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Fare hikes will take effect in June

"OLYMPIA - With an Initiative 601 spending waiver finally in hand, the state Transportation Commission voted unanimously May 3 to increase Washington State Ferry (WSF) fares.This was just one small piece in the entire puzzle to solving the ferry funding issue, said Transportation Commission Chairwoman Connie Niva, following the whirlwind meeting.Commuters can expect the increases to take effect Sunday, June 3, according to WSF spokeswoman Patricia Patterson.WSF officials estimated the overall system will lose $731,000 in projected revenue from hikes, which originally were to be implemented May 13 - the day when peak season fares are scheduled to take effect.But a prolonged scuffle between the House and the Senate over a measure granting the commission a 601 spending waiver on ferry fares prevented the group from doing so. Initiative 601, passed in 1993, caps tax and fee increases at the fiscal growth factor.The fare increases are expected to generate $30 million in additional revenue for the overall ferry system. Peak-season prices for car-and-driver tickets on Bremerton, Bainbridge and Kingston routes will jump from $8.25 to $10 one-way; commuter booklets on those routes will increase from $104 to $128.Fares for the Bremerton-Seattle passenger-only ferry route will soar to $6.50 for a round trip, versus the current $3.70. Frequent-user booklets for the passenger-only ferry will cost $51.50, versus $26. Walking on the the auto ferry will cost $4.50, up from $3.70. Commuter booklets will increase to $31.50 from $26.During the non-peak season - mid-October to mid-May - car-and-driver fares will be $8 on the Bainbridge, Bremerton and Kingston runs.For more information about ferry fare increases, visit the Washington State Ferries Web site, www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/. "

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