Lake Champlain Ferries Defends Rate Increases

Published 03/17 2014 10:11PM

Updated 03/17 2014 11:16PM

GRAND ISLE, Vt. - Crossing Lake Champlain will get more expensive in a couple weeks.

The company which runs the ferries says it needs to hike fares.

Starting April 3rd, Lake Champlain Ferries is increasing its fares.

"Am I surprised? No. Everything seems to be going up," says Denise King, who uses the ferry.

The hike impacts drivers at the Grand Isle, Vermont to Cumberland Head, New York crossing and between Charlotte, Vermont and Essex, New York.

Right now, a passenger car costs $9.50 one way. That will go up to $10.

Adult passengers will go from $3.75 to $4.00.

CLICK HERE to see all the rate changes.

For someone who commutes daily on the ferry, the increase will cost them an extra $260 a year.

Lake Champlain Ferries operations manager Heather Stewart says this is the first hike since 2008 and it was needed now.

"It's basically costs. The cost of steel. The cost of paint. The cost of healthcare. Healthcare is a biggie for us. That has gone up right through the roof," says Stewart.

If you don't want to pay to cross on a ferry, there aren't a lot of other options. Drivers could head north or south to one of the bridges over Lake Champlain, though those can be lengthy detours.

"I think two bridges is all the State of Vermont can afford," says State Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Chittenden-Grand Isle.

Mazza chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. He says the ferry here is the best option.

"As far as Vermont is concerned, I don't think you'll ever see a bridge in that area because it's the wide part of the lake, number one. And it would be in the billions of dollars to provide a bridge there," says Mazza.

The new rates do not include a fuel surcharge.

Lake Champlain Ferries says you can save 30-percent on fares by buying a commuter card.

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