In a very welcome step forward, Washington State Ferries will drop the fee currently assessed to people using passes and ORCA cards for most ferry routes. The change will go into effect with other fare changes in October.
The current $1 surcharge will still apply for tickets purchased on the spot and for most users going to the San Juan Islands.
The ferry commission voted this month to remove add-on charges for bicycles for passengers who use monthly passes, multi-ride cards, or an ORCA ePurse.
In the San Juan Islands, only customers paying with a multi-ride card may travel without paying the bicycle surcharge.
Bicyclists will still have to pay the passenger fee for their departure location.
Bicycle travelers buying a single-trip fare will continue to pay the bicycle surcharge, which is $1 at most locations.
Before you start counting all your savings, the changes will come in conjunction with a 2.5 percent increase in fares for everyone.
However, the step is a great acknowledgement by WSF that they want to encourage bicycle use on ferries. Given that motor vehicle space on many ferries is beyond capacity while seats inside remain open, getting more people to bike instead drive makes a lot of sense and would help move more people more efficiently.
It is also yet one more incentive for people to adopt the ORCA card, which is good for transit efficiency all over the region. More ORCA use is one of the keys to keeping downtown transit flowing once the Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle is cut, according to Seattle Transit Blog. Maybe the ferry and RFA changes would be a good excuse to do another round of ORCA giveaways or some other promotion to help more people make the switch.