County Fare Relief Proposal June 2015

UPDATE August 4, 2015:  The Count Council will hold a public hearing tonight (Aug. 4) prior to voting on the new fare ordinance:

2. Ordinance amending Whatcom County Code Chapter 10.34, Ferry Rates, and the Whatcom County Unified Fee Schedule (AB2014-426B (Clean) and AB2014-426B (Strikethrough) 

In reading the proposal, note that our present (the old) fare schedule does not show the $3/ticket surcharge in the fares. That surcharge was added on, at purchase, and makes the previous ‘total cost’ of current/old tickets look misleadingly low, especially for multi-ride tickets. The new schedule shows the complete total cost – no ‘surcharge’ but the $$ is often the same as the old fare + surcharge.

Previous:  At last night’s June LIFAC meeting, Randy Rydel and Rob Ney (Public Works) presented their proposed fare changes, with rationale. Fares would be a bit lower for the ‘most common’ users (especially for multi-ride tickets), i.e., pedestrians/passengers and car/driver; trucks and other large vehicles would have slightly higher fares. The full presentation is here: PW full 2015 Fare proposal 2015-06-02.  The 3 page handout  is here: LIFAC Fare Handout from Public Works 6-2-15.

The proposal includes the general goals underlying the proposal, which are similar to those of LIFAC’s December proposal and the 2011 Ferry Task Force. Both files include a spreadsheet comparing the proposed PW and earlier LIFAC fare changes. The proposal was developed through discussions with County Executive Louws and members of LIFAC.

After questions and discussion, LIFAC voted to approve sending the proposal to the County Council.

Next steps:

  1. Public Works asks to put the proposal on the agenda of the Council’s Public Works committee for review.
  2. If/when that committee decides to move it forward (as is, or modified), it will be sent to the whole County Council.
  3. The Council will introduce the proposed fare (fee) change ordinance or send it back to the PW committee with requests for changes
  4. Once introduced, the Council will schedule public hearings, after which they can request further changes. Eventually they will vote the proposed new ferry fee structure (with any modifications made along the way).
  5. At least another couple of months will be needed to implement the changes.
  6. The earliest possible date for changed fares would be sometime late in 2015.

Thanks to LIFAC for their work on this important issue, especially Mike McKenzie who kept moving the effort forward and Chuck Antholt and Chris Colburn who worked for many months to develop and explain an initial LIFAC fare proposal to the full LIFAC committee and to Public Works.

Note: ~15 audience members including Barbara Brenner, chair of the Council PW committee, attended this meeting

3 thoughts on “County Fare Relief Proposal June 2015

  1. The tangle of committees and their protocols offers little solace to the residents of Lummi Island simply trying to survive, some are not and are moving from the island. The woven web makes meeting attendance seem like a waste of time as the material presented is repeated time after time. It is a ferry crossing of slightly less than one mile supporting island residents, summer homes, tourists and supporting industries (carpenters, garbage, electricians, grocery, etc.). Complications with Tribal issues, future marinas, and changes to ferry siting appear to be falling in place in spite of the committee structures that have massaged the issues. As it now stands the present ferry will support island needs for many years. Expansion of island populations is limited by regulations, water, available space, and natural features (wetlands, forest, conservation set asides, etc). The morass of events and examinations do not appear to be accomplishing the objective: Affordable service to the island that supports lifestyles suitable for the available land. As a result ferry rates, which are the most critical issue, continue to plague island residents. There is certainly sufficient data to show what are fair rates. The delay in settling the rates lies with County management simply establishing rates based on present reviews and putting them in effect as soon as possible, ASAP.

  2. I still have a real issue with need based income only having to pay basically 25% of the whole fare. I have no problem with seniors having the discount. If one moves on a island knowingly there is a fee they should have to fit it in their budget like everyone else. Or do not move somewhere you can’t afford. I understand there are times when people have bad times, we all do but I still have to pay my way.
    As far as the new fare proposal, take the surcharge off and that would be the best proposal. I have gone to meetings in the past but I to have found it a waste of my time when the county is involved.

  3. As someone who frequently visits the Island via bicycle it is ridiculous that I have to pay $7 and a passenger driving a car only has to pay $13. I bicyclist takes up very little space compared to the car, adds no traffic congestion to the Island roads, while bringing dollars to the local businesses. The fee for pedestrians and bikes should be less than the current rate in my opinion. To be clear, I am not suggesting the fee for a car should be more.

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