Bayview Yacht Club Opposes Ferry Consolidation Plan on Mackinac Island

Oct 20, 2010, 18:27 ET from Bayview Yacht Club

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The Bayview Yacht Club Board of Governors personally appeared before the Mackinac Island City Council today to voice opposition to plans for consolidated ferry service that could put the club's yacht race to the island in jeopardy.

"This is an economic issue that we believe adversely impacts Bayview and tourism in Michigan," said Bayview Commodore Bruce J. Burton. "We are really surprised that this is even under consideration and we have had no response to concerns we have voiced on the issue."

Burton and the Bayview Board are in unanimous agreement that plans to have two ferry services – Arnold and Star Lines – merge under one company and forcing Shepler's Ferry out of business would be bad news for Bayview and island tourism.

"Shepler's is a long-time sponsor of the race which began in 1925," said Burton, adding that the company places the finish line buoy, transports race equipment, volunteers and coordinates logistics as well as offers free transportation to the Coast Guard Cutter crew that monitors the race.

Burton said the move would in effect create a monopoly on the island that would subject Bayview and tourists to potential labor strife, rising prices, and reduced service schedules if there is no competition.

"It would be like Europe and the time the labor chooses to strike is during peak tourist season when they have leverage," said Burton. "This would wreak havoc on an 87-year tradition that pumps some $25 million in the state's economy. Are we seriously willing to risk that for a $2 reduction in ferry ticket prices that logically would spike once the monopoly has been established?"

Burton added that Shepler's has been a good company that has provided excellent service for three generations. Some 150 people would lose their jobs if the ferry consolidation occurs.

Concerned that a letter to the City Council of Mackinac Island in September on this subject went unanswered, Burton lead the BYC Flag Officers and Board of Governors to the island to personally address the issue and voice the club's concerns over the pending action.

"Michigan's economy is in tough shape and forcing one of our major sponsors out of business is of great concern to Bayview," said Burton. "Government should be about assisting the private sector in creating jobs."

The Mackinac Island City Council scheduled a 2 p.m. meeting Wednesday for a discussion of the issue. Shepler's has filed a federal anti-trust lawsuit against the island and the other ferry operators to block the move. Proponents of the consolidation say it will provide longer service schedules to the island, increase ridership of the boats and thereby reduce ticket prices which currently average $24 roundtrip to the island.

SOURCE Bayview Yacht Club