Weekly news roundup

Your ferry news for the week of May 26th to June 1st.

Washington State isn’t the only place where transportation funding is stuck in gridlock. As reported in the Vancouver Sun, a promised referendum on TransLink, B.C.’s regional transportation system, is coming next year. As with Washington lawmakers, B.C. ministers have repeatedly refused to come up with long-term funding sources for transportation infrastructure.

“So what kind of fees and taxes do people like? The usual answer is fees and taxes that are paid by someone else.

“People who don’t ride transit like fare hikes. Everyone in B.C. likes federal funding. In the Lower Mainland, provincial funding is also popular but people in the Interior are less fond of seeing their tax dollars used for the benefit of the Lower Mainland.”

Sound familiar?

Further, the article asks if referendums are really the best way to determine what bits of transportation are funded—or not.

“Washington State Ferries have been crippled by an initiative passed in 1999 that eliminated a motor vehicle excise tax that had been used to fund the marine highway.

“One can argue that taxpayers should have a direct say in what we pay. But I haven’t heard any suggestion by Clark or other members of her government that the concept being implemented for transportation funding will be expanded into areas of more direct provincial responsibility.

“I don’t expect to see a referendum on the carbon tax, on personal income taxes or whether we should lower or raise corporate taxes, for example.

“These are all matters in which the government has to make the hard choices. So why pass the buck on transit funding?”

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Continuing the the theme of “where are our transportation dollars going,” the Seattle Transit Blog reiterates that transit advocates need to press our representatives to adequately maintain our existing infrastructure:

“As transportation advocates, our job is to hold our policymakers’ feet to the fire – so that they can’t use safety, gridlock, or transit as buzzwords to push a tiny number of expensive highway expansions instead of making sure the hundreds of unsafe structures in the state are repaired or replaced.”

We can certainly say the same about adequate funding for our aging ferry fleet.

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