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Increased ferry fares and capital surcharge proposed – Deadline for public comments: July 29 Featured

OLYMPIA – Ferry customers and anyone with an interest in Washington State Ferries fares are being asked to weigh in on a new fare proposal that would take effect starting this October.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has released its proposal to increase ferry fares over the next two years. The proposed increase must generate $407 million in fare 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.

The commission’s proposal includes two ferry fare increases over the next two years and an increase in the current capital surcharge paid on each fare, as required by the Legislature to support construction of a new vessel. The commission proposed these increases after considering input from Washington State Ferries, the Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs, and public input gathered through a series of ferry community meetings in April and May 2019.

A summary of the ferry fare and policy proposal 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 small and standard sized 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.

The commission will hold its final hearing on the fare proposal from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Aug. 6, at the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Board Room, 1011 Western Ave., Suite 500, Seattle. Public comment will be taken and the commission is expected to vote on the final fare and policy changes at this hearing.

Through Monday, July 29, the public is encouraged to provide comments on all of the proposed fare changes. Comments can be provided in the following formats:

On-line open house:

Learn more about the fare proposal and “vote” on each proposed change ferryfarecomments.participate.online/

Email:

transc@wstc.wa.gov. Please indicate “Ferry Fares” in the subject line.

In writing: 

Washington State Transportation Commission

P.O. Box 47308

Olympia, WA 98504-7308

For more information on transportation commission or its ferry fare proposal, please visit the commission’s web site: www.wstc.wa.gov

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