Guemes Island Ferry

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Guemes Island Ferry

Ferry Operations Manager: Rachel Rowe


Guemes Island Ferry Electronic Ticketing System | FAQs

We're thrilled to announce the launch of our new electronic ticketing system, provided by Anchor. Anchor's prestigious clientele includes Pierce County Ferries, San Francisco Bay Ferry, NYC Ferry, Fisher Island Ferry, and many more.

Soon, you’ll have the convenience of pre-purchasing ferry tickets via Skagit County's website using Anchor's user-friendly, mobile-ready platform. Upon purchase, you'll receive a QR code, simplifying boarding procedures.

For those who prefer in-person transactions, tickets will still be available at the ferry office in Anacortes, located within the main lobby of the terminal building. Acceptable forms of payment at the ferry terminal include credit, debit, contactless (apple pay and google pay). No cash will be accepted at the ferry terminal; however, in-person cash payments can be accepted at 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon, WA, M-F 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  

May 20, 2024,
Guemes Island Ticketing Community Meeting

April 8, 2024,
Board of County Commissioners presentation on transition to electronic ticketing


News and Updates

May 23, 2024
Guemes Island Ferry Electronic Ticketing System Launch Delayed
The original launch date for the new system was June 6, 2024

May 3, 2024
Guemes Island Ferry Ticketing Meeting Scheduled for May 20, 2024
Skagit County Public Works staff will host a Guemes Island ferry ticketing community meeting on Monday, May 20th, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at the Guemes Island Community Center

April 1, 2024
Reminder! Skagit County is looking for beta testers for new Guemes Ferry electronic ticketing system
Skagit County announced we will be transitioning to a new electronic ticketing system for the Guemes Island Ferry.

March 25, 2024
Guemes Island Ferry to Transition to Electronic Ticketing System
Skagit County is excited to announce the launch of a new electronic ferry ticketing system provided by Anchor Operating Systems.


Why the shift to online ticketing?

Embracing an online ticketing system resonates with Skagit County's dedication to fostering critical and sustainable infrastructure. This transition enhances accessibility, upholds superior customer service standards, and meets industry expectations while streamlining processes for both citizens and Skagit County staff.

What is the impact on ferry budget?

The 2024 Skagit County operating budget accommodates the project. Under the agreement with Anchor Operating System, LLC, expenses are capped at $84,000 for the inaugural year, followed by a 7% charge on subsequent transactions. This covers various aspects such as software, hardware, maintenance, and support.

What ticketing options are available online?

All existing fare categories, including single rides, oversize vehicles, and multi-ride options, will be accessible for online pre-purchase. However, for needs-based punch cards and specialized fares like charters or after-hours services, alternative arrangements will be necessary.

How do I purchase without reliable internet or mobile devices?

For those without reliable internet access or mobile devices, in-person ticket purchases are available at the ferry ticketing office within the main lobby of the Anacortes terminal building. Printed QR codes can be provided for convenience, with provision for name and contact information for ticket lookup in case of loss.

Will my tickets cost more?

Skagit County Commissioners have set fares until December 31, 2024. Peak pricing will be applicable from May 20 to September 30, with non-peak rates from October 1 to December 31, 2024.

Will you still offer discounted tickets?

Multi-ride passes with the new system will continue to offer discounted rates per trip, matching the pricing of current paper punch cards until December 31, 2024.

What will happen to my Paper Punch Cards?

Paper punch cards will be replaced by QR codes for all multi-ride passes. They will be available for purchase at the ferry ticket office until June 6, with a 90-day validity for cards bought between now and then. Online sales of paper punch cards will cease by April 30, but will still be available for purchase over the phone and in person at the ferry ticket office in Anacortes (credit/debit only) and the Skagit County offices in Mount Vernon at 1800 Continental Place (cash or credit/debit).

Can I still buy tickets at the Continental Office?

Yes, cash payments or purchases for needs-based tickets can still be made at 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon, WA.

Can I print my tickets?

Yes, if the QR code is scannable. Alternatively, tickets can be emailed or texted to a mobile device.

What will the process be like at the ferry terminal?

Pre-purchasing tickets will facilitate the boarding process. Simply present your QR code for scanning upon boarding. For those without pre-purchased tickets, they can be bought at the ticket office in the main lobby of the Anacortes terminal building. QR codes can be received via text, email, or printed for presentation upon boarding.

Currently, single ride fares are purchased in-person and used immediately so expiration of single ride fares isn’t an issue. With the Anchor system, purchases of single ride fares can be done ahead of time but have a time limit/expiration for their use. Will it be possible to get these easily refunded if they are not used in time?

Skagit County has a no refund policy on ticket sales. With the new ticketing system, single-ride tickets will expire 7 days from selected travel date. Multi-ride passes are valid for 90 days. Please plan accordingly. For customer service, please call (360) 293-6433.

When tickets are purchased ahead of time, they are associated with a specific date of travel. What will be done to clearly communicate that this is not a “reservation” like other ferry systems provide?

We do not sell timed tickets for specific ferry sailings, and this will be clearly communicated on our website.

Will ticket sharing be possible with the new electronic ticketing system? For example, will one frequent user pass be available on multiple devices? Or can multiple devices be associated with one family account?

Yes, you can text, email, screenshot, and print your QR code(s). Families can share a login to the app.

Given that many of the transportation agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest use the Orca card, including Washington State Ferries and soon Skagit Transit as well, was the Orca card considered an option for providing electronic ticketing?

We want to provide the best service we can to our riders. The Orca card was not in the original scope for this project; however, future consideration may be desired. Skagit County is having initial discussions with neighboring agencies and Anchor. This will require additional discovery, costs, and time.

How does the new ticketing system improve accountability and auditability for grants?

Annually, Skagit County reports on operational and financial data to maintain eligibility for formulary grant programs, such as the Federal Ferry Boat Program and Washington State youth ride free program, as approved by legislature. The new ticketing system provides a higher level of accuracy for reporting this data as well as improved access to the data. Manual data entry is replaced with electronic data entry for real time reports.

How will this new ticketing system be more efficient?

Efficiency is two-fold: 1) the new system reduces the need for multiple back-office staff to generate reports, enter data, and handle reconciliation, all of which is currently done completely manually; and 2) the new system allows for passengers to pre-purchase tickets, reducing the in-person transaction time. For those who like the convenience of pre-purchasing online, this is an efficiency for the rider and the ferry crew.

Note: We fully expect efficiency will not be immediately apparent as we work toward proficiency using the system.

Is there somewhere close to the terminal I can park to purchase my ticket in-person?

Yes, there is 5-minute parking available immediately adjacent to the ferry terminal, which is a short walk to the ticket office. Riders welcome to park here, purchase your ticket in-person in the ticket office, and then proceed to the ferry line. This would be a good option if the line is long or for those with mobility issues. For ADA accommodations, please call our office at (360) 293-6433.

Why won’t the ferry crew walk the line and do transactions at my vehicle window?

The new ticketing system includes multiple pieces of hardware that cannot be carried around and are not weather-proof. If you pre-purchase your ticket online, or through the app, you can remain in your vehicle and your ticket will be scanned at your window as you board.

Anchor Application Cost

What is the impact on ferry budget?

The 2024 Skagit County operating budget accommodates the project. Under the agreement with Anchor Operating System, LLC, expenses are capped at $84,000 for the inaugural year, followed by a 7% charge on subsequent transactions. This covers various aspects such as software, hardware, maintenance, and support.

The cost for the Anchor ticketing service is stated to be “$84,000 for the inaugural year.” What months are considered the inaugural year? When will Anchor start billing the fee of 7% for all transactions?

A Master Services Agreement with Anchor was signed by the Board of Skagit County Commissioners on December 4, 2023. The first year is December 2023 through November 2024. Anchor invoices Skagit County monthly, at $7,000/month. The service includes online ticketing, app development, box office point of sale, manage my booking, and advanced reporting, as well as hardware, service, training, and support.

Starting in December 2024, Anchor will bill a fee of 7% on all fare revenue transactions. The 7% will not apply to the surcharge portion of each ticket.

What percentage of the overall cost of the Anchor electronic ticketing system will be billed directly to Ferry O&M?

The 2024 ferry division budget includes the Anchor electronic ticketing system. 100% of the cost of the new ticketing system, as well as all merchant services fees, will be included in the ferry division’s budget/expenditures.

How does the cost of the new system compare to the cost of the older ticketing systems (including armored car services, ticket printing, credit card fees, merchant services fees)? Which of these fees will go away and/or be included in the Anchor service?

A more in-depth analysis will need to be done during this year’s budget process to fully answer this question, but here are estimates for some of the specific items:

  • Armored car service (based on a quote received in 2023): approximately $12,000-$15,000/year (includes service, taxes, fees, fuel surcharge)
  • Ferry printing (tickets, newsletters, brochures): averages $5,800/year (2021-2023)
  • Merchant services (for the current ticketing system): approximately $14,000-$16,000/quarter. Q1, 2024, included merchant services expenditures of $14,471.27.

Some of these costs will be eliminated, such as ticket printing. Armored car service went away in 2020 when we eliminated cash sales at the ferry terminal. However, merchant services fees from KeyBank and our payment processor will not be eliminated or be absorbed in the Anchor contract fees.

What was the cost associated with the 2023 ticketing system?

During this year’s upcoming budget session, these costs can be provided with more accuracy. Ferry expenditures are not categorized such that every expenditure related to ticketing can be quickly accessed, however, these are some of the costs specific to 2023:

  • Merchant services: approximately $60,000
  • Printing: approximately $5,700
  • Back-office staff: approximately $25,000

Are there additional crew or staff required to operate the new ticketing system? This includes crew at the dock or on the boat, as well as staff time on the back end.

The 2024 ferry division budget includes an additional 0.60 FTE for the new ticketing system. This is required for the in-person transactions that will likely be 50% of our sales in the first year. The community has expressed concern for those who do not have reliable internet service or smartphones. Therefore, our ticket office will be staffed to accommodate those who will need to purchase their tickets at the ferry terminal.

The cost for the back-end accounting staff support is currently averaging roughly $25,000/year. We expect this to reduce with the advanced reporting generated by the fully electronic system. On top of the accounting costs, administrative staff were also filling mail-in, phone-in, and online orders for punch cards and mailing them to riders, the cost of which will be eliminated completely.

Anchor promotes itself as a company that can provide detailed reporting to its clients about the “customers” using the service. Will Anchor and Skagit County be collecting ridership data specific to the individual? For example, will you be able to see that John Doe used a passenger fare on Tuesday, at 7:30 a.m.?

Yes, we will be able to see certain data like we can now. We will see when a ticket was purchased, the ticket type, method of purchase (e.g., web, box office, android), first/last name of customer, and what date it was used. We do not sell timed tickets, so we do not have it set to see the time of use. We can use your confirmation number, last 4 of your credit card number, phone number, email address, or name to search for tickets or multi-ride passes that may have been lost or need to be re-printed.

Anchor Data Usage

Location services in the app are automatically turned on and must be turned on to view the location of the ferry itself. Will Anchor or Skagit County be collecting people’s personal location data while location services are active?

Skagit County does not collect or use personal location data. Anchor only uses location services to provide your distance from the ferry terminals. This doesn’t really apply to our situation but is a feature standard for all Anchor applications (there are quite a few ferry services with multiple ports/locations). The user does not need to turn on location services to use the app.

Can individual location services be turned off while still viewing the ferry location?

Yes – this currently works for the iPhone and has been verified.