There’s still a long way to go in the state’s 2-plus-year quest
for a sustainable revenue source. Here’s how I could see a few
things shaping up based on what I’ve heard so far.
Studies show there’s too much non-operations stuff being paid for with fares. They’re going to try to trim that way back to a strict definition of operations and maybe they can get close to paying for what’s left with fares. Right now fares pay for 73 percent of operations. They probably can’t get all the way to 100 percent this way. I can see them making up the rest by raising fares on cars but not on passengers because they want to encourage drivers to become walk-ons and make their limited car space go further.
If fares pay for 100 percent of operations, then ferries could be considered the same as highways. People who don’t use the ferries could no longer complain that they shouldn’t have to pay for them. The state would be responsible for paying and maintaining them, but not for operating them. The gas tax, which has been raised 14.5 cents the past several years, is paying for specific highway projects so there’s not really any available for ferries now, but once those projects are built that gas tax will keep coming in. Then the ferries should get a good share of it. Until then, there needs to be some kind of funding bridge.
This is just my off-the-top-of-my-head possibility but it tosses out some of the ideas I think they’re considering.