A state ferry leaves Mukilteo on its way to Clinton on Wednesday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

A state ferry leaves Mukilteo on its way to Clinton on Wednesday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Panel votes to increase ferry fares Oct. 1, again in 2018

SEATTLE — The cost of traveling on a state ferry will rise this fall after the state Transportation Commission approved a fare hike Wednesday.

On a 6-0 vote, commissioners enacted a 2.9 percent boost in fares for small- and standard-sized vehicles and increases ranging from 0.8 percent to 1.8 percent for oversized vehicles depending on their length. Fares for passengers will go up 2.1 percent. All those increases will take effect Oct. 1.

Then, on Oct. 1, 2018, the fare for small- and standard-sized vehicles is set to climb another 2.5 percent and for passengers another 2.1 percent. There will be no fare increase for oversized vehicles next year.

Also next year, the charge for school groups will be $5 per group for a one-way trip. Today, the fee is $1 per group.

Fares are climbing because state lawmakers required Washington State Ferries to come up with additional $8.4 million in revenue for its day-to-day operations in the 2017-19 biennium. With the added funds, the ferry system is expected to collect $381 million from fares in the next two-year fiscal cycle.

Commissioners released a proposed fare hike plan in May and conducted four public hearings prior to Wednesday’s decision. One of those occurred July 11 on Whidbey Island. The commission also reportedly received hundreds of emailed comments.

With the changes, the fare for a standard-sized vehicle plus driver on the Mukilteo-Clinton route will go up 25 cents to $8.95 this year and another 20 cents in 2018, according to information posted on the commission website.

On the Edmonds-Kingston route, the base fare for a standard vehicle plus driver would rise 30 cents to $11.60 this fall and to $11.90 next year.

Details on the ferry fare proposal can be found online at www.wstc.wa.gov.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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