Seattle Needs the Ferries More than We Do

seattleferry.jpgPhoto comes from here.

Thursday morning at a meeting of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council the local cities’ and county’s electeds agreed that stable ferry funding has to be our legislative delegation’s top priority in the 2009 session.

To make sure it happens, the group is planning to study the impact ferries have on the Seattle economy as part of an effort to gather legislative allies for the cause.

“This has got to be a spiritual cause for them,” said Bremerton mayor Cary Bozeman.

“We’ve got to be evangelists,” said Lary Coppola, Port Orchard mayor.

Kitsap County commissioner Steve Bauer suggested a strategy of gathering data about how the ferries matter to the eastside economy, then creating a presentation to make the case, all in an effort to add allies.

Nine legislators represent Kitsap County. Add three more for Vashon, three for Clallam and Jefferson, three for Island County and three for the San Juans. That’s 14 of 98 in the House, seven of 49 in the Senate. Those 21 probably won’t need much convincing.

It will be the legislators on the receiving end of the ferries, from Pierce to Snohomish, that will be key to the strategy. “They don’t have this on the radar from an economic sense,” said Bainbridge Island mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

The KRCC officials referred to a study that showed tourism accounted for a bigger share of ferry traveling than previously estimated.

Coppola said the ferry case will have to be made to Seattle business groups that it wouldn’t be good economically for them to see the ferry service continue to be threatened. “They’re going to make the case to their legislators, because they’re going to understand it’s money out of their pocket.”

Bauer said if the ferries stopped tomorrow it could have a bigger negative impact on the Seattle side than it would over here.

3 thoughts on “Seattle Needs the Ferries More than We Do

  1. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council? They can talk all they want. These same people have turned over authority for transportaion planning to the Puget Sound Regional Council. THAT is the talk that will matter.

  2. In my free time I have been advocating for a passenger ferry service from Port Townsend to downtown Seattle, we have approximately 3000 signatures in support of this service. Please check out the website and join the discussion and email list.

    A lot of our members have been complaining about the preference shown tourists and other visitors over the locals. The WSDOT survey over Hood Canal Bridge closure mitigation has brought a lot of these issues to a head.

    The survey is intended to determine how bridge mitigation money is to be spent. WSDOT had a plan to provide passenger only service from South Point (Jefferson County) to Lofall (Kitsap) at a cost of $8 million over the course of 6 weeks.

    This seems like a terrible waste, because neither South Point or Lofall are destinations, and neither have a population center nearby. There are going to be facilities constructed (parking and terminals)for this temporary service. We were told that it would cost $5 million annually to run passenger service from Port Townsend to Seattle. And that is total. Meaning if the state appropriated $5 million there would be no fare.

    The popular sentiment seems to be that trips to this area are discretionary, and trips out of Port Townsend-Jefferson County-North Olympic Peninsula are more out of necessity. Although we are very fond of our rural communities there are still several needs that can only be filled by a trip to Seattle.

    In terms of regional planning, the PSRC has identified a need for a passenger service to Seattle that serves North Kitsap, Jefferson, and Clallam counties. The price of fuel for passenger vehicles and the time and distance it takes to get to Bainbridge,traffic in Poulsbo is not going to get better. Ever. So that trip is getting longer and more expensive.

    The survey results will be published this week. I am eagerly awaiting the results.

    The residents here are still very upset about the replacement ferry from Pierce County. It’s like a lake boat, it is not made for the PT-Keystone crossing. The new boat design, adopted after the last design came in $9 million or almost 50% over budget from the one company that qualifies to build a state ferry. The new boat, the Island Home, won’t even be bid until September or October.

    There needs to be some serious changes made. There doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the decisions that get made and no one can seem to explain them. I hope that this is the year to do it. Because it needed to be done last year, or the year before that, etc.

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