Ferry ridership continues to grow in Washington

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — Ferry ridership in Washington climbs after plummeting for years.

The Kitsap Sun reports that Washington State Ferries recorded its third straight annual increase in 2015, with ridership increasing 2.9 percent to 23.9 million. In 2014 the ferry system gained 2.7 percent and 1.5 percent in 2013.

Ridership reached an all-time high in 1999 of 26.8 million. When the state raised fares and cut service after taking the motor vehicle excise tax away as a revenue source, ferry use dropped for years, with a lowest ridership of 22.2 million in 2012.

Washington State Ferries Planning Director Ray Deardorf attributes the slow but steady climb to a rebounding economy and lower gas prices.