The election is over. It’s time to get back to business. When the state legislature reconvenes, one issue they will face–yet again–is sustainable funding for the ferry system. The band-aid approach isn’t working. The following was posted yesterday on the Kitsap Sun website:
- Posted November 10, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
It doesn’t appear Washington State Ferries will protest a Coast Guard directive on increasing ferry crew numbers, despite a likely cost of $14.1 million in 2013-15 being added to the agency’s current pr oposed cuts of $4.8 million for that biennium.
It seems reasonable for WSF head David Moseley to ask for more time to implement changes — right now, only the addition of one crew member to Jumbo-class ferries should be in place this month — as well as seeking some compromise on Evergreen-class ferries changes possible for next spring, a meeting on which is scheduled for this week. Both the Coast Guard and WSF share some blame for allowing reductions last summer that now compound the agency’s deficit — not to mention a number of missed sailings during the past few months due to short-staffed crews.
Safety shouldn’t be compromised, but adequate crew levels may not mean much if ridership dwindles due to massi ve fare increases or route cancellations, both likely scenarios to be discussed in Olympia. The trap underscores again the need for a stable revenue stream for the ferry system in the transportation budget, which our recently re-elected legislative delegation is tasked with pushing — again.
We encourage our delegation — and their constituents — to keep the ferry system as a priority, as we’ve written before on this page. Consistently having routes threatened is unacceptable to West Sound residents, just as shorting staff levels was untenable in the Coast Guard’s evaluation.
In the coming months we will be suggesting ways you can help.