The Charlevoix County Transportation Authority voted unanimously on Friday Feb. 21 to reduce the Ironton Ferry’s hours of operation.
The plan, which will stop ferry service at 7:30 p.m. , daily, prior to May 15 and after Sept. 15, is intended to be done on a trial basis in order to cut waste, save costs and curb potential future user fee increases.
“We’ve discussed the cost of operations for several years and decided—after discussing the matter with our captains for some period of time—to see where this might go,” said Charlevoix County Transportation Authority Board member Rich Gillespie. “So, after a lot of discussion, it was felt that we should initiate the change because there is little or no traffic after 6:30 p.m. from start-up time to May 15 and likewise after Sept. 15.”
Gillespie emphasized these changes are intended for the shoulder seasons only. The regular operating hours will be maintained between May 15 and Sept. 15.
The three-hour decrease in operational hours—the ferry traditionally operated until 10:30 p.m.—during the shoulder seasons is expected to yield savings of nearly $500 a week in wages alone. Gillespie said the savings on fuel and wear-and-tear on the engine will not be fully known immediately but that, over time, they could be substantial.
“I understand we may inconvenience one or two cars,” Gillespie said. “But, if there is an event—like a wedding or reunion—going on then I am sure we can make an exception.”
Gillespie said anyone holding a special event in the area during the affected times should contact the transportation authority to make arrangements.
Gillespie said the ferry would also be held open later for elections if one were to fall in the shoulder season while the ferry was operational.
The authority is now taking public comments on the matter and, depending on how this first season goes, it could adjust the hours of operation.
E-mail your comments, questions or concerns to email@example.com with the words “Ironton Ferry hours” in the subject line.