ROCKLAND — Maine Department of Transportation has announced that it will implement a new flat rate ticket pricing structure at the Maine State Ferry Service on May 21, standardizing ferry prices across the entire system. A key component of the new rate structure is an overall decrease of more than 10 percent to the truck/freight rates to help keep the costs to Maine businesses supplying goods and services to and from the islands competitive.
“Moving to a flat rate ticket structure will allow the MSFS to utilize advanced technology and achieve other critical operational goals to greatly improve customer service,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt in a press release. “It will also provide all Maine residents, businesses and visitors greater flexibility, treating all users equitably by eliminating the antiquated and geographically discriminatory rate pricing that currently differs from island to island and island to mainland.”
The decision by MaineDOT to implement a new flat rate ticket structure comes after more than a year of public meetings and input on how the department could raise the revenue needed to cover its projected 2020 operating budget of $11 million. State law requires that the MSFS collect at least 50 percent of its operating cost from user fees, and the remaining portion is subsidized by residents of Maine through the Highway Fund Budget.
“The new flat rate ticket structure will create a straightforward pricing system that will immediately simplify operations,” said MSFS Manager Mark Higgins. “Once this pricing structure is in place, we will look to implement new technologies to better serve our customers, particularly systems that will improve customer service and can provide the potential for on-line sales and the data collection vitally needed for enhanced forecasting and long-term planning.”
Tickets sold under the last MSFS Tariff No. 7 in 2012 will expire when the new rate structure goes into effect on May 21. MSFS will allow 90 days from the effective date for certain tickets to be traded in, and others will have a non-cash upgrade value that will not expire. Detailed notices about ticket expirations will be posted for customers.
The MSFS, a division of the MaineDOT, serves the island communities of Vinalhaven, North Haven, Islesboro, Swans Island, Frenchboro and Matinicus. In 2017, the MSFS served almost 700,000 passengers and 190,000 vehicles.
In addition, the capital costs of the ferry service — including the construction of ferry boats, maintenance and upgrade to facilities and improvements to supporting infrastructure — are fully funded through MaineDOT.