Following a 2-hour debate Friday afternoon, Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson was removed from office. This wasn’t something a lot of people saw coming. Read more by clicking here.
As usual, the Kitsap Sun does an excellent job of reporting on ferry issues. Four articles came out within the past couple of days on two important issues. First up: the proposal to begin switching ferries to run on LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) instead of diesel fuel:
“WSF, citing a study by a Seattle-based marine engineering firm, announced in August that it could save millions of dollars per year by converting. The cost of converting the boats to LNG engines would be paid for within seven years, WSF said then.
“But the report released Wednesday by Seattle-based Cedar River Group and two other consulting firms wasn’t as optimistic.
“The report, provided to transportation committees from the state House and Senate, indicates that WSF’s venture into liquefied natural gas will have to be methodical and intricately planned out for one or two decades.”
And next up, Pam Dzama has an excellent critique not only of the LNG issue, but also the (seemingly) endless steam of consulting studies that taxpayers are funding:
“I’m sure it’s somewhere hidden in the fine print of Washington state’s budget, but I couldn’t find the line item indicating the amount allocated to funding current and future consulting operations. I’m sure it’s an amount the Legislature doesn’t advertise.
“Two recent articles in the Kitsap Sun about the Washington State Ferries system discussed the findings of two separate studies done by several different consulting organizations. Their findings were delivered to the House and Senate transportation committees…
“Newly appointed Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, posited that part of the micromanagement problem comes from the Legislature constantly studying and tinkering with various ferry system requirements and funding ideas, changing priorities year to year…
“Yes, this matter has been studied enough. It’s time for the Legislature to fund the ferries as a legitimate highway system and for ferries management and unions to apply common sense in dealing with their various issues — including the ability to understand the limited resources available to them at this time.”
Two articles about the contract to build two new 144-car ferries:
“Martinac Shipbuilding has until the end of the business day Tuesday to lower its costs for a new state ferry or lose millions of dollars in work.
“The Tacoma firm is among a team signed to build a 144-car boat for Washington State Ferries. Vigor Industrial — formerly Todd Shipyards — heads the group.
“Vigor’s proposal to the state in July was rejected by WSF Director David Moseley as disappointingly high. The boatbuilding consortium sliced the price to $115.4 million, and the state accepted it Nov. 1.”
“Martinac Shipbuilding made a counteroffer to try to save its share of work on a new state ferry, and should find out by Wednesday morning whether it succeeded. Also Tuesday, the state auditor said his office would perform an audit next year on the state’s ferry construction program.”
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
“Let me tell you, [WSF] have a whole lot of people working there and we’re not quite sure what they are all doing,” she said.
—State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, quoted at the March 12th Town Hall meeting in Coupeville.
Senator Haugen was addressing a question about the financial difficulties of WSF, saying that prioritizing fare revenue towards terminal construction and overstaffing of WSF middle management are partly responsible for the funding crisis.
Read the full P.I. story here: Sen. Haugen tells Whidbey crowd: These cuts will hurt
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.
Last week’s attachments for the January 29 FCP meeting included a report that may have gone unnoticed due to the fact that several documents were included with the agenda. It presents the Ferry Union Coalition’s response to the PVA report on WSF governance. The following message from Dan Twohig, who works for WSF, came through the FCP listserv a few days later and is posted here, along with a link to the response.
I found an organizational chart form the Passenger Vessel Association WSF Governance Study published in December of last year. The chart and the full study are also available on our Downloads page.
The PVA Report has excellent information on the structure of WSF’s management and legislative oversight. The report also describes alternative management and governance structures form other ferry systems around the U.S. and British Columbia. These options are very much worth examining as the State struggles with a system that is now in crisis.