Critical Issues Related to Ferry Reservations – Community Input and Communication

This is the second in a series of three posts that spotlight critical issues related to WSF’s proposed vehicle reservation system in the San Juan Islands. These posts are being published in preparation for the WSF Community meetings scheduled for June 7.

If implemented, a reservation system will significantly impact vehicle travel throughout the San Juan Islands, yet information about the proposal has not been shared with the public to date.   There are critical issues that need to be addressed and questions WSF staff needs to answer before moving forward. For example, we are concerned that much planning has already been done with no participation from any of the island communities, each of which has distinct needs that will not be adequately met with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ reservation program.

The critical issues are common throughout the islands, but the related questions vary from one island to the next. Each post will mention a critical issue and a question or two relevant to Lopez Island since that’s where we live. Residents of other islands are encouraged to think about each critical issue and formulate questions appropriate to your island.

Critical Issue—Community Input and Communication

Although assurances have been made that a reservation system will not be implemented without extensive input from the community, no residents or staff have been invited to participate in planning meetings to date. We are concerned that by the time the promised representative advisory committee is formed, the bulk of business decisions—e.g., round trip vs. one-way trip fares, penalties for missed reservations, percentage of boat allocated for reservations, year round vs. seasonal reservations—will have already been made.

WSF has statistics showing that even though we are third among the islands in population, residents of Lopez Island make more frequent use of the ferries than residents of other islands. This is probably due to our small population, lack of access to many services on the island, and our proximity to the mainland. We would hope that the advisory committee would take this disproportionate use into account when decisions are made regarding the number of spokespersons for each island.  In addition, the meetings should be held on each ferry served island to offer opportunities for residents to participate in the planning process.

Please plan to attend one of the June 7 meetings. The evening meeting will be video-conferenced at the Lopez and Orcas libraries from 5 to 7 p.m. Each of us will be impacted directly, no matter what the final decision.

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About sjbrooksyoung

Susan Brooks-Young has been involved in the field of instructional technology since 1979. She was one of the original technology users in the district where she taught and has continued to explore ways in which technology can be used to facilitate student learning. She has worked as computer mentor, technology trainer, and technology curriculum specialist. Prior to establishing her own consulting firm, Susan was a teacher, site administrator, and technology specialist in a county office of education in a career that spanned more than 23 years. Since 1986, she has published articles and software reviews in a variety of education journals. She is also author of a number of books which focus on how school leaders can implement the NETS*A Standards. Susan works with educators internationally, focusing on practical technology-based strategies for personal productivity and effective technology implementation in schools. Susan and her husband live on Lopez Island, WA.

3 thoughts on “Critical Issues Related to Ferry Reservations – Community Input and Communication

  1. Adrienne Adams

    In addition, the new website for reservations went live today. You can take a look here:

    The “deposit” for a one-way trip from Anacortes to Sydney for a standard vehicle is $50.85, with the remaining $9.00 fare payable at the tollbooth (along with any passenger fares). The deposit is approximately 85% of the full fare. The “deposit” amount for the Friday Harbor – Sydney route is nearly 90% of the full fare cost.The Terms and Conditions state that the deposit may be refunded before the “Free Cancelation [sic] Deadline,” but that deadline is not specified.

  2. Brian Churchwell

    My name is Brian Churchwell, Deputy Program Manager for WSF’s vehicle reservations system (VRS). I hope those interested in this topic can make the meeting on Thursday, June 7, from 11:35a-2p aboard the inter-island ferry. There’s a lot to discuss and I think many concerns will be alleviated. First and foremost, no decisions have been made about how to implement VRS in the San Juan Islands. Before doing so, WSF will form a partnership group in September with the community to talk about the ins and outs of VRS and how it could work best in the islands.


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