State panel proposes hike in ferry fares

OLYMPIA — A state panel took the first step Tuesday to hiking fares on Washington state ferries.

The cost for vehicles would rise by 2.9 percent Oct. 1 and another 2.5 percent a year later under a proposal embraced by the state Transportation Commission. Fares for passengers in vehicles and walk-ons would climb 2.5 percent this fall and another 2.1 percent on Oct. 1, 2018, under the blueprint endorsed by commissioners.

Those changes would push fare prices up 75 cents for vehicles and 35 cents for passengers in the next two years.

The ferry system also agreed to phase out a surcharge on oversized vehicles imposed since 2011. It would be reduced by 35 percent in the first year and eliminated in the second year.

Commissioners plan four public hearings on the proposal in July, including one on Whidbey Island. A final hearing and vote are slated for July 26 in Seattle.

The proposal passed Tuesday mirrors recommendations from Washington State Ferries and is backed by the citizens Ferry Advisory Committee — Tariffs. Details can be found on the commission’s website at www.wstc.wa.gov.

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