Gov. Inslee proposes free ferry rides for electric vehicles

Governor Inslee has released his proposed 2015-2017 budget, and one item has caught the eye of legislators and the media: proposal to allow electric vehicles to travel for free on ferries and HOV lanes.

From the HeraldNet:

“Electric vehicles are here and they’re here to stay,” said Charles Knutson, the governor’s transportation adviser. “We want to see them … promoted in Washington state.”

Giving drivers of electric vehicles a break on ferry fares and traveling in high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are the ideas eliciting the sharpest rebukes from lawmakers of both parties.

“If a vehicle is driving on the ferry, regardless of how it is powered, it requires space,” said Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton. “Why would you exempt a vehicle because of its power source and require other Washingtonians to pay their bill? That’s not fair.”

Leaders of the House and Senate transportation committees seem certain that particular proposal won’t be in any funding package embraced by the Legislature.

“I don’t see where you get the votes for that,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, who chairs the House panel. “With all the different constituencies that you need to bring to the table to pass a package, this doesn’t bring a lot of people to the table.”

Inslee also wants to extend the sales tax exemption for electric vehicles.

The budget also includes funding for a final 144-car new ferry. From Inside Bainbridge:

Inslee wants to “preserve” the ferry system through 2015–17 funding of $379.9 million, with a target of a 12-year new funding increase of $600 million. The money would increase “ferry preservation base funding” to “address vessel and terminal preservation throughout the system.” This category includes funding for the Washington State Ferries Olympic class vessels in the amount of $86 million. A fourth Olympic class vessel is expected to be delivered by the end of the 2017–19 biennium.

Read the highlights of the proposed budget: 201517_highlights_transportation

Detailed breakdown of Capital Projects: transpo_project_list1517


One thought on “Gov. Inslee proposes free ferry rides for electric vehicles

  1. Leanne Finlay

    WSF would be very misguided in giving any category of riders or vehicles free fares, except qualified low income people. Giving an electric car a free fare only rewards someone financially solvent enough to drive a newer, modern car, or someone who likely does not use their car for business (ie, contractors who drive trucks, etc).

    The state has no business in any highway situation, whether land-based or marine-based to penalizing one group and rewarding another with truly a “free ride”. That’s economic abuse, and in this case, would cause financial harm to many rural people who simply cannot afford to buy a new/used electric vehicle.

    It is naïve to suggest that rewarding a group of people who can afford to buy what the State of Washington wants them to own and drive is fair in any way.


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