There’s still a long way to go in the state’s 2-plus-year quest
for a sustainable revenue source. Here’s how I could see a few
things shaping up based on what I’ve heard so far.
Studies show there’s too much non-operations stuff being paid for
with fares. They’re going to try to trim that way back to a strict
definition of operations and maybe they can get close to paying for
what’s left with fares. Right now fares pay for 73 percent of
operations. They probably can’t get all the way to 100 percent this
way. I can see them making up the rest by raising fares on cars but
not on passengers because they want to encourage drivers to become
walk-ons and make their limited car space go further.
If fares pay for 100 percent of operations, then ferries could be
considered the same as highways. People who don’t use the ferries
could no longer complain that they shouldn’t have to pay for them.
The state would be responsible for paying and maintaining them, but
not for operating them. The gas tax, which has been raised 14.5
cents the past several years, is paying for specific highway
projects so there’s not really any available for ferries now, but
once those projects are built that gas tax will keep coming in.
Then the ferries should get a good share of it. Until then, there
needs to be some kind of funding bridge.
This is just my off-the-top-of-my-head possibility but it tosses
out some of the ideas I think they’re considering.
It’s always kind of fun to look at the ferry ridership stats.
WSF puts them out every quarter and then a final at the end of the
year. The 2007 numbers are out, and the first thing I noticed was
that Bremerton is the only route to gain riders over the year
In 2006, if I remember correctly, there was a slight gain in total
riders in the system, the first gain since fares started going up
dramatically in 2000. This year was ahead of last year through
June, said planning director Ray Deardorf, but then there were the
service disruptions caused by the retirement of four steel-electric
boats in November.
2007 wound up falling 1.2 percent off of 2006′s pace. Bremerton was
the only route to show an increase — 3.5 percent — outside of a
miniscule gain for the international boat. Ferry officials couldn’t
immediately explain it.
Bainbridge traffic fell 0.7 percent for the year, Kingston 1
percent, Southworth-Fauntleroy7 2.4 percent, Southworth-Vashon 9
percent and Port Townsend-Keystone a whopping but understandable
I don’t have an answer for the Bremerton gain. It had the same
boats — a super and Issaquah boat — as the year before. Anybody
have an explanation?
This is hot off the AP wire. Actually, it’s an AP rewrite of a
Seattle Times story.
SEATTLE (AP) — What if all major roads in the Seattle area had
A Puget Sound Regional Council report says it could eliminate
The council’s “Traffic Choices” report says GPS and mobile phone
technology could be used to track drivers and charge them for
almost every mile they drive.
The report says there are no technological barriers to congestion
pricing, but it raises questions about public policy, fairness and
The three-year study involved an experiment in which cars had
devices to track driving. Drivers paid variable tolls and kept
money left over. They took fewer trips and drove fewer miles.
One example from the study for a projected trip between Seattle and
SeaTac: The 13-mile trip would take 22 minutes without tolls and 20
minutes with a toll of $3.56.
From the AP wire Wednesday comes this story about the cost of
people sitting in traffic. It says too many cars caused 40 percent
of congestion, bad weather 15 percent and construction 10 percent.
I wonder what’s responsible for the other 35 percent.
Washington highway delays cost $624 million in ’06
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Transportation Department estimates
that delayed traffic on Washington highways in 2006 had an economic
cost of $624 million.
A report released Tuesday says 40 percent of the congestion was
caused by too many cars on too little road. Bad weather accounted
for 15 percent and construction for 10 percent.
The department also reported:
Since 1980, the number of licensed drivers has risen by 76 percent,
and miles traveled on state highways increased 110 percent.
In the same period, the lane miles of state highways grew 10
The state is in the midst of its biggest road-construction boom but
struggling to contain costs as the price of materials
The Associated Press rewrote a Seattle Times story about ferry
riders between San Juan Island and Anacortes getting tired of being
bothered by border cops. Check it out below.
Searches anger some San Juan ferry riders
FRIDAY HARBOR, Wash. (AP) — Some San Juan Island residents are
angry about Border Patrol inspections that began in February on the
ferry run to Anacortes.
Residents say the searchers and questioning are intrusive and
unnecessary on a domestic route. Federal agents say they’re looking
for terrorists trying to smuggle through the San Juan Islands.
Of the 43 people arrested since February, 38 have been from
Friday Harbor Mayor David Jones says there’s a surge of indignation
among people who are repeatedly questioned about their
Some residents have asked the American Civil Liberties Union for
advice. One ACLU lawyer, Matt Adams, says unless they have a
reasonable suspicion, immigration agents don’t have a right to
detain anyone already in the country.
I see that several commenters to a story about Traci
Brewer-Rogstad resigning from the ferry system’s No. 2 post are
taking pot shots at her despite having no knowledge of her at all.
I understand it’s popular to rip the ferry system in general, and
it’s set itself up for that. But it strikes me as being in bad
manners to criticize somebody personally unless you have a good
reason to do so.
I didn’t deal with Traci much. She mostly worked up north. But she
always responded quickly when I called and she gave me good,
straight answers instead of trying to beat around the bush. Plus
she’s a commuter on the Bremerton ferry. She knows what it’s
Within minutes after my story came out the other day about a
pilot reservation system for the Port Townsend-Keystone ferry, wily
workmates were scheming about how to job the system. One idea was
to reserve a bunch of spaces and then go and scalp the confirmation
numbers at the dock or put them on craigslist.
The fact that half of the reservations can’t be made until the day
of sailing prevent some abuse, although the day starts at 4:30 a.m.
and somebody could get up early and try to grab them all up.
I would think the ferry system has already thought of this and has
a way to prevent it.
Word just out of the DOT says that you no longer have to be a
carpooler to get onto Highway 16 using the Jackson Avenue
Most of you don’t care or even have any idea what I’m talking
about, but for those who drive frequently from Tacoma, it’s a
pretty big deal.
The ramp has been restricted during the evening commute since
January 1997 because traffic was backing up there and flowing into
the neighborhood and blocking people’s driveways. People used the
onramp — the last one before the bridge — the get around congestion
on Highway 16.
Now that the new bridge is open and traffic is moving freely,
there’s no longer reason to restrict the onramp, according to
Starting Monday morning, all vehicles can use the on-ramp.
Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond and Ferries Director
David Moseley visited Port Townsend Monday and I’ve been told that
they were going to be told that the community would rather wait
wait for a bigger boat than build one based on the 50-car
Now that the only bid has been rejected for a Steilacoom II boat
and the job will have to be reopened, it can’t be built in time for
the Hood Canal Bridge to be closed in May and June.
In that case, they may as well suffer without a car ferry for six
or seven months, provided there’s a passenger ferry or some sort of
mitigation, I was told.
I hope to find out more tomorrow, but I’m in the middle of a couple
other stories right now.
Washington State Ferries folks sound like they would never leave
the Port Townsend-Keystone route in another lurch after they
abruptly retired the only boats that could operate there and left
it without a car ferry for three months. That wouldn’t be fair to
the communities and it would be really bad PR for the ferries.
However, my impression is that the communities would prefer a 60-
to 80-car, 1,200-passenger Island Home-class ferry than a 50-car,
325-passenger Steilacoom II-style boat. An Island Home boat is like
a new version of the route’s beloved Steel-Electric ferries that
were retired in November.
The problem is, it would take longer to get an Island Home boat
built. The state has to give back the leased Steilacoom II to
Pierce County, and there would be a 6- or 7-month gap before an
Island Home boat could be built.