Washington State Ferries has been asked by the governor’s office to come up with $5 million in budget cuts for the upcoming biennial budget. The response from WSF is focusing on service cuts to make up the budget shortfall. The proposal so far is to:
- Reduce two-boat ferry service to one-boat ferry service on the Port Townsend-to-Coupeville route for four weeks in the spring and four weeks in the fall.
- Eliminate late-night service on the Mukilteo-to-Cinton route.
- Reduced winter schedule service on the Vashon north-end triangle route extended from 12 to 20 weeks. And on weekends year-round, one of the three boats would be taken out of service.
- Eliminate the last run of the night on the Bremerton-Seattle run.
- Eliminate the 12:20 p.m. departure from Bremerton and the 1:30 p.m. from Seattle Monday through Friday, and the 6 a.m. sailing from Seattle on Sundays.
- Elimination of the last run of the night on the Tahlequah-Point Defiance route, as well as one mid-day trip.
David Moseley, WSF’s head, is justifying the service cuts on the fact that these runs are lightly used and are thus expendable.
“The Washington State Ferries are not financially sustainable with our current level of service and have not been for some time,” Moseley said.
WSF rolls out threats to cut service on a regular basis, and these threats are often only the opening salvo in negotiating budget cuts. Cutting service is low-hanging fruit for WSF, as service cuts don’t require taking a hard look at where savings and efficiencies might be found in the system. From an editorial in the Kitsap Sun:
“Our legislative delegation will once again fight the first battle to stem the draconian suggestion that would eliminate late-night service to Bremerton, and hopefully they can make headway on the second. Specifically, it’s time to talk about making passenger-only ferry service an option for WSF if smaller boats can be run more cheaply on certain lower-use runs, opening up bids on shipbuilding to out-of-state competition, and increasing flexibility in staffing and scheduling with the ferry employee unions.”
More information can be found in the following articles:
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber: State again puts forward threat of ferry route cuts
Whidbey News-Times: Ferry service on Whidbey may be cut back
South Everett Beacon: Proposed cuts to ferry service may impact commuters