Reminder: Aug. 6 hearing set on proposed ferry fare increases

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Edmonds- Kingston ferry file photo by LeRoy VanHee.

Ferry customers and other interested persons have an additional opportunity to comment on a ferry fare proposal next week. The Washington State Transportation Commission will hold a hearing in Seattle, where commission members will take public comment and then vote on proposed changes. The proposal includes increasing ferry fares over the next two years and increasing a surcharge that funds new ferries.

The commission’s hearing on the fare proposal will take place from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Board Room, 1011 Western Ave., Suite 500, Seattle.

The commission released its proposal at the end of June. Ferry fares must generate $407 million in revenue between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2021, as required in the recently passed two-year state transportation budget for Washington State Ferries operations.

A summary of the ferry fare and policy proposal under consideration is as follows:

  • Proposed fare increase for Oct. 1, 2019
    • 2.5 percent fare increase for vehicles
    • An additional 5 percent fare increase for oversize vehicles on the Anacortes/ Sidney, B.C., route
    • 2 percent fare increase for passengers
    • Reservation no-show fee will be increased up to 100 percent of the one-way fare paid, based on a standard-sized vehicle
    • The time in which transfers can be made on the San Juan Islands Interisland ferry is valid through the end of the service day it was issued
  • Proposed fare increase for May 1, 2020
    • 2.5 percent fare increase for vehicles
    • An additional 5 percent fare increase for oversize vehicles on the Anacortes/ Sidney, B.C., route
    • 2 percent fare increase for passengers
    • 25-cent increase for the capital surcharge, dedicated to the construction of a new vessel

This proposal also allows Washington State Ferries to pursue two different potential pilot programs to test changes to fares and fare collection methods:

  • Low Income Fare Pilot: Starting no earlier than 2020 and contingent on receiving funding from the State Legislature and approval from the commission, this pilot would test a special passenger fare for low-income customers. If implemented, the pilot would run for no more than three years.
  • Good to Go!Pilot:  This pilot would test the use of the “Good to Go!” system currently used to collect tolls on highways and bridges, to also collect ferry fares. Special fares might be established as part of this pilot, with approval from the commission. If implemented, the pilot would run for up to three years.

For more information on transportation commission or its ferry fare proposal, visit www.wstc.wa.gov.

 

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