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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ferry Operator Sidelined By Government Shutdown

Passengers board the ferry to Fort Sumter. (Fort Sumter Tours)

Passengers board the ferry to Fort Sumter. (Fort Sumter Tours)

With the partial government shutdown, some 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed and more than a million others will be asked to work without pay.

But there are hundreds of private businesses that contract with the government that are also affected by the shutdown.

One of them is Fort Sumter Tours in South Carolina, which shuttles 300,000 tourists every year to Sullivan Island in Charleston Harbor to see Fort Sumter, which is owned by the National Park Service.

Guest

  • Rick Mosteller, co-owner Fort Sumter Tours.

Transcript

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW. Some 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed due to the government shutdown, and more than a million others have been asked to work without pay. But the shutdown is also affecting private businesses with government contracts. One of them is Fort Sumter Tours, based in Charleston, South Carolina.

Usually the company ferries 1,000 tourists every day to see Fort Sumter, the Civil War monument owned by the National Park Service. Rick Mosteller is co-owner of Fort Sumter Tours. And Rick, your boats are at the dock today. What's been going on?

RICK MOSTELLER: We are trying a novel approach. We're operating nonstop harbor tours in lieu of our normal tours out to Fort Sumter National Monument. And on our first tour this morning, we took about, oh, 15 percent of what we would normally carry.

CHAKRABARTI: So what impact do you think this is going to have on your business?

MOSTELLER: Well, it depends upon how long the partial shutdown continues. If it continues for a long period of time, it's going to be very painful.

CHAKRABARTI: Government workers who are being furloughed may actually get back-pay eventually, but I don't see anything that the federal government's going to do to help businesses such as yours. So what do you make of this government shutdown having an impact on your business?

MOSTELLER: Unfortunately, it is the frontline hourly employee who is likely to be hurt first. Our salaried employees will continue to draw pay as long as we're around. The problem is the hourly folks who really tend to live more paycheck to paycheck because their hours will be cut if we're unable to operate these boats.

CHAKRABARTI: What would you like to tell lawmakers in Washington right now about this government shutdown? What's your thought on it?

MOSTELLER: My thought is that most reasonable people in America think this is crazy, and I would encourage them to please come together and for the sake of the American people to do what's right and fund the government.

CHAKRABARTI: Well, Rick Mosteller is co-owner of Fort Sumter Tours. Rick, thank you so much.

MOSTELLER: It's been my pleasure, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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