Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Why does the Washington State Ferry System have a summer surcharge?

Every year I get the notice below:

On Thursday, May 1st, peak season officially begins with an additional surcharge applied to vehicle/driver fares for non-frequent users. The following link has more detailed information. Please select route and date on or after May 1, 2008

This alert was sent on 4/29/2008 at 1:12PM.
Our Web Site is at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries
You can change your account, anytime, at: https://secure1.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/account
Please send any comments or suggestions you may have to WSFAlert@wsdot.wa.gov

Every year it drives me crazy and I respond with my suggestions.

Why can't we just have the summer rate be the "regular" rate and then have a "winter" or "Off-Season" rate that is lower? Wouldn't you rather have a discount during the winter than being told you're paying a surcharge in the summer? I'm sure tourists would.

Same money, just sounds a lot better. And when rates do go up, why does it have to be at the same time as the summer surcharge? (I know, no increase this year, but . . .).

Wouldn't it go over better if, when rate increases are added, that they be added when the rates drop?

Perhaps they would then be accused of trying to fool us, but I still like the idea of an "off season" discount in the slower winter months. Or, why change rates at all, set a rate that is appropriate and charge the same rate all year 'round. Only make changes when the fares go up. Seems that could save some money along the way.


Anonymous said...

UPDATE: I got a response this year! Here it is, but read below so you'll understand. Nice compliment.

"I did forward your email and I printed it out to bring up at our meetingon Thursday. I don't know that I'll get any further, but I'll try. I sure can see why you do what you do, and I'm sure your very good at it."

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of calling it an "off-peak" discount. But flat rates don't make fiscal sense. Ferries are one of those "fixed supply" commodities we learned about in Economics 101 - no matter what the price is, there are only so many vehicle spaces on the boat. In summer, the demand curve shifts upward - more people are willing to purchase tickets, even at higher prices. To maximize revenue, WSF needs to shift their rates upward, too.