State commission approves WSF fare hikes

The Washington State Transportation Commission on Tuesday approved an amended version of ferry fare hikes that will lead to even higher June ticket prices than were originally proposed, but will let customers keep discount books for three months as they strongly requested.

“This is truly an example of government listening to the public,” said Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether, explaining that comments collected from the public led to modifications on nearly all the items on the fare proposal, not just the amount of time that the reduced-fare booklets can be used.

Harris-Huether said the tariff proposal passed this week is a near-exact version of the amended document released March 24 after an initial round of public hearings — save for one change.

She said the commission was concerned about the proposed five-percent surcharge on customers who continue to purchase frequent-user books (which come next fall will be multi-use cards read electronically) at tollbooths instead of online or at terminal kiosks.

“For Central Sound passengers, that could be $8,” Harris-Huether said, explaining that the approved proposal lowers the surcharge to $2.50.

The approved proposal outlines a six-percent general ferry fare increase to take effect June 1, after the peak-season prices take effect Sunday.

Throughout the summer, one-way tickets for a car and driver on the Fauntleroy-Southworth run will cost $10.30, up 55 cents, while the round-trip, passenger-only fare will increase 40 cents to $8.10. The cost of frequent-user books on this route, which are not subject to peak-season surcharges, will rise $7.20 on June 1 to $131.20.

On the Central Sound routes — Bainbridge-Seattle or Bremerton-Seattle — peak- season fares for a one-way, car-and-driver ticket will increase 80 cents to $13.30, and passenger-only fares will increase 60 cents to $6.10.

Frequent-user books on this route will increase $9.60 to $169.60.

According to WSF, the original fare proposal was shared at 13 public meetings and more than 3,700 comments were collected.

Other aspects of the proposal, that remain unchanged, include:

• Changing the age of youth from 5 to 18 years of age to 6 to 18 years of age, allowing five year olds to ride free to coordinate with other transit systems.

• Allowing the pre-purchase of single fare tickets up to seven days in advance of use.

• Applying a new promotional fare for the oversized recreational vehicles and buses utilizing the International route.

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