Commission wants input on ferry fuel surcharge

A possible fuel surcharge to be added to ferry fares could add up to 10% to the price.

The Washington State Transportation Commission is seeking public input on a possible fuel surcharge to be added to ferry fares that could add up to 10% to the price.

State Rep. Dave Paul, however, said that while input is good, riders shouldn’t freak out about a possible cost increase.

“There are a lot of options out there,” he said. “It’s just a process they have to go through.”

According to the Transportation Commission, a ferry fuel surcharge has been a possible funding tool available to the state since 2011 in the event fuel budgets fall short. It’s a tool that’s never been used because of stable fuel prices in the past.

Under state regulations, the commission has the power to approve a ferry fuel surcharge. If activated, the surcharge would be added to the fare and could be an amount from 2.5% to 10% of the fare, depending on the funding gap the surcharge is addressing, according to a press release from the commission.

While fuel prices have been unpredictable, Paul explained that a surcharge may not be necessary. State Ferries does a good job of planning ahead for fuels costs, he said, and the number of “alternative schedules” due to ferry staffing problems has saved fuel.

Still, the public can now weigh in on whether a fuel surcharge should be added to ferry fares and how it should be applied. The commission is hosting an online public input forum through Wednesday, Nov. 30. All input gathered will be shared with commission members at their virtual meeting scheduled for Dec. 13 and 14 and will help inform discussions around future ferry fuel funding needs during the upcoming 2023 legislative session.