MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. – The Mackinac Island City Council today finalized its franchise agreement with Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry for the 2011 season, allowing Shepler’s to continue offering discounted tickets and also pursue legal action against the city.
The city council on Wednesday approved a franchise for the new Northern Ferry Co., a combination of Arnold Transit and Star Line, but delayed acting on Shepler’s franchise due to Shepler’s requests to offer discounts and pursue legal action. Both requests were approved today.
Northern Ferry has proposed that the City of Mackinac Island enter into an exclusive franchise agreement with Northern. While that plan is on hold for now, such a move would put Shepler’s, which has served the island for more than 65 years, out of business.
“Shepler’s remains resolute in its long-standing commitment to two things above all: service to customers and a competitive Mackinac Island ferry industry,” said Shepler’s attorney Al Ernst. “To that end, Shepler’s has negotiated with city attorneys to ensure they are satisfied in the short term, but for the long term we await resolution by the U.S. District Court and the Michigan Public Service Commission.”
Ernst said Shepler’s can continue to offer discounted tickets under the new franchise agreement and also pursue its federal antitrust lawsuit against the city and the investigation of Mackinac Island ferry prices and schedules before the Michigan Public Service Commission.
Additionally, Shepler’s has filed for a temporary restraining order against the city’s new ferry ordinance and a decision is expected Tuesday.