Prudence panel to discuss ferry's quality of service

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PORTSMOUTH — An advisory panel will meet Saturday, Jan. 4, to discuss its recommendation to the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (PUC) regarding the quality of service provided by Prudence Island Ferry.

The Prudence Island Planning Commission (PIPC) will meet at 9 a.m. in the Hope Brown Center at the island's Farnham Farm.

The commission is responding to a request from the PUC to comment on whether the "quality of service provided by (Prudence Island Ferry) is sufficient to meet the public convenince and necessity."

The PUC is investigating whether Prudence Island Ferry Inc. is providing adequate service as part of its hearings to determine whether or not A&R Marine — doing business as Prudence & Bay Islands Transport — should be granted a certificate of public convenience and necessity to operate a ferry to and from the island.

Prudence Ferry has been the sole provider of the service since the 1980s. The PUC hearings are being held to determine whether or not two ferry providers are needed.

The PIPC meeting Saturday was scheduled following a Dec. 10 letter from Terrence Mercer, associate administrator for the PUC's Motor Carriers Section, to Town Administrator John Klimm. In the letter, Mr. Mercer requests the town's thoughts about the adequacy and reliability of Prudence Ferry's service.

"Specifically, the Division seeks your input ... regarding the timing/number of scheduled ferry trips, the manner in which the town receives notice when ferry trips must be cancelled/rescheduled due to inclement weather (or any other reason), the availability of restroom facilities while on the ferry and, most importantly, the level of confidence town officials have regarding (Prudence Ferry's) long-term commitment to service the town's needs," stated Mr. Mercer in the letter.

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