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Latest proposal increases ferry rates, slashes discounts

SEATTLE — All ferry riders could see a 7.5 percent fare increase May 30, instead of the annual 5 percent. A revised fare proposal, which includes commuter tickets that still last 90 days, was voted in Wednesday by the Tariff Policy Committee.

On March 23 the State Transportation Commission will review the proposal, listen to input from the public and make a final decision.

Committee members also were warned that they may have to pass an extra 15 to 20 percent fare increase in October if the Legislature fails to fund the budget gap left by soaring fuel prices.

“The good news is they’re dropping the tighter deadlines (for commuter fares),” said Vashon Islander Marilyn Omey, one of only three members of the public who attended the three-hour committee meeting.

The new proposal eliminates the shortened expirations for commuter books and it also eliminates the proposed 5 percent tollbooth surcharge for seniors, the disabled, and youth; and the two-tiered system of discounting fares (the “convenience fares,” defined as five rides sold at a 15 percent discount).

The tariff committee voted to adopt all aspects of the revised fare proposal presented by the Washington State Ferries staff, but then voted to add the extra 2.5 percent fare increase after nearly three hours of discussion.

“It’s more honest and across-the-board, so it affects everyone equally,” said Vickie Mercer, chair of Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s

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