GIFC-SCPW-2023-01-03-Open House

January 3rd Open House hosted by Skagit County Public Works

John gave public comment on the behalf of GIFC January 3rd Open House which reiterated our written statement letter:

Ron Wesen, Peter Browning, Lisa Janicki, Skagit County Commissioners

Grace Kane P.E., Public Works Director | County Engineer

Captain Rachel Rowe, Ferry Operations Division Manager

The following are the Guemes Island Ferry Committee's [GIFC] comments on the County's Request for Qualifications for a rate study for the Guemes Island Ferry.

The proposal calls for various meetings with county personnel but no meeting with the ferry committee.  We suggest that a meeting with the ferry committee in week two would be appropriate.

We do not think rescinding the 65% fare recovery methodology is appropriate.  This methodology along with the five year averaging has worked well in determining fare increases for many years.  Tying fare increases to the cost of operating the ferry makes the most sense. By using some external index this separates fares from ferry costs and does not seem reasonable.

Capping the road fund subsidy would only make sense if you also capped the Guemes Island property tax revenue.

We do not think that the peak/non-peak rate schedules should be eliminated. The higher fares in the summer raise additional revenue and is a way for property owners who do not live on the island full time to pay their share of the fixed costs of operating the ferry.

Reviewing the vessel replacement surcharge is appropriate.  In this review they should look at surcharge rates in other area ferry systems.  We would also like to point out that neither the current ferry or our new ferry were financed by a surcharge.  It seems reasonable that the next replacement ferry in 50 years would also receive substantial outside funding.

Guemes Island Ferry Committee

 The  January 3rd Open House hosted by Skagit County Public Works discussed a proposal for an increase to ferry rates by May 1, 2023. Skagit County has hired a Consultant, KPFF, to conduct a rate study. The objectives of the study are:


  • Reduce the road fund subsidy that contributes to the ferry operating deficit each year
  • Simplify the fare structure for future implementation of electronic ticketing
  • Use previous studies and stakeholder input to guide the process
  • Evaluate opportunities for additional and ancillary revenue
  • Recommend fare policies for existing ferry operations while planning for future ferry replacement

For a more detailed description of the Rate Increase Proposal visit the Guemes Ferry 2023 Fare Rate Study page to learn more There will be opportunity for comments prior to the draft presentation on February 27, 2023.


As more information becomes available, it will be posted on the Public Works website. Email updates will also be sent any time the website is updated.

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