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Ferry fare tour makes stop in Kingston

KINGSTON — The series of meetings to discuss proposed ferry fare increases makes its stop in Kingston Monday.

The open house style meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. March 4 at the Kingston Junior High Commons. People can peruse “information stations” staffed by Washington State Ferries employees. They can then give their opinions in writing and or orally.

In recent weeks Kingston has been a hotbed of activity looking at ways to bring in its own passenger ferry, but what do its the people who use the Washington State Ferries have to say about fare increases.

“They’re high enough as it is,” said Robin Engle of Port Angeles.

She waited in line Thursday afternoon for the ferry to Edmonds. She paid the $8 fare for her and her car to make the four mile trip across the blue and doesn’t want to pay an increased fare. She makes the commute about twice a week and when she adds her kids, it’s even more expensive.

In fact, the price has become so high she said she opts to drive around through Tacoma to get back to Port Angeles.

Under phase two of the proposal made by the Tariff Policy Committee, which reports to the Washington State Transportation Commission, fares for passengers on the Kingston/Edmonds, Seattle/Bainbridge would increase May 12 about the cost of a candy bar from $4.50 to $5.10. The auto fare would increase by about the cost of a cup of coffee from $8 to $9. and a passenger coupon book would increase about the price of a movie ticket from $31.50 to $38.25 — about $.68 per round trip.

A price break is given for people who buy the monthly passes with the price decreasing $5 to $61.20 for 20 round trips — just over $3 a trip.

When it comes to ferry fares everyone, it seems, has an opinion. While offering these opinions will not stop a fare increase, they could help determine when and how the fares are increased said Pat Paterson, WSF spokesperson.

“The public can influence the implementation aspect,” she said.

Based on public input, the San Juan Island routes went to day of week pricing Patterson said.

Engle would like to see the much needed ferry funds come from somewhere else other than her wallet.

“The prices are reasonable now,” she said.

The Kingston meeting is one of 12 regional forums held in February and March. Comments collected will be organized and given to the Transportation Commission. A formal public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 4 at the King County Courthouse, 4th Floor, 516 3rd Ave. in Seattle. The commission is expected to take action and the new fares would go into effect May 12.

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