March 23, 2006 – The Human Services Department gives senior citizen card applicants a list of places that offer discounts to seniors when they reach age 60 and present a valid senior citizen card. While St. John's two ferry companies are on that list, at least one of them won't provide discounts until passengers reach age 62.
"No, no, no. The have it wrong," said Clarence Scipio, who runs the senior program at St. Ursula's senior citizen center on St. John.
However, Kenrick Augustus at Transportation Services said the age limit of 62 is set by the Public Services Commission. Delrise Varlack at Varlack Ventures said her company also has 62 as the cut-off age. His office faxed a copy of the rules and regulations governing franchised ferry operations. It states the age is 62.
PSC Director Keithley Joseph said it is up the PSC board to change the age.
The rules and regulations state that proof of identification may be a valid senior citizen card, a passport or a driver's license. This means that visitors over age 62 can get a discount as well as passengers who live in the Virgin Islands.
The discount is considerable. Seniors pay $1.25 each way on the Cruz Bay to Red Hook ferry, a huge savings over the $5 regular fare. A one-way ticket on the Cruz Bay to Charlotte Amalie ferry runs $5, substantially less than the $11.50 regular fare.
St. Thomas resident Bob Mathes, 61, said a couple of weeks ago he was challenged when he tried to buy a senior ticket. However, he said the policy seems to be arbitrary since fellow ferry riders told him they got the senior discount although they weren't yet 62.
He said his wife, who is 63, has been using her senior citizen card when taking the ferry since she got it at age 60.
Scipio said he's never heard of anyone not getting the ferry discount once they turned 60 and had a senior citizen card.
Mathes said he was particularly annoyed because the sign posted at the ferry ticket booth only states that a valid senior identification card is needed to get the senior discount.
"There's no mention of age," he said.
A senior citizen card costs $5 to receive and is good for five years.
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