The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
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Would They Wait for the Right Boat?

April 11th, 2008 by ed friedrich

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.


I’m wondering if the communities would think it worthwhile to go without a car ferry again and wait for the bigger boat. I doubt it, because it would be right during their busy summertime, plus I think the Hood Canal Bridge will be closed during that time.
Ferry officials are working hard to find another boat they could lease to fill the gap, but there are few ferries out there and none so far that can operate in Keystone harbor. If they could luck out and find one soon, I think they would scrap the 50-car boat. The only bid on it came in way high and the state plans to try again.

2 Responses to “Would They Wait for the Right Boat?”

  1. NoSpin Says:

    It’s called wanting to eat your cake and have it too…

    WSF is caught in a situation – partly, though not completely of their own making (thanks, I-695) – where it’s impossible to make everyone happy, and there are more than a few people eager to make political hay out of this.

    Your initial post poses a “false choice” when you say “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.”

    The current plan is to build a Steilacoom II as a stop-gap between the expiration of the Steilacoom II lease and the first Island Home being delivered – this isn’t an “either / or” situation…

    I know quite a few people in the communities on both sides of that ferry run, and what they want is for someone to waive a magic wand and put two Island Home class boats on that run tomorrow.

    I’m sorry, but that’s not going to happen – and complaining about it not happening is like yelling at the rain.

    Plenty of people say that WSF shouldn’t spend money on a new Steilacoom class ferry as a temporary stop-gap between the expiration of the Steilacoom II lease and the first Island Home being delivered – but few of the people saying this rely on regular ferry service between Keystone and Port Townsend.

  2. usedbookman Says:

    Let’s not forget, that it was the legislature, that of it’s own initiative, removed the MVET with no replacement revenue in place.

    Let’s not forget that the legislature, and WSF are absolutely inept at procuring boats. The last ones to arrive, were the three Jumbo Mark II’s over ten years ago.

    The legislature authorized new 144 car boats in 2001. It’s 2008 and we’re still waiting.

    I can’t believe that no one had a clue as to the condition of the steel electrics. If that’s the case people should be fired.

    The Steilacoom II’s are the worst of all worlds. Marginally seaworthy in the winter, and lacking capacity to be used elsewhere. Of course, I suppose, after the Island Home boat arrives, it could be listed on Ebay.