Tag Archives: Fauntleroy

Explaining the explanation for giving up on Fauntleroy loading experiment

The in basket: When Washington State Ferries abandoned its experiment with a different way to load vehicles at the Fauntleroy terminal, the news release announcing it said one of the reasons was “ “challenges with consistent fare recovery.”

I asked what that means. Some users were boarding without paying? Proper assignment of fares to the two destinations? Or something else?

The out basket: Ian Sterling, public affairs director for the ferries, replied, “The way we load vehicles in Fauntleroy is unique to that location and is not standardized with the rest of the system. The largest single component to fare recovery issues there is the use of handheld scanners which have proven to function inconsistently the farther they get from the toll booth and a WiFi connection. Rainy weather also appears to impact their performance. There is also a small element of deliberate fare evasion. We continue to look for a solution to address issues with scanner performance.

“The scanners are for the multi-ride passes that many frequent commuters use. We actually removed the scanners from most use during the experiment. We use them on other routes as well, but to a much lesser degree. They’ve been around for at least 8 years at Fauntleroy,” Ian said.

Speeding motorcycles and traffic control at Fauntleroy ferry

The in basket: A couple of questions arose in my mind as I went to Seattle and returned via the Fauntleroy ferry terminal one September Saturday.

As I left the dock on my way to a play in Seattle, I found a ferry employee directing traffic, stopping traffic passing by so departing vehicles didn’t have to stop before pulling out.

Then on my return trip, I watched as the off-loading began on the boat that had just arrived and that I was waiting to catch.

As always, motorcycles were the first to be released. I’d guess there were about a dozen. I could only estimate from my vantage point two lanes over, but my estimate is that each and every one was traveling 40 miles per hour or faster. They were traveling much faster than any of the cars that followed them.

The last I’d heard about traffic control at the dock’s outlet onto Fauntleroy Way, from a reader who wondered a couple of years ago if a traffic signal might be installed there, was that there was none. I asked when it resumed.

And I asked if there is a speed limit on ferry docks that would support a traffic citation.

The out basket: Hadley Rodero, a consultant for Washington State Ferries, replied, “All WSF terminals have speed limit signs. Depending on the location, typically the exiting speed is between 10-20 mph.”

State Trooper Russ Winger, who speaks for the State Patrol here, including the Vessel and Terminal (VATS) units, says, “VATS assigned troopers, like any trooper, can enforce any speed limit, however they are usually out of the patrol car, patrolling the terminal or providing security on vessels and not in any position to check a vehicles speed with radar or Lidar.

“Do they sit in the terminal area and target speeding vehicles debarking vessels? No. If  there is a vehicle driving negligently a trooper can obviously try and make contact but that is not the main emphasis of VATS assigned troopers. However, VATStroopers can and will take any enforcement action required if appropriate. ”

“Traffic control at Fauntleroy started on July 27,” Hadley said. “During the fall/winter seasons the hours are: Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.” Evidently, Saturdays have some, too, as Sept. 26 is when I was there.

Can Fauntleroy ferry terminal get a traffic light?

The in basket: Raymond Craig of Port Orchard writes to say he misses the days when a state trooper was posted at the  Fauntleroy ferry terminal during rush hour.

“Getting off or on the ferry was a breeze because the officer efficiently metered traffic to match the boat off-load,” he said.

“With no traffic control, the ferry off-load gets bogged down on the ramp and during peak commute times this results in extensive delays. It is frustrating to see 50-plus cars idling on the dock while crossing traffic dribbles by on Fauntleroy (Avenue). With a bus stop at the top of the dock, adding a Metro double bus in the midst of the commute makes things even worse.

“More importantly,” he continued, “the exit at the end of the Fauntleroy ferry dock is a ‘triple point’ of safety issues. Cars, trucks, metro buses and pedestrians are all trying to cross without control or monitoring.  It is a dangerous crossing where sight lines are limited and drivers compete with Metro buses and pedestrians.

 “I have asked managers at WSDOT why they don’t install a traffic light to help the situation.  They tell me the Fauntleroy community will not allow the light to be installed because they don’t like having the ferry dock there. The community would like the terminal to be removed and resists any effort that will aid the ferry system.

“It makes no sense that the personal priorities of the Fauntleroy community could override a serious traffic safety situation,” Raymond said. “If a pedestrian or bicycle rider is injured at the ferry terminal crossing……you could logically blame the lack of traffic light as the cause.  With the emphasis today on the environment and safety, how can WSDOT not override the community and install a traffic light.”

The out basket: The city of Seattle has the whip hand on this and is sensitive to the feelings of city residents who live near the terminal. But Rick Sheridan of the Seattle Department of Transportation says the city is willing to consider ways to make the intersection safer if the ferry system provides the money.

First, though, Marta Coursey of the ferry system’s public affairs office sent along these thoughts: “In 2011, Washington State Patrol’s budget was reduced significantly, resulting in the loss of officer traffic control at the intersection of Fauntleroy Way and Fauntleroy Terminal in West Seattle. The Fauntleroy terminal presents many challenges and the officers were extremely helpful to us in providing safety, security and traffic control around this terminal.

 “Because Fauntleroy Way is also a city street, not a state highway, the state has no jurisdictional control over the intersection. In order for the state to install a signal here, we would need to get a permit from the city.”

Which brings us back to Rick Sheridan’s reply: “Our traffic engineers reviewed the intersection that supports the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal,” he said. “The City of Seattle is open to the idea of modifying this intersection. We would be happy to explore changes that can better facilitate ferry terminal operations while also ensuring a safe roadway for all users.

“As this request is driven by their operational needs, changes at this location would need to be funded by the Washington state ferry system. We will reach out to them to share our perspective on the matter.”