Plan on spending more to ride state ferries

Bill Sheets, The Herald

Come October, and again in May 2014, it could cost more to ride the ferry.

The state is planning increases on all routes to meet its budget for the next two years.

The cash-strapped system must raise $328 million in fares for 2013-2015, according to the state Transportation Commission — about 6 percent more than it’s collected the past two years.

If approved, passenger fares would rise 2 percent and vehicle fares would rise 3 percent on Oct. 1. Passenger fares would rise another 2 percent and vehicle fares 2.5 percent on May 1, 2014. Increases would be higher for routes in the San Juan Islands.

For a car, pickup or SUV (between 14 and 22 feet long) and driver, for example, the one-way, low-season fare for the Mukilteo-Clinton route would increase from its current $7.85 to $8.10 in October and $8.30 next May.

For Edmonds-Kingston, the fare would rise from $13.15 to $13.55 to $13.90.

For Coupeville-Port Townsend, the change would go from $10.20 to $10.50 to $10.75.

Other changes would reduce fares to reward riders who take up less space on the boats. For example, fare for cars under 14 feet will be charged 70 percent of the vehicle fare charged for standard vehicles.

The oversize motorcycle surcharge would be eliminated. Those who currently pay the surcharge would, depending on their motorcycle’s size, pay either the under-14-feet vehicle fare or the motorcycle fare.

Also, the youth discount would be become half price of a full fare, a bigger savings from the current 20 percent discount.

Members of the Ferry Advisory Committee on Tariffs, made up of riders and other interested parties, had input on the plan, according to the ferry commission.

A series of public hearings are planned and a decision is scheduled for July 30. The hearings nearest to Snohomish County are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in at the Island County Courthouse Annex, 1 NE Sixth St., Coupeville, and 6 to 8 p.m. July 15 at the Bainbridge Island Commons Senior Center, 402 Brien Drive.

Written comments will be accepted at, on the web at [URL];[URL] and over the phone at 360-705-7070.

For more information, go to the commission’s website [/URL];[URL].