RateChange_Proposal_Summary_2024-04-10

The Casco Bay Island Transit District has historically operated at a loss, which is offset by grant revenue (Federal, State and some City tax dollars) to achieve a neutral balance. In recent years, the magnitude of operating loss has been growing.   Notably, the gap between revenues and expenses increased significantly in 2019 and then continued to widen in 2022 through to the present (even when the Covid years are excluded).

The board has been concerned about the growing losses since the budget for FY 2023 was presented in September 2022 with a projected $4.2mm loss. At that time the board asked that the loss be reduced. Expenses have risen, including for diesel fuel and dry dock. Additionally, tariff rates (i.e., ticket prices) have remained unchanged for 15 years, contributing to the magnitude of the operating loss.  Islanders and visitors have been fortunate that fares have not gone up in 15 years, but this trend cannot continue.

The FY 2024 budget was approved with a $4.3 million operating loss, again offset by grant revenue to achieve a neutral balance. The approval also included a directive to reduce the operating loss by 25% or $1.075mm through both expense reduction and revenue increase strategies. Our auditors have repeatedly recommended fare increases and noted that there have been no increases in over 10 years. Multiple efforts are also underway to reduce expenses.

A proposal for a revision to the passenger tariff was presented at the March finance committee meeting (click here to view the proposal/presentation materials).

The committee has proposed a revised, simpler fare schedule that raises fares for single tickets and offers monthly and annual pass deals for islanders and other frequent ferry riders such as people who work at island businesses.

The Finance committee and board welcomes citizen input and consideration of the proposed new fare structure. Please feel free to contact board members, to send an email with comments to the dedicated email below or to join one of our public meetings, in particular the April Finance Committee meeting. More info on how to provide input is below.

Our goal is to increase revenues by ~$500k+, while preserving access and affordability for those who ride and support the ferry year-round and who are dependent on the ferry to get to work and school or otherwise to Portland. The aim is to have new fares in place for the summer season in order to make a meaningful reduction in this year’s operating loss. We expect that there will be opportunity for additional tweaks and changes in future to optimize to ensure that the district can fulfill its mission of dependable, reliable service as affordably as possible.

Next Steps: 

A workshop and public hearing will be held at the Finance Committee Meeting on April 10, at 7:45am.  At the conclusion of this meeting, the Finance committee intends to make a recommendation to the Board of Directors for consideration and action at the April Board meeting.

A public hearing will also be held at the April Board of Directors meeting on April 25, at 7:45am.  The agenda will include as an item of business, consideration and action on the recommendation from the Finance committee.

If any proposal is passed by the Board, it will require submission to the Maine Public Utilities Commission. Any proposed effective date would be set no less than 30 days after approval by the Board.

 

How to Provide Feedback:

Public participation and comment are welcome and encouraged at all meetings, workshops, and hearings. Written comments may also be shared via email to moc.s1713211407enily1713211407abocs1713211407ac@eg1713211407nahce1713211407tar1713211407 with Jen Lavanture (moc.s1713211407enily1713211407abocs1713211407ac@lr1713211407efinn1713211407ej1713211407) and/or your local director on copy.