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Ferry fare hike passes
The Washington State Transportation Commission has approved across-the-board fare hikes that will go into effect this fall.
Beginning Oct. 1, passenger fares will increase 2 percent and vehicle fares 3 percent. The cost of a ticket will jump again May 1 when passenger fares go up another 2 percent and vehicle fares another 2.5 percent.
According to Commissioner Tom Cowan, vice chairman of the commission, the changes were developed in order to meet the Legislature’s adopted $328 million budget.
The rate adoption was based on recommendations from the ferries officials, members of the citizen-based Ferry Advisory Committee on tariffs and public comment, Cowan said.
Reaction from riders on the Mukilteo-to-Clinton ferry route Friday morning was mixed from disappointment about the adopted structure to resignation.
“It’s really too bad they hit passengers fares,” said Corlan Carlson, a Freeland resident.
A former commuter, Carlson said hiking vehicle fares makes sense because it collects from tourists but that’s not the case for passenger-only tickets. Many are daily commuters who have made arrangements for pick up on the other side.
“To me, that’s hitting the people who live here non proportionately,” he said.
John Crane, a retired Bayview resident, said additional expenses are never welcome but acknowledged the ferry system is a needed service that needs funding.
“What are you going to do,” he said. “It’s a double-edged sword. You need the service but you don’t want to be gouged too much.”
According to Cowan, the commission had little choice in the fare increase.
“Obviously, we don’t like to raise fares at all but we have to meet the Legislature’s budget,” Cowan said.
He did point out that one of the changes raises the youth discount from 20 percent to 50 percent.
“We’re hopeful that will have a very positive impact for families and will encourage them to use the ferries,” Cowan said.