Opinion

Discover Pass is not new — but improved | Editorial

We made our dissatisfaction with the Discover Pass well known in the pages of this newspaper.

In theory, we thought the $30 pass to park a vehicle, motorcycle or moped at any state park was an effective way to keep our parks open. But the legislation came out with a few flaws, and we commend Sen. Kevin Ranker, who sponsored the original bill, for putting forth new legislation that not only eases the financial burden on the consumer, but will likely bring in more revenue for the state.

The problem: the Discover Pass lacks transferability. Because the pass is assigned to a vehicle, rather than an individual, that means it can’t be swapped between cars.

As one reader told us, “My husband and I take our small car to the park when it’s just the two of us. When family is up, we take the van. That means we have to buy two $30 passes.”

The solution: if Ranker’s new legislation passes this week, which he feels it is very likely to do, state law will allow transferability between two vehicles — starting immediately. Current pass holders would be allowed a second vehicle as well.

This is a move in the right direction, and we hope it encourages more families to buy a pass to keep the parks alive and well. The Discover Pass was slated to bring in $17 million by the end of this year, but so far it’s only at around $10 million.

We’re still not happy about the surcharges tacked on to the $30 pass if you buy it through the state’s website and phone or a licensed dealer, of which there are five in San Juan County.

The markup comes from a 10 percent transaction fee and $2 dealer fee. A one-day Discover Pass costs a total of $11.50, which includes the $10 base price, the 10 percent transaction fee, and a 50-cent dealer fee. The only way to avoid paying the extra cost is to buy the pass directly from state park staff or the state Department of Licensing.

But that’s a minor detail in the bigger scheme of things, and we are grateful that Sen. Ranker listened to his constituents and amended this bill.

We’ve gone from dissatisfied to satisfied and we hope this change is enough to bolster the park’s diminished fund balance.

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