Tag Archives: WSF Accountability

King 5 story on ferry staffing issues

King 5 has done a story about the recent spate of cancelled or delayed sailings due to staffing issues. The article brings up the possibility that crews are staging a work slowdown, but a spokesman for the Inland Boatman’s Union denied any work stoppage or slow down, blaming mismanagement and barebones staffing levels instead.

“Ferries Deputy Chief George Capacci said they’re working to correct the problems. One issue they’re looking into is whether or not this is a type of work action. He says they’re talking to labor unions to see if disgruntled employees are causing a work slow-down to pressure management to give back lost wages and positions that have occurred over the last year.

“ ‘We need to have a full and open discussion about it, and we are looking into it, yes,’ said Capacci.

“…Union leader Dennis Conklin from the Inland Boatman’s Union told KING 5 there is no work stoppage or slow down taking place.

“ ‘The union has not authorized a work action and neither has the membership. It simply isn’t true. This is ferry system mismanagement. They don’t have enough people now. We’re down to the barebones and if one person is missing, the boat doesn’t sail,’ said Conklin.”

Once again, an excellent exchange is occurring on the FCP Yahoo Group. There are indications that the recent staffing issues may have an underlying cause in WSF’s inadequate tools and procedures for crew dispatch. It seems counter-productive to once again blame crews for issues that might be ascribed to procedures and policies within WSF management.

Read the full story here: Ferry system looks into possible work slow down

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Chetzemoka’s continued woes

From the Kitsap Sun:

“The state ferry Chetzemoka, after only a year in service, has cracked propellers, potentially from improperly cast stainless steel.

“State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, touring Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes Friday, noticed the 64-car ferry on a lift with its props off and asked what happened.

“Dakota Creek dry-docked the boat Oct. 17 for scheduled installation of rub rails. An inspection Oct. 19 by Washington State Ferries inspectors found hairline cracks in one propeller, explained Paul Brodeur, director of vessel maintenance, preservation and engineering…”

Read the full story here.

Washington State desperately needs to modernize its aging fleet of ferry boats: nine of the 20 boats in the fleet must be replaced within the next 20 years. The Chetzemoka is the first in a series of three new 64-car ferries to be built. In theory, the Kwa-di Tabil Class boats were to be built from an “off-the-shelf” design, greatly reducing cost and time required to build them. But the Chetzemoka ended up being the most expensive ferry ever built in the US: extensive changes to the specifications by WSF resulted in the boats being essentially first-of-its-kind design; a drafting error by WSF cost the taxpayers $1 million to fix; and issues with excessive engine vibration, under-designed rub rails, and a malfunctioning pump have put the Chetzemoka into drydock several times since its launch.

All of these issues have contributed to the high cost of building and maintaining the Chetzemoka, but more importantly, point out serious flaws in the process of designing and building new ferry boats, and the lack of transparency and accountability in that process. Along with securing a stable funding source for capital projects it seems essential that the process by which new boats are designed, built, and operated must become more efficient and accountable.

Broadcast times for “Staying Afloat”

In case you have not seen the comments added to the earlier post regarding the televised report on the ferry system, it will be broadcast this week. Here’s the information. Thanks to Jessica Gao who passed it along.

You can watch for Staying Afloat: Challenges facing Washington State ferries on Tuesday, September 27th at 7:00pm & 10:00pm. It will re-air on Wednesday at 6:00pm, right before our weekly program The Impact at 7:00pm. On The Impact, we’ll have a special edition with reaction to our ferries report with ferry district lawmakers and David Moseley. You’ll also be able to watch at ferriesstayingafloat.org.

Thank you to everyone who help contribute to this report. I conducted 27 interviews over two months, most of which made it into the final piece. It aims to be a broad overview, serving as an educational piece for a general audience. Once it’s up on our website, it can be embedded onto other sites for viewing.
Thank you again.
Best,
Jessica Gao

Four steps to turn around WSF

Larry Seaquist represents the 26th Legislative District in the Washington Legislature. He recently wrote an opinion piece, Weigh in on saving our ferry system, which appeared in the Kitsap Sun. Seaquist cites four steps that could be taken to strengthen the ferry system. They are:

  1. Improve service
  2. Build new ferries
  3. Overhaul WSF management
  4. Accountability

Click here to read the full opinion piece.

Another bill introduced…

Late last week Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, introduced yet another bill related to the current crisis with the ferry system. Seaquist says that the intent of his bill is not to target WSF management or employees, but rather is designed to address problems with the basic structure of WSF.

In this bill Seaquist calls for a three-person board appointed by the governor, the Senate majority leader, and the Speaker of the House. The board would be responsible for making recommendations for ferry system reform on several key issues. This article from the Kitsap Sun explains more fully.

The ferry system funding problem

The ferry system was the focus of discussion during the second morning of the recent meeting of the Washington State Transportation Commission. If you’d like an overview of costs over the last decade, David Moseley’s presentation on the funding problem is now available on the WSTC site and also linked here, for your convenience.

A ferry employee’s point of view

The following was sent to the FCP last week. It’s interesting reading and worth sharing.

Taking a Sober Look at Washington State Ferries

By Dan Twohig, North Bend, WA

Submitted on January 11, 2011

I am a deck officer working for Washington State Ferries and a member of two maritime unions, The Inland Boatman’s Union (IBU) and the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P).

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