Ferry officials: We won't be cutting back service - this week
By JOY BLACKBURN
Thursday, November 15th 2007
ST. THOMAS - The attorney representing franchise ferry operators running between St. Thomas and St. John said Wednesday after a meeting with government officials that her clients do not foresee curtailing services this week.
Claudette Ferron, who represents Transportation Services of St. John and Varlack Ventures, said the meeting to discuss issues pertaining to a possible government ferry subsidy went "well."
She said she made a presentation to Public Works Department and Government House officials outlining her clients' position and provided documents, including company financial information, statistics and statutes related to the issue.
"They're requesting an opportunity to read this and get up to speed," Ferron said, adding that they agreed to talk again next week.
Wednesday's meeting was to involve not only the two St. Thomas-St. John ferry operators, but also V.I. Sea Trans, which has an exclusive franchise to provide public ferry service between St. Thomas and St. Croix, according to a statement released last week by Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls.
The Daily News was unable to reach Smalls on Wednesday for comment.
Wednesday's meeting came after Ferron wrote senators and other government officials a week ago, telling them that the owners of the St. Thomas-St. John ferry franchise would no longer subsidize the public transportation service out of their private funds and would be running solely on revenues from fares.
As a result, she wrote, they anticipated having to significantly curtail services "within days" and shutting down shortly thereafter until the government provided subsidy funding.
The PSC, which regulates the ferry franchises because they have an exclusive contract with the government, responded with a letter telling the operators it expects them to continue to provide services per their agreement and saying it plans to schedule a meeting to discuss the ferry issue. A date has not yet been set for that meeting
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