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Update: Commissioners set to vote on $2 bike fee for Canby Ferry

Posted by on April 30th, 2012 at 10:35 am

Bike camping at Champoeg St. Park-30

It’s free for bikes now, but Board
vote tomorrow could change that.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners could approve a $2 fee for people with bicycles who hop on the Canby Ferry to cross the Willamette River south of Wilsonville. Facing a strapped operational budget and a costly engine upgrade, Commissioners had considered closing it altogether; but overwhelming support for the ferry as a tourist draw from both the public and the Canby Chamber of Commerce has now set them on a new course.

A recent survey made it clear that not only was the ferry popular, but surprisingly over 80% of the respondents said they’d be willing to pay more to use it. And these days, a County is not likely to pass up an opportunity to generate transportation revenue — especially one that is popular with the public.

Notes from a Clackamas County staff recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners in advance of their meeting tomorrow, lays out details of the new fee structure. Check the table of existing and proposed fees below (taken from the “Study Session Worksheet”):

As you can see, walkers would remain free, people on bikes would go from free to $2, motorcycle riders would see their fare go up by $1 (to $2 as well), and everyone else would pay twice as much to ride. Based on $4 per vehicle, the County estimates they’ll generate $241,600 in annual revenue from ferry trips (cutting its annual operating subsidy by half to $175,000 per year).

Over the past six months, Clackamas County has counted 2,500 people on bikes using the ferry.

The staff report said a larger fee for people in cars was considered, but that anything more than $4 would cause too many of them to simply not use the ferry. The cost of driving 10 miles around the ferry would be about $5.50 (based on federal reimbursement rate of 55 cents per mile).

County staff are recommending that the board approve the new fee structure effective July 1, 2012.

Interestingly, the staff report also says they’ve considered building a new bridge between Canby and Wilsonville. Estimates put its cost at $20-$25 million and it would be paid for in part by a $2 per vehicle toll. However, given its cost — and the fact that the ferry’s new propulsion system (being installed this summer thanks to a federal grant) will extend its life another 10 years — Clackamas County isn’t moving forward with the bridge option.

The Board of County Commissioners is expected to vote on the staff recommendations at a study session tomorrow (5/1) at 1:30 pm (Public Services Bldg., 2051 Kaen Rd. in Oregon City).

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Art Fuldodger
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Art Fuldodger

Interesting that the fees are proportional to space occupied…until you get to bicycles & motorcycles. If it was still proportional it would be something like 50 cents.

Paying $2 is fine with me as an infrequent user of the ferry because it’s a unique, signature cycling experience that’s well worth it, but if I was a regular bike commuter on the ferry (i wonder if there are any?) I’d be fairly rankled about this inequity.

Ethan
Guest
Ethan

I’m glad the ferry will continue to run. At the end of the day, recreational cyclists crossing there are undoubtably spending time and money in Clackamas County, so charging them disproportianally (compared to cars) may prove counter-productive. Charging what the market will bear is more like something a private ferry operator would do.

Hopefully CC residents will be equally understanding when their cars are tolled on the new Sellwood Bridge they opted not to help pay for.

Joe
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Joe

Good to know, need to carry 2 bucks if I cross that route. 🙂

Chris I
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Chris I

If bikes are going to be $2, then motorcycles should be $3 and cars $5.

o/o
Guest
o/o

it would be interesting how many bicycle riding people will use this summer with new fees

Shane
Guest

I agree with the per person charge.
In doing bike tours around the country it always got to me when a group of us would pay $1-5 per person to ride a ferry (or $X to camp in some places) while a car paid the same or a little bit more (say $6) no matter how many people it had in it. If there were five of us riding together we would pay $5-20 while the car paid $5 whether it had one or eight people in it…. seems out of whack.

Lynne
Guest
Lynne

I think $2 is too much. 0.50 is more like it.

Tim
Guest
Tim

I take this ferry 4-8 trips per summer on my bike, and it’s a great way to “bridge” rides on the Canby side with West Linn, Pete’s Mountain, etc. Without the ferry I would not ride to the west side (Oregon City bridge being down doesn’t help here/now). There have been times when I was the only one on the ferry (w/ bike), and they took me to the other side. I’ll glady pay the $2 for this convenience.

RonC
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RonC

Hopefully tandem bikes will only count as one bike. It seems only fair if cars with more that one person are charged the same rate.

EngineerScotty
Guest

What if you walk your bike? Aren’t you then, legally, a pedestrian?

🙂

Joseph E
Guest

If a bridge is really only $20 million, it would make sense to build one, in the long term. Right now it costs $400,000 a year to operate. That money alone would pay for a bridge in 50 years, and most bridges last longer. But there is also the cost of buying and maintaining the ferry, and the disadvantage of the ferry not running during high water. I expect a bridge with a $2 toll for cars would attract enough traffic to pay off the investment in 30 years, pretty good compared to most road projects. If tolls are added on I-5 at Wilsonville and 205 at Oregon city (as they should be, to pay for those bridged), this bridge could have a $5 toll for cars as well, same as the ferry, and pay for itself within a generation.

drew
Guest
drew

How about folding bikes?
Fold it up, bag it up, walk on board?
I want to support the ferry though, and would have no issue with the $2 charge.
I suppose we are used to motorists always getting subsidized; my 28lb bike ($2) vs drivers 2 ton vehicle ($4). Are passengers in the car charged as well? Should I fold up my bike and get into one of the cars for a free ride? I don’t think ferry use would suffer if the car charge was increased to at least $5.

Suburban
Guest
Suburban

When discussing how “reasonable” or “appropriate” any fees are for this crossing, remember that this is in the context of Clackamas County, and involves County Staff. Things are very different than what some readers may be familiar or comfortable with.

dwainedibbly
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dwainedibbly

$2 sounds ok until you go on it with a family of 4. Then, you might as well drive. What about tandems?

Bikes should be $1.

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

I do not mind paying a fee for a valued service…camp site, ferrys, etc. But when it costs more for a group of bicyclists traveling together than the number of passengers of a large car or mini van then I would call it a foul (lack of transportation equity).

I would ask that all local cyclists write to them and ask for a “group fee” for cyclists traveling together. It could be capped at a number that would fill the 22′ stall or = to the car fee. if not then we should ask that they add some parking racks (staples) and other improvements at the dock (covered area to park and wait for the ferry, potable water, etc.).

Tony
Guest
Tony

Maybe they should have considered a suggested donation. I would REALLY hate to get to the bottom of Mountain Rd. and realize I had forgotten, lost, or not realized I needed the two dollars.

It’s not that big of a deal for someone to drive 10 miles out of the way, but for peds and bikes it’s a much bigger deal to get stuck down there.

John Lascurettes
Guest

I’m gonna roll up to the ferry some day when there’s autos waiting, pay $24 like a baller and tell all the autos they have to wait. I’m paying for all the spaces.

Jeremy Cohen
Guest
Jeremy Cohen

I admit, like many posters already, that the actual fee doesn’t bother me as much as the message it sends. Why are the ferry authorities so worried cars would rather drive around the ferry (thus subsidizing the car fee based on the relative load of each car–and showing that car drivers make decisions based on a logical cost/benefit analysis) but cyclists have either full/fat wallets (based on any number of metrics that over-charges the bike at $2–weight, size of footprint, etc) or are only recreational users–thus justifying a small user fee for such a fun activity. When are cyclists going to be considered legitimate users of transportation worthy of LOGICAL assessments of our impact and expense.

A large vehicle that takes ALL of the space on the ferry would cost $24. A moderate group of cyclists would cost MORE and leave room for others to make it across the ferry. Totally unfair. I get it, two bucks is not much but neither then is 10 for a car.

Nate
Guest
Nate

I think the group rate/discount is reasonable, with a minimum fee say like 2 bucks. e.g., 1 to 4 bikes = 2 bucks, 5-8 bikes = 4 bucks and so on. 2 bucks each seems steep considering we have to ride on the side to make room for cars, like errr, “the back of the bus”?

Ben Guernsey
Guest
Ben Guernsey

I’m just glad it will still operate, because south of Sellwood there are very few decent options to try to cross the Willamette.

I don’t see why they wouldn’t charge a pedestrian $1 or something too. Granted since there is little on either side it’s not like that is a big number.

Joe
Guest
Joe

John Lascurettes
I’m gonna roll up to the ferry some day when there’s autos waiting, pay $24 like a baller and tell all the autos they have to wait. I’m paying for all the spaces.
Recommended 6

AWESOME! haha

Joe
Guest
Joe

Bikes should be 1 dollar.