The Washington State Transportation Commission is proposing to increase ferry fares over the next two years. The proposed increase intends to 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 (WSF) 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, which will support construction of a new vessel. The commission proposed these increases after considering input from WSF, the Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs, and public input gathered through a series of ferry community meetings in April and May 2019. Ferry customers and anyone with an interest in WSF fares are encouraged to voice concerns on the new fare proposal, which would be effective starting this October.
The fare increase for October 2019 will include a 2.5 percent fare increase for vehicles and a 2 percent fare increase for passengers. A reservation no-show fee will be increased up to 100 percent of the one-way fare paid, based on a standard-sized vehicle.
The fare increase proposed for May 1, 2020, will include 2.5 percent fare increase for small and standard-sized vehicles, a 2 percent fare increase for passengers and 25-cent increase for the capital surcharge for the construction of a new vessel.
The increases will allow WSF to pursue two different potential pilot programs to test changes to fares and fare collection methods which include a low-income fare pilot and a “Good to Go!” program pilot. The low-income pilot would start in 2020 and would test a special passenger fare for low-income customers. If implemented, the pilot would run for no more than three years.
The “Good to Go!” program pilot would test the use of the “Good to Go!” system currently used to collect tolls on highways and bridges, but instead collect ferry fares.
If implemented, the pilot would run for up to three years.
Final hearing on the fare proposal will be held 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 online at ferryfarecomments.participate.online/, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail by writing to Washington State Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504-7308.
For more information, visit wstc.wa.gov.