Ferries pass on a crossing between Mukilteo and Whidbey Island. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

Ferries pass on a crossing between Mukilteo and Whidbey Island. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)

State ferry fares to rise this fall, and even more next fall

The 2.5% hike in each of the next two years will apply to everyone: drivers, bikers and walkers.

A ride on a Washington state ferry is going to cost a little more this fall. A little more next fall, too.

And it won’t matter if you board in a car, on a bike or by walking.

On Aug. 10, the state Transportation Commission approved fare increases for each of the next two years to cover ongoing operating costs of the public ferry system.

Fares for vehicles and walk-ons will rise 2.5% on Oct. 1 and another 2.5% on Oct. 1, 2022, under the proposal adopted unanimously by the commission’s seven citizen members. The capital surcharge will remain at 50 cents.

If you are traveling on the Mukilteo-Clinton route, expect to pay 20 cents more for a one-way trip in a standard-sized car this fall, and another 25 cents in 2022. It’ll be 40 cents more this year and another 40 cents next year for a one-way fare between Edmonds and Kingston.

For those who walk or bike on, it will cost a dime more in 2021 and another 15 cents next year.

Rates are rising as a result of action by state lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee. They approved a two-year state transportation budget requiring the ferry system to come up with $9.2 million in additional operating revenue in the 2021-23 biennium. The only way the commission could do that is with higher fares.

Commissioners conducted a public hearing Tuesday before voting. Two people testified and both opposed the chosen approach.

Joe Kunzler of Skagit County said he opposed the proposal because it did not also include a fare structure for riders with lower incomes. And he urged commissioners to vote down the increase and press lawmakers “to do their jobs” and fund the ferry system properly, thus avoiding the need for higher fares.

The commission did consider — and rejected — a second fare hike option that would have boosted vehicle fares by 3.1% this fall and left fares for walk-ons unchanged. Then, next year, all fares would have gone up 2.5%.

Sara Kiesler of Tacoma preferred that alternative. Testifying at the hearing, she contended it would have given an incentive to walk or bike on rather than drive. And it would be good for the environment, too.

“If our state is going to meet our climate goals it’s really important to ensure … that we’re raising rates more for people driving as opposed to people biking and walking to ensure that we incentivize transportation that is cleaner and safer for our region,” Kiesler said.

Commissioner Debbie Young, a regular ferry rider, acknowledged the lack of a low-income fare and the desire for incentives aimed at getting riders out of their cars. Ongoing effects of the pandemic — including fewer walk-on riders — make this a unique year and one in which treating all riders the same makes the most sense, she said.

“I think it’s an exceptional year and a time not to place more of the financial burden on the driving section of our ridership,” she said.

The commission last boosted ferry prices in 2019.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in northwest

File photo/Sound Publishing
Ban on single-use plastic bags in WA begins Oct. 1

Shoppers will have the choice to pay for a reusable plastic or recycled paper bag.

Courtesy Photo, Port of Seattle
Port of Seattle to require vaccinations for employees

2,200 workers must be vaccinated by Nov. 15

Gov. Jay Inslee talks about schools reopening during a past news conference. (Screenshot courtesy of TVW)
Masks required at big outdoor events; vaccine mandates expanded

Governor’s mask order takes effect Sept. 13.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
Why burning our trash may not be as bad as it sounds

Understanding waste-to-energy’s financial and environmental impact in King County.

People hold up signs in protest of Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest proclamations during a Rally for Medical Freedom on Aug. 25 in Buckley. Photo by Alex Bruell/Sound Publishing
State workers get incentive to comply with vaccine mandate

An agreement between the state and their union also provides for some leeway in meeting the deadline.

Juanita High School student Ria Mahon. Courtesy photo
Student brings awareness to menstrual health among Puget Sound’s homeless

When Ria Mohan, a junior of Juanita High School in Kirkland, had… Continue reading

Matt Axe, the Wildfire and Forest Resiliency Coordinator with the King Conservation District, speaks to homeowner Anita Kissee-Wilder about fire reduction strategies at her home in North Bend on Aug. 24. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record.
King County braces for more wildfires in rural areas

Firefighters have already responded to a number of large fires.

t
New data dashboard tracks COVID-19 risk for unvaccinated, vaccinated people

Information compiled by Public Health – Seattle & King County

This 2019 security footage at the Cenex gas station in Black Diamond shows Anthony Chilcott on his phone before entering, and driving off with, Carl Sanders’ Ford Raptor and Monkey, his poodle, in the front seat. Courtesy photo
Oversight office releases scathing report on King County Sheriff’s Office

Report analyzes 2019 killing of Anthony Chilcott by deputies.

Close-up hand using phone in night time on street. File photo
King County Council steps closer to establishing hate crime hotline

The program is aimed at reducing the number of unreported hate crimes.