March 26, 2021

Marie Duckworth

Whatcom County Council Passes Ferry Fare Surcharge Ordinance

On Tuesday, March 23, the Whatcom County Council unanimously passed, with the support of the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee, a $1 surcharge on most ferry fares. The surcharge will begin later in 2021. No start date has been set.

Needs-based senior/disabled fares and student fares are exempt from the dollar surcharge. The surcharge will be added to the total purchase price of any new punch cards bought after the surcharge takes effect. Single ride fares will increase by a dollar. Existing punch cards purchased before the start of the surcharge will still be honored and grandfathered in. However, replacement of lost or damaged punch cards will pay the surcharge and will not be grandfathered.

Lummi Island Ferry 1 2

Lummi Island residents were involved in the decision to enact the $1 surcharge through the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC). The group recommended the surcharge as a necessary component of fully funding a vessel to replace the Whatcom Chief. The current vessel is nearly 60 years old and approaching the end of its useful life.

“This new surcharge will be a vital and dedicated funding source used exclusively to fund a new ferry and modifications to the terminals, said Rhayma Blake, LIFAC Chair. “The ferry is the only capital asset owned by Whatcom County that does not currently have a replacement fund and the surcharge will alleviate that.”

Visit the webpage of frequently asked questions about the new fare surcharge and the new ferry vessel that would replace the Whatcom Chief. More information is available on the new ferry vessel webpage.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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