HMS starts transition of operations of the Cataño-San Juan ferry route
As part of the “systematic and complex” handover of procedures of Puerto Rico’s maritime transportation service, HMS Ferries announced the start of the process to transition operations on the Cataño-San Juan ferry route.
“During the Transition Phase, we will be working on the systematic transfer of the maritime transportation service in Puerto Rico. During this process, we will continue to have meetings with the municipal executives of the municipal islands of Vieques and Culebra, and Catano and Old San Juan as it relates to the metro service,” said Matt Miller, president of HMS Ferries Puerto Rico, which last year was selected the winner of a public-private partnership to run the island’s ferry services.
“While we will work the complex and systematic transition of the entire ferry system during the lengthy transition phase, we plan to first assume responsibility of the metro service by late spring,” he said.
“In addition, our team has contacted and met with different community, commercial and tourist interest groups in Vieques and Culebra with whom we have exchanged impressions, they have presented their concerns and needs, and we have explained the process of changes in services, in addition that we have made them aware of our short- and medium- term plans,” said Miller during a news conference.
Cataño Mayor Félix Delgado Montalvo said this step is important for the hundreds of passengers who attend the Cataño-San Juan route every day.
“This public-private alliance is a step forward the government of Puerto Rico has taken on the way to ensure the best of services for the people who use the ferry as a means of transportation between these two towns separated by the Bay of San Juan,” he said.
He also said he was willing to encourage the development of new businesses in the ferry terminal in Cataño.
“We’ve been diligent in developing an economic model based on the promotion of tourism and cultural events. Turning these empty spaces into businesses would be an extraordinary complement to this area,” he said.
HMS will follow-up its takeover of the Cataño-San Juan routes by taking on the Ceiba-Culebra route, with the process ending with the Ceiba-Vieques route.
“It is important that everyone understands that the transition phase will be conducted systematically and with great care to ensure that system is brought to a higher standard,” Miller said
“Systematically, we will acquire the operations of the entire service. At the beginning, we planned that the process of acquiring all operations and routes would take three years, as is established in the contract,” he said.
“It’s important that citizens know that we’re starting with Cataño, will continue shortly thereafter with the Culebra route and that, by the end of our first year, we hope to have the administration and operation of the entire maritime transportation system, including Vieques. By that date, we hope that users will begin to see the changes in the service,” Miller added.
During the news conference, Miller acknowledged that “the transportation of the residents of the municipal islands goes beyond a matter of punctuality, we are talking about health, economic and tourist development, about changes in the process to normalize once and for all their daily lives.”
As part of the transition, HMS Ferries will launch a new ticketing and reservation system “that will complement the quality service that they will be providing at the end of the process. We’re aware of the dissatisfaction of users with the existing ticket system.”
“For this reason, we’re working on bringing the state-of-the-art ticket and reservation system online that is used throughout the Hornblower organization, including the New York City ferry system. We will adjust to the needs of users but tempered by the quality of use and service that distinguishes us at HMS Ferries,” he said.