Community members can once again set sail on a popular daylong voyage departing from Huron for events in Cleveland.
Huron City Council recently approved spending $1,700 in local taxpayer funds to secure two back-and-forth boat trips this summer on a 77-foot Jet Express vessel.
Some feared steep prices could have shipwrecked the rides.
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In 2013, the inaugural year for the excursions, Huron officials spent $1,300 in taxpayer funds to secure four trips on a Jet Express boat.
This year, the same four journeys would have cost about $3,200.
The reason for a price spike? A year ago, Jet Express operators underestimated the amount of time and fuel needed to get a boat to and from Huron, which is between stops in Port Clinton and Lorain.
End result: The steep increase limited Huron officials to only schedule two outings this year, tentatively occurring on:
•July 18, with a trip based around a casino outing.
•Sept. 14, coinciding with the Cleveland Browns’ home opener against the New Orleans Saints.
It’s not known exactly how much the Lorain Port Authority, the entity facilitating this deal on Huron’s behalf, will charge for rides. A year ago, the port authority charged riders $39 for a 12-hour round-trip ride. It takes about three hours to travel from Huron to Cleveland, where riders stay about six hours before making the three-hour return trip.
Regardless of reducing the number of trips this year, officials seemed pleased to once again offer a popular feature.
Two of last year’s trips suffered from poor turnout because of bad weather, but the other two rides were at or near full capacity. On this particular Jet Express boat, full capacity is about 150 passengers. And when the boat made stops in Huron last year, the majority of riders were local residents.
“We’re collaborating with regional partners, and the city appreciates this unique opportunity for a community of our size,” Huron city manager Andy White said. “Most passenger ferries are taking people from this area to (Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay). But we’re taking people to Cleveland. The trips also help out our restaurants and businesses in the area and also draws attention into our community.”
Others are pleased with the arrangement as well.
“We think this works well for the both of us,” said Rick Novak, Lorain Port Authority executive director.
Breaking down the boat rates
In 2013, Huron officials, the Lorain Port Authority and the Jet Express came to terms on providing round-trip boat rides from Huron to Cleveland.
For 2014, however, Jet Express operators underestimated how much these trips would cost, forcing them to increase this year’s prices.
Here’s what Huron taxpayers fronted a year ago, as well as the tentative 2014 deal city officials accepted.
• Approved rate in 2013: Four rides at $1,300 total. Each rider paid $39 round-trip.
• Rejected rate for 2014: Four rides at $3,200 total.
• Approved rate for 2014: Two rides at $1,700 total. Each rider’s fare could remain $39 round-trip.