Ferry rates increase Jan. 1

The State Transportation Commission voted last week at their hearing in Seattle to approve a 2.5 percent fare increase on Washington State Ferry routes throughout the system. These new rates are to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

In addition to the general fare increase, there will be additional fare changes specific to the San Juan Islands:

— The San Juan interisland route fares (between Lopez, Shaw, Orcas, and Friday Harbor) will go up by an additional 2 percent to bring that route into alignment with the distance based fares applied to the rest of the system.

— For the Anacortes to San Juan Islands route, removing the early week (Sunday through Tuesday) discounted fares and making all fares equal to the higher end of week fares. In addition, the 20 percent peak season surcharge applied to passengers will be removed.

During the hearing, the Commission also considered a proposal that would have limited the current school group discount program to only K-12 school groups. However, based upon comments received, the Commission decided to not approve this proposal. Had this change been implemented, college and university sponsored activities would have been required to pay the full fare for their vehicle and passengers. The current school group discount program charges a flat rate of $1 each way, per walk-on group or per vehicle of students. The Commission asked Washington State Ferries to provide them with more data on this program for further consideration of possible changes to this program in the future.

For more information about the Commission or the 2011 fare decision, visit the Commission’s Web site at http://www.wstc.wa.gov .