Your ferry news for the week of June 1st to June 7th.
Kingston FAC Chair Walt Elliott has a good review of the issues facing our newest ferries, the Kwa-di Tabil “I-lean” Class boats.
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WSF engineer Alex Zecha raises questions on the LNG conversion proposal and its connection to fracking.
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The results of two polls on transportation funding show that Washington voters think differently about transportation funding depending on how the questions are asked. An article on Publicola explores this idea:
“Asked about their general transportation priorities, respondents to the Elway poll strongly preferred repair and maintenance (90 percent) to things like major highways (68 percent) and mass transit (60 percent).
“However, a separate poll, by EMC Research, concluded that “a strong majority”—69 percent—of voters support funding transportation even if it means more taxes, and that a majority of all voters said they supported passing a package to pay for transportation improvements this year.”
An earlier article on the Seattle Transit Blog on the March Elway transportation poll explored in some detail the idea that poll results are strongly influenced by how the questions are framed.
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Ferry fares are going up again October 1st.
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Bainbridge Island is running a shuttle bus this summer to help residents and visitors get around the island car-free. The shuttle is being sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and funded through lodging tax revenues and local sponsors.
The Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber has published an in-depth article about continuing problems and concerns with the new ferry Chetzemoka and its sister ships in the Kwa-di Tabil (nicknamed the “I-Lean”) class.
“A ferry engineer, meanwhile, has directly countered several of the state’s claims about the ferries. In his own August letter to Smith, Alex Zecha, chief engineer on the Salish, one of the Chetzemoka’s sister ships, criticized several aspects of the boats’ design as well as their poor fuel efficiency. He said the boats lean more than WSF expected and claims the state has already investigated how much it would cost to correct it.
“ ‘This is not a very commendable state of affairs, particularly considering the difficulties faced in recent state budgets,’ Zecha writes.
“The state auditor’s office also appears to be questioning the ferries’ design process. It is currently finishing a yearlong audit of the ferry construction program, with results to be published next month. In a brief issued last year, the office cited citizen and legislator concern as one reason for the audit and said the audit will determine ‘whether Washington taxpayers are getting the best value for their money.’
“Some also question the way the Chetzemoka performs on the water. Nelson, who rides the boat when she commutes to Olympia, said she, like many Islanders, has seen the boat make large sweeps as it crosses the short channel, and she’s concerned about why.
“The Kwa-di Tabil boats, ferry officials say, each have two powerful, 3,000-horsepower engines, which work well on the longer Port Townsend-Coupeville route. But on Vashon, the boat’s large engines have become a problem…”
Read the full article: Questions plague Vashon’s newest ferry
In early August, Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton sent a letter to David Moseley, Assistant Secretary of Transportation. In the letter she expressed several concerns about the design and durability of the new 64-car ferries. She received a response from WSF on August 17, but is still not satisfied. She has requested a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Moseley which will also be attended by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor. He is a former U.S. Navy warship captain who also has many questions about these ferries.
A full article about this recent development is available here, on the HeraldNet site.
On August 1, Rep. Norma Smith (R-Whidbey Island) sent a letter to State Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond and David Moseley (WSDOT Ferries Division Assistant Secretary) asking nearly two dozen questions about concerns related to issues with the design of these ferries. An article discussing the letter can be accessed here. It states that Hammond hopes to have a response for Smith as early as next week.
The full text of the letter is available here.