It's getting more expensive to use King County's biggest carpool system. Members of the county's Vanpool program pay $0.33 a month for the rides, on average. This year that will go up to $13 a month, and in 2019 it jumps to $40 a month.
The county issues the vans to groups of people. The city of Seattle is also involved, by selling the groups parking permits. Those permits give vanpools access to parking spots downtown and in other busy neighborhoods.
City transportation spokesperson Sue Romero says it's time the permit fees went up.
Romero: "The vanpool rate for on street parking has not been adjusted in the city for at least two decades, but that needs to cover the cost of administering the permits and running the program so that people can use vanpools."
The city is mandating that the fee increase. King County Metro is not involved in the fee increase, as it is being issued by the city. But a King County Metro spokesperson says it will only go up for about 40 of the county's 1,600 vanpools.
Romero says they are increasing the price over three years to help users adjust. The vanpool permit will eventually cost the same as the carpool parking permit that the city sells. That’s $600 a quarter, but in the case of vanpoolers the cost will be split by five people or more.
Romero doesn't expect the $40 per month fee to turn people away, since it can easily cost more to drive alone.
The fee changes were included in Mayor Ed Murray's 2017-2018 budget, and approved by the Seattle City Council.
Editor's note, 10:50 a.m., 1/25/2017: The city of Seattle is mandating that the fee increase. It will affect 40 of King County's 1,600 vanpools. An earlier version did not include those details.
Paige Browning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.