’s prospects," he said.
Mr McGuckian said management’s focus continues to be on cost reduction — although job losses are not planned — and improving the group’s level of cost leadership within the industry.
"We continue to have a strong balance sheet, with strong cash flow — which is unique in our sector," he said.
Turnover was up in both of ICG’s main divisions — by 8.5% to €119.1m in its container and terminal division and by 1.2% to €155.5m in its ferries business.
Irish Ferries also saw a 1% rise in total passenger movement between Ireland and Britain following a tough 2010, when a 9% decline was witnessed.
However, additional benefits — such as new users due to the previous year’s ash cloud disruption to air travel — didn’t occur, while continued poor consumer sentiment levels didn’t aid business.
"Austerity programmes in both markets affected discretionary spend, which led to further downward pressure on passenger volumes," Mr McGuckian said.
He noted the termination of the Cork-Swansea ferry service and the likelihood of "a number of other marginal operators on the Irish Sea" continuing to lose money and address capacity.
Colm Foley of Goodbody Stockbrokers said while Cork-Swansea wasn’t a dir-ect competitor (Irish Ferries has about 40% of the pass-enger market on the Rosslare-Pembroke route), the move may have a positive knock-on effect for ICG.
P&O Ferries is to enter the renewable energy market by supplying one of its large freight ships to act as an accommodation vessel for technicians working at an offshore wind farm in the North Sea.
The three to four month charter of the 23,000 tonne European Seaway to Centrica Renewable Energy Limited is the first contract P&O Ferries has secured in the wind energy market.
The ship, 180m in length and with enough cargo space for the equivalent of 120 articulated lorries, usually operates as a freighter on the high frequency Channel crossing between Dover and Calais.
For the period of the charter, commencing in April, she will be anchored 7km off Skegness allowing technicians to live on board whilst undertaking maintenance and operations activities at the Lynn and Inner Dowsing Wind Farm Array.
The ship is being supplied to Centrica on a time charter basis, which means she will be manned by P&O Ferries’ deck, technical and catering crew providing hotel services to Centrica staff.
Helen Deeble, the chief executive of P&O Ferries said: “As part of our strategy to grow new business we have been considering where we can leverage our existing skills in areas adjacent to our current business. Our initial focus has been upon our maritime skills and has led us to the renewables sector.
“This is the first contract P&O Ferries has secured in the renewables market and demonstrates our commitment to service this growing industry. This development of new business opportunities is a key element of the growth strategy of the company.”
John Garner, the company’s fleet director, said: “All health, safety and environmental protection requirements of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency will be fully adhered to, to provide the highest level of safety throughout the charter period.”
EPA asks LMC more questions about ash discharges
Ludington Daily News – March 8, 2011
BY KEVIN BRACISZESKI
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
After allowing Lake MichiAfter allowing Lake Michigan Carferry to apply for an individual permit for coal ash discharge from the SS Badger, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency followed up recently with specific questions about the discharge.
In a letter to LMC dated Feb. 24, Tinka Hyde, director of the EPA Water Division for Region 5, asks specifically for the "minimum information needed to assess the coal ash discharges. EPA will use this information in development of effluent limitations to meet technology and water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act." The letter also reminds LMC that all documents supporting its permit application must be submitted no later than June 29.
The EPA also reminded LMC that it may claim some information requested is confidential, but claims for confidentiality of effluent data will be denied. It also noted that LMC must claim confidentiality at the time of submitting the information, or the EPA may make the information public.
Lynda Matson, LMC vice president of customer service and marketing, said Wednesday — her last day on the job — that the company will be able to meet the June 29 deadline because most of the information the EPA is requesting is already complete.
The carferry SS Badger began carrying freight and passengers across Lake Michigan 59 years ago and is now the last coal-fired steamship operating on the Great Lakes.
Burning coal to power the Badger leaves coal ash as a byproduct and the ferry has discharged coal ash in the open waters of the lake while it sails between its home port of Ludington and the Wisconsin port of Manitowoc.
The EPA in 2008 granted the Badger a vessel general permit to continue discharging coal ash, a waste product of burning coal to make the steam that has powered the carferry since it was built in 1953. The Badger has always met the requirements of the EPA, but the agency has changed its rules and is seeking an end to the coal ash discharge.
The Badger's current permit to discharge coal ash into the lake is set to expire in December and LMC has sought an extension while the company considers changes, which includes the possibility of using compressed natural gas for fuel. The company has also considered retaining the coal on board for removal at a port and considered converting diesel engines.
The natural gas option will be studied further this summer by the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, a consortium of the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the University of Minnesota Duluth.
LMC has sought more time and the EPA instructed it to seek a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and then ordered it to apply for the right to apply for that permit. LMC did so in November 2011 and the EPA announced in February it will allow LMC to apply.
MORE INFORMATION SOUGHT
Now the EPA, in its Feb. 24 letter to LMC, requested more information from the company. It is seeking more information about the ferry, its equipment, the process required for daily operations, and information about the coal burned and Lake Michigan's water.
In seeking that information, the EPA stated: "EPA does not believe that the petition documents submitted on Nov. 2, 2011 contained adequate support for the conclusions about the availability or feasibility of technologies/control techniques to address the coal ash discharges."
Among the information sought is: • specific details about the ferry's age and equipment on board that is associated with the generation, transport and discharge of coal ash.
• a detailed description of the daily operational processes including coal use from its loading to boiler operation and ash handling and discharge.
• a description of the engineering aspects of retaining the coal ash on the Badger, including a description of removing the ash.
• a description of converting the existing boilers to an alternative fuel. It must also address storage of the alternative fuels on the ferry and list the steps LMC has taken to date toward implementing the modifications.
• a list of cost estimates for implementing ash storage or alternative fuel use.
The EPA also lists directions LMC must take while sampling coal ash, coal and Lake Michigan water.
In a footnote to its instructions to LMC, the EPA noted that the company retained all of the coal ash the Badger generated during a 12-hour round trip from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and back on Oct. 12, 2008.
The ash was removed and weighed 5,000 pounds after 55,900 pounds of coal were burned. The EPA determined that the Badger's ash generation rate was half the rate of coal-fired power plants.
Based on those figures, the EPA estimated LMC discharged 769.7 tons of coal in 2008, which was a 154day season.
It also estimated the ferry discharged 537.5 tons of coal ash during Lake Michigan crossings during 2011, which was a 137-day season.
Matson said the disparity in ash amounts is due in part because there were fewer lake crossings in 2011 than in 2008 and she said the company had also made expensive modifications to the Badger's operations, which led to less ash being discharged.
Canada's biggest city is starting work on a tunnel that will eliminate the need for a short ferry ride to its downtown island airport, promising an extra draw to travelers seeking quick access to Toronto's business core.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the pedestrian link, to be operational by 2014, would help give Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport the service it deserves.
"Toronto is a world class city, and airports in world class cities must provide world class service," Harper told an event on Friday marking the start of construction.
"Much as we all like the ferries, and I have all kinds of great memories riding them as a boy, lining up for one when you are rushing for a plane does not qualify as world class ... Business travelers are going to love this tunnel for its ease and the access it gives to corporate towers."
The ferry to and from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, named after a World War One flying ace, theoretically runs every 15 minutes, but it is often delayed. It's just a five-minute ride.
The small island airport is the main hub for privately owned short-haul carrier Porter Airlines, with some flights by private planes and by Air Canada. It served nearly 1.6 million passengers in 2011, a 50-fold increase from 2006.
The tunnel is expected to cost C$82.5 million ($83.3 million), all of it to come from private funds. "It will not cost the taxpayers a dime," Harper said.
The ferry, the only auto link with the island, will continue to run, both as an alternative for passengers who prefer not to walk and as access for deliveries and other services to residents at the other end of the small island.
Last year Response Marine presented the idea to the Greenport Village Board but the idea hit a stumbling block because Sag Harbor prohibited passenger ferries from coming into the village. However, public sentiment toward passenger ferries in Sag Harbor has changed and Response Marine’s Jim Ryan said the group has partnered with Hampton Jitney in the venture to make the program a success.
Ryan said the Hampton Jitney will run a shuttle between Long Wharf in Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton and East Hampton throughout the day. He said right now there are no plans for such a shuttle on the North Fork so it will not compete with local cab companies. The Greenport docks are also located near both the railroad and bus transportation hubs. He also left the proposal open to “any village that may want to participate in the future.”
The proposal is currently before the Suffolk County Legislature and is scheduled to be heard at the next meeting. Ryan said the company has asked the legislature to set the fares at $11 for one-way and $20 for round-trip passage.
Greenport Trustee Christine Kempner said she likes any idea that involves alternative transportation but also questioned whether or not Greenport and Sag Harbor residents would be able to receive a discounted rate.
Ryan said he had to look at operating numbers before he could come up with an answer.
Greenport Mayor David Nyce also said he would push for a discount for village residents but he said he understood this was a pilot program that needed to get off the ground. Nyce said he would understand if the discount did not come during the trial period.
Ryan has met with Village Administrator David Abatelli and Mitchell Park Marina Manager Jeff Goubeaud to look available slips. Ideally, Ryan said, they would like slip 3, which is right behind the carousel and visible to pedestrians on Front Street.
The mayor said he was not sure if the village would be willing to rent out a prime slip for activity that may disrupt other boaters. Instead, he suggested looking at the courtesy dock on the west side of the marina’s property. He said the location is ideal because it drops right into the village’s transportation hub.
Currently, the plan is to start after Memorial Day and run shuttles continuously from 7 a.m. and ending at 8:45 p.m. Ryan said they are making plans for the boat to be rented out for sunset and fireworks cruises.
Since the boat will be docked at Steve Clarke’s boat yard in the evenings, Ryan said this proposal will help bring money to local businesses.
“Our purpose is to add more foot traffic and alleviate parking concerns in both villages,” Ryan said.
The village will hold a public hearing on the proposal on March 16 at 5 p.m.
P&O Ferries fears job losses after new pollution rules
P&O Ferries has said the new measures are "completely unsustainable"
Ferry company P&O has warned that job losses are "inevitable" if it has to switch to a different type of fuel under new government measures.
It said fuel costs would rise by £60m a year as tougher new sulphur emission laws in the North Sea come into force from 2015.
The rise in fuel bills would result in passenger fare increases, fewer services and potential job losses.
The government said the new controls would "markedly reduce" pollution.
P&O have warned that Hull would be one of the hardest hit ports because of longer journey times compared to the cross channel services.
Under the new rules, all ships will be required to change to a new refined fuel type that contains 0.1% sulphur. Currently, the shipping industry uses a minimum of 1%.
The government claims the new controls will "markedly reduce sulphur emissions from ships, and consequently improve air quality in the UK and beyond, delivering significant health and environmental benefits".
The Commons' Transport Select Committee has supported the government but said the costs of tighter controls would be outweighed by the health benefits, which it estimates at £1.1b a year from 2020.
However, it urged the government to work with the shipping industry to help reduce the costs.
P&O Ferries said the rise in fuel bills would result in passenger fare increases, fewer services and potential job losses. It also claimed that more traffic would be transferred to the roads.
"This will change routes which today are marginal, to be heavily loss making routes. This is completely unsustainable, with job losses inevitable," said the company.
It said ferry services within the North Sea emissions control area would face "severe economic cost pressures" from 2015 and non-economic routes would have to be closed.
"Within the UK, short sea and ferry services on the longer North Sea Routes from Rosyth, Newcastle, Teesport, Hull and Harwich are particularly exposed to these job losses," it said.
"Many of these areas are already suffering from high unemployment due to the ongoing recession over the last three years, and further job losses will hit these communities hard."
Ferry frustration bubbles over once again
Friday, 09 March 2012
Written by Hans Marter
A SCOTTISH government official was left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling towards ferry services when she attended a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s development committee on Friday morning.
However the complaints did nothing to change the fact that the council remains completely excluded from the negotiations for a new lifeline service to Aberdeen.
Cheryl Murrie was in Shetland to brief the committee on the current tendering process and the government’s draft Scottish ferries plan.
Councillors used the opportunity to reassert their dismay that they were not part of the “competitive dialogue” between the government and the four remaining bidders NorthLink Ferries, P&O Ferries Holdings, Serco and Shetland Line (1984).
They also told her that the current service and fare structure for islanders were in stark contrast to the government’s own policies of equality and fairness.
Islanders were discriminated against, ZetTrans chairman Allan Wishart complained, when a family from Shetland had pay £720 for a return ticket between Lerwick and Aberdeen while a similar return ticket between Stornoway and Ullapool only cost £135 under Road Equivalent Tariff (RET).
He emphasised that the subsidy for ferry services was in reality an investment as Shetland was a net contributor to the Scottish economy.
“Orkney has six ferries a day, we currently have three a week,” he pointed out, stressing that the transport minister had only recently grasped the importance of a reliable freight service to Shetland, and indeed the rest of Scotland.
Councillor Jonathan Wills added that RET would never work for Shetland since the ‘road’ to the Scottish mainland was 200 miles long, one of the longest and roughest domestic ferry routes in Europe.
“The subsidies towards the ferries are part of the social contract. There are subsidies for the London Underground and the also the M8,” he observed.
Referring to the nine week long disruption due to the dry docking, he asked: “How would you feel if one lane of the M8 was closed every third day?”
Councillor Betty Fullerton added that Shetland’s contribution towards the overall Scottish economy was huge, a fact that was not sufficiently recognised by Edinburgh.
“We are not happy with this. We are looking for a fairer service for Shetland and the whole of the country. This is not just about Shetland,” she insisted.
Ms Murrie confirmed that councillors would only be able to see the details of the new lifeline ferry service contract once it has been signed.
Ministers would be happy to sit down with councillors afterwards to talk through the contract in detail, she said.
She also reminded the committee that the specifications of the contract had been drawn up following extensive consultation with ferry users and local communities.
Two ferry operators accused of anti-competitive behaviour
Updated 05:30 PM Mar 09, 2012
SINGAPORE - Two ferry operators have been accused of anti-competitive
The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) suspects that Batam Fast
Ferry and Penguin Ferry Services have breached the Competition Act.
It said today that they had exchanged, and provided sensitive and
confidential price information on ferry tickets sold to corporate
clients and travel agents. These are for two routes between Singapore
The CCS said ferry operators should determine their ferry ticket pricing
independently, without discussion or agreement with each other.
It issued the Proposed Infringement Decision (PID) against the two
operators today. The PID is a written notice setting out the basis for
It will give them an opportunity to submit their arguments and any other
information for consideration, before the CCS finalises its decision on
whether there has been an infringement. The ferry operators must reply
by April 23. CHANNEL NEWSASIA
Lake Michigan town fears losing historic ferry
March 7, 2012 5:26 PM
LUDINGTON, Mich. ― On many a summer evening, Jim Fay joins dozens of
onlookers on this tourist town's waterfront, exchanging friendly waves
with passengers and crew members as the S.S. Badger chugs into the
harbor after a 60-mile voyage across Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, Wis.
It's a cherished ritual in Ludington, and its days may be numbered.
The Badger, the nation's last working coal-fired steamship, is under
orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop dumping
waste ash into the lake. Coal ash contains low concentrations of
arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals, although it's not classified as
hazardous. The ferry discharges more than 500 tons during a typical
season from May to October, and operators say there's no quick fix.
If the standoff isn't resolved, the Badger could be grounded ― a
disheartening prospect in its home port of Ludington, which takes pride
in its maritime history as do many Great Lakes coastal towns. The ship
is also important to the economy, employing about 200 during sailing season.
"It's rooted deep in this community," said Fay, 64, whose father, like
those of his closest boyhood pals, was a ferry crewman. "The Badger is
the last of its kind. I just hate the idea of losing it."
Up and down the shorelines, relics of history draw tourists by evoking
nostalgia for a simpler time. The clip-clop of horses pulling carriages
is a familiar sound on car-free Mackinac Island. In Saugatuck, a
hand-drawn chain ferry dating from shortly after Michigan gained
statehood in 1837 still traverses the Kalamazoo River. The village of
Leland has "Fishtown," a tiny remnant of a commercial fishing village
featuring weather-beaten shacks, smokehouses and charter boats.
The Badger, a stout vessel with a wide smokestack and an open-air bow
popular with sunbathers, is all that remains of a ferry fleet that
hauled railcars across the lake for more than a century. Most of the
boats met a sad ending in scrapyards by the late 1980s. The Badger
survived when an entrepreneur refurbished it for leisure travel.
The 410-foot ship now has dining areas and a movie lounge as well as
many original features, including a mechanism that allows the captain to
transmit orders to engineers below decks by moving brass levers on a
dial. Rates vary, but a one-way trip for a family of four and their
vehicle comes to about $200.
Many townspeople are relatives or friends of former crew members. Others
have fond memories of riding the ferries with parents or grandparents.
"The Badger has always been part of their lives and their experience of
being here in Ludington," Mayor John Henderson said.
But it's not always easy to keep one foot in the past while meeting
Regulators four years ago gave Lake Michigan Carferry, which runs the
Badger, until this December to change its ash disposal method or fuel
type. The company says it's working on a switch to natural gas but needs
more time to retrofit the craft, which launched in 1953. Senior chief
engineer Charles Cart says it could take up to five years.
Lake Michigan Carferry insists there's little if any harm from the coal
ash, which is mixed with water to form slurry and piped overboard. It
says an EPA-certified lab found the material is hundreds of times below
Tinka Hyde, water division chief with EPA's Chicago regional office,
said the agency has questions about the tests and will review the
Badger's application for an extension.
"If they want to continue to operate, they will need to be in compliance
with the Clean Water Act," Hyde said.
Environmentalists say the contaminants add up over time. And supporters
of a rival company say the Badger shouldn't expect special treatment.
"They're putting almost 8,000 pounds of ash a day into Lake Michigan,"
said Steve Warmington, mayor of Muskegon, a city 60 miles south where a
diesel-powered ferryboat called the Lake Express is based. "There's no
way in the world you can convince me that's good for the lake."
Badger backers say the Muskegon mayor wants to scuttle a competitor,
which he denies.
In Ludington, businesses say grounding the Badger would be devastating.
It hauls about 300,000 passengers and 30,000 vehicles a year, and many
riders stay around long enough to shop, dine or stay overnight. A study
by West Shore Community College near Ludington said the ferry pumps $35
million a year into the economy.
Motel owner David Bourgette figures he'd lose 25 percent of his
customers without the Badger.
"I care about our lake. But the carferry isn't doing that much damage,"
he said. "If there was one dinosaur left, would we kill it off just
because it wasn't mixing in just right?"
A large, hand-painted Badger mural decorates the outside wall of Jerry
and Sally Cole's downtown antique shop, where ferry memorabilia are on
display in glass cases ― placemats, playing cards, matchbooks.
"There are a slew of people who collect these things," Sally Cole said.
"It shows how much the Badger means to the area."
MUSKEGON – A sign of the upcoming summer tourist season comes with Monday’s opening of reservations for The Lake Express high-speed ferry service between Muskegon and Milwaukee.
Early signs for the Milwaukee-based passenger and vehicle ferry show the improving economy is giving a boost for early-season plans for summer vacations, Lake Express officials said.
The Lake Express schedule will be the same as last year but 2012 rates have been significantly reduced. The 192-foot ferry that carries 250 passengers and 46 vehicles will begin operating May 4 and conclude the sailing season Nov. 4.
The 2012 fares will cost of a family of four – two adults, two children and one vehicle -- $341.50 for a one-way trip and $590 for a round trip. That is 19.7 percent lower than 2011 for one-way and 14.6 percent lower than last year’s round trip. Customers can begin making reservations Monday through the Lake Express website at http://www.lake-express.com or by calling the reservation center at 1-866-914-1010.
Because of increasing operating costs, especially for fuel, Lake Express fares increased about 10 percent last year. It used various discounts last year to ease the cost of traveling on the service, but it is offering a new senior discount this year for premier cabin seating.
“We looked at our rates for 2012 to create a real value for a premiere service that provides excellent customer service,” said Jill Emery, Michigan marketing and sale manager for Lake Express. “We think we have the right rates for 2012 and we’ve had a positive reaction from our initial group sales.”
Lake Express continues to have higher fares than competitor Lake Michigan Carferry, which runs the S.S. Badger between Ludington and Manitowoc. For 2012, Lake Express fares for a family of four are 21.8 percent more for a one-way trip and 19.9 percent more for a round trip than the Badger, according to the two ferry services’ websites.
A major difference in the Lake Express and Badger rates are fees for fuel and security. The listed rates for passengers and vehicles are similar with the two ferry services but Lake Express charges each passenger and vehicle a $3.75 fuel charge and $3.75 security fee for each crossing, while the Badger has just a $9.95 security fee per reservation order.
The improving economy and gasoline prices that already have hit $4 per gallon well before the summer travel season begins are expected to help both ferry services this year.
“Certainly we are a value choice,” Emery said, when considering gasoline prices for driving around Lake Michigan through Chicago. “And it is a fun experience that allows you to avoid the traffic through Chicago and not have to pay this summer’s gas prices.”
Lake Express is a two-and-a-half hour trip between Muskegon and Milwaukee on a catamaran ferry cruise across Lake Michigan at about 40 mph. The historic coal-fired S.S. Badger, whose owner is in a struggle to secure discharge permits to dump coal ash into Lake Michigan beyond the 2012 sailing season, is a 410-foot traditional lake ferry that takes four hours between ports.
Lake Express will begin its 2012 sailing season Friday May 4 and will end Sunday Nov. 4. The spring and sailing schedule is again for two round trips a day from May 4 to June 30 and Sept. 4 to Nov.4, while there will be three round trips a day July 1 to Sept. 3.
The sailing schedule is the same as last year with the two-round trips leaving Muskegon at 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. and the three-trip schedule adding an 11 p.m. departure. The Lake Express departs Milwaukee at 6 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and also at 7 p.m. during the mid-summer months.
The Lake Express is entering its ninth season of operation as Lubar & Co. of Milwaukee had the aluminum-hull, diesel-powered jet boat built in Mobile, Ala. that began service in 2004. The vesselexperienced several engine issues that took it out of service in 2011, significantly delaying the beginning of the season and for two weeks at the end of July for repairs.
Emery said that the engine issues have been resolved for 2012.
All signs are for an increase in business for 2012 as the Upper Midwest pulls out of the Great Recession. Lake Express’ website traffic has doubled so far this year even before the rates were announced and the reservation system open, ferry officials said.
“Our bookings for group travel have been great to start the year,” Emery said. “I believe Michigan and Wisconsin has a lot to offer and we are hoping for nothing but a great tourist season.”
The two Blue Boats in the foreground have been used as ferries to transport people to and from CFB Esquimalt, but the base is planning to end that service at the end of April.
Photograph by: Debra Brash , timescolonist.com
CFB Esquimalt is axing its Blue Boat commuter ferry, raising concerns that hundreds of extra cars will end up on the road, adding to the already sluggish drive between Esquimalt and the West Shore.
CFB Esquimalt commander, Navy Capt. Craig Baines, told staff on Thursday that the service would end April 30, forcing about 400 employees to find another mode of transportation between the base and the West Shore.
Recent retirements have caused the staff that operates the base's auxiliary fleet — including the two Blue Boats — to dwindle, and the remaining members are needed for base work that's more important than the shuttle service, the base commander said in a memo sent to staff and obtained by the Times Colonist.
The boats were never meant to act as a shuttle service, the memo said, but to move defence team members between the various Department of National Defence properties during the course of their work. But because there was extra capacity and the staff for it, the boats started shuttling commuters from Colwood to the base, with 13 trips between 6 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. each weekday.
Two-thirds of CFB Esquimalt employees — about 4,000 military personnel and civilians — live in the West Shore.
One navy reservist, a Langford resident who takes the Blue Boat every morning, is disappointed the service is being cut. The reservist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he'll likely bike to work, but when the weather is bad, he'll have to add his car to the Colwood Crawl.
Another civilian who works at CFB Esquimalt, and who also asked to remain anonymous, said the change would create a parking nightmare, since drivers are already fighting for spots on the base, with some forced to park blocks away on side streets.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins called for Greater Victoria mayors, DND staff and Victoria Shipyards to form a working group to address the transportation issues. Traffic will only get worse, she said, with Seaspan's shipbuilding contract and the road closure to replace the Craigflower Bridge.
Langford Mayor Stew Young said motorists are already frustrated that they have to sit in traffic.
"The [cancellation of] the Blue Boats, all that's going to do is make the problem worse for people who are already on the road, so obviously we're not happy about the decision."
Young also bemoaned the lack of willingness to transform the E&N Rail line into a commuter service between the West Shore and downtown, potentially taking thousands of cars off the road.
Our times: Algiers ferry links New Orleans, West Bank
Published: Saturday, March 10, 2012, 11:00 PM
Ferries were the dominant form of transportation across the Mississippi River before the construction of bridges in the 20th century. A ferry began traveling between Jackson Square and Algiers in 1827 as the West Bank grew around a booming shipbuilding industry.
Fares started at 25 cents per person per day, and capacity in the cabin was 20 people. For more than 100 years, the ferry provided a vital link between New Orleans and the West Bank for people and all manner of goods; even firefighters and rail cars crossed the river by ferry.
In 1844, the fare was cut to 5 cents to accommodate spectators at a bull and dog fight.
In 1927, its centennial year, the ferry took residents to see the “artificial crevasse” created when the levee at Caernarvon was blown open with dynamite.
The Algiers ferry ride also became a popular sightseeing trip, offering a panoramic view of the French Quarter riverfront.
The ferry now lands on Canal Street on the east bank. It operates seven days a week, from early morning until late at night. Pedestrians ride for free; the fare is $1 per car.
#FERRY NEWS – St.Patrick's Day coincides with the start of the UK's annual National Ferry Fortnight (17-30 March) campaign which includes the participation of over 50 routes, including those operating on the Irish Sea, writes Jehan Ashmore.
This year's event organised by the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) is to be brought forward two months earlier instead of May. According to the PSA the change of dates was designed to "emphasise the great value of family ferry travel at a time when parents have a watchful eye on budgets".
A new official logo will front the campaign's website http://www.discoverferries.com which is supported by all ferry line members of the association. The two week showcase aims to heighten consumer and media awareness of the UK's extensive ferry firms route network.
PSA members include Brittany Ferries, Condor Ferries, DFDS Seaways, Hovertravel, Isle Of Man Steam Packet Company, Irish Ferries, LD Lines, P&O Ferries, Red Funnel, Stena Line and Wightlink.
The association estimate that around 35 million people, 8 million cars and 140,000 coaches were carried by ferries last year.
Transport Minister’s letter to Michael Russell MSP reveals council’s double whammy on Craignure Passenger Access
Posted on March 11, 2012 by
Transport Minister, Keith Brown, has provided the clarification Argyll and Bute’s MSP, Michael Russell, had requested on where responsibility lies for the port at Craignure on the Isle of Mull.
Passenger access to ferries at the port has become dangerous and has required intervention by state owed west coast ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne.
Mr Brown makes it plain that Argyll and Bute Council own the port of Craignure, are its Statutory Harbour Authority and are unequivocally and solely responsible for maintaining it.
He also provided two facts which, when put together, display the depth of the council’s irresponsibility, fiscally and in terms of guarding public safety. We will come to this shortly.
Mr Brown compares the performance of Argyll and Bute Council, as a port owner, with that of CMAL, which owns 24 ports on the Clyde and Hebridean network. The council does not emerge well from the comparison.
The Transport Minister says of CMAL, the state owned infrastrctural provider of ports, harbours and boats: ‘All the money CMAL receives by way of harbour dues is reinvested back into these ports. Indeed, the harbour dues raised do not cover all of the cost of maintenance and have to be subsidised from other areas of the business and reserves in order to keep the lifeline ferry ports safe and operational. ‘
In contrast, while Argyll and Bute Council, as owner of Craignure Port, collects harbour dues from CalMac, it has not reinvested these in maintaining the port and its passenger access equipment.
Mfr Brown says: ‘As equipment (Ed: the passenger access equipment in particular) comes to the end of its life, CMAL is not in a position to fund replacements and to provide them for free to a port which then receives the benefit of harbour dues paid by CalMac and, ultimately, the Scottish Government. It is right, therefore, that responsibility for the equipment should rest with the Port Owner/Authority who is in a position to fund replacements through harbour dues as is required under the Harbours Act 1964. Otherwise, the Port Owner/Authority should rent equipment from CMAL or’ should accept a commensurate reduction in harbour dues from CalMac.’
He goes on to outline the specifics of the situation:
‘With regards to Craignure, CMAL recognises the necessity to ensure that there is at least a temporary solution in place whilst a more permanent design is worked on and then procured. To this end, over £400k was recently invested from CMAL’s scarce reserves to ensure continuity of a passenger system. Since then further money has been, and continues to be, spent by CMAL in improving the reliability and maintenance of the Passenger Access System at Craignure. To date, the Port Owner, Argyll and Bute Council, have spent nothing on resolving this problem.’
This is the double whammy the council has been whacking unconscionably on the taxpayer.
The Transport Minister states publicly what we have known for some time from other sources – that the harbour dues Argyll and Bute Council annually collects from CalMac in respect of its use of Criagnure, amount to £1 million per annum.
The council has not reinvested any of these revenues in maintaining Craignure as any responsible port owner should do. Gaving neglected the facility to the point where accidents were happening, it sat on its hands while CMAL paid £400,000, then more and with more still to come – on making safe a port it does not own nor on which it earns any revenue. And every penny of this investment comes from the taxpayer.
The Transport Minister’s letter refers to the issue raised in the Draft Ferries Review, current.y in consultation, asking whether CMAL should own and manage all of the ports serving the Clyde and Hebridean ferry services.
In the meantime – and pending ongoing discussions which include Argyll and Bute Council, the Minister says:
‘…only Argyll and Bute Council have the statutory responsibility to take forward the replacement of a Passenger Access System at Craignure. In addition, given Argyll and Bute Council receive £1 m in revenue from CalMac from this port alone, only they are in a position to secure funding for a replacement PAS. I have asked my officials to go back to the Council to make my views clear. Notwithstanding that, I can assure you that both CMAL and Argyll and Bute Council are continuing to work on the design for a permanent replacement and it is recognised that such procurement will take 15 to 18 months. In the meantime, CMAL will continue to maintain and improve where possible the ‘temporary’ system. ‘
We understand that Mr Russell has written to the Council’s CEO, Sally Loudon, to request that she absorbs the very clear message in the Transport Minister’s letter. He says:
‘There is now no doubt that the Council is responsible and despite the preparatory work being done , which is acknowledged, there needs to be a clear commitment from the Council to get a permanent solution as soon as it can and to pay for it. There can be no further excuse for delay or evasion.’
Arguably the most glaring failure in the performance of the discredited Alliance-led administration of Argyll and Bute Council is the management and delivery of its transport and infrastructure department.
Councillor Duncan McIntyre, the council Spokesperson responsible, has got serious questions to answer for roads, for Oban airport, for flawed works at harbours and piers and for no work at all at Craignure.
What exactly has happened to the £1 million per annum harbour dues collected at Craignure?
Has it, or any of it, gone to paying the quite obscene £4.6 million spent on hiring consultants whose key function is to support what the council wants to do?
Sunken former Staten Island Ferry weighed down by lawsuits, faltering plans
Written by JOHN FERRO
The Journal News LoHud.com
9:39 AM, Mar. 9, 2012
Coast Guard officials say they expect to have within days a salvage plan
for the Gov. Herbert H. Lehman, a decommissioned Staten Island ferry
that sits partially sunken in the Hudson River off the Newburgh city
Such plans are prepared by a distressed vessel's owner. They detail the
findings of salvage divers and how the owner plans to raise the boat.
Those plans are then reviewed by the Coast Guard.
Divers have been trying to determine what caused the ferry to take on
water about a week ago. Though there was no fuel in the vessel, some
residual oil from the engine room did leak, Coast Guard spokesman Erik
Swanson said most of the spillage has been contained by the protective
boom surrounding the vessel, and about 60 gallons of oil-water sheen had
been vacuumed. There is no chance of the ferry’s falling further into
the channel, he said.
How the relic ended up in the Hudson reads like a Charles Dickens novel,
the protagonist a lumbering, awkward figure that caused damage where it
last rested, was listed as a defendant in a lawsuit, was hawked
unsuccessfully on eBay, and then, finally, was dragged to an Orange
County shipyard, where now it sits listing to one side.
The story begins in summer 2007, when the ferry was retired after 42
years of service. Named after a former governor and founding member of
the now-bankrupt investment firm Lehman Brothers, it was sold in 2008 to
the highest bidder.
La Viviana Industries paid $152,500, New York City records show. Court
records indicate the boat was the company's only asset and that Jacques
Guillet, a 77-year-old White Plains man, was its general manager.
Guillet said he that bought the boat "in the spirit of the moment" and
that he intended, among other things, to turn it into a floating dorm.
"You have to have a place to put it and I didn't have a place, and
that's why (the idea) failed," Guillet said.
Guillet kept the ferry moored in Staten Island.
In November 2010, lawyers representing owners of the pier in Staten
Island sued La Viviana and other parties in federal court, claiming the
300-foot vessel had been improperly moored and was crashing into the
pier. The lawsuit sought $530,000 for damages and unpaid mooring charges.
Olympics catamaran to aid Canary Wharf
One of London’s biggest business districts is drafting in a 170-seater catamaran as part of a series of measures to get staff into work during the Olympics.
The Canary Wharf Group is hoping staff will use the special nine-minute shuttle service along the river Thames from London Bridge to avoid expected delays on the Jubilee line.
Drew Gibson, the head of business continuity at CWG, said the service would enable thousands of workers to get to Canary Wharf at peak times.
He added that companies based at the east London estate were working together to ensure the district stayed open for business this summer. “It’s very much the blitz spirit here,” he said.
Thames Clipper, which will operate the service, said it would be open only to employees at Canary Wharf, on a first-come first-served basis, and that normal fares would apply. The boat is one of the largest in Thames Clipper’s fleet.
“When there are problems with the Jubilee line or when there is planned Tube disruption, we’re very versatile and flexible in what we can do,” said Sean Collins, the director of Thames Clipper.
Nearly 100,000 people work at Canary Wharf, which sits within three miles of 20 Olympic venues.
The Docklands property developer said there would be a 25 per cent reduction in peak time demand on the public transport network during the games, through flexible working and the use of alternative routes, including river services.
Transport for London has also agreed to run four empty westbound Jubilee line trains from Canary Wharf at evening peak times during the games.
The Alaska Marine Highway has a number of exciting things on the horizon to share with you.
First, in 2013, the Alaska Marine Highway System will celebrate its 50th anniversary. We started with one vessel before statehood and grew to our current fleet of 11 vessels, carrying hundreds of thousands of people and vehicles every year to communities throughout Alaska.
We'll be hosting a yearlong celebration starting in 2013. You'll learn more about that in the fall with updates through the Sea News. In the meantime, we're looking for unique anecdotal information or photos. Were you part of the marine highway's 50-year history, perhaps as a crew person aboard the ferry system? Email us email@example.com if you have historical photos or information to share to make this anniversary special. We hope you'll make plans to join us in our celebration.
In 2012, we will continue to make more user-friendly advancements to the system. We've already begun to lay those out with the recent addition of the Alaska Marine Highway 24-hour, voice-activated, automated system. Call 1-800-642-0066 for up-to-date information on ferry arrivals. The system map on our website also provides real-time tracking information. You can select by vessel or by port. When you click on a vessel, the site will provide everything from its exact current location to the time of its next sailing.
From planning for the future to enjoying user-friendly upgrades, we're looking forward to another great year on board the Alaska Marine Highway System.
It was a “Stormy Monday,” but unlike the old blues classic, Tuesday won’t be just as bad.
The wind that knocked out power and cancelled ferry sailings on the south coast of B.C. died out Monday afternoon. It wasn’t forecast to be anywhere near as bad Tuesday, although the low pressure system that was the cause will hang around, according to Environment Canada.
But there will be an increasing amount of rain, likely beginning Wednesday and continuing Thursday, that could dump 30 to 50 millimetres or more on Metro Vancouver.
That’s unlikely to cause as much commotion as Monday’s storm, which knocked out power to more than 100,000 B.C. Hydro customers on the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and forced B.C. Ferries to cancel sailings on 14 routes, beginning with the start of service.
The ferry cancellations stopped B.C. Hydro from doing some repairs, according to spokesman Ted Olynyk, as did road closures to places like Gold River and Sayward.
“It’s like a weather bomb has hit the south coast,” said Olynyk of winds that knocked branches or trees into power lines, cutting power to 135,000 customers at one point in the morning.
“No area has been spared,” he said.
“In B.C. we’re blessed with the great beauty of the trees. It can be a bit of a curse when it comes to keeping the power on.”
Olynyk said B.C. has more trees per kilometre of utility line than anywhere else in North America. And Vancouver Island has more trees per kilometre than anywhere else in the province.
B.C. Hydro called out all its crews, along with its vegetation contractors. On hard-hit Vancouver Island there were 35 crews attempting to restore power.
Surrey had the biggest outage on the Lower Mainland, with 18,000 customers powerless at one point.
The utility is also urging customers to report power outages, even if they have one of the controversial smartmeters. Those meters can report power outages but they can’t report details such as the exact location in a particular area where a tree may have come down on a line.
Details like that can be phoned into 1-888-POWER-ON [769-3766].
While severe, the storm can’t compare to the winds of 2006 when 210,000 customers lost power in November. A Dec. 15, 2006 storm left more than 250,000 without electricity at its peak.
The wind warning went into effect for Metro Vancouver in the morning.
Gusts up to 89 kilometres an hour hit Vancouver Airport but it blew as hard as 111 kmh in Powell River and a truly impressive 187 kmh at the Merry Island lighthouse on the Sunshine Coast.
The heavy winds caused havoc around the region, from Bowen Island to Sechelt, to near the University of B.C. and across Vancouver, with the area around Langara College and Vancouver’s west side hit the hardest early Monday.
Stanley Park was even shut down temporarily because of high winds, although the causeway remained open to through traffic. But while the park reopened around 1 p.m., the off-ramp into the park southbound from the causeway to Prospect Point remained closed because several large trees fell down. Crews couldn’t be sent in to deal with the situation until the winds subsided.
The BC Ferries sailings cancelled included Comox-Powell River, Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) — Nanaimo (Departure Bay), Vancouver (Tsawwassen) — Nanaimo (Duke Point), Vancouver-Southern Gulf Islands, and Vancouver-Victoria. Ferries were finally released to sail again at 3 p.m. on the major routes from the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island.
Earlier in the day, desperate customers overwhelmed the B.C. Ferries’ website as they sought information about the cancellations.
There have been worse days. On Jan. 22 this year 130 sailings were cancelled on 12 routes because of high winds for much of the day.
The windy weather affected Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain on the North Shore, with Cypress restricting skiers and boarders to the Easy Rider chair until about 3 p.m. while Grouse didn’t open its SkyRide for access to its runs until 2 p.m.
But the weather also had a positive side as Whistler had a snow warning and was expected to see snowfall accumulations of 10 to 20 cm by Monday evening.
Back during my carefree days of summer breaks from college, my future wife and I were trying to figure out how we would spend the day. Without a plan, we just got in the car and started driving.
(Mind you, this was when gas was 79 cents a gallon. Now that gas is $3.75, we no longer just get in the car and drive without a plan in mind.)
She lived in Morehead City, so we got on U.S. 70 and started toward Beaufort — and just kept going.
We headed across the North River bridge and through Otway, Smyrna, Davis and other little communities of which I had not heard.
We got to the end of the road at Cedar Island, just in time to catch a ferry to Ocracoke. We had never been over there, and being young and curious, we plopped down some cash and were on our way.
Little did we know our little adventure would set us up for a lifetime of traveling to the Outer Banks.
Certainly, things have changed a lot over the years. Ocracoke is more crowded. Those lonely, isolated spots on the beach we cherished are now likely to be shared with others who discovered this jewel of an island.
I partially blame the annual Best Beaches report that ranked Ocracoke consistently in the top 10 until it reached No. 1 in 2007. What we believed was our little secret was out.
Back 25 years ago on our first trip to Ocracoke, the ferry ride was $10. The beach was wide open to any four-wheel adventurer willing to get a little sand on the tires.
Now, the ferry toll is $15. The beach — thanks to concerns over turtles and seabirds — is not nearly as wide open. And that four-wheeler adventure is now going to cost $50.
I don’t mean to be a grumpy old man of 46 who wishes things would go back to the way they once were, but it seems that the government is just trying to make a buck.
I’ve done some math. Last year, our trip to Ocracoke cost us $30 for the round-trip ferry from Cedar Island.
This year, possible ferry toll increases would have meant a round trip cost as high as $66.
Gov. Bev Perdue has put a temporary hold on the fees, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be implemented next year.
Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with the idea of ferry tolls. I am using a unique service, and I believe I should pay for that service.
But I believe everyone should have to pay. I don’t think it’s fair that those using the Hatteras-Ocracoke route ride for free. It basically means I have to pay more for my ferry trip so some tourist from Maryland can ride for free.
As for driving on the beach, I am having a hard time coming to grips with having to pay 50 bucks for something that was free last year.
And what’s worse is that the only place to purchase the permits will be at the three Park Service offices on the Outer Banks. I don’t even want to think about the long lines and frustration creeping into my getaway vacation.
And on top of that, the Park Service is going to make me watch a seven-minute video about driving on the beach as well as sign a paper indicating that I have watched the video and understand all the rules.
I’ve been going to the Outer Banks for 25 years now, and I think I know a thing or two about driving on the beach. I can’t imagine being an old-time Hatteras or Ocracoke resident who has to sit through a seven-minute video.
All this has me seriously reconsidering our annual trip to the Outer Banks. And if enough people like me reconsider such an expense in this tight economy, that is simply going to hurt the residents of Ocracoke and Hatteras who rely on summer tourists spending money there.
The Outer Banks afforded a couple of carefree college kids a trip to remember. Now some 25 years later, it may become something we and others can no longer afford.