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Cape May–Lewes Ferry Fare Structure is Altered

The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Commission approved a new fare schedule for the Cape May–Lewes Ferry (CMLF) at its monthly meeting held recently. Effective April 1, the new ferry rate schedule is designed to improve farebox recovery, decrease the cost for families over time, and offer preferential fare treatment for multi-trip customers. Based on traffic data from 2023, the new fare structure is expected to net $211,000 in additional revenue.

“After considering all public comments at our virtual presentation, we believe these modifications are reasonable and will create more multi-trip transactions while generating additional revenue for the Ferry system,” said Heath Gehrke, director of Ferry Operations. “We’re also creating a Loyalty Rewards Members program similar to what the airlines offer. The goal is to reward those who frequently travel and encourage them to prebook online, which, in turn, helps us better predict customer demand. In addition, Loyalty Rewards Members receive a free passenger (or driver) trip for every 10 trips taken.”

In 2023, the CMLF handled 276,436 vehicles and 746,430 passengers, including more than 10,000 who traveled via bicycle. The CMLF’s vehicle count, which not only eclipsed the pre-pandemic 2019 total of 271,751, was the most handled since 2010.

With the adoption of Resolution 24-02, the Commissioners approved the following:

  • Increase for in-season vehicle and motorcycle fares by $1 for standard size, (including per trip for discount books) $2 for 26- to 45-foot vehicles and $3 for >46-foot vehicles.
  • Decrease in passenger fares by $1 for children ages 6 to 13 in-season.
  • Increase in shuttle fares of $2.
  • Increase in the existing “No Show” fee from $10 to $26 to further incentivize canceling or modifying bookings vs. abandoning them; this allows the ferry to sell space that would otherwise go unused and helps to predict demand.
  • Addition of a $2 handling fee for “show-go” vehicle travel.
  • Implementation of an optional Priority Boarding fee of $5 to allow (subject to capacity limitations) guests the option of priority staging for earlier boarding/disembarkation. (NOTE: This does not affect the current procedure for VIP and/or mobility impaired guests.)
  • Enhancement of the Loyalty Rewards Program so guests are eligible to earn points redeemable for future travel.

Passenger fares will not increase this year and have not increased since 2009. Off-season rates were also unaffected, as were “Return-Trip” fares—or fares purchased for the second leg of a round-trip when purchased at the time of the first leg. Additionally, CMLF continues to offer discounts for seniors (62+), members of the military and first responders, as well as regular free travel for children under 6 years old and free for those aged 6-13 years during the off season.