State, WSF failing passengers, economy
January 16, 2009 · 9:27 AM
Are they even serious? The Washington State Ferries system is facing an economic shortfall of frightening proportions. And to cope the best it can, its administrators have come up with a proposed long-range plan to stay — pardon the pun — afloat.
The first option will see existing service levels maintained and will employ a reservation system, transit enhancements and incentives for folks to walk on, rather than bring their vehicles, as vehicles take up a lot of space.
The second option — which seems to have been created on the fly; perhaps during a one-hour ferry ride — is, well, interesting to say the least. It would close the Anacortes/Sydney routes, reduce Bremerton service to only one boat and eliminate night service on the Bremerton and Kingston/Edmonds routes all together. May as well shut down Highway 3 at night.
My, oh, my.
We know times are tight and budgets are thin, but eliminating night time service for Bremerton and Kingston/Edmonds? As just a starting point, this would cause more suffering to Mariners fans than last year’s record did. Baseball fans like to walk on to the ferries, attend the game, watch the Mariners lose and walk back on. It’s difficult to drive with tears in your eyes, as any Mariners fan can attest.
All kidding aside, however, the second plan is just a bad idea. In case no one has noticed, there happens to be a lot of water here in the Puget Sound. Thousands of Kitsapers cross those waters every day to get their jobs, which in this economy they are fortunate to have.
WSF administrators realized they have its ridership by the nose and that any decision they make affects thousands. This is not a case of whatever floats your boat. The WSF system is toying with people’s lives here.
What’s needed is more funding, plain and simple. The WSF is, by all accounts, just as important to the population on this side as a highway. In all fairness, it should be funded as such.