Rider offers insight into WSF issues

(The following is a letter to Washington State Ferries.)

You have offered four “reasons” for your proposed schedule changes on the Kingston-Edmonds run. This feedback addresses each:

1. Your new schedule is not the best method to meet your stated goal to “manage increased traffic.” Going from 56 boats daily to 50 boats daily is a poor method for handling more traffic. Why don’t you implement an intelligent solution such as a new pricing structure to encourage big commercial rigs to cross on off-peak runs instead of peak commuter runs? Evening and early morning boats have the capacity.

2. As to your “on-time performance”, the existing schedule has a reasonable on-time record. The boats I ride are on time consistently. I depart Kingston at 8:35 a.m. and arrive at work on time. The proposed schedule, however, will ruin my on-time performance. I will be forced to arrive late. My alternative is to leave my children unattended before school so I can arrive at work 40 minutes earlier than necessary. Your proposed schedule is equally problematic on my return commute. Your “on-time performance” is not a problem in the big picture.

3. As for “meeting security requirements,” my company will be more secure with the existing schedule. Let’s talk about economic security. Will you reimburse my company for its loss of 1.5 hours daily? Or would you prefer my company bear the burden of reduced productivity at its Edmonds office, since I can’t leave my children unattended in the morning to accommodate your proposed schedule? We’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars annually. Your ineffective problem solving could place these types of burdens on hundreds of commuters, most of whom have kids in school.

4. The fourth reason you offer for the new schedule is as mind boggling as the first three. When we say “conserve fuel,” we are really talking about cost cutting. What other costs might you cut? Local fleet operators such as Alaska Marine & Western Towboats serve more terminals with more boats and more logistical variables. Yet these private-sector companies make a profit with an office staff of 30. Why does WSF need an office staff of 300 for its smaller fleet with fewer terminals and fewer logistical variables?

Please start your cost cutting by eliminating the person who proposed this laughable “solution” involving more traffic on fewer boats, a new schedule that makes your customers late for work, bogus security versus economic security, and cost cutting that retains an administrative staff many times larger than has been proven necessary and prudent by efficient fleet operators. Please cut the fat, not the service, and seek more intelligent solutions like the one recommended above.

Steve Kaczor


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