Steve Orsini's Response to The Guemes Ferry Fare Proposal

1.  On page 7 in the Summary section, the statement is made:  

"Although highly requested, the online system is rarely used with only 10-15 percent of all punch card purchase transactions conducted outside the ferry terminal office." 

The per transaction fee for ordering punch cards on-line is $10.00, higher than any other transaction fee in the general market of on-line transactions.  This high fee drives the average ferry patron to buy the punch card at the ticket window.

2.  The County recently received a significant payment from the state/federal governments for Covid 19 relief.  Perhaps some of these funds could be applied to the lost fare box revenue of  $114, 106 which was a result of the County’s decision to stop all fare collection from March 23 to May 5, 2020.  In the June of 2020, I submitted a firm bid proposal I obtained from American Eagle to Skagit County for a scanner based electronic ticketing system, which is efficient, and very advantageous in times of this Covid 19 pandemic.  American Eagle provides the ticketing system for the Pierce County ferry system and other ferry systems in the US.  American Eagle is a contractor for part of Skagit Transit's ticketing needs.  A scanner based electronic system continues to be of interest as the Covid 19 epidemic remains with us.  In August, 2020 I received notification from Skagit Public Works that they were not accepting ticketing bid proposals for the Guemes Ferry.  Hopefully, this system is one under consideration as the County moves forward in exploring safe and efficient electronic ticketing.  

3.  In the past year, Public Works has made a significant number of dump truck runs to Guemes repairing the “valley” roadbed.  It is not clear if the Ferry system received an inter-departmental credit for theses fares.  

4. The following statement indicates an awareness of time as a factor in fare increases.  Usually this assumes a look at inflation as a factor in proposed fare increases.

"In the last 10 years, there have been two general fare increases on October 1, 2015 and June 1, 2011. It should be noted that fares increased in 2018 for the addition of a vessel replacement surcharge…”  and that surcharge is not part of the revenue calculation.

In 2014, the operation and maintenance expenses totaled about $2.5 million and are projected to be $3.3 million next year, a 32% increase in 8 years which is above all inflation indexes.  

4.  Due to the Covid 19 epidemic and the selected responses of Public Works, especially with regard to lost revenue in ticketing, I recommend against a fare increase at this time.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these comments.

Stephen Orsini

4971 Guemes Island Rd

Anacortes, WA 98221

Tags: ferry