Please see the letter provided today by Mayor Wheeler to the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) regarding a ferry fare increase proposal for Washington State Ferries, including the Bremerton/Seattle route. The public has an opportunity to provide comments to the commission through July 30, 2023 at https://wstc.wa.gov/commission-feedback/, firstname.lastname@example.org or can testify at the final hearing on August 10 at 9 a.m. (See details at: https://wstc.wa.gov/agendas/2023/07/19/meeting-agenda-august-10-2023/).
Letter to the WSTC from Mayor Wheeler:
July 28, 2023
Dear Members of the Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC),
I am writing this letter to strongly urge the WSTC not to increase Bremerton ferry fares at this time.
Thousands of passengers that depend on a stable and reliable Washington State Ferries (WSF) Bremerton marine highway are encountering serious hardship and financial impacts due to reduced service levels. With one-boat service on the Bremerton route, drivers and passengers continue to face long intervals between sailings, vessel shuffling, delays and sudden cancellations that complicate their commutes and provide limited transportation alternatives.
Many have few opportunities to work remotely, and they have no other option but to travel to their jobs in health care, construction, equipment repair and other essential employment in the Seattle region. As reduced WSF service levels continue, residents face increased job losses, higher financial costs and less time with their families because of time spent in traffic “driving around” to Seattle or waiting hours in a terminal to get home because of WSF’s current schedule. Medical patients are confronting increased travel times and stress to attend appointments or receive treatment. In addition, small businesses are experiencing higher costs and lost productivity due to reduced operations on WSF’s Bremerton marine highway route.
In fall 2022, it was announced that WSF service cuts were expected to be fully restored in mid-2023. Since that time, the date for full restoration was extended for the Bremerton/Seattle route to fall 2023 and recently delayed until next year. As stated by WSF, retirements and other factors impact the projected date of full restoration. Increasing ferry fares during this period will only compound the adversity and financial burden experienced by residents.
In closing, I urgently request the WSTC to freeze ferry fares at the current rate on the Bremerton/Seattle run at this time. Thank you for taking my request under consideration.
Mayor, City of Bremerton