That’s what Plug In America said, anyway, in a press release
they sent me this week.
It’s about Nissan’s all-electric Leaf. The company recently came
out with its pricing. With federal tax credits, the base model plus
an installed home charging station will cost $26,380. But you
won’t be able to buy one for a while. First, you already have to be
registered. That allows you to make a reservation between April 20
and May 15. They’ll start taking orders at dealerships in
Plug In America, a nonprofict organization that works to speed
up the shift to plug-in vehicles, says an electric car that costs
about the same as a gas one will do just that. They say the Leaf
will cost less than the best-selling hybrid Toyota Prius. That’s a
bit of a stretch. I looked it up and Priuses range from $22,800 to
I can’t afford either one, but it’s not too bad. I wonder how
long it would take to make up the difference in gas.
Upon further review, the story I wrote last week about cutting
in ferry lines has been overturned. You can’t get a ticket no
matter how many times people report you. You can only be fined if
caught red-handed by a state trooper. That’ll cost you $124.
Sgt. Trent Cain of the State Patrol’s Homeland Security Division
pointed that out to me Tuesday. I wrote last week about ferry
line-cutters being added to high-occupancy vehicle lane cheaters in
the state’s HERO self-enforcement program. That’s where if you see
somebody cutting in, you can call (877) 764-HERO and report them.
This is what happens next, according to a Washington State Ferries
press release from March 23:
After the first report, “an education letter and brochure will be
sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. If a second complaint
is logged, the registered owner’s information will be forwarded to
the Washington State Patrol. A ticket for line cutting costs
I must’ve read that to say a third complaint would result in a $124
Cain said he doesn’t know what would happen after a third
complaint. Whatever, it won’t be a $124 ticket.
“It’s our hope that we don’t have a third time,” he said. “If we
do, we’ll address that accordingly.”
A caller who wants to teach a line-cutter a lesson might not be so
quick to report someone if they know the worst that could happen is
they’ll get some reading material in the mail. Not that people are
The violator can call the same phone number or fill out an online
dispute form and say they were falsely accused, but why bother if
it doesn’t really matter?
Commenters on my story last week also pointed out that if you had
it in for somebody, you could just report him three times and get
him a $124 ticket. Others said the violator could get off it he
took it to court and the caller didn’t show up. Those are good
points I didn’t think of.
From reading the comments, readers weren’t buying that line-cutting
is mostly by infrequent, uneducated ferry users, as WSF suggested.
People do it on purpose, and it really ticks off everybody
“The anger and frustration toward these cutters has become
increasingly violent and dangerous,” WSF’s press release said. We
determined that drivers needed a safe and legal alternative to
address those who break the law.”
And you know what irks ferry regulars just as much as line cutters?
Those who let line-cutters cut in. They’re not being courteous;
they’re being jerks to everybody else in line, commeters said. If
caught, they should be sent to the back of the line along with the
While Ed has written about what happened to Bremerton’s former
passenger only ferries, I got a firsthand look at one of them on
Monday while I was in San Francisco. And like the Bremerton geek I
am, I got photos and found a little information about our former MV
Snohomish — now called the MV Napa — and added it to the captions.
Click on the photo below to see more from a trip aboard the
As part of a nationwide force protection exercise, Naval Base
Kitsap has raised security measures at all gates. Expect traffic
delays around Bangor, Bremerton and Keyport.
Many people have learned through experience that when an
aircraft carrier rolls in or out of Bremerton, their electronic
garage door opener or remote keyless entry for their car might stop
It happened again Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, when the USS Nimitz
popped in to pick up supplies and family members for a cruise to
Chelsea Browning, office manager at Kitsap Garage Door in
Bremerton, said she got 25 to 30 calls about remotes going on the
fritz. She told them there was probably interference coming from
the shipyard and it should go away soon.
It was more of the same at area car dealers. Aaron Taylor, service
writer at Grey Chevrolet in Port Orchard, said 10 people came in or
called because their fobs weren’t working, and Bay Ford service
adviser Dawn Moore said keyless entries wouldn’t unlock any cars on
the lot, including hers.
“To everybody who came in we said wait two days and they’ll go back
to normal,” Moore said. “They wanted to buy new ones or buy
batteries and we said you’re going to waste your money, don’t do
The Navy checked with the Nimitz folks, who said it wasn’t them.
Maybe the tugboats or Coast Guard cutters that accompany it were
causing the interference.
It’s not that big a deal, really. People can just pop the key out
of its fob and unlock the door manually, or get out of the car and
operate the garage door. My car is too old to have a fob, and I’d
just as soon not have electric windows and door locks, but that’s
Even if it is the carriers, the Navy owns the radio frequencies
that are being interrupted. Consumer gadget-makers, including those
of garage door openers, have been allowed to borrow them if they
keep their signals weak enough to accommodate the military,
according to an old Washington Post story.
In 2001, keyless remotes wouldn’t work on thousands of vehicles
around Bremerton, Port Orchard and Silverdale from March 21 to 26
and for several hours on April 12. Speculation was that the carrier
USS Carl Vinson, which had recently returned to Bremerton, was
causing the interference, but Navy officials said there was no
evidence that a Navy ship was causing the problem. Nobody every
figured out the cause.
And way back in 1995, the Nimitz’s radar scrambled the Kitsap Sun’s
satellite data reception and it wasn’t able to print its stock
tables. The Nimitz was preparing to go to sea after a long
overhaul, and the crew was testing its systems. The paper and Navy
had a deal that radar testing would only occur during the day
because most of the paper’s material was transmitted at night.
The paper had similar problems two years earlier as the overhaul of
the cruiser USS California drew to a close.
It has to be more than a coincidence that a big Navy ship is coming
or going, or getting ready to come or go, every time the remotes go
dead. It’d be nice to be the guy to pinpoint the cause, but maybe
more fun for it to remain a mystery.
Crews will be making some big changes this weekend to the
Highway 16 through Nalley Valley in Tacoma.
Westbound Highway 16 traffic will be shifted onto a new
temporary roadway, and the ramp from westbound Highway 16 to
Sprague Avenue, which carries 12,000 cars a day, will be closed
until the project is completed in about a year.
The changes will cause slowdowns to continue. Drivers should
plan for delays from both directions of I-5 to Highway 16 and on
westbound Highway 16 at Union Avenue.
Westbound Highway 16, which carries 65,000 vehicles a day, will
be closed overnight from 10 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday as the
changes are put in place.
Now that the first new 64-car ferry has been named, along with
the class of ferries it will be part of, it’s time to name the
second ferry now that Todd Shipyards is starting to build it. The
state Transportation Commission, which oversees naming things, has
established some guidelines.
Last fall, it approved naming the first ferry “Chetzemoka” after
the S’Klallam chief. A ferry had also been named that in the old
days. Then a fourth-grade class at Port Townsend’s Blue Heron
Middle School (yeah, they have fourth-graders there; I looked it
up), named the new class of ferries
Kwa-di Tabil class, which means “little boat” in Quileute.
Then the Island County Historical Society and Swinomish Tribe
touted the name “Squi qui” for the second boat. Squi qui was a key
figure in the Lower Skagit Tribe that occupied central Whidbey
Island in the mid-1800s. I think that’s why the Transportation
Commission came out with some guidelines.
Carry statewide significance and repesent the state’s image and
Represent such things as state symbols, tribal names, bodies of
water, geographic locations, cities, counties or relate to nautical
Consistency with existing WSF fleet names.
Have broad familiarity, be easy to pronounce (can you say Kwa-di
Tabil?) and not be offensive.
You can submit suggestions until April 30. After that, there
will be a review and public comment process. Final selection will
be during the commission’s July 13-14 meeting in Olympia.
For more about ferry naming, go here.
That was the question asked recently of members of the Ferry
Riders Opinion Group (FROG), which wants to get input from as many
folks as possible. You can sign up at
Anyway, 40 percent of ferry riders said they’d want all state
taxpayers to foot the bill by shifting more gas tax revenue to the
ferries. That would require taking money dedicated to highway
projects or maintenance, or increasing the tax on gas. Eleven
percent said they’ve be willing to pay a surcharge to cover it, and
8 percent said they’d be OK with a combination of a surcharge,
fares and state subside increases.
I could maybe imagine a fuel surcharge if diesel prices out of
nowhere rocketed past $4 a gallon like a few years ago. But this
biennium that we’re in the middle of, Washington State Ferries
budgeted about $30 million too low. Somebody just blew it, whether
it was ferry people or the the oil price soothsayers that the use.
If they would have budgeted more realistically, there would have
been enough money available, so I wouldn’t put that on the
There was talk that a surcharge could go into effect on May 1 to
cover that deficit, but now it looks like the Legislature will take
care of it in the supplemental budget. I think they’re also going
to pass something that directs WSF to use more than one soothsayer
when predicting future fuel prices.
And everyone, go sign up for FROG and make your opinions
Washington State Ferries’ new ferry Chetzemoka was placed in the
water last week. Work began in July and the 64-car ferry should be
running between Port Townsend and Keyport this summer. Here
are some photos from DOT.
It’s hard to envision a passenger ferry with sails, but it makes
some sense. A guy in California is hoping to sell ferry companies
in the Bay Area on the idea, according to a
story in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Jay Gardner, with Wind+Wing Technologies, says it would cost
between $3 million and $9 million to build a wind-assisted” ferry
and it would cut fuel use by at least 40 percent.
The sails aren’t like the canvas ones on a regular sailboat but
are made fo carbon composite materials and are more like airplane
There’s another company in Australia, Solar Sailor, that makes
ferries with sails covered in solar panels. That way, while the
ferry is stopped, as it often is, it’s still generating power.