Governor proposes Puget Sound Regional Ferry District

(Bremerton ferries passing in front of Bainbridge, photographed 12/2010 by JayDee)
First, King County created its own ferry district — now, Governor Gregoire is suggesting that the state have one too. She is proposing that Washington State Ferries be taken out of the state Transportation Department and instead run by a regional ferry district. Here’s the story from the Kitsap Sun; here’s the governor’s news release. Announcing the proposal today, she said the proposed Puget Sound Regional Ferry District would have its own taxing authority. But this idea will have to be proposed in, and approved by, the State Legislature before becoming reality.

ADDED 4:30 PM: It’s been pointed out, the state ferries are considered part of the state highway system, raising issues about the separation proposal. Some legislators already are speaking out – we received this:

The following statement was released by:

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, chair of the Senate Transportation
Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam
Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island
Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch

“Our ferries are part of our state highway system, just like roads, rail and transit. “Isolating the needs in our ferry system and creating another layer of government to address them is not the solution. Users of ferries already pay into the highway system just like everybody else when they pay gas taxes, in addition to ferry fares.

“The state’s not asking Seattle residents to pay special taxes for the tunnel or the 520 bridge. It’s not asking Spokane residents to pay special taxes for the North-South Corridor. It’s not asking Vancouver residents to pay special taxes to pay for the Vancouver-Portland Bridge. Our ferries are no less a part of the state highway system than these projects.

“We need to prioritize the dollars we have. We need to continue working on the efficiencies that we’ve started in the ferry system. And we need a transportation package to meet the needs of our entire highway system as a whole, including ferries, roads, rail and transit.”

9 Replies to "Governor proposes Puget Sound Regional Ferry District"

  • bailecyclist January 6, 2011 (4:39 pm)

    Hmmm. Have to think about this one, and see how it plays out, but as a resident and taxpeyer in West Seattle, I am not eager to be part of a Regional Ferry District and pay increased taxes to subsidize commuters. Maybe it would be best to privatize the ferry system.

  • redblack January 6, 2011 (5:08 pm)

    yeah, bailecyclist! then we can pay higher fares in the interest of maximizing and privatizing profits while simultaneously detracting from quality of services!
    i.e. no, thanks.

  • Paul January 7, 2011 (6:11 am)

    I guess Sen. Haugen has already forgotten asking the central Puget Sound region to pay special taxes for roads and transit (the Regional Transit Investment District).

  • Halyn January 7, 2011 (9:43 am)

    While it’s true that there is no special tax being sought for 520, they are planning to put tolls on 520, just as they have for the Narrows Bridge–that’s basically a use tax, which to me is fair. Why shouldn’t the ferries be paid for by those who use them? If you want to live on an island, an inconvenient and expensive commute is the price you pay. Why should I have to pay for it? Either move to the mainland or get a job on the island…but stop holding out your hand for a cut of my paycheck to pay for a service that is completely unnecessary to most Seattleites.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 7, 2011 (10:21 am)

    Look for more of this type of maneuvering by the Gov.
    By creating “Districts” for services she can absolve the legislature of passing increased taxes and fees without voter approval.
    A sneaky way around I-1053 which was OVERWHELMINGLY passed by the voters of the state.
    Remember what she said after the results in Nov showed that we are tired of high taxes: “The voters could have helped us out”
    Well, you and your pals increased state spending by over 35% in four years, yet the population AND cost increases only grew 9% for that same time, so YOU FIX IT!!!

  • likes54 January 7, 2011 (11:01 am)

    What’s the GOV to do? In the ten years since I-695 passed, the Legislature has failed to fund Ferries. They have been getting by from borrowed funds from the rest of WSDOT and rising fares from users for fuel bills, basic maintenance, etc.
    Thanks to that lack of proper funding, WSF is in serious decline. There are more service cuts coming this year. Now some of the Legislators responsible for this inaction are crying that the Gov can’t do this to their districts. The ball is in their court now.

  • dsa January 7, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    Who votes for the tax? Commuters vote yes. non-commuters vote no, how would it work?

  • marty January 7, 2011 (2:53 pm)

    I hope everyone is aware that the daily users get a “commuter rate” that is about half the cost of what the rest of us pay. I pay for the system all year with taxes and then get stuck with a “summer surcharge” and “R.V. surcharge” when I use the system a couple of times each year. Charge EVERYONE full price! The every day users do so by choice, make them pay their fair share. It just seems to make more sense that having the rest of us subsidize their choice.

  • likes54 January 7, 2011 (5:06 pm)

    Marty and anyone else. Send any complaints about ferry fares to the Legislature. That is who makes the final decisions on fares.

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