Transportation Commission Office - PO Box 47308 - Olympia, WA 98504-7308
Date: March 5, 2010
Contact: Reema Griffith, Transportation Commission Executive Director, 360-705-7070
Olympia, WA: As part of its ongoing conversation with ferry riders, the Transportation Commission recently asked members of the Ferry Riders Opinion Group (F.R.O.G. – a survey panel open to the public) how unexpected rises in fuel costs for ferries should be paid for – by those that use it or all citizens statewide? The interest in querying ferry riders on this topic was to gather public opinion data to inform the discussion around how the state can best respond to volatile fuel prices and the resulting funding shortfall for WSF of almost $30 million, at a time when all transportation needs are growing and revenues are falling.
The Commission’s survey found that 40% of ferry riders would prefer citizen’s statewide pay for the rise in fuel costs by transferring additional state gas tax subsidies to ferries. Because there are no surplus gas tax revenues available, to do so would require either a statewide gas tax increase for ferries or the taking away of funds currently dedicated to highway projects and the maintenance of our roads statewide.
In contrast, 11 percent of ferry riders would be willing to pay an additional amount in the form of a fuel surcharge, 8 percent would be willing to pay for the fuel cost increases via a general fare increase, and 22 percent would be willing to pay for the fuel cost increases through a combination of a fuel surcharge, fares and state subsidy increases.
The findings only highlight the difficult transportation funding situation the state is facing and the importance of direct public input to the process of identifying solutions. This is why the F.R.O.G. was created as an online survey tool – it allows all interested ferry riders to have a voice in decisions that will directly impact them.
This March and continuing on throughout 2010-11 the State Transportation Commission will be doing a series of ferry related surveys varying from one question to a series of questions on numerous topics including fare policy, rate levels, reservations, pricing, and service amenities. Each of the studies will ask F.R.O.G. members to provide input that will play a direct and important role in the statewide decision making process on funding for ferries long-term.
To become a F.R.O.G. member and have your views on ferry issues be heard by our state’s leaders, we encourage you to go to the web site and sign up. As a F.R.O.G. member, you will be given the opportunity to participate in all future surveys.