Throughout the winter and spring, there have been announcements about a pending ferry fare increase of 2.5%, scheduled to go into effect on October 1. However, as of just this last week it appears that WSF will be asking for up to 50% more than that – up to 3.75%. Apparently the reason for this larger-than-anticipated increase is due to the state’s economic forecast calling for continued “softness.” An additional 1.25% increase, on top of the already advertised 2.5%, would translate to roughly 30 cents more per car & driver trip.
If the fares are not raised sufficiently to meet the amounts set in the budget, then services will have to be cut. And, as Senator Ranker pointed out in last Saturday’s meeting [notes to be posted soon], 2012 is an election year and so new taxes and/or fees are politically unfeasible. So without being able to anticipate any new funding in the next two years, it seems that in order to continue the same level of service we now have, ferry riders will need to pay more. Unfortunately, higher fares only perpetuate the downward spiral of ridership numbers.
The Washington State Transportation Commission will be meeting on June 29 to consider both the proposed percentage hike as well as the 25-center per trip surcharge. To voice your concerns, you can leave feedback on the Commission’s website here: Commission Feedback. The meeting agenda can be viewed here: WSTC Special Meeting Notice.
Details of the fare proposals: Potential 2011 Fare Proposal Elements
Economic & Revenue Forecast Council’s review: Revenue Review: June 2011