IMG_2303abGood morning to Captain and crew alike and welcome to the Admiralty Docket. This is John Hughes Cooper with a glimpse into your rights and responsibilities at sea and upon the navigable waters.

*In his letter to the editor published in Thursday’s Post and Courier, Joe De Muccio of Mt. Pleasant proposes a people and bike ferry across Charleston Harbor in combination with bus service as an alternative to the proposed toll bridge. In recent years, others have proposed various ferries for Charleston Harbor.

One topic which seems to have escaped public discussion is the law pertaining to ferries. Today we are joined by Dr. Cody Mowit, an expert on ferries in South Carolina. Welcome, Dr. Mowit. What do you think about the recurring proposal for public ferry service in Charleston Harbor?

**No way! It just won’t work. S.C. Code Ann. § 57-15-60 sets themaximum charges for transportation on ferries chartered under Chapter 15:

1.For every passenger, five cents, except in the case of public steam ferries on which a maximum rate of ten cents for a single trip or passage may be charged;

2.For every head of sheep, goats, hogs and other small animals, five cents;

3. For every horse, mule and head of cattle, ten cents;

4. For every passenger with single horse, mule, ox or other riding animal, twenty cents;

5.For every single-horse buggy, cart or other vehicle, twenty-five cents;

6.For every two-horse wagon or other vehicle, fifty cents;

7.For every three-horse wagon or other vehicle, sixty-five cents;

8.For every four-horse wagon or other vehicle, seventy-five cents. Endquote.

These are the highest allowed ferry rates. No mention of the rate for a 300 horse vehicle.

Here’s the beef, Mr. Cooper. According to my informal survey of public transportation needs in Charleston, few horses, mules, or cattle and even fewer head of sheep, goats, or hogs will ride a ferry these days, and almost no one will show up in a wagon or other vehicle drawn by 2, 3, or 4 horses. So, as the law stands, ferry operators can only charge five cents per passenger . . . unless they take a step backwards and install steam engines, which would allow a charge of ten cents per passenger . . . It’s getting harder and harder to find a good steam engine.

*Thank you, Dr. Mowit . . . Economics . . . It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law.

More, next week on The Admiralty Docket. Until then, remember, your rights and responsibilities may change as you approach the shore and may God Almighty grant you pleasant sailing.

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