Ferry fare hikes to be discussed

The Washington State Transportation Commission will hear testimony on Wednesday from the public before voting on ferry fare increases recommended by the Tariff Policy Committee that will take effect this spring spring.

The proposal calls for most fares to be raised 5 percent on May 1.

If approved, the fare for a car and driver traveling one-way from Southworth to Fauntleroy will increase 50 cents off-season to $8.25 and 75 cents peak-season to $10.50, with the price of frequent-user books on the route — which would be called commuter books and only be good for 30 days rather than 90 starting in the fall — increasing six dollars from $124 to $132.

Fares for Vashon Island will increase by 50 cents to $13.50 round-trip during off-season and 75 cents in peak season from $16.25 to $17. Commuter books on the route will raise in price four dollars to $108.

Fares on Central Sound routes will also increase 50 cents from $10 to $10.50 one-way for off-season, and 75 cents in peak season from $12.50 to $13.25. Commuter books will increase $8 to $168.

The fare increases are just one element of the Washington State Ferries’ new strategic vision, which includes the longer-term objective of increasing farebox recovery rates in support of its 10-year financial plan.

Included in the plan is an annual 5 percent fare increase through 2009 and annual cost-of-living adjustments thereafter.

According to WSF, the annual fare increases since 2001 have only replaced approximately two-thirds of the revenues lost since Initiative 695 repealed the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax.

WSF reports it is not only raising fares to increase revenues, but has successfully cut costs, despite a reported 15 percent increase in fuel costs.

Those wanting to offer testimony at the March 23 meeting will be asked to sign in and limit their comments to three minutes or less. In the interest of time and to ensure all perspectives are heard, it is suggested that groups or organizations appoint a spokesperson to represent their views.

If new recommendations are presented, the Transportation Commission will hold another public hearing in late April. Once the commission adopts a proposal, the new rule will be forwarded to the Code Revisers Office for action.

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