Genghin Carroll, 8, walks up and high fives his mom, Andria Carroll, after riding the ferry over to meet her for a dental appointment on Thursday, Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Genghin Carroll, 8, walks up and high fives his mom, Andria Carroll, after riding the ferry over to meet her for a dental appointment on Thursday, Mukilteo. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Welcome aboard, kids! Ferry rides are free for those 18 and under

The move to let children ride ferries for free is the latest result of Move Ahead Washington legislation.

MUKILTEO — Starting Saturday, grandparents won’t have to tell the 6-year-old in the car to lie about their age at the ferry toll booth. And most teens will have a few extra bucks to spend in the galley.

Those 18 and under can ride a state ferry for free.

The new perk for youth is part of the Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package approved in March that launched free bus rides a month ago for those age 18 and younger.

Nearly 1.5 million youth passenger tickets were sold in 2021.

Rides, free until age 6, were half the price of the adult fare, but still enough to cause some fudging by the responsible adult who had already spent enough on those 6th birthday gifts and thought the kid could pass for 5, especially in the back seat of a car.

It’s not a bankrupting amount, though it adds up.

Rates vary by route, and will go up for adults on Saturday due to a previously planned fare increase.

Riders 19 to 64 on the Mukilteo-Clinton route will pay $5.80, and seniors charged $2.90. On Edmonds-Kingston and Seattle-Bainbridge Island routes, the fare is $9.45 for adults and $4.70 for seniors.

Dana Warr, a state transportation department spokesperson, said the ferry system will be reimbursed the $2 million annual revenue it generates from youth ticket sales.

“At the end of the day this puts more money in the pockets of families,” Warr said. “Future transit users might look at using public transportation differently.”

The new free rides apply only to youth riding as a passenger or walking on a ferry. Teens behind the wheel of a car will continue to pay the vehicle and driver fare.

Unlike buses, ferry passengers can walk on unchecked through the automated turnstile.

“Part of what we had to figure out was, how do you keep people from cheating the system?” said Ian Sterling, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries. “We used to offer the youth fares through the kiosk, but we had some bad actors. After a Seahawks game heading back to Bainbridge Island and Bremerton, all of a sudden all these 50-year-old-men were buying youth tickets.”

Youth and senior tickets were recently removed from self-serve kiosks.

Youth walking on will still need a ticket or an ORCA card to get through turnstiles on rides going to the islands. The free tickets are available at the terminal ticket counters.

The ferry system relies on honesty and scrutiny by toll takers.

“If you look like a 50-year-old man and you’re claiming to be 18, it’s probably not going to fly,” Sterling said.

Same with those 50-somethings trying to get a senior rate, which starts at age 65.

The new freebie package doesn’t affect seniors, who still have to pay. Sorry, gramps.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443;; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

1 stabbed at apartment in Lynnwood

The man, 26, was taken to an Everett hospital with “serious injuries.”

A firefighting helicopter carries a bucket of water from a nearby river to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. Highway 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Red flag fire warning issued west of Cascades

There are “critical fire weather” conditions due to humidity and wind in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

A house fire damaged two homes around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Fire burns 2 homes in Marysville, killing 2 dogs

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire north of Lakewood Crossing early Tuesday, finding two houses engulfed in flames.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace eyes one-time projects for $2.4M in federal funds

Staff recommended $750,000 for a new roof and HVAC at the library, $250,000 toward a nonprofit facility in Lynnwood and more.

The Snohomish River turns along the edge of the Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To build a healthier Snohomish River, more log jams

About $2.8M in grants will help engineer log jams, tear down levees and promote salmon restoration at Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve.

Dave "Bronco" Erickson stands next to the pink-and-purple 1991 Subaru Justy hatchback “Pork Chop Express” car that he is seeking to re-home for $500. The car has been on Whidbey Island for years, mainly as yard art. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
For sale: Whidbey’s fabled ‘Pork Chop Express’ gets great smileage

Asking price is $500 for the 1991 Subaru Justy, a three-cylinder econobox with 65K miles and a transmission as rare as hen’s teeth.

People begin parading down First Street with a giant balloon “PRIDE” during Snohomish’s inaugural Pride celebration on Saturday, June 3, 2023, in downtown Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Your guide to Pride in Snohomish County

Mark your calendars; Pride Month is upon us.

Twin sisters Lyndsay Lamb (left) and Leslie Davis (right), co-hosts of HGTV's Unsellable Houses. (Photo provided)
Meet and greet HGTV’s ‘Unsellable Houses’ twin sister stars in Snohomish on Friday

Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis have made Lamb & Co. a #twinwin home-selling, home-goods brand.

Most Read