Ferry survey shows half of riders don’t want higher fares | Ferry Fare

Half of ferry riders say fares should stay the same, one-third say fares should go down and a baffling one in five want fares to go up.

What could be an exciting sequel to last month’s page turner on ferry loading priorities? Well, hold on tight to your Community News for this month’s blockbuster exposé on last year’s surveys of ferry riders!

Rider opinions

Half of ferry riders say fares should stay the same, one-third say fares should go down and a baffling one in five want fares to go up (see Ferry Toon).

Unlike Olympia’s dictate that walk-on fares should be lower and car fares even higher, riders voted that fare increases should be the same for both. Only riders in the San Juans rated their transit connections worse than Kingston-Edmonds riders did. Nonetheless, we don’t want to raise fares or taxes to make the connections better.

WiFi also gets low grades and we don’t want to pay to improve it. The biggest gripe at Kingston is how the cars are loaded.  It appears to be inconsistent and confusing, wasting space and time.

Rider satisfaction

While you couldn’t tell it from news reports, three-quarters of riders are happy with our ferries.  Kingston riders are second only to Bainbridge as being the happiest. The leading gripes are parking, terminal comfort, transit connections and loading directions. At Kingston, comfort gets low marks, because of the cold wind that blows through our waiting area.

Business opinions (about 100 businesses)

Kingston-Edmonds is the most-used commercial route. Wait times reportedly only affects one-third of business deliveries, with 8 percent reporting long waits (more than two boats) on Kingston-Edmonds.  Reportedly only one-quarter of Puget Sound businesses say they would benefit from reservations. The response may not reflect the summer traffic situation here as; at Anacortes, businesses give their commercial reservations system high marks.

Ferry opinions statewide

Ninety percent of Washingtonians have ridden a ferry and 28 percent have ridden within the last year.

In Puget Sound, people average 12.6 trips a month.  Statewide, 80 percent think ferries are important to the economy. Washingtonians think that fares should cover at least half of WSF’s operating costs. (Whew, fares cover 70 percent now.)  For new boats, 35 percent say everyone should pay, 31 percent say Puget Sound should pay and 26 percent say ferry users should pay.

Rider data for Kingston-Edmonds

It’s important to know that this rider data was collected October and therefore doesn’t reflect our summer traffic. The survey trends were measured from the last data survey in 2006.

We have 3.8 million riders per year, which is down about 13 percent from 2006. People are riding fewer times per week with those riding once or less increasing from 18 percent of riders to 25 percent. Round trips have dropped by 10 percent. Ninety-three percent of Kingston riders go by car, 5 percent walk on and the remaining 2 percent are on a bus or bike.

Two-thirds of walk-ons park in downtown Kingston, which is a big increase from 2006.

On weekdays, Kingston riders come from Suquamish and north.  Two-thirds go to Edmonds, Everett, and Mountlake Terrace, and one-third to north Seattle.

On the weekends, we pick up additional riders from east Clallam County and Northeast Jefferson County. Besides going to the weekday riders’ destinations, weekend riders also go to Ballard-Green Lake, the University district and beyond.

After significant increases in rider age from 1993 to 2006 (42 to 48), the trend has slowed in 2006-2013 (47 to 49). Bremerton riders are the youngest and Kingston’s are the oldest.

Average rider income appears to be holding steady at $100,000, with that high number being driven by the large number of Bainbridge commuters.

We can’t get into detail of the survey’s more than 600 pages as for some reason the Community News also needs space for advertising. The complete surveys are posted on WSF’s and the Transportation Commission’s websites … enjoy.

Find the survey at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Planning/odsurvey.htm

— FerryFare is written by Walt Elliott, chairman of the Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee. Contact him at elliottmoore@comcast.net.