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Kingston-area ferry tolls depend on what roads they connect

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KINGSTON — Taking a ferry is a big part of getting around the Kingston area, and a way of life for some people.

Depending on which ferry, a little cash may be part of the trip, too.

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But why do some Kingston-area ferries charge a toll and others don’t?

It depends on where the passenger is going and the roads they are using to get there.

“It’s convention grandfathered from the past,” said Matt Mills, a spokesperson for the County of Frontenac, which operates the Howe Island ferry.

“Ontario ferries that charge fees and fares were not contiguous with the former King’s Highway system, while those that don’t were,” he said. “So, the reason there are no fares for Wolfe Island ferry passengers is because of former King’s Highway 95 on Wolfe Island, now Road 95, from Marysville to Horne’s Ferry.

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“Howe and Amherst island ferry passengers conversely pay fares because there was no part of the King’s Highway system on either of those islands,” he said.

There are more than 180 ferries in Canada, including 24 in Ontario, according to the Canadian Ferry Association.

There are seven ferry routes operating in the Kingston area.

Fares are determined by the operator of the ferry, and can include provincial agencies, third-party operators, and provincially owned and operated services, which is why there are different fares, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

Municipalities that operate ferries do so under service agreements with the MTO.

The toll for passenger vehicles travelling to Howe Island — currently $8 — is set annually based on traffic projections.

Frontenac County is required to cover 20 per cent of the Howe Island ferry’s annual operating budget and it does so through passenger fares and fees, including single-crossing tolls and annual passes.

The toll for the ferry to Amherst Island is $10 for a passenger vehicle.

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