HAWAII BARGE SERVICE HIKES RATES 5.5 PERCENT

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By Andy Gross

KAUAI, Hawaii (The Garden Island, July 26) - Young Brothers Ltd., Hawaii’s monopoly inter-island barge company, last week announced a 5.5-percent rate increase, approved by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The rate increase went into effect last week.

Young Brothers barges stop at Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai twice a week.

According to the company's Web site, the rate increase will help to offset increases in fuel, security and labor costs, and support Young Brothers reinvestment efforts in its shoreside and marine equipment.

Lee said the company has been able to avoid rate increases in the past due to "operational efficiencies achieved through the years."

Lee said it had been eight years since rates for full-container-load shipments have increased, and three years for non-containerized cargo.

Jeff Low, Young Brothers manager of planning and facilities, said more than the high cost of fuel motivated the need for a rate increase.

"We try to spread costs out over all our operations. It's not just for fuel costs, but for debt service on our equipment," he said.

Lee said "costs continued to rise, and Young Brothers had to reinvest its assets in order to continue providing quality transportation service between the Hawaiian Islands."

Low said she did not know for how long the latest rate increase could be in effect before Young Brothers leaders could seek another rate increase if needed. "We don't subscribe to regular rate increases."

Vic Angoco, vice president and general manager for Young Brothers, said economic situations would dictate when or if Young Brothers leaders went before the PUC again for a future rate increase.

The Young Brothers rate increase comes about three months after shipping giant Matson Navigation leaders increased their rates.

According to a Matson company press release from April, because of sustained increases in fuel costs, Matson officials raised their fuel surcharge in their Hawai‘i and Guam/Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) services from 9.2 to 10.5 percent, effective April 18. Matson officials also announced that they were implementing a new program in which fuel costs will be reviewed on a quarterly basis, with the fuel surcharge adjusted accordingly, up or down.

July 27, 2005

The Garden Island: http://www.kauaiworld.com/news/

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