The Washington State Transportation Commission (WSTC) provides a public forum for transportation policy development. It reviews and assesses how the entire transportation system works across the state and issues the state’s 20-year Transportation Plan. As the State Tolling Authority, the WSTC sets tolls for state highways and bridges and fares for Washington State Ferries.
Reema Griffith, Executive Director
- The WSTC is a seven member body of citizens appointed by the Governor for six-year terms. The Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation and a representative from the Governor’s Office are ex officio members of the WSTC.
- As a public forum for transportation policy development, the WSTC develops and issues a comprehensive and balanced 20-year statewide transportation plan that reflects the priorities of government and addresses local, regional and statewide needs. It proposes transportation policy for the state and coordinates state transportation planning with national transportation policy and with local/regional land use and transportation plans.
- The WSTC conducts a statewide outreach program to: gather public input on state transportation policy; promote transportation education; and gain understanding of local and regional transportation needs and challenges. The WSTC reports its findings in an annual report to the Governor and Legislature.
- The WSTC is designated the State Tolling Authority and as such, establishes all state highway and bridge tolls as well as setting fares for Washington State Ferries.
- Supplemental policy tasks assigned to the WSTC by the Legislature include:
- Oversight of the Transportation Innovative Partnerships Program and approval of agreements.
- Conducting surveys of ferry riders and citizens statewide.
- Reviewing the long-range ferry system capital plan and operating strategies, and adopting ferry system pricing policies.
- Naming state transportation facilities.
- Administering the Route Jurisdiction Transfer Program which includes reviewing requests for highway transfers and making final recommendations to the Legislature.
Washington Transportation Plan
Every four years, the WSTC recommends to the Legislature a comprehensive and balanced statewide transportation plan. The plan must be consistent with the state’s growth management goals and be based upon transportation policy goals adopted by the Legislature. The plan is required to reflect the priorities of government and address local, regional and statewide needs, including multimodal transportation planning. The next updated plan will be completed by December 2014.
Ferry Fares & Highway Toll Responsibilities
- The WSTC is the state’s Tolling Authority, adopting tolls for all authorized toll facilities including: the SR 520 Bridge, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the SR 167 HOT Lanes, and the I-405 Express Toll Lanes.
- Review and oversee toll collection processes and costs, operational policies, and traffic & toll revenue for individual toll facilities.
- The WSTC reviews and adjusts ferry fares and adopts fare and pricing policies.
- The WSTC reviews the long-range ferry system capital plan and operational strategies, and adopts pricing policies.
Ferry Riders’ Opinion Group (FROG) & Voice of Washington State (VOWS) Survey Panels
The WSTC is required to conduct surveys of ferry customers at least every two years and is also required to conduct surveys of citizens statewide on transportation policy and funding issues. The WSTC established two online panels to do so – the FROG and the VOWS. Data gathered from the FROG is used to help inform level of service, operational, pricing, planning, and investment decisions for the state ferry system. Data gathered from the VOWS is used to inform policy and funding decision making by state leaders.
The WSTC offers policy guidance and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature in key issue areas including, but not limited to:
- Transportation finance and funding.
- Preserving, maintaining, and operating the statewide transportation system.
- Transportation infrastructure needs.
- Transportation efficiencies that will improve service delivery and intermodal coordination and connectivity.
- Improved planning and coordination among transportation agencies and providers.
Public Involvement & Outreach
The WSTC conducts its public outreach program primarily through meetings held in both Olympia and localities throughout the state each year. Meetings held outside of Olympia focus on local and regional transportation issues and challenges, receiving information from local officials, public agencies, and other entities. The WSTC also gathers statewide public input via its FROG & VOWS online survey programs and seven online regional discussion forums across the state where citizens can go online and post ideas and comments on transportation topics.
Transportation Innovative Partnerships (TIP) Program
If no moratorium is in place, the WSTC may solicit concepts or proposals for eligible public-private partnership projects. In consultation with the Governor, the WSTC may execute, reject or continue negotiations on proposed public-private partnership projects.
Route Jurisdiction Transfer Program
The WSTC is required to consider and act upon possible additions, deletions, or other changes to the state highway system. The WSTC receives, reviews, and evaluates petitions from cities, counties, or the WSDOT requesting changes to the state highway system. Once the review is done, the WSTC makes a final finding and forwards its recommendation to the Legislature for final action in law.
The WSTC conducts a variety of studies related to transportation policy and funding matters. These studies are generally at the direction of the Legislature and result in formal reports to the Governor and Legislature. Currently, the Road Usage Charge Assessment is underway.