Location of Jan 14 Washington State Ferries public hearing in Kingston changed

UPDATE: The location of Washington State Ferries public hearing in Kingston on its long-range plan, scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Jan. 14, has been changed from the Kingston Cove Yacht Club to the Kingston Community Center.

Washington State Ferries released its new long-range plan Dec 19. Merry Christmas! It’s available on WSF’s Web site and copies are in the Kingston library. The Ferry Advisory Committee will distribute leaflets on the plan the first week in January. Formal hearings will be at the Kingston Community Center from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 14.

This will be Kingston’s last chance to make comments for the record before the plan goes to the legislature. We will also be able to e-mail comments. To have any hope of influencing this we need to speak up as individuals and as Kingston organizations. PLEASE SHOW UP.

There will be a second chance to testify in Olympia at the House and Senate Transportation committees. If riders don’t turn out, legislators will justify a bad decision saying the ferry riders didn’t testify and just don’t care. Let me know if you want to go down to Olympia.

Whether you speak up in Kingston or also in Olympia, please look at the article on page 9 for tips on testifying.

Contact me if you need information at (360) 297-2845 or elliottmoore@comcast.net.

The fine print of the plan

This new WSF long-range plan will set the rules for how ferries are run for at least a decade and probably longer. We expect it will include proposals for:

Additional spring and fall “shoulder” fares … just another way to jack up what riders pay.

Alternatives for across-the-board fare increases – one of which will take your breath away: 9 percent per year for seven years for a total of an 83 percent increase and then 1 percent per year afterwards. If you have no other reason to come to the hearings, please speak out on this.

Splitting fares into charges for service charges and fuel charges. This is silly and just creates more bureaucracy.

Allowing the option for peak-hour pricing in the future. This strategy has no valid basis and would impose significant costs on riders without any benefit.

Reservations for the Kingston-Edmonds route. We support a reservation system to reduce congestion if rider concerns are addressed: convenience for frequent travelers and priority given to those who must depend on ferries and commercial traffic, and the ability to accommodate short-notice travel needs. Reservation fees make no sense unless the intent is to jack up fares. Reservation costs should be recovered through savings and cost avoidance or not done at all.

Minor terminal modifications. WSF should include the auxiliary holding lot that we’ve been working on to take traffic out of downtown Kingston.

Recommendations for transit agencies to work on. Good idea.

Slowing down ferries to save fuel. Bad idea on the Kingston-Edmonds route, which pays for itself. We have the largest vehicle traffic in the system and this will only add to our congestion.

NOT adding a third summer boat to Kingston-Edmonds route in the future. We need to point out that a third, unscheduled summer ferry on Kingston-Edmonds has worked successfully in the past and will both add capacity and provide a positive revenue stream.

New Level of Service Standards. We oppose new standards that would prematurely trigger strategies that will increase rider costs before congestion occurs.

Frequent-user fares. The Transportation Commission and other non-ferry riders in Olympia want to take this away. We must continue to lobby that they continue undiminished every chance we get.

The Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee includes Rex Carlaw, Dennis Cziske, Walt Elliott, Paul Lundy and Linda Paralez. Contact the committee at (360) 297-2845 or elliottmoore@comcast.net.