This morning a letter from state legislators in ferry-served communities was delivered to the WSTC. In summary:
* The letter is signed by 10 legislators (Nelson, Tharinger, Seaquist, Morris, Lytton, Rolfes, Fitzgibbon, Ranker, Appleton, Cody)
* They support the 2.5% fare increase in October 20111; they do not support the 3% increase in May 2012
* They do not support the alternative fare for vehicles under 14 ft (huge inconvenience for people with more than one vehicle who buy 10-ticket passes); instead look at other incentives for using small cars, e.g. access to carpool lane
* They do not support a 10% ceiling on fuel surcharge — should be between 2.5% and 5%
The letter can be downloaded here. It will be interesting to see what, if any impact this has on the decision that will be made this afternoon.
Late this week the Transportation Committee approved HB 2053. This means the bill now goes to the full House for consideration. This is the bill that raises various license fees to fund a variety of statewide transportation projects such as the State Patrol, ferry operating costs, highway maintenance, and more. You can read more about this in a Seattle PI blog post linked here.
Senator Kevin Ranker, Representative Jeff Morris, and Representative Kristine Lytton wrote a guest article for the San Juan Islander. They, and the other members of the legislative Ferry Caucus, put forth the following recommendations:
- Realize efficiencies in fuel purchasing, the savings to preserve winter sailings.
- Temporarily halt development of the reservation system.
- Stop funding WSF marketing and communications efforts and using these funds to support service.
- Set timelines for performance goals at WSF
- Identify additional funding for a new 144-car ferry, to augment funding proposed by this legislation.
“In the end, we know there are only three options: We can push management to realize some cost-savings, we can raise prices, or we can reduce service. Because of our maritime unified front, this is shaping into one of the best legislative sessions for ferry service in some time.
“Operation efficiencies, performance measures with consequences for not meeting our goals, and new ferry construction funding have all moved forward. While the current level of service is not acceptable, we are getting near to stopping the decade long erosion of service.”
Read the full article here: 40th District legislators on ferry legislation.
In January 2011, Rep. Larry Seaquist predicted that the ferry caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators representing Puget Sound’s ferry communities, would take the governor up on her request for alternatives to her proposals for the ferries. Late last week, the group did just that.
In a letter to the governor, the ferry caucus laid out its case for maintaining current levels of service, building a new boat large enough to handle mid-sized runs (144-cars), and becoming responsible stewards of the state’s entire transportation system. The group also included suggestions for how these goals can be accomplished and ways to deal with the current fiscal crisis.
Click these links to access the full text of the letter and supporting document.