Pierce County recently spent $180,000 on a ferry service study.
▪ “Ridership has declined significantly in the past 10 years, despite a growing island population. Shifting demographics underlies part of the ridership decline. . . . School-age children are a declining population as are young working families with children under 5.”
Declining youth and multi-ride passenger trips account for two-thirds of the 10 percent ridership drop. The county increased those fares more than others since 2001.
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▪ “Anderson Island has a much higher proportion of residents not in the labor force than neighboring areas: 65 percent compared to 34 percent in Pierce County as a whole.”
▪ “Because Island demographics and fare policy are the likely causes of declining ridership, the county must pay careful attention to these two issues and implement policies to counteract the trend of declining ridership.”
▪ “The ferry system is currently in danger of entering a cycle where lower ridership leads to reduced fare revenue, which leads to reduced service, which further decreases ridership and fare revenue.”
Commuter households pay thousands more per year in fares than retirees and weekenders do. With the last weekday run at 7:30 p.m., Pierce County is missing the boat.