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Ride on Washington ferries to cost 5 percent more

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
SEATTLE – Fares on the state's cross-Puget Sound ferries will go up 5 percent again, starting the first Sunday in May, as part of a continuing effort to recover a higher percentage of operating costs.

The change will come on the same day as peak-season surcharges for cars and drivers are added to the fares, ferry officials said yesterday. Fares also were increased 5 percent a year ago.

Round-trip passenger fares will increase from $5.40 to $5.70 year-round on Central Puget Sound routes such as those from Seattle to Bremerton, Seattle to Bainbridge Island and Edmonds to Kingston.

During the popular peak time, the tourist season between the first Sunday in May to the second Sunday in October, car/driver fares on the Seattle and Edmonds routes will increase from $12 to $12.50. They'll increase from $9.50 to $10 during non-peak times.

Round-trip passenger fares on the Fauntleroy-Vashon route will increase from $3.50 to $3.70 and remain at that level year-round.

Round-trip passenger fares on the Fauntleroy-Southworth route will increase from $4.20 to $4.40 year-round.

Fauntleroy-Southworth car/driver fares will increase from $9.50 to $9.75 in the peak season and from $7.50 to $7.75 in the off-peak.

Passenger fares on the Mukilteo-Clinton route will increase from $3.20 to $3.40, while peak-time car/driver fares will increase from $7.25 to $7.50. Off-peak car/driver fares will increase from $5.75 to $6.

The increases are part of the ferry system's plan to eventually generate 80 percent of its operating costs from fares and other revenue. The system currently raises 73 percent of its costs from fares and other revenue, compared with about 60 percent in the late 1990s, said spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether.

The system also is trying to generate enough revenue to help replace its four 1927-vintage diesel-electric ferries. Five Western Washington shipyards have expressed interest in building the new ferries, which would carry 1,202 passengers and crew and 130 cars, compared with 616 passengers and 75 cars for each of the diesel-electric vessels. The older boats would be retired.

The latest new ferries built for the system were the Jumbo Mark II-class vessels, the Tacoma, Wenatchee and Puyallup. They were delivered between 1997 and 1999.

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