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Ferry hikes may be less here

"Ferry users on the Clinton-Mukilteo route may suffer less than others when proposed fare increases are announced next week.Washington State Ferries' Tariff Policy Committee will meet Jan. 4 to make its final fare recommendations. One member is Langley resident Jack Leengran, who also serves as chairman of the North Sound Ferry Advisory Committee.Washington State Ferries may seek an overall fare increase of around 20 percent starting next May, but Leengran said the busy Clinton-Mukilteo route may see a lesser increase. That's because he expects a new tariff equity approach will be taken. A formula based on ferry occupancy and distance will be used to set rates. Since Clinton-Mukilteo is one of the shortest and busiest routes in the system, Leengran expects somewhat less of a rate increase there. It'll be nothing like the San Juans, he said Thursday.Due to recent funding cutbacks at the state level, the ferry system's goal is to raise 80 percent of its operating costs through fares, with rate increases planned for each of the next six years. Citizens will have plenty of time to comment on the proposed rate increases when they are finalized next Thursday. Following that action, a series of public meetings will be held to explain the increases. Leengran said a public open house will be held Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland. The state Transportation Commission will make the new rates final in April, and they will take effect in May. "

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