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Spread impact of fuel increases around, ferry riders say

Most ferry riders don't want to bear the brunt of higher fuel prices, according to just-released results from the first FROG survey.

The Washington State Transportation Commission set up the Ferry Riders’ Opinion Group, or FROG, in January to get the opinions of ferry riders on an ongoing basis. The transportation commission recently asked members of the survey panel how the state should pay for unexpected rises in fuel costs for ferries, and results of the survey were announced Friday. Commission officials said 40 percent of ferry riders want residents from across Washington to help pay for any rise in fuel costs by transferring additional state gas tax subsidies to ferries.

Survey results show that 11 percent of ferry riders would be willing to pay an additional amount in the form of a fuel surcharge, and 8 percent would be willing to pay for fuel cost increases via a general fare increase.

A total of 22 percent would be willing to pay for fuel-cost increases through a combination of a fuel surcharge, fares and state subsidy increases.

Commission officials said that transferring gas tax revenues to state ferries would divert funds that are currently dedicated to highway projects and the maintenance of roads, or an increase in the statewide gas tax. Surplus gas tax funds do not exist and revenues are falling, officials note, and the ferry system faces a $30 million funding shortfall.

New ferry related surveys for FROG members will continue this month and through 2011; topics will include fare policy, reservations, pricing, rate levels and service amenities.

To become a FROG member and take part in future surveys, visit www.ferryridersopiniongroup.com/public and sign up.

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