May 22, 2020
To the Fishers Island Community:
The Fishers Island Ferry District (FIFD or the District) is anticipating an interesting, challenging, and different summer season. As mentioned in our previous letter to the community, the District endured a difficult financial situation in March and April with plunging revenues due to various mandates related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While May saw an increase in traffic, revenue was still down about 50% from the previous year. While no one can predict the future, the FIFD forecast is for revenue to be 50% of our original budget through year-end 2020. This has created a deficit in our budget approximating $1m.
Recognizing that drastic steps must be taken to protect our surplus and the viability of the District, the Ferry District Board of Commissioners (BOC) will take an initial measure to increase revenue. We anticipate, but don’t yet have an assurance that the balance of the required funding will come from the Town, or other governmental sources, in the form of a loan against our ability to raise tax revenue in 2021 and beyond. We are working diligently to obtain this additional financing.
To address these revenue discrepancies, the BOC considered several options. We have reconsidered the one-time surcharge per passenger vehicle based on input from our community and have decided to implement the following changes. The surcharges will be effective Friday, May 29, 2020:
- Non-resident vehicles and passenger tickets will be charged a 30% surcharge
- Resident vehicles and passengers will incur a 10% surcharge
- Commercial vehicles will be subject to a per trip increase of 10%
- Freight will be charged a 10% surcharge
These surcharges will remain in effect through 2020.
It is important to be very clear that if revenue through the end of the year does not meet our expectations, we have a large unanticipated expense, and/or the additional financing we require is not forthcoming, that the BOC will need to take additional measures to secure the financial position of the District. This could include an additional surcharge, fare increases, etc.
The BOC is acutely aware of the burden this situation places on our patrons and this decision was not made lightly or without much discussion and input from various sources. The BOC is also very cognizant of the lost revenue, both real and projected, during this unprecedented time that the FIFD relies on to provide timely and safe access to the Island.
FIFD’s management continues to monitor all funding options, including Federal, State, County and Town and has opened lines of communication with our US Senators, our Congressman, Suffolk County leaders and the Town of Southold, but as the busiest months of the year approach we must take action now or risk even more draconian measures in the Fall when traffic naturally moderates.
The FIFD has added boats over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and for weekends going forward as the demand warrants, to accommodate the volume. The New London ticket lobby is now open for one person at a time to purchase tickets, and one person to access the restrooms which are also open. Please note the indicated one-way entry/exit signs.
As always, our patrons are urged to follow scheduling information on our website fiferry.com, and on FisherIsland.net., and to please make a reservation. Reservations help the District to calculate demand.
The FIFD urges all users of our service to continue to observe all proscribed safety protocols: practice social distancing, wear a mask, and stay in your vehicle if possible. These requests are in place for your safety as well as that of our extraordinarily dedicated crews and staff and should be adhered to in New London, on the ferries and on Fishers. Please be assured that our terminals and boats are cleaned and wiped down regularly.
We value and appreciate the support of the community and ask that if anyone should have thoughts or concerns that they address these to General Manager Geb Cook, Operations Manager Gordon Murphy, or one of the Commissioners.
Fishers Island Ferry District Board of Commissioners
William Bloethe, Jr.