Fare increases are typically announced every two years, to coincide with the state’s transportation budget. The ferry system must bring in a total of $381 million in the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.
Newly proposed fare increases on Washington State Ferries would hit walk-on passengers and standard cars harder than they hit big trucks and other oversize vehicles.
The Washington State Transportation Commission’s proposed changes call for a 2.5 percent increase for passengers and a 2.9 percent increase for standard-sized cars on Oct. 1. Oversized vehicles — those 22 feet and longer — would see an increase of somewhere between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent, depending on length.
Under the proposal, when fares go up again on Oct. 1, 2018, walk-on passengers would see a 2.1 percent increase and standard-sized cars a 2.5 percent increase. Oversized vehicles would not see an increase in 2018.
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The commission typically releases fare increase proposals every two years, as Washington State Ferries must generate a set amount of revenue to comply with the state’s biennial transportation budget.
The ferry system must bring in a total of $381 million in the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years to comply with this year’s newly passed transportation budget.
Reema Griffith, the executive director of the transportation commission, said the commission works to set prices to encourage passengers to walk on or carpool, but have to balance that with the need to raise revenue.
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“It’s really our best attempt to kind of balance and maintain those incentives while also making sure the bottom line is hit,” Griffith said. “If it’s not the right balance, that’s where the public input process is really important.”
Under the proposed increases, the cost for a passenger ticket on the Seattle to Bremerton route would increase from $8.20 to about $8.40 in October and then to about $8.60 in 2018.
The price for a standard car and driver on the same route would increase from $14.60 to about $15 this year and then to about $15.40 in 2018.
The transportation commission will hold four public meetings in July to get input on the proposed changes.