Tag Archives: BC ferries

Food for thought from BC

People forget that Washington state ferries were once a private enterprise. The state stepped in when Puget Sound Navigation proposed a 30% fare increase, then brought its ferry service to a halt when the request was refused (read more here).

Some folks are calling for partial or complete privatization of WSF. The BC ferry system is partially privatized, much to the dismay of residents who rely on the system. Here are a couple of recent articles readers may find of interest related to this topic.

Are Ferry Execs Hosing Tax Payers? (Note: The full title is misleading. The article actually suggests it’s BC execs who are hosing the public.)

Taxpayers Federation Looks at Outsourcing BC Ferries

WSF, BC Ferries exploring joint boat purchases

An article from the Kitsap Sun discusses Rep. Morris’ idea for WSF and BC Ferries to explore the option of purchasing boats together to save costs.

“Vigor Shipyards of Seattle is building two 144-car boats for the state. The more it builds, the cheaper they’ll get, said the Mount Vernon Democrat, no matter who’s paying. The first boat is estimated at $147 million, the second at $129 million and the third could fall around $90 million, he said…

” ‘We should explore any idea that will cut the cost of building ferries,’ said Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor. ‘Sharing a multi-boat buy with BC Ferries could be a good way to bring more work to our outstanding Puget Sound shipbuilders.’

“By law, Washington State Ferries’ vessels must be built in-state. BC Ferries’ boats can be constructed anywhere. Its last batch was built in Germany…”

Read the full story here: BC, Washington ferry officials to explore benefits of working together

A Canadian’s thoughts about privitization

Partial privatization has been suggested as one solution to funding our ferry system. Aside from the fact that a step in that direction would further drive a wedge between WSF and the rest of the state’s transportation system, there are a host of significant challenges with this approach. We can see this in what’s currently happening with the ferries in British Columbia.

Occasionally, we use this space to link to an article about the partial privatization of BC Ferries. Here is an article that appeared in the Times Colonist on August 17. I don’t know that our Build in WA law is so great when there is just one shipyard and therefore no competitive bidding, but the article does offer food for thought.

What can we learn from the BC Ferries?

WSF is often compared to the BC Ferry system for a variety of reasons. BC Ferries are facing many of the same issues we are grappling with including reduced levels of service, decreased ridership, rising fuel prices, and a call to make the system profitable. One notable difference however, is the fact that the BC system has already been partially privatized with negative results.

As we think about what steps we can take to work toward resolving ongoing concerns related to WSF, it would be worth our time to learn more about the current situation with the BC system to avoid making similar mistakes here. Begin with this article, which appeared last Monday on Canada.com and this article posted on 5/31/11.

Here are a few additional links to recent articles related to the BC system (thanks, Gordon Jonasson!)

BC Ferries Remain a Political Problem

BC Ferries needs to pull up a chair and listen

Government fails BC Ferries