The V.I. Public Services Commission has approved a plan by ferry company V.I. SeaTrans, to soon begin leaving St. Thomas earlier and St. Croix later during the upcoming tourist season.
"We are going to flip the schedule, so the time it leaves St. Croix now it will leave St. Thomas and vice versa," said Frank Schulterbrandt, attorney for V.I. SeaTrans, at Thursday’s PSC meeting in St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport conference room.
Currently, travelers leave St. Thomas at 9:45 a.m. and return at 3:45 p.m. By switching the starting point, travelers could leave St. Thomas at 7:30 a.m. and return at 5:45 p.m.
The idea behind the switch is to try to entice more St. Thomas visitors to take the ferry for day trips to St. Croix, Schulterbrandt said. As St. Thomas has far more hotel rooms and more cruise traffic, the V.I. SeaTrans partners believe an earlier departure from St. Thomas might make day trips to St. Croix more popular, because day-trippers like to have as full a day as possible. Asked if the switch would have a negative impact on travelers from St. Croix, ferry Captain Rikky Baynes said most passengers from St. Croix were not day-trippers but traveling for business, and were not generally as concerned about an early departure and late return. Also, the tourist market they are trying to capture would bring in critically needed revenue, he said.
Voting to approve the schedule change were commission members Donald Cole, Verne David, M. Thomas Jackson, and Sirri Hamad. Commission members Joseph Boschulte and Elsie Thomas-Trotman were absent. The new schedule takes effect Oct. 1 and will be in force on a trial basis until May 1, 2010.
The PSC also voted to assess V.I. SeaTrans $16,899 for the PSC’s work on ferry matters. The PSC and its expert consultants are financed through such special assessments upon the industries it regulates.
New Schedule for V.I. SeaTrans:
Friday and Saturday
St. Thomas to St. Croix — 7:30 a.m.
St. Thomas to St. Croix — 4:15 p.m.
St. Croix to St. Thomas — 9:45 a.m.
St. Croix to St. Thomas — 6:15 p.m.
St. Thomas to St. Croix — 3:45 p.m.
St. Croix to St. Thomas — 5:45 p.m.
St. Thomas to St. Croix — 8:00 a.m.
St. Croix to St. Thomas — 4:30 p.m.