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PUC staff recommend rejecting a petition challenging new Casco Bay Lines ferry rates

City Hall towers over surrounding buildings as the Casco Bay Lines ferry Wabanaki travels out of the harbor, Wednesday morning, June 1, 2022, in Portland, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
City Hall towers over surrounding buildings as the Casco Bay Lines ferry Wabanaki travels out of the harbor, Wednesday morning, June 1, 2022, in Portland, Maine.

The staff of the Maine Public Utilities Commission is recommending that regulators reject a petition challenging new ferry rates for Casco Bay Lines.

The new rates, which went into place June 1, increased prices for day-trippers by more than 80% during the peak summer season. Meanwhile, the cost of a monthly or yearly pass dropped by more than 40%.

Andrew Doukas, a part-time Peaks Island resident, filed the petition in May with about 60 signatures arguing that the new rates are "outrageous" and "unfair" to daily visitors.

But in a recommended decision filed on Tuesday, PUC staff said that Casco Bay Lines officials followed regulations when they designed the new rates, and balance the financial needs of the agency with the interests of its passengers.

PUC spokesperson Susan Faloon said that the commission is still accepting comments on the recommended decision through July 23, and once "any comments are in, the Commissioners will review the docket and then deliberate to decide whether to adopt the staff recommendation or not."

A deliberation date hasn't been set.

Doukas said he is "disappointed" but not surprised in the recommendation, and does not expect that commissioners will open a formal investigation.