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Monday, January 30, 2023



Oct. 20, 2001 – The Senate Government Operations Committee on Friday approved extending to the year 2026 the exclusive franchise held by Transportation Services of St. John Inc. and Varlack Ventures Inc. to operate ferry service between St. Thomas and St. John.
However, much of the committee hearing was taken up with debate on another matter: the competition for passengers between the ferry companies and the barge services.
Attorney Derek Hodge, representing Transportation Services, said a 1996 study had shown the ferry companies lose as much as $500,000 a year in passenger fares to the barge services, which allow passengers to ride in their cars.
Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, vice president of Boyson Inc., which operates two barges, said her company and Ocean Link Enterprises were asked by the ferry companies to help reduce the excess walk-on passengers on barges and to divert the passengers back to the ferry. After discussion, Boynes-Jackson said, "We decided to limit the vehicles to four passengers until new barge services came in and started carrying safari buses with up to 25 passengers and trucks loaded with workmen."
Boynes-Jackson said in her prepared statement that "the franchised [ferry] companies are currently suing Boyson and Ocean Link Enterprises. The franchise and its applicable laws were never made clear as to what jurisdiction there is."
Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole questioned whether the Legislature is the appropriate venue to deal with the disputes. The ferry companies are regulated by the Public Services Commission. The barges come under the V.I. Port Authority's jurisdiction.
Several senators said they would try to come up with amendments to clarify the relationship between the two entities before the franchise legislation moves to the Rules Committee, the next step. Sen. Adelbert Bryan said the Legislature needs to work out a franchise to cover not only passenger carriers but also cargo and all other marine transportation between the islands.
Committee members attending the meeting were Sens. Emmett Hansen II, committee chair; and Bryan, Cole, Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Carlton Dowe. Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel was absent.

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