Public comment invited on proposal to raise ferry fares

(Photo by David Carlos)
A Washington State Ferry on the Edmonds-Kingston run. (Photo by David Carlos)

Ferry customers and anyone with interest in Washington State Ferry 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 $357 million between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2017, as required in the recently passed two-year state transportation budget for Washington State Ferry’s operations.

The commission is proposing a two-year increase in ferry fares. Details and effective dates are below:
-October 1, 2015: a 2.5 percent fare increase for vehicles and a 1 percent fare increase for passengers.
-October 1, 2015: the current over-height surcharge for vehicles less than 22 feet in length is eliminated.
-October 1, 2015: the over-height waiver currently in place for qualifying disability vehicles 22- to 30-feet long will be expanded to include any feature necessary to accommodate a disability on the vehicle, that may add height, rather than limiting it to a lift or other mechanism.
-May 1, 2016: a 2.5 percent fare increase for vehicles and a 1 percent fare increase for passengers.
-May 1, 2016: the over-height fare threshold for vehicles 22- to 30-feet long will be reduced from the current 7 feet 6 inches, to 7 feet 2 inches.

The commission will be holding three in-person public input meetings — in Friday Harbor, Whidbey Island and Bremerton — and one online, virtual public input meeting. No action will be taken at these meetings. Details are below:

The online meeting will be from noon-1:30 p.m., Monday, July 13. Details on how to participate will be posted on the commission’s website:

The commission will hold its final hearing from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Aug. 4, at the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Board Room, 1011 Western Ave., Suite 500, Seattle. The commission is expected to take action and vote on the final fare and policy changes.

Other ways people can comment on the ferry fare proposal are as follows:

Email: Please indicate “Ferry Fares” in the subject line.

Website: Submit comments using the online comment form on the commission’s website, under “contact us.”

Online Discussion Forums: People can join the Voice of Washington State (VOWS) input program and post ideas and comments utilizing the commission’s online discussion forums. Persons will be able to see all the comments submitted and can vote on them.

In writing:
Washington State Transportation Commission
P.O. Box 47308
Olympia, WA 98504-7308

Phone: 360-705-7070

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