Council Legislation

Proposed Ordinance No. 2017-21s

Title: An Ordinance of the Pierce County Council Amending Chapter 10.38 of the Pierce County Code, "Ferry Fares," by Adding a New Fare Category and Amending the Base Vehicle Length in the Existing Ferry Fare Schedule; and Setting an Effective Date. (Ferry Fares)

Effective: June 1, 2017

Status: Passed

Sponsors: Councilmembers Douglas G. Richardson

Final votes

May 16, 2017
Aye Excused Aye Aye Excused Aye Aye

Additional legislative records are available below Collapse All  Expand All

Public Comments

Name Date Comment
Lane Sample 4/26/17 11:04 AM I disagree with 22 foot getting same price as 21 ft and under. If we are going to offer what the state does then the under 14 feet should get a discount as the state offers.
Ann Dasch 4/26/17 11:29 AM I am very much opposed to the proposed changes to the ferry fare structure. The county spent nearly $200k on a Waterborne Transportation Study in 2015, which made numerous recommendations for changes to improve the financial sustainability of the ferry system and the livability of the island community. But instead of implementing any of the study's recommendations this proposal gives big price breaks to a couple of driver categories. Changing the length of a standard vehicle from 21' to 22' looks inconsequential. And I've heard the argument that people with vehicles just larger than 21' are complaining. But that was the same argument given for raising the length from 20' to 21' in 2008. No matter where you draw the line - those just beyond it will feel cheated and complain. It currently costs over $10,900 to commute in a 21.5' vehicle and if 22' is the new cutoff, it will cost less than $3,900, the same cost as for a small or medium size car. That $7000 disincentive discourages people from crossing in ridiculously huge vehicles. Some US vehicle sizes may be growing, but ferry deck space isn't. This change will worsen the already severe problem of vehicle overloads, increasing demand for two-boat service that the County cannot afford. The proposed senior/disabled motorcycle fare is less than half the regular fare - and less than adult passengers pay! Under no circumstances should someone bringing a vehicle on the ferry be paying LESS than anyone who walks on. If you want to copy the state ferry system, do. The state calculates all senior driver fares by simply subtracting the senior's passenger discount from the seasonal vehicle fare. So on the Point Defiance route, the senior passenger discount is $2.65, as is the senior driver discount (seniors pay $5.35 instead of $8 for a non-peak motorcycle trip, and $15.95 vs. $18.60 for a car.) Our senior passenger fare is $2.75 less than our adult passenger fare. So charge the senior motorcycle driver $7.20 in non-peak, and 30% more in peak season. If you are going to the trouble and expense of changing the fare structure, please implement the recommendations of the 2015 Waterborne Transportation Study to improve island livability, passenger ridership, and the system's financial outlook. The study recommended you charge kids the same price you charge senior passengers, half the adult fare (or a bit less with rounding). While the Council has hesitated to make that change, youth ridership continues to decline - in 2016 it fell again, to 30% below its 2005 peak! Your high youth fares pushed the ferry fare for a family outing to Anderson Island well above a family ferry trip from Point Defiance, so perhaps Pierce County families are going to Vashon instead (and spending their money in King County). Making family travel more affordable would provide positive press and encourage more family outings on the ferry, which could increase revenue and ridership, as well as sales tax revenues on island. Half price youth fares would also reduce the Steilacoom School District's ferry costs, since they purchase a ferry ticket for every island student. You're charging them $3.25 instead of $2.70 – costing the district $99 extra per year per middle or high school student. Those dollars could buy books instead. The 2015 Waterborne Transportation Study also recommended, "Introduce a monthly passenger pass. This will encourage passenger trips (improving overall efficiency) and can streamline processing." The pass would make the island more affordable for working adults, and encourage more of those adults to leave the car behind for their ferry commute, reducing vehicle overloads and wait times. It would also encourage more discretionary trips to the mainland. The state has had a monthly pass for two decades! And islanders have been requesting a monthly pass for more than three years - I provided copies of over 130 signatures petitioning for a pass to the Council in fall 2013. The ticketing system, implemented in July 2016, was designed, in part, to accommodate such a pass. Must we file a lawsuit to get what the community so clearly needs? The study also recommended charging cars under 14' lower fares than standard vehicles, as the state does. You charge a Smart car driver the same fare as a 21' GMC truck that takes up well over twice the space. Without a financial incentive to drive a smaller vehicle, many islanders are using full size SUVs for every trip, increasing overloads. Finally, the study recommends raising vehicle fares relative to passenger fares, because we are severely underutilizing the passenger capacity of the vessel while vehicle overloads are common and many islanders’ access to mainland services, including medical care, are impeded by high passenger fares. Selectively lowering some drivers' fares is the OPPOSITE of what you should be doing.
Donnevan Yeager 4/27/17 11:37 AM Rather than increasing the base size for vehicles we should be encouraging smaller vehicles. Having value passes for the following would be beneficial, accomplish the same goal as increasing the base size to 22' and should be easy to implement with the online ticket system: motorcycles 0-15' 15-25' 25-35'