Editorial: Leave discount periods alone

Washington State Ferries has gone too far in proposing to end a long tradition that gives island residents a bit of a price break.

For years, islanders have been able to purchase a 20-ticket frequent user book, good for 10 round-trips on the ferry, with an expiration date 90 days from the date of purchase. Ticket books could be purchased for 20 percent less than the cost of buying 20 separate tickets.

Now, the ferry system wants to do away with the 90-day discount. Those who purchase 10 round-trips would have to use the tickets up in only 30 days to get the traditional discount. This is fine for regular commuters but penalizes other islanders who don’t go to the mainland quite so often. Under the new system, these people would have to be satisfied with a 10-ticket book at a 15 percent discount good for only 60 days.

We use the word “tickets” loosely, as pre-purchased tickets will be replaced by magnetic cards. That seems like a logical effort to modernize the ticketing system, but leave our traditional discounts alone.

Islanders have been hit with an endless series of ferry ticket prices increases since I-695 took a major chunk out of the ferry budget several years ago. And protests have been minimal. Island residents know the ferry system has been hurting and painful prices increases were inevitable. But now the ferry system is going after our lifestyle by restricting how often we can go to the mainland while still enjoying the traditional discount.

This is not a done deal, as the ferry system’s recommendations have to be approved by the Transportation Commission before they can take effect.

The best way to voice your opinion is through your state representatives, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Reps. Barbara Bailey and Chris Strow. Tell them the ferry system shouldn’t be tampering with an island tradition, and to leave our 90-day discount tickets alone.

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