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Short cars may miss fare hike

Higher fares for most, but lower fares for shorter cars, are under consideration by the Washington State Transportation Commission in an effort to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.

The commission will meet in Coupeville Tuesday, July 26, as part of its effort to develop a plan to raise $310 million by June 30, 2013, as required by the state transportation budget, according to a news release from the Washington State Transportation Commission.

Commission members will visit ferry communities in the coming weeks to gather public input about its proposal.

Its proposal includes:

• A 2.5 percent general fare increase that will take effect Oct. 1, 2011 and an additional 3 percent increase to take effect May 1, 2012.

• Vehicle size category changes: The proposal creates a new size category for cars less than 14 feet, with the fare to eventually be 70 percent of the standard vehicle fare. This new fare category intends to encourage small car use to maximize ferry deck space. This change will be phased in over three years, starting with the fare set at 90 percent of the standard vehicle fare on Oct. 1, 2011, and then set at 80 percent of the standard vehicle fare on May 1, 2012, and finally set at 70 percent of the standard vehicle fare in 2013.

• The annual bicycle permit is eliminated and passengers paying with monthly passes, multi-ride cards, or an ORCA ePurse will be allowed to bring bicycles on board without additional charge.

• A fuel surcharge mechanism is put in place as a way to pay for unexpected spikes in fuel prices not funded under the current budget.  Under the proposal, fuel costs must exceed the currently funded average fuel price of $3.86 per gallon by 2.5 percent to activate the surcharge.

• A system-wide capital surcharge of 25 cents per fare is added. The surcharge is required by law and is dedicated to funding vessel replacement. The 25-cent surcharge will be assessed on every ticket issued, whether a one-way or round-trip fare.

The Washington State Transportation Commission will hold a meeting in Coupeville on Tuesday, July 26, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Coupeville Inn, 200 NW Coveland.

The commission will hold a final hearing Wednesday, Aug. 24, 1 p.m., at the Puget Sound Regional Council, 1011 Western Ave., Suite 500 in Seattle.

 

 

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