Ferry fares could rise in Washington state within months
Ferry fares in Washington state could reach new heights within months under a new proposal being considered by state transportation officials.
The Washington State Transportation Commission is proposing a ferry fare hike that would take place over the coming two years. At the same time, the ferry system is experiencing the highest ridership levels in its history. About 25 million passengers used ferries in 2018; an increase of 225,000 over 2017 numbers and a 10 percent rise over the last five years.
The WSTC proposal includes fare increases in two phases, one to take effect Oct. 1 2019, and another for May 1, 2020.
The Oct. 1 phase includes:
- 2 percent increase for passengers
- 2.5 percent increase on vehicle fares
- 5 percent more for oversized vehicles on the Anacortes, Sidney, British Columbia route
- A reservation no-show fee will be upped to 100 percent of a one-way fare
The May 1 phase includes:
- Another 2 percent increase for passengers
- 2.5 percent increase to the fare for small and standard vehicles
- Another 5 percent more for oversized vehicles on the Anacortes, Sidney, British Columbia route
- 25 cent increase to capital surcharge which is used for construction of a new vessel
The proposal could pull in an additional $407 million between July 1 2019 and June 30, 2021.
The WSTC proposal also aims to develop a pilot program to test fares for low-income passengers. It would also test whether the Good to Go! system could be used for paying ferry fares. Good to Go! is currently used to pay tolls on many bridges and express lanes throughout the region.
The commission’s first hearing to discuss the potential fare hikes is Aug. 6. Public comment will be allowed. Public comments via email ([email protected] – use “ferry fares” in subject line) or online submission will be accepted through July 29.