2018-04-07 / News

City Awaits Bids for Winter Ferry Service

The five-year winter passenger ferry contract is up for renewal this year, but the city has not received a bid from Shepler’s or Star Line. A letter was sent to Shepler President Chris Shepler and Star Line CEO Jerry Fetty Thursday, March 15, with a deadline of noon Wednesday, March 28. Neither company submitted a bid, however, citing insufficient time to complete the necessary revisions. The city made one change to the bid structure, which was to require an additional trip, for five total, during the first week of November, and the final week of winter service from April 14 to April 20. Mr. Fetty said that there is much more that goes into the bid process than adjusting the timetables. He said that factors such as fuel costs over the next five years and staffing must be accounted for when submitting a bid.

Both boat lines will submit bids soon, they said, and Mr. Shepler said he will do so the week of Monday, April 9.

Neither company felt that a two-week window was sufficient to submit a bid for a fiveyear contract. Mr. Fetty said that this is the first renewal of the winter ferry contract since it was created five years ago, and it should be expected that delays would occur. The city has also experienced scheduling errors, as the city council was unable to submit the bid for review by the ferry lines until the middle of March. This was despite the fact that it was originally discussed at a Transportation Committee meeting January 24.

The city receives money from the Michigan Department of Transportation to offset the costs of the credit provided to the winter ferry operator, and this was due February 15. The city has been advised by MDOT to go ahead and submit the grant proposal, but it is uncertain if it will be awarded. The expected amount of the 2019 grant is $54,000, which would need to be paid for through the city’s budget if no state funding is available.

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