Island ferry fares to rise

Residents of North Stradbroke Island and the Southern Moreton Bay islands will be hit with an average eight per cent hike in barge fares next week.

As of Monday, taking a car on a Stradbroke Ferries barge will cost $146 for a return day trip to the island, up from the current price of $135.

RETURN tickets for an adult walk-on passenger will rise from $11 to $20, with a return child’s ticket costing $10.

The fare increases will also affect island residents.

The ferry company will axe its $69 return “Check on House” discounted fare for mainland residents who own a house on the island.

Its Shopper Day discounted return fare, not available on Fridays and only available to those starting their journey from Dunwich, will rise from $69 to $73.

The move will mean tradesmen from the mainland with residential status going to the island for a day will be hit with a 60 per cent fare hike and will have to pay $110 for a return ticket, instead of $69.

Transit Systems barge fares for the southern Moreton Bay islands will continue to cost $109 for a return trip to Russell Island.

Ferry operator Transit Systems area manager Greg Balkin broke the news of the fare hikes to Stradbroke businesses at a special meeting on the island on Tuesday.

Mr Balkin told business owners and Chamber of Commerce members fares had not gone up since June 2008.

He said there was no state legislation governing barge fares, unlike water taxi fares, which were partly subsidised by the state.

Mr Balkin said the company recently bought a barge and would soon run services to a three-boat timetable and would put a fourth boat on standby over the September school holidays.

He admitted the company struggled to get all cars off the island during the peak Easter weekend after two of its boats were relocated to Gladstone.

Manta Lodge and Scuba Centre owner James Griffith said the price hike would affect the island’s push to become a tourist destination.

He said there had been little consultation with the public about the price rise and said many felt the company was unfairly using its monopoly.

A Redland tradesman, who wished to remain anonymous, said he would have to pass on to his customers the increase in his barge ticket, which will rise from $69 to $110 on Monday.

“When there’s an emergency on the island, I won’t be going until I have a few jobs lined up,” he said.

“I thought the island was trying to entice tourists, but most will just give up and go to the Gold Coast which is cheaper and easier to get to,” he said.

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