After signing the Discover Pass program into law less than a year ago, Governor Christine Gregoire has approved legislation making the $30 pass transferable between two vehicles.
Effectively immediately, Washington state residents who have already purchased a Discover Pass will be able to add another license plate number to their existing pass. Subsequent passes will reflect the change.
“The Discover Pass is a great way to experience some of Washington’s most extraordinary places, and this legislation makes it even easier to visit our state parks and recreation lands,” Gregoire said. “Our parks, some of the best in the world, rely on user support, and this small investment to enjoy our public lands is well worth it.”
The Discover Pass is intended to help fund Washington State Parks as well as the departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife. The state parks commission receives 84 percent of Discover Pass revenue while the other two departments each receive 8 percent.
Washington State Parks Commission spokesperson Sandy Mealing said the legislation is in response to residents who wanted more flexibility in the Discover Pass. “All three agencies supported the change,” she said.
Sadly, sales of the Discover Pass are less than half of what the state projected they would be. Sales for 2011 were projected to be $19.4 million, but only came in at $8.2 million.
Revenue for both the $10-day-use passes and the Discover Pass so far in 2012 is more than $1.1 million Mealing said, with January sales of $531,617 and $610,147 in February. “That’s the most we’ve sold since last October, so we are getting into the season a little bit,” Mealing said. “At least more people are buying.”
Though the change to Discover Passes could reduce the number of passes bought, Mealing said public input suggests the opposite will be true. Mealing could not predict how much more revenue the change could bring in but said state agencies are expecting an uptick in passes bought as the outdoor season approaches.
“We heard a lot from customers who said they we’re not buying because it was only good for one car,” Mealing said.
Ted Morris, the manager of Birch Bay State Park, has heard similar comments from parkgoers since the pass program was put in place. He said most people have more than car and disliked being limited to just one car.
“I would think it would be more appealing to people,” Morris said.