Fare hikes and reservations on the horizon? | Ferry Fare | September

NO schedule change

The Kingston-Edmonds schedule will remain the same. Thanks to our legislators, Washington State Ferries and the unions have figured out how to meet new requirements by changing work schedules and not boat schedules.

Super sneaky surcharge

In addition to a 2.5 percent fare hike, the state Transportation Commission also wants to add a 10 percent surcharge during July and August. Your Ferry Advisory committee thinks this adds complexity and cost to our fare system for a small, uncertain return while hurting low income riders and risking loss of tourism and ridership.

By keeping the surcharge undercover until now and not being up front with us at our June public meetings, it suggests a breach of the public trust. Details are on the commission’s website.

Please see the box (bottom right of this page) for details on how to comment.

Reservations about reservations

There have been two meetings of the Kingston/Edmonds reservations advisory group… and what are they talking about? Here are some examples:

When: Should reservations be 24/7 even though the late boats run nearly empty? All year round or just during summer months?

Unplanned travel: Riders with short notice travel should have a way to get on the boat. These can be non-emergency personal needs or urgent business needs. Accepting reservations up to 30 minutes before the sailing won’t solve this issue, but leaving a significant percent of the boat unreserved will. If 100 percent of the boat is reserved, there might be no free space until late at night if at all.  

Specific rider groups: Commuters and vanpools need to be able to conveniently make a reservation for a week or more at a time. Commercial riders need to ensure they can make delivery times and respond to short-term requests. Seniors need to be able to make reservations when they make medical appointments. These rider groups should not be squeezed out by the summer traffic.

System flexibility: Riders who have an uncertain arrival time need to be accommodated and should be able to change their reservation while on the road. We need to efficiently recover our fare deposit when we miss our reservation through no fault of our own. People should be able to get on the next available boat when the boats run late or are canceled.

Managing traffic: We need to be able to sort out the cars arriving with different reservations as well as the standby cars. This needs to be done both before the toll booths as well as on the ferry dock. How do cars with reservations on the current sailing get past the queue of cars with later reservations or standbys?  

Cost Effectiveness: As reservations will not add system capacity, there needs to be some assessment of reservation benefits compared with using the money to add capacity or fix SR-104’s traffic.

User friendly: Reservations have to work 24/7 for those without computer access. Most reservations, cancellations and changes will be made by phone, but WSF isn’t experienced in handling the millions of calls they’re going to have.

Riders who don’t know about the system need advance notification and a way to get reservation before they arrive at the terminal.

Can the process take advantage of the Good to Go system?

Minimizing chaos: WSF’s experience in Port Townsend with 370,000 cars per year doesn’t guarantee success on a route with 2, 278,000 cars per year. Even a 1 percent problem rate here would foul-up 22,000 riders.

Reservations will need to start small and be phased in over many years such as starting with commercial users, then adding commutes and so on and so on.