SMN takes a look at Savannah’s water ferries’ $266,000 deficit

Well this is a highly recommended piece for those who care about the functioning of the trade center, the prospects of a new hotel on Hutchinson Island, future development of the island, the pressures on local spending as federal subsidies are withdrawn, the health of River Street, and issues of public transit: Trade center authority struggles with funding for ferries

Writer G.G. Rigsby deals with any number of issues in the lengthy piece, including this wonky tidbit:

The ferries get 40 percent of the money generated by a $1-per-occupied-room fee in the convention district and $1.75 per room in the Westin. Over the years, that’s brought in $2.4 million to operate the ferries.

Properties on Hutchinson also pay a 2/10 of a mill property tax that goes into the fund. That has raised about $80,000 in eight years.

Over 11 years, the authority has paid $2.5 million to subsidize the ferries. That’s out of the $20.8 million the ferries have cost to purchase and operate.

The federal operating funds are down from a peak of about $500,000 a year to $20,000 to $25,000 a year now, Coffey said.

This year, the authority is looking at a projected loss of $266,000 for the ferries.

It’s a great piece and I’m not going to summarize it anymore than that. I’ve said for years that Hutchinson’s development will be hampered forever by the lack of easy access. The ferries are fine — and expensive! — for what they do to move casual travelers, but they’re terrible for large groups and events. The vehicular path from Hutchinson to downtown — over the bridge and then across the congested intersection of Oglethorpe and MLK — is lousy too.

No one has really taken me seriously about it, but that pedestrian bridge is looking better all the time.