Governor proposes 10 percent hike in ferry fares

Gov. Chis Gregoire released a proposed state budget Wednesday that includes a 10 percent hike in ferry fares, a sizable increase over the 2.5 percent rate hike approved by the state in November.

All told, the governor's $32.1 billion spending plan for the next biennium, which begins July 1, 2011, includes an unprecedented $4 billion in cuts to education, health programs, state workers' pay, prisons and other programs.

The ferry system is one of many programs that would take a hit under her proposal — where $17 million in proposed cuts were announced earlier this fall.

Under the governor's revised proposal, the state ferry system would reduce its average number of daily sailings from 505 to 477 in the next two years. Vashon would see no more reductions than what the state ferry system recently outlined — reduced hours and car capacity on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route and reduced sailings on the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route. Gregoire proposed additional cuts to the Anacortes/San Juan Islands route, the Anacortes/Sidney, B.C. route and the Seattle/Bremerton route.

In addition to a 10 percent fare increase, the governor is also urging the adoption of a fuel surcharge that would kick in when fuel costs rise above budgeted levels.

Gregoire's spending plan goes to the Legislature, which convenes in January and which will craft a final budget before it adjourns next spring.

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