Ferry Fare

FCP, the ferry mouse that roared:

In January, a secretly prepared “Plan B” that proposed draconian service cuts and outrageous fare hikes was thrust before our legislature, alarming riders and calling them to action. The rider insurgency was led by the venerable Ferry Community Partnership and the ad hoc “Citizens’ write Plan C” committee. Supported by this rider revolt our ferry caucus defeated the legislative onslaught which began the session in Olympia roaring like a lion, but ended bleating like a lamb, with our service undiminished and our fares affordable. Want to ensure these gains are not undone next year? Join other ferry-philes at a FCP/”Plan C” meeting from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 18, at the Norm Dicks Center in Bremerton. For information on the FCP, contact debbilester@yahoo.com.

To ORCA or not to Orca?

Starting this month the ORCA fare card, used on buses and trains, may also be used by walk-on ferry riders. ORCA will work well for some users but not all. To find out what’s best for you check out the Washington State Ferries Web site, call (206) 515-3460 or e-mail Wave2Go@wsdot.wa.gov.

A Public Ferry Meeting

Thirty-five curious Kingstonians and hardy Hansvillians met with Ferries director David Moseley and here are the highlights:

Legislative session: It came as no surprise that the legislature decided to fund 64-car ferries needed for the Port Townsend-Keystone because the route, and a shipyard building the boats, lie in the district or our Senate’s Transportation Committee Chair. Once again, for the fourth year running, a decision to fund building 144 car boats, which are needed elsewhere in the ferry system, was deferred.

Reservations: Amid rider skepticism, WSF will do a feasibility study on Kingston-Edmonds reservations with a hand-picked group of citizens from Edmonds, Kingston, and the Olympic Peninsula, and deliver a report to the legislature by Nov. 1. The Kingston delegation, which includes Commissioner Steve Bauer, Sonny Woodward, Tom Waggoner, Pete DeBoer, Lynn Danielson and Paul Lundy, will solicit rider concerns and get the word out on what’s happening as the study progresses. Expect public meetings this fall and in 2010; expect the legislature to decide whether or not to fund the $3.7 million needed for a Kingston-Edmonds reservation pilot to start in 2011.

Schedule: New Coast Guard regulations on crew rest will require ferry schedule changes this fall. While WSF and their unions are negotiating the details expect the results to be close to the draft schedule put out last fall which meets three of four Sounder trains, slows some off-peak runs, and spreads out some afternoon trips. This last item is to address the inability to keep the present schedule. WSF will be putting out info on the planned changes this month.

Fares: WSF is proposing a 2.5 percent increase for this fall and another 2.5 percent increase next fall. However, the Transportation Commission may decide otherwise. Expect them to solicit public comment in August if they do … stay tuned.

Etc, etc, etc.

Fuel surcharges, which compensate for spikes in diesel prices, will not happen this year but may happen in 2011. Although 40 percent rider growth is expected, don’t expect a third Kingston-Edmonds boat or moving the Edmonds terminal for at least 30 years. WSF is working to get Kitsap Transit buses down to the dock and our legislators will continue to bug them about it. WSF and WSDOT are working on a plan to automate the tally system and enact other controls to reduce the times ferry traffic blocks up our downtown. Citing public opposition, WSF considers peak hour fares to be for now a dead issue.

The Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee includes: Dennis Cziske, Rex Carlaw, Walt Elliott, Linda Parlez and Paul Lundy. We meet on the first Tuesday on the month at the Kingston Community Center. Contact (360) 297-2845 or elliottmoore@comcast.net.