Higher ferry fares? Pay with Good-to-Go passes? Your opinions sought

(Fauntleroy ferries inbound and outbound: WSB photo, 2018)

From the Washington State Transportation Commission:

Ferry customers and anyone with an interest in Washington State Ferries fares are being asked to weigh in on a new fare proposal that would take effect starting this October.

The Washington State Transportation Commission has released its proposal to increase ferry fares over the next two years. The proposed increase must 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 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, as required by the Legislature to support construction of a new vessel. The commission proposed these increases after considering input from Washington State Ferries, the Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs, and public input gathered through a series of ferry community meetings in April and May 2019.

A summary of the ferry fare and policy proposal is as follows:

Proposed fare increase for Oct. 1, 2019
-2.5 percent fare increase for vehicles
-An additional 5 percent fare increase for oversize vehicles on the Anacortes/ Sidney, B.C., route
-2 percent fare increase for passengers
-Reservation no-show fee will be increased up to 100 percent of the one-way fare paid, based on a standard-sized vehicle
-The time in which transfers can be made on the San Juan Islands Interisland ferry is valid through the end of the service day it was issued

Proposed fare increase for May 1, 2020
-2.5 percent fare increase for small and standard sized vehicles
-An additional 5 percent fare increase for oversize vehicles on the Anacortes/ Sidney, B.C., route
-2 percent fare increase for passengers
-25-cent increase for the capital surcharge, dedicated to the construction of a new vessel

This proposal also allows Washington State Ferries to pursue two different potential pilot programs to test changes to fares and fare collection methods:

Low Income Fare Pilot: Starting no earlier than 2020 and contingent on receiving funding from the State Legislature and approval from the commission, this pilot would test a special passenger fare for low-income customers. If implemented, the pilot would run for no more than three years.

“Good to Go!” Pilot: This pilot would test the use of the “Good to Go!” system currently used to collect tolls on highways and bridges, to also collect ferry fares. Special fares might be established as part of this pilot, with approval from the commission. If implemented, the pilot would run for up to three years.

The commission will hold its final hearing on the fare proposal 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 in the following formats:

Online open house: Learn more about the fare proposal and “vote” on each proposed change ferryfarecomments.participate.online

Email: transc@wstc.wa.gov. Please indicate “Ferry Fares” in the subject line.

In writing:

Washington State Transportation Commission
P.O. Box 47308
Olympia, WA 98504-7308

19 Replies to "Higher ferry fares? Pay with Good-to-Go passes? Your opinions sought"

  • Jort June 26, 2019 (9:29 pm)

    I’d like to see fares increased by 10x or perhaps 50x for automobiles, since they are Seattle’s number one contributor to carbon emissions. The money generated from the higher automobile fares could be used to make ferry travel free for people walking or biking onto the ferry. The choice of using an automobile should be taxed at the highest levels until people stop making the personal choice to drive.

    • Bob Lang June 27, 2019 (12:32 am)


    • Gene June 27, 2019 (5:50 am)

      Uh huh

    • Patrick June 27, 2019 (8:22 am)

       Well……some comments just leave us speechless! 

    • Different Patrick June 27, 2019 (11:08 am)

      I would think that higher ferry tolls would be an incentive for people to drive around, increasing traffic, emissions, etc.I’m also pretty sure that the number 6 contributor to carbon emissions in Seattle is JORT comments and the ensuing chain of replies. (sorry, couldn’t resist that)

  • TJ June 26, 2019 (11:27 pm)

    Of course you do Jort. Luckily that is a pipe dream. Like you said, driving is a personal choice. If you dont want to drive because you think it is helping the environment, great. Others decide it”s easier for them to drive. But because you aren’t getting your way you want to take social engineering to new lengths. Your anti car tirades on here seem to be some super moral crusade ideology that make you think your decision not to drive are superior to those who choose to drive. We aren’t too far away from electric cars being the majority, so your whole tired carbon crusade is already is losing credibility 

  • deo June 27, 2019 (12:05 am)

    The increase is comparable with year’s worth of inflation! (2.5% increase vs ~2.0% inflation) Let’s keep in mind that two increases like this in the period of five years make the ferry tickets effectively decrease in price. When was the last price hike enacted? I feel happy that the current system is generous enough that increases like these are up for public discussion and not just tied to inflation or price of fuel.

  • Joe Z June 27, 2019 (7:32 am)

    They should run the car ferries half as frequent and replace the other boats with fast ferries.

  • Patrick June 27, 2019 (8:28 am)

    Now, for a reasonable question/comment, unlike Jort……fare hikes seem very reasonable, especially as someone noted all they do I keep up with rate of inflation.  However, I have serious doubt about switching payment to Good to Go system when a percentage of the billed amount will go to some out of state company that administers the program.  At least I would assume the billing would be the same as the G to G highway billing.   Raise prices to increase revenue only to give some away makes no sense to me.

    • Will S. June 27, 2019 (10:46 am)

      Respectfully, I’m not sure I see the principle at the heart of your objection. Even with toll-booth-style fare collection performed by WSF employees, it costs WSF money to operate the toll booths. Should we fault WSF for currently ‘giving away’ a portion of fare revenue to the employees who work in the booths? (Maybe it matters that the employees are people who live somewhere in Washington, while the Good to Go vendors are companies based in Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee?) Despite the payments to vendors, Good to Go might lower WSF’s operating costs (although of course there are capital costs of installing GtG infrastructure): according to WSDOT, the cost-per-vehicle of using Good to Go on toll roads is only half the cost-per-vehicle of a toll booth. And perhaps most importantly, collecting fares with Good to Go could be much faster, allowing a long line of waiting vehicles to load quickly onto a ferry before it departs, sparing people the frustration of missing a departing ferry only because paying the fare at a toll booth takes too much time. If that is the case, the timesaving alone could be a service worth paying for. Tell me if I’m off base.

      • PATRICK June 27, 2019 (3:41 pm)

        Certainly have some points for consideration relating to ease and time.  I still believe you are off base relating to costs going to toll both employees versus a vendor.  Here is why……If it is switched and money is sent to company  out of state, that money leaves the budget of the state system.  What happens to the employees that were working the toll booth?   If it was the private sector, they would be laid off in the name of technology.  Those jobs would be lost.  The state, however, would simply reassign this staff and their costs somewhere else to bloat the budge even more.   So payroll is increased AND additional funds are sent out of state. 

  • Mj June 27, 2019 (9:21 am)

    It would be nice to see fares based on vehicle length, say $5 for the first 10′ the add a $1 for every foot after.  Large vehicles take up more space and need to be charged accordingly.  I know commercial trucks pay more, I’m discussing personal cars and trucks and believe a person driving a F350 pickup needs to be charged more than a person driving a Civic for example.  The F350 takes up twice the space!

    • s June 27, 2019 (11:02 am)

      Fares are currently based on vehicle length. Fare for a Mini Cooper is less than for a F350.

  • Mj June 27, 2019 (11:55 am)

    SA 14′ vehicle pays the same as a 22′ vehicle, yes a mini pays less.  What I believe is more equitable is that 22′ long vehicle pay more than a 14′ one.  A base fee + $x per each additional foot.MJ

  • Swede. June 27, 2019 (1:26 pm)

    Obviously nobody commenting have any real idea how much running things like ferries, trains or busses. The actual tickets is a drop in the bucket of revenue needed! Even the extremist and silly suggestion from ‘jort’ wouldn’t cover much. The problem with ‘Seattle’ is the 60% renters vs. property owners and they’ll vote anything thru thinking it will be free for them… combine that with a extremely inefficient agencies running it all… Well, you get the picture I’m sure. 

  • MH June 27, 2019 (2:34 pm)

    I wonder how many of the people commenting are daily ferry commuters….  (I live on Vashon).

    • Alkimark June 27, 2019 (5:05 pm)

      So do they still sell you a ticket in the booth and then a guy takes it when you are in line?

  • WestSeattleBoi June 28, 2019 (5:52 am)

    A Breakdown of how fares are charged at WSF.https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/infodeskIf WSF was a private business, they would have declared bankruptcy long ago. If WSF was operated like a private business, the cost passengers would pay would be so high that not many could afford to walk on let alone drive a car on to the vessel. If you search public records you will see that fares collected at the toll booths don’t even cover the cost of fuel to power the vessels. The taxes we pay are what keep the ferries system moving. The ideal notion of not or never driving a car would be more ideal if the current public transportation system spent time working with each other and actually built a system that connected the services and allowed for better more reliable public transportation. Our region has unfortunately grown too fast for our current transportation system. It would have been great if we were able to better plan and start the transportation projects earlier but at that time we were a much smaller city and the public did not expect that we would have increased by over 115,000 people in the last 10 years. Ive been to may other cities that move people around much better but they built out a system a long time ago. The city will eventually catch up and technology to be better for the environment will also catch up. We just have to do the best we can with what we have right now, and promote what we would like to see in the future.

  • Brian June 28, 2019 (1:44 pm)

    We need to start phasing out the main ferry runs and replace them with tunnels.

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