Tag Archives: fares

Explaining the explanation for giving up on Fauntleroy loading experiment

The in basket: When Washington State Ferries abandoned its experiment with a different way to load vehicles at the Fauntleroy terminal, the news release announcing it said one of the reasons was “ “challenges with consistent fare recovery.”

I asked what that means. Some users were boarding without paying? Proper assignment of fares to the two destinations? Or something else?

The out basket: Ian Sterling, public affairs director for the ferries, replied, “The way we load vehicles in Fauntleroy is unique to that location and is not standardized with the rest of the system. The largest single component to fare recovery issues there is the use of handheld scanners which have proven to function inconsistently the farther they get from the toll booth and a WiFi connection. Rainy weather also appears to impact their performance. There is also a small element of deliberate fare evasion. We continue to look for a solution to address issues with scanner performance.

“The scanners are for the multi-ride passes that many frequent commuters use. We actually removed the scanners from most use during the experiment. We use them on other routes as well, but to a much lesser degree. They’ve been around for at least 8 years at Fauntleroy,” Ian said.

Where and when to get an ORCA card

The in basket: Tony Smallbeck was puzzled about a couple of things after reading news stories about and the designated Web site for the new ORCA cards introduced to unify and simplify paying one’s fare to travel on the ferries and mass transit systems in the Puget Sound area.

He now uses a combination ferry-transit pass to commute to Seattle, he said. 

“I understand the concept (of the ORCA card) ,” he said, “but…when I ask my Kitsap Transit drivers if I need one, two said yes, two said no..  Also, there is confusion on whether I can only buy them on the Kitsap side in Bremerton, or somewhere – anywhere – else.

Any ideas?” 

The out basket: Technically, Tony won’t need an ORCA card for about six months, says John Clauson of Kitsap Transit, as the previous devices, such as Tony’s joint ferry-bus pass, will still be effective that long.

But the cards are free now, and will require a $3-$5 purchase after six months. “It’s to his advantage to do it sooner rather than later to avoid the charge,” John said.  

The Bremerton Transportation Center where the ferries land is the only place west of Puget Sound to buy one in person for now, John said. But he is hoping to outfit Safeway stores to be remote locations, as they are now for some existing fare devices.

He expects in-person sites to become less and less important, though, as people go online to order the cards (which would be mailed) and to put money in them to pay fares electronically when boarding a participating agencies’ vessel or vehicle. The cards also can be ordered by phone. 

Kitsap Transit and Washington State Ferres are joined by King County Metro, Community Transit of Snohomish County, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit and Sound Transit, operator of commuter rail, in providing and honoring the ORCA cards. The other agencies also have places to purchase one. They are for pedestrians only.

The online site is www.orcacard.com and the phone number is (888) 988-6722.

Ferries could make use of transponders, reader says

The in basket: Frank Reed read the May 30 Road Warrior about interest accrued on Good to Go! accounts , from which bridge and highways tolls can be paid, and wondered why ferry fares can’t be paid the same way.
“The Washington State ferry system engages in a huge rip-off of its customers and seems to pat itself on the back for doing so,” he wrote. “The crossing tolls, pre-purchased on-line or at toll booths, are not really accounts set up in the customer’s name with a dollar value in them, as are Good to Go accounts, but only slightly different version of the previous system of buying paper tickets. In addition the tickets have fast expiration times and are not user friendly.
“Actual monetary amounts in actual accounts can draw interest (as you pointed out) that can be used by the ferry system, don’t care if toll values vary for seasonal or other reasons and don’t penalize the customer with an expiration date.
My question is why is the ferry system is so intent on using its own pre-paid tolling system which doesn’t work (software problems) and not the Good to Go! system, which according to your article can relatively easily credit the correct facility being used. This would certainly help the bean counters with realistic ferry route usage data.
“Why not use just one tolling system?”

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