Washington State Ferries’ long-range plan: $3.3 billion short

Just made public: The long-range plan for Washington State Ferries, which says the system is $3.3 billion short of what it needs for the next 22 years. Here’s the link; read on for the news release – we’ll be analyzing it for Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ramifications:

Washington State Department of Transportation Ferries Division
(WSF) will purchase five new vessels over the next five years as part of
a long-range plan that will guide its services and investments through

“After a lot of hard work by the Legislature, Gov. Gregoire and WSDOT,
we are finally at a place where we can look ahead to long-term,
sustainable service of our marine highways,” said Paula Hammond,
Washington Transportation Secretary. “This is good news for the
communities that depend on our marine transportation system, but also
for the entire state of Washington.”

“The final long-range plan for the ferry system is the culmination of
the efforts of many people, including lawmakers, ferry served
communities, and WSDOT,” said Assistant Secretary David Moseley. “The
plan sets a path for WSF between now and 2030 with the first milestone
being construction of the 64-auto ferry.”

The plan assumes that current levels of service remain as they are today
with minor improvements as new vessels are acquired to replace retiring
vessels. Other plan highlights include:

* Purchase 10 new vessels to replace retired and retiring vessels
* Preserve and maintain existing terminals and vessels
* Investigate new technology for vehicle reservations systems at
Anacortes/Sidney B.C. and Port Townsend/Keystone, and to look at options
to incorporate reservations on other routes
* Make transit supportive investments at select terminals

The plan identifies a net funding gap of $3.3 billion over the next 22
years with most of that deficit in the capital program. WSF will
continue to work with the Legislature to identify a sustainable funding
source for the ferry system.

5 Replies to "Washington State Ferries' long-range plan: $3.3 billion short"

  • martyu July 1, 2009 (6:49 am)

    Why not drop the special commuter rate and have the regular users pay the same fare I pay? Seems simple enough to me…

  • 56bricks July 1, 2009 (8:15 am)

    If commuter rates (10 trips a week) go away so will commuters. They’ve been decreasing for years. With decreasing ridership everyone else’s fares will have to increase to cover costs. Real simple….

  • ToTall July 1, 2009 (9:53 am)

    If the ridership decreases then there won’t be the need for the additional ferries that are currently projected either. It seems that martyu solution works.
    Additional funding is not available, we must be more efficient and, as I have heard every business say now, “Do more with less”. People will either have to move where the jobs are, rather then expect the services to move to them, or change to jobs in their immediate locations. It would really be nice to live in the country and work in the city but it may not be practical for the rest of the taxpaying public to support that ideal!

  • CLH July 1, 2009 (10:18 am)

    The WSF system is no different than the freeways, bridges or roads that the rest of us drive on. Just as we build and maintain these arteries of transportion, we must maintain the WSF. State money to resurface roads in Spokane may seem to do little to help the Western half of the state, but let us not forget we are all one state. Subsidizing bus fares may not seem fair to those taxpayers who never ride the bus, but buses help propel our economy by moving workers around and providing transportation to those who can not afford cars or simply choose not to drive cars to help our environment. Further, bus subsidies are a far greater percentage of a bus ticket than are the subsidies of a ferry ticket. For those people who feel the WSF system is such a colossal waste of money, imagine the added traffic on our freeways and bridges if all of those walk on riders and drive on riders start commuting by car. However, there is another solution, just build bridges and you’ll never have to buy another ferry boat.

  • ROTCODDAM July 1, 2009 (1:43 pm)

    Cart before horse.

    What’s the policy? What kind of movement patterns, and therefore development patterns, are we trying to subsidize and encourage when we make choices about public transportation spending?

    If we don’t seriously ask and answer questions like this, we can’t be too surprised when the outcome of the process is hijacked by other interests during the legislative session in Olympia. What should those outcomes be? What outcomes best serve the long term interests of the taxpayers in our state and region?

    Without those answers we will continue to find ourselves where we find ourselves today. A situation where it is more advantageous for a taxpayer to move to Kingston and enjoy lower costs of living and a fully subsidized commute into the city by boat and rail – mostly at the expense of others. As current plans unfold, it is a certainty that more residents will respond similarly to these market signals that we create through public policy. As they do so, costs for these systems will continue to rise, along with crowding and demand for further expansion. And in fifty years we will be right where we are today despite sizable public investments – struggling to find more money to pay for these choices.

    What outcomes best serve the long term interests of the taxpayers in our state and region?

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