Almost all Puget Sound residents use the state ferries at least occasionally. Prior to 1998, kids paid half the adult fare – just like senior citizens.
Since 2003, Washington State Ferries has charged kids 60 percent more than seniors. WSF raised youth fares by dollars to save drivers dimes. Low-income children thus had less access to opportunities on the other side of Puget Sound, and all families with cars were incentivized to drive around across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Ferry ridership has been declining since 1999, despite regional population growth.
For more than two years, I have been advocating for a restoration of half-price youth fares on the state ferry system to restore equity and to grow ferry ridership and revenue. The current fare proposal, under consideration by the state Transportation Commission, is a huge improvement. The entire fare proposal and information about opportunities for public comment are here.
The Transportation Commission will take action on this proposal at its final public hearing, at 3 p.m. July 30 in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom in Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle.