2013-04-13 / News

Arnold Transit, Shepler’s Submit Five-year Winter Ferry Service Bids

By Stephanie Fortino

Arnold Transit Company and Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry have both submitted bids for the five-year winter ferry service contract with the City of Mackinac Island, while Star Line declined to submit a proposal because its freight vessel, Anna May, is not currently certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The proposals were presented to city council at its Wednesday, April 3, meeting, and the Transportation Committee will review the bids at its next meeting. When city alderman Sam Barnwell asked if council will be able to make a decision at the next council meeting Wednesday, April 17, Mayor Margaret Doud said she was unsure about that possibility.

The Transportation Committee includes Frank Bloswick and Jason St. Onge in addition to another city council member who Mayor Doud will appoint to fill the late Armin Porter’s vacancy.

Arnold Proposed

Winter Service

Arnold owns three steel hull vessels, all of which can be used for winter service, according to the company’s bid. The vessel Huron will be the primary ferry for winter service. It can hold up to 400 passengers and has been recently remodeled to include heated passenger cabin and restrooms. The company said it will leave its freight boat, The Beaver, at the Island for emergencies.

The Mackinac Island main dock has heated lobby and offices, as well as a restroom near the passenger-loading ramp. The St. Ignace Dock #1 has heated facilities, including a lobby, offices and rest rooms. According to the company, “St. Ignace Dock #1 is closer to late open water in the fall and the early open water in the spring.”

Proposed Schedule

Service November 1 through December 31:

Four trips a day, Monday through Saturday, and three trips a day Sundays (no early morning trip).

Departing St. Ignace – 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 8:30 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m.

The first trips in December will be 30 minutes later.

Two trips a day will be made on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day:

Departing St. Ignace – 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 9:30 a.m., noon

Service January 1 through March 31:

Three trips a day Monday through Saturday and no service Sunday.

Departing St. Ignace – 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Service

April 1 though April 20:

Four trips a day Monday through Saturday, three trips Sunday (excludes early morning trip).

Departing St. Ignace – 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 8:30 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., 5 p.m.

Proposed Rates

Adult and child tickets will with coincide with the standard rate of the current season. The company will also offer $600 for a commuter season pass, $410 for 40-ride commuter books, $210 for 20-ride commuter books, and $210 a resident season pass.

Shepler’s Proposed

Winter Service

Shepler’s proposed winter service will employ the use of two different vessels, weather and ice permitting. For the first and last sections of winter service, the company expects to use one of their fast ferries, either the Hope or Captain Shepler, to transport passengers to and from the Island. As ice sets in, Shepler’s would use the M.V. Sacre Bleu, a vessel that is currently undergoing major improvements for winter service, according to Chris Shepler in his application letter:

Sacre Bleu “will have a new set of engines, propellers, shafting, heated deck, heated and upgraded 55 passenger cabin on the second floor and the ability to build a second seating area on the main deck, complete paint job and a new bow section for improved ice breaking capabilities.”

The company will use its main docks on Mackinac Island and in St. Ignace, which has parking for 600 vehicles with snow removal included. Indoor overnight parking is also available.

Shepler’s waiting facilities include a 50-person waiting room with bathrooms in St. Ignace and a covered outdoor area on the Island. Although there are no bathrooms at the Mackinac Island dock, heated restrooms will be available on the Sacre Bleu.

Proposed Schedule

Fast ferry service from November 1 through January 1 or until prevented by ice:

Four trips a day, six days a week, three trips Sundays (no early morning departures).

Departing St. Ignace – 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 8:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 3:15 p.m., 5 p.m.

The two midday runs, leaving St. Ignace at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., will be the only trips made on holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Service from January 2 through April 1 or ice-out:

Three trips a day Monday, Wednesday, Friday, two trips (excluding midday) Tuesday and Thursday, and two trips (excluding early morning) Sunday.

Departing St. Ignace – 8 a.m., noon, 3 p.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m.

There will also be a 30-day maintenance period during this time frame that “we think is vital for safety and liability,” said captain and vice president Chris Shepler. This time period will ideally take place when ferry service shuts down because of ice, however the company does reserve the right to maintain the period even if waters stay open all season long. Mr. Shepler said the maintenance period was part of a verbal agreement made during the ferry franchise discussion held last June at the Grand Hotel, although it is not included in the memorandum of understanding incorporated into the city’s ferry franchise ordinance.

Fast ferry service from iceout to April 20:

Four trips a day, seven days.

Departing St. Ignace – 7:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Departing Mackinac Island – 8:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 3:15 p.m., 5 p.m.

Proposed Rates

Proposed ticketing for the iceto ice winter ferry service includes resident passes ($100 for adults, $50 for children ages five to 12, and free for children younger than five), regular adult and child tickets, VIP tickets, Gold cards, $600 for commuter season pass, $200 for a 40-ride commuter book, and $110 for a 20-ride commuter book. There will also be a $5 surcharge fee each way on all tickets from April 22, 2013 to April 1, 2014. The fee is in accordance with the memorandum of understanding included in the city’s ferry franchise ordinance.

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