This article appeared on the NCWTV website this past Tuesday. Apparently, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), Amtrak, and the Washington Lottery have partnered to create a scratch ticket promotion to raise revenues. It’s disconcerting to think that the state is resorting to gambling to support transportation services. However, if it’s going to happen, Kari Ulatoski of the Ferry Community Partnership would like to know why ferries were excluded from this deal. Here are her comments sent Tuesday morning:
I find this very interesting. Since before Plan C, ferry communities have suggested in writing to the Governor and legislature that WA State Lottery be used to help fund ferries. With a fare box recovery of 65-70% versus Amtrak’s 20-30% and all the tourists the Kitsap peninsula, Anacortes and BC get, WSF should have been considered well before AMTRAK.
It’s ironic the state is subsidizing what could be perceived as a tourist train rather than the ferries, which provide essential services, access to employment, schools, medical care AND tourists. Amtrack is not a state icon. Ferries are!
When are ferries going to be legitimized as part of our public highways, as written in our state constitution, and when will they be incorporated into the WSDOT STIF (State Transportation Improvement Program)? I believe the Secretary of Transportation has responsibility for WSDOTs budget and I suggest our legislators ask her to explain why ferries, which have had no funding for years for vessel construction, were left out.
This updated comment was sent by Kari later on Tuesday.
I heard from some of our ferry caucus legislators and here’s the latest:
They are looking into this. The understanding is that Amtrack brought the idea to WSDOT and that it will raise a total of $140,000 for the state contribution to train service. The risk for ferries, if this avenue is pursued, is that people may think the problem is solved. It was pointed out that the lottery was supposed to solve the school funding issue, too, and we know that it didn’t. Is the risk of perception that the ferry funding is solved worth the small amount of revenue and promotion of ferries? Our wonderful legislators are having their staff check into this.
Please note that when this was suggested before and during Plan C meetings, it was only a small part of the picture, not the whole solution.