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Markets to sell monthly ferry passes

Monthly passes that give daily ferry commuters the best deal will be available at two Bainbridge locations beginning next week.

Passes for June travel will be on sale beginning May 15 at Town and Country Market and the Village Safeway, Washington State Ferries announced.

Passes will also be available at five other locations around Kitsap, including: Poulsbo – Central Market and Poulsbo Thriftway, both on Highway 305; Kingston – Kingston Thriftway on Highway 104; and Bremerton – Garguiles Red Apple on Perry Avenue, Midtown Market on 6th Street.

The monthly passes will sell for $62.20, of which the retailer gets $1 and the ferry system gets the rest.

Pass sales will begin on the 15th of each month for the following month, and will continue until the 4th. Passes will be good on all Central Sound routes – Seattle to Bainbridge and Bremerton, and Edmonds to Kingston.

A commuter who makes 20 round-trips per calendar month – a normal “work month” – would pay $3.11 per trip, a reduction from the current lowest fare of $3.15 per trip available to purchasers of 10-ride ticket books.

Passenger-only monthly passes will drop from the present $108.20 per month to $94.20.

Monthly passes are good for unlimited rides, and are valid on less-expensive routes, meaning that a foot-ferry pass is good on auto ferries. The passes will continue to be sold on-line at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.

The lower cost of monthly passes is the only break for ferry riders, though, as an overall fare increase takes effect May 12.

Fares for single-ride walk-on passengers will go from $4.50 to $5.10, collected only on the westbound trip. Ten-ticket books will go from $31.50 to $38.50.

Also May 12, the normal peak-season surcharge takes effect. That means the car-and-driver fare, collected each way, will jump from the present $8 to $11.25, and will fall back to $9 in October, when the peak-season surcharge lapses.

The fare adjustments are the second of a series of phased increases aimed at recovering 80 percent of the system’s operating costs from users, up from the present 65 percent.

The ferry system had been heavily subsidized by the value-based Motor Vehicle Excise Tax which was eliminated first by voters in 2000, then by the Legislature in 2001. The Legislature has been making temporary appropriations to cover the system’s operating losses and capital costs.

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