Dan Twohig works with WSF and was involved yesterday in a meeting with the Governor about the ferry system. He has an opportunity to provide suggestions on how to address current financial issues and would like input from as many ferry users as possible, but he needs it by noon on Sunday. This is a chance for your ideas to be funneled directly to the Governor. Here is Dan’s request:
Despite the brief, general press release yesterday, we were fortunate to have the Governor’s undivided attention for almost two hours! The meeting was both upbeat and sobering. We provided the Governor with suggestions to fix some of our problems and we have the opportunity to do more.
The Governor asked us for suggestions for ways to save money at WSF that will offset the increase in crew costs. We will have her attention for the next several days but that window may soon close. We need to get back to her early this week.
I would like you all to brainstorm ideas to save money at WSF. We need to squeeze every dollar we can out of this effort. No idea is too stupid or too crazy to be considered for our submission.
Please send your ideas to me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you think they need to be posted to the newsgroups for discussion, that’s fine but we don’t have time for huge arguments.
Please give me a one paragraph statement of your idea. If you feel you need to back it up, I want a concise briefing paper no more than ONE page in length.
I need this ASAP, preferably by noon on Sunday.
Again, this is a brainstorm. No idea is too crazy or too stupid to be considered for our submission to the Governor.
C.B. Hall’s Wednesday article on Crosscut.com presents in clear terms the funding crisis in the Washington State Ferry system:
At a recent Seattle roundtable on passenger-only ferries, Moseley, who runs Washington State Ferries (WSF), furnished more details. He presented a September 2011 accounting by which the ferry system will be running in the red by the 2013-2015 biennium. Two funds that have propped up WSF operations for years (since the 2000 abolition of the motor vehicle excise tax as a funding source) will likely end up with $36 million less than needed.
And the numbers may be headed further south. The governor’s December supplemental budget revised the anticipated shortfall upward, to more than $70 million. The deficit will soar to close to $300 million in 2015-2017, in Moseley’s accounting, but the corresponding figure in the governor’s update was over $375 million.
In an interview with Crosscut, Moseley said that Hammond’s scenario would translate into a 40 percent reduction in the provider’s approximately 450 daily sailings.
But is this a do-or-die crisis, or an aggressive lobbying gambit?
AAA Washington lobbyist Dave Overstreet didn’t minimize the threat to the thousands of motorists who use the system daily, but he was hardly hitting the panic button over the Hammond scenario. “I don”t think they’d cut any routes altogether,” he told Crosscut, “but I can see them cutting the service back, on the number of crossings.”
Still, he said, “we take [Hammond’s scenario] seriously.”
Read the full story here: Gale force ferry service warnings
On Friday, the Washington Legislature passed a budget that does not include the predicted $4 million in service cuts for WSF. However, the ferry system is not yet out of the woods. The budget was passed based on the assumption that HB 2053 will be passed when legislators meet this coming week in a special session. If HB 2053 does not pass, the $4 million in service cuts will be restored.
HB 2053 increases fees for a variety of licenses and the revenue generated would be used to support a variety of statewide transportation projects, including ferries. While it is not perfect and does not adequately address sustained funding, HB 2053 has received the support of Ferry Advisory Committees and governing bodies of ferry-served communities.
Learn more by reading this article.
Legislators respond to email from constituents. If you support HB 2053, please take a moment to drop a note to members of the House and Senate. Contact information can be found on our Contact Information page.
The Ferry Community Partnership (FCP) is a group of concerned elected officials, members of Ferry Advisory Committee members, and ferry riders who have joined forces to find ways to support WSF. As residents of a ferry-served community, we are all members of this group which has worked diligently to prevent increases in fares and reductions in service. FCP is also encouraging legislators to address the concerns of an aging fleet and to find sustainable funding sources for WSF.
As you are probably aware, both the House and the Senate have released proposed budgets that impact the ferry system. There is still time for you to let elected officials know how you feel. Information for doing this can be found here.
In the meantime, here is a list of links to current articles related to the budget:
Washington Ferry Riders Face Two More Fare Hikes. KUOW
Port Townsend-Coupeville route’s second ferry virtually assured. Peninsula Daily News
Senate takes middle path on Washington State Ferries spending. Kitsap Sun
Ferry cuts may not be as severe as anticipated. Vashon Maury Island Beachcomber
Senate transportation budget nearly $9 billion. KOMO
Transportation budgets revealed. Olympian
House Releases Biennial Budget. Seattle Transit Blog
Ferries May Get Budget Reprieve. Puget Sound Transportation Projects
In January 2011, Rep. Larry Seaquist predicted that the ferry caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators representing Puget Sound’s ferry communities, would take the governor up on her request for alternatives to her proposals for the ferries. Late last week, the group did just that.
In a letter to the governor, the ferry caucus laid out its case for maintaining current levels of service, building a new boat large enough to handle mid-sized runs (144-cars), and becoming responsible stewards of the state’s entire transportation system. The group also included suggestions for how these goals can be accomplished and ways to deal with the current fiscal crisis.
Click these links to access the full text of the letter and supporting document.
This is coming a little late, but there is information related to last Saturday’s FCP meeting that is important to share with you. There are links provided here to 3 files. First, notes from the meeting which focus primarily on effective strategies for lobbying efforts. Second, am Excel spreadsheet that provides a matrix of the current bills related to WSF. Finally, a very helpful version of the Ferries Fact Sheet that condenses all the information presented in earlier versions into a format that can be printed on one sheet, back-to-back. I will bring copies of this to the March 9 community meeting on Lopez.
An official announcement will be made next week, but I wanted to let you know that the March 12 FCP meeting will be held in Anacortes at the library between 10:30 and 12:30. This schedule and location enables San Juan Islanders to attend and provide input. FCP members will provide rides from and to the ferry terminal so you can walk on. Please put this on your calendars now. We need to have good representation at this meeting. More information will be posted next week.