Ferry Advocates Meet With Governor

Gov. Chris Gregoire met with members of the Ferry Community Partnership on Tuesday and they came away with a good feeling. Gregoire also invited along Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond and Jill Satran, her transportation policy adviser.

Debbi Lester of Bainbridge, Walt Elliott of Kingston and John Stokes of Bremerton were among the ferry group. They were joined by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and Rep. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island.

Gregoire told the group, which wants to build 144-car ferries as soon as possible, that she understands the need for the 144-car boats as well as the 64-car boats. We’ll have to wait a few more days to find out which ones the Legislature decides to build, she said.

The governor also talked about the need for sustainable ferry funding and said she had hoped the legislature would define it this session. Maybe next year.

She said she wants 2.5 percent fare increases, but that the Legislature could wind up raising them a little more, possibly 3 percent. I hadn’t heard mention of anything other than 2.5.

They said they were there to plant seeds for the future to encourage the governor, legislature and Washington State Ferries to use the expertise available in ferry communities to help with issues of efficiency and economy, and to consider the possibility of a ferry community advisory committee to play a part in fare discussions. Seaquist was pushing for that this session, but said it’s dead and they’ll have to give it another shot next year.

The group said it was “incredibly impressed with the generosity and the serious attention: the governor gavegovgroupphoto to them during the hectic final week of the legislative session.