County Unhappy with Ferry Plans

At Monday morning’s county commissioner meeting, all three commissioners were displeased with the proposals put forward by Washington State Ferries as to how it will deal with the long-term outlook. The most recent proposal could mean Bremerton is down to one boat, night service could be eliminated there and in Kingston and passenger service will be left to locals to pay for.

Commissioner Steve Bauer said it amounts to another unfunded mandate. It’s not truly a mandate, because the state would be saying you can have the service if you want, but you’ll have to pay for it. Nonetheless, you might be hard pressed to find many on this side of the sound who think the service isn’t a critical part of the infrastructure.

New commissioner Charlotte Garrido said the state has been treating the ferry system as a “postcard,” not a critical highway element. She also faulted the state for contending it needs ferry money to pay for highway work, when ferries are technically part of the state’s highway system too.

More to come.

8 thoughts on “County Unhappy with Ferry Plans

  1. Unfortunately when the State legislature shoved Tim Eyman’s idiotic 1% tax cap down our throats they irresponsibly tied the hands of local governments to provide essential services like ferries by slowly choking the local governments ability to tax property.

    This next legislative session I want our legislators to know that we do not need our money wasted on a big-dig style tunnel on the Seattle Waterfront when the ferries really need the attention.

  2. “most recent proposal could mean Bremerton is down to one boat, night service could be eliminated there and in Kingston and passenger service will be left to locals to pay for….”

    This is an outrageous state disregard for our transportation highways and byways. Our ferry service IS n extension of the state highway system.

    “Washington State Ferries, except the route to Sidney, British Columbia, were legally included in the state highway system in 1994” …
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Route_(Washington)

    What options do we have to regain our right to transportation, including our ferry arm of the state highway system?

  3. I can argue that the mismanaged ferry has major problems. Some from the voters who changed the funding methods and most for the management who has been very poor at upkeep and maintenance. As usual it will take an influx of taxpayer funds to “fix” this latest problem being managed by the same people who got us to this point. As for foot ferry’s, I still say it should not be put on the backs of taxpayers in Kitsap County to fund passenger only ferries. Kitsap Transit can find millions of dollars of State and Federal taxpayer money to pay for research, development, and building of a special low wake boat, but they still can not supply real public transportation for all of Kitsap County. Kitsap County is divided into a couple of Legislative districts and our influence in Olympia is very poor. The 35th District reps are more worried about Belfair and Shelton than a foot ferry or vehicle ferry for Bremerton. Until we come together as a unified area with a loud voice we will not be heard. Kitsap Commuter Transit is more worried about the millions spent on POF than most anything else, even if we have said “No” more than once to supporting the POF options. With that, maybe even a loud voice will not be heard or understood by Olympia , it may even take leadership on the part of our elected officials. The POF needs to be dropped, and the county needs to concentrate on vehicle ferries and a real county wide public transportation. It is not time for a reemergence of the Mosquito Fleet from decades ago.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  4. “This next legislative session I want our legislators to know that we do not need our money wasted on a big-dig style tunnel on the Seattle Waterfront when the ferries really need the attention.”

    That would be a rather hypocritical position for them to take considering the ongoing construction of a “big-dig style tunnel” on the Bremerton waterfront.

  5. I seriously doubt the Bremerton tunnel would have progressed beyond a twinkle in someone’s eye had our ferries broken down and been removed prior to commitment of the tunnel.

    No one wants the ‘Mosquito Fleet’ to return as such…what we all want is stable transportation, effective, helpful to our environment and inexpensive.

    Funding the fast passenger ferries and ultimately connecting ALL our towns and cities easily, inexpensively, makes sense. We need secure park n ride lots and good transit to meet all the schedules for the people.

    I don’t commute anymore, but still care that our county progresses and grows for the future.
    The fast foot ferry is a look to our future as part of our transportation system.
    In my opinion…Sharon O’Hara

  6. I wonder if Kitsap Commuter Transit can come up with the money numbers on what it actually costs to transport people by bus per passenger and what it costs per passenger to transport people by foot ferry? What is the expected actual ridership on the POF? I do not mind subsidizing local buses in Kitsap County. We really need a bus/van transportation system combined with secure park and rides that connects with Pierce, Mason & Jefferson Counties and all areas of Kitsap County. Use the vehicle ferries to connect to outside the County. If the State and private enterprise can not make a go of passenger only ferries, why should we Kitsap taxpayers take up the fight? For the convenience of even a thousand Seattle/Kitsap commuters? (more likely less than half that) We have an established bus/van transit system that can be made to actually serve more than the working commuter. Instead Kitsap Transit spends million of federal and state dollars on low wake research and building a POF.
    I may be wrong, but I see that as the wrong approach. I do not see POF as being easy, and I do not ever see it being done inexpensively and without major taxpayer costs. Even private companies wanted funding from the County and State. Where would Kitsap Transit look for funding? The Kitsap taxpayer would be on the hook again to fund an expansion of the Empire of Kitsap Commuter Transit. Do you really think King, Pierce & other counties would open their coffers to support Kitsap Transit? I doubt it, the cost would be born by the Kitsap taxpayer.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  7. Why would King, Pierce or any other county support Kitsap Transit in Kitsap County? That is our job. We wouldn’t support their transit system.

    But all of us would support fast passenger ferries for mutual benefit. Why wouldn’t we?
    Sharon O’Hara

  8. Sharon, who are the “all of us” that you mention? Twice, the voters have rejected additional taxes to pay for “fast passenger ferries.” Are you saying “all of us” will take them if none of us have to pay taxes to provide them?

    You ask: “Why wouldn’t we?” We wouldn’t for the same reason the State quit paying for passenger-only ferries — they cost W-A-Y more than they’re worth.

    Now, the State would like to reduce auto-ferry service and leave it to us to pay for passenger-only ferries to supplement the reduced auto-ferry service:
    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/jan/06/legislative-ferry-group-hears-governors-plan/

    Note the question in that article from Representative Rolfes about the cost of POF: “Rolfes asked whether the state had calculated the cost to Kitsap of providing two or three passenger ferries each at Kingston, Bremerton and Southworth, and whether the state could do it better.”

    She would like to know what POF would cost. She only needs to look at the last Kitsap Transit proposal, which would have cost local taxpayers (through a new sales tax) about $25 per commuter per day — and that proposal was for the same kind of POF service that she asked about.

    If POF service weren’t F-A-R more expensive than the expensive auto-ferries, the State would be proposing that the State “supplement” reduced auto-ferry service by funding POF service. Of course, the State isn’t proposing such a thing, because they and most of us know POF service is prohibitively expensive.

    Instead, the State wants to reduce its expenditures by reducing auto-ferry service — then leave it to us to pay for M-U-C-H more expensive POF service to take the place of the formerly available auto-ferries.

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