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Commission rejects motorcycle fee hike

The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) approved another systemwide fare increase for the state’s ferry system on Thursday, but took a committee’s recommendation and did not raise motorcycle fees even further.

Reema Griffith, WSTC administrator, said the pricing change Washington State Ferries proposed that would have charged a motorcycle driver one-fourth of the rate a car driver pays instead of the current one-fifth was “a consistent concern” amongst commuters who voiced opposition to the 2006 fare proposal.

Although the commission’s Tariff Policy Committee (TPC) originally backed the change, after WSF received an “overwhelming” number of comments protesting that particular increase — which would have raised motorcycle tickets 60 cents on trips between Fauntleroy and Southworth and 95 cents on trips between Vashon and either Fauntleroy or Southworth — the TPC dropped its recommendation.

According to the commission, out of 689 comments WSF received about the fare proposal, more than half — 365 — were from motorcyclists, including 273 riders who signed a petition.

However, Griffith said the commission could have ignored the TPC’s recommendation and decided to approve all the fare increases as proposed.

As it stands, the approved rate hike will raise ferry prices by at least 6 percent across the board, effective May 1.

For the Triangle route, the price for a car-and-driver trip from Southworth to Fauntleroy will jump by 50 cents to $8.70, while the cost of a Frequent-User book for the same route will be $8 more at $139.20.

Passenger fares will increase from $4.70 to $5, and round-trip passenger-only fares from Seattle to Vashon will rise 40 cents to $8.50.

For trips between Bremerton and Seattle, passenger fares will increase 40 cents to $6.50 roundtrip, and a trip for a car and driver will go up 80 cents to $14.10 during peak season, and 65 cents to $11.25 for non-peak.

A car commuter book will increase by 52 cents a ride, costing $180 instead of $169.60, while the monthly passenger-only books will increase by $4.10 to $83.30.

Other changes approved by the commission:

-- Limiting monthly passes to 31 round trips per month, noting the passes are non-transferable, non-reproducible and intended for single user.

-- Not implementing a surcharge on frequent-user books bought at tollbooths once an electronic fare system (EFS) is implemented until such a system has been in place for at least six months.

Once that happens, a surcharge can be imposed on multi-use products not purchased online or at a self-serve kiosk, but it cannot exceed $2.50.

Seniors and those with disabilities will not be charged the extra fee.

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