Ferry Riders Call|Fare Unconstitutional


     HARTFORD (CN) – Ten regular riders of the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Ferry claim in a class action that the ferry fares are unconstitutional. They say the Bridgeport Port Authority jacked up fees to cover the cost of litigating a previous lawsuit over fares, which the Port Authority lost.




     When the Bridgeport Port Authority was created in 1993, the ferry fee was 50 cents per passenger and $1 per car, according to the federal complaint. In 2003 the BPA doubled the charges, and passengers sued the agency, challenging the constitutionality of the fees hike.
     The Port Authority responded by adding another $1 surcharge in 2006 to help pay the costs of the suit, according to the most recent complaint.
     In July 2008, U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney ruled that the fares collected from April 2001 to March 2006 violated the Commerce and Tonnage Clauses of the Constitution and were excessive by about $8.7 million.
     The class seeks that money as damages, plus punitive damages and an injunction.
     Defendants include the City of Bridgeport, the BPA and all five of its commissioners.
     The class is represented by Richard E. Hayber.

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