Commuters could pay less to ride the ferry

Beginning next week, Central Sound ferry users will get a chance to sound off on proposed fare increases at a series of workshops.

The increases, proposed by the Tariff Policy Committee, average 12.5 percent. But the increases are not uniform. Some uses will see greater hikes, while daily commuters will see the possibility of an actual price decline.

“We’re subtly giving some residents a bonus, but you have to know how to use the system,” said TPC chair Alice Tawresey of Bainbridge Island when the proposed increases were first announced.

Central Sound workshops will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. February 20 at the Bainbridge Island terminal, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. February 26 at Sedgwick Junior High School in Port Orchard, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. February 28 at Mountain View Middle School in Bremerton and from 6 to 8 p.m. March 4 at Kingston Junior High School.

The meetings will take the form of open houses. There will be no formal presentation, but state ferry personnel will be on hand to answer questions and to take comment.

Under the proposal, round-trip passenger fares on the auto ferries would increase to $5 from the present $4.50 on the Central Sound routes to Bremerton, Bainbridge Island and Kingston. Passenger-only boat fares would go to $7.10 from the present $6.50.

Auto-driver fares would go to $9 each way instead of the present $8, and would increase to $11.25 during the summer, up from the present $10.

The biggest increase would be in the cost of ten-ride coupon books.

Passenger books would go from $31.50 to $41 for auto ferries and from $51.50 to $61 on foot ferries.

But daily auto-ferry commuters could save money by buying a monthly pass for

$61.20, a reduction from the current price of $66.20. In a month where the commuter makes 20 trips back and forth – a typical work month – the daily

commuting cost would be $3.06, cheaper than the present coupon-book price of $3.15.

Comments can also be submitted in writing to WSF, directed to Tariff Proposal, 2911 Second Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121, or sent by fax to (206) 515-7977.

The TPC is an advisory body to the Washington Transportation Commission, which will make a final decision on the fare-hike proposal. The commission will hold a public meeting at 10 a.m. on April 4 in the Snoqualmi Room on the 4th floor of the King County Courthouse, 516 3d Avenue.

If the commission approves the proposal at its April meeting, the increase will go into effect May 12. The increase is the second of a planned series of hikes that will let the

WSF recover 80 percent of its operating costs from users. The remaining 20 percent and all of the system’s capital costs come from the state, but that funding took an annual hit of some $40 million when the value-based Motor Vehicle Excise Tax was repealed in early 2000.

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