Ferry FAQs


What does the peak season rate cover?

The peak season fare is not based solely on funding the two‐boat service. It takes into account the higher ridership demand and increased operational and fuel costs experienced during peak travel seasons—similar to hotels and airfare. It also includes the cost of law enforcement presence at the loading lanes and additional ticketing staff to support the increased number of riders.

I purchased a single-use ticket. Why does it have an expiration date? 

Based on the current ferry fare ordinance, all single-use tickets require a printed expiration date. They are valid until the date indicated on the ticket. This date coincides with either the end of non-peak season or peak season.  At the end of each season, a 10-day return policy is granted.

Fuel Service Runs

What is a fuel service run and why is it important? 

Fuel service runs occur on the first and third Monday of each month when the ferry transports gasoline and propane fuel tankers to and from Anderson Island to restock fuel and propane for purchase on the island. This service is critical to ensure Anderson Island residents and visitors have access to fuel while they’re on the island.

Why do we have to cancel passenger service during a fuel service run? 

In accordance with 49 CFR 176.76, only essential personnel (ferry crew and transport driver/helpers) are permitted to travel onboard a ferry carrying hazardous materials.

Why do we do fuel service runs on Mondays?

Fuel is delivered on Mondays to ensure the Pierce County Ferry operators have four consecutive days for maintenance and repairs. We routinely have maintenance items that take more than one day to complete and that also require vendor support. Delivering fuel on any other day would adversely impact our maintenance and repair efforts.

Ferry Fares and Funding

Is Pierce County Ferry working to implement the state’s new “Zero Fare” policy? 

No. The Washington State Legislature recently passed “Move Ahead Washington,” which includes a new requirement for the Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to “adopt an annual fare policy for Washington State Ferries to allow all riders 18 years of age and younger to ride free of charge on all system routes” (RCW 47.60.315(1)(b)). This portion of the legislation only applies to Washington State Ferries. The Pierce County Ferry system is not part of Washington State Ferries.  

Can Pierce County Ferry apply for state grants that would enable riders ages 0-18 to ride for free?  

Passengers 5 years of age and younger currently ride for free on Pierce County Ferry. Fares for youth ages 6 to 18 are also significantly reduced at a rate of approximately 50 percent of the adult fare. Regarding the new state program, Pierce County is not an eligible transit agency under the Zero Fare legislation, but we are always looking for new grant opportunities that would help offset the cost of operating this vital system for our island residents. While the new provision in RCW 47.66.422(4) requires WSDOT to “establish a transit support grant program for the purpose of providing financial support to transit agencies,” Pierce County does not qualify under any of the authorities listed in the legislation.  

Is the Pierce County Ferry system a transit system? 

No, the Pierce County ferry system is not a public transit system under Washington law. The ferry service is considered an extension of Pierce County’s road system. 

Is the Pierce County Ferry system subsidized by Pierce Transit? 

No. The Pierce County Ferry system is not subsidized by Pierce Transit.   

Does the Pierce County Ferry system receive federal transit funding?

The Pierce County ferry system is eligible for Federal Transit Administration funding which is distributed by the Puget Sound Regional Council. The eligibility for these federal funds does not qualify the Pierce County ferry system as a public transit system under Washington law. Pierce County has an agreement with Pierce Transit to receive and administer those funds on behalf of Pierce County, which allows us to meet the federal oversight and reporting requirements. 

Why is the Pierce County Ferry not a transit system? 

The County would need to create a public transportation authority and meet the requirements of the RCW (RCW.47.66.422) to be eligible for state grant funds designated for public transit agencies. At this time, we are not aware of any plans to create a public transportation authority. 

If Pierce County were to create a new transit authority, we would need to collect new tax revenues to fund the system. Per state statute, this would bar Pierce County from using county road funds on the ferry system. Pierce County relies on county road funds and other available sources to keep the ferry system in service. 

Contact Us
Customer Service & Refunds: 
 (253) 588-1950

After Hours Emergency: 
 (253) 798-6000
 Steilacoom Landing:
56 Union Ave.
Steilacoom, WA 98388

Office Location:
9850 64th Street W.
University Place, WA 98467