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Open houses set on proposed fare hikes

Beginning next week, Central Puget Sound ferry users will get a chance to sound off on proposed fare increases at a series of workshops.

The increases, proposed by the Tariff Policy Committee of the state Transportation Commission, average 12.5 percent. But they aren’t uniform — some users will see greater hikes, while daily commuters will see the possibility of an actual price decline.

“We’re subtly giving some residents a bonus, but you have to know how to use the system,” TPC Chair Alice Tawresey of Bainbridge Island said when the proposed increases were first announced.

The workshop closest to Central Kitsap is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at Mountain View Middle School in Bremerton. Other Kitsap workshops are set for 4-7 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Sedgwick Junior High School in Port Orchard, and 6-8 p.m. March 4 at Kingston Junior High School.

There will be no formal presentations at the open-house style meetings, but state ferry personnel will be on hand to answer questions and take comments.

The proposal would raise round-trip passenger fares on auto ferries to $5, up from the present $4.50. Fares for the Bremerton passenger-only ferries would go to $7.10, up from the present $6.50.

Car-and-driver fares would go to $9 each way (up from $8), and to $11.25 during the summer peak season (up from $10).

The biggest increase would be in the cost of 10-ride coupon books.

Passenger books would go from $31.50 to $41 for auto ferries and from $51.50 to $61 on foot ferries.

But daily auto-ferry commuters could save money by buying a monthly pass for $61.20, a reduction from the current price of $66.20. In a month where the commuter makes 20 trips back and forth — a typical work month — daily commuting cost would be $3.06, cheaper than the present coupon-book price of $3.15.

Comments also can be submitted in writing to WSF, directed to Tariff Proposal, 2911 Second Ave., Seattle, 98121; or faxed to (206) 515-7977.

The state Transportation Commission will make the final decision on the fare-hike proposal. The commission is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. April 4 in the Snoqualmie Room on the fourth floor of the King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave.

If the commission approves the proposal at its April meeting, the increase will go into effect May 12.

The increase is the second in a series of planned hikes that will let the WSF recover 80 percent of its operating costs from users.

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