Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ferry system changes to fund new boat, reform management

"Old reliable" can apply to a lot of things, but the state would rather not go there with their ferry-boat fleet. Currently nine of the 22 auto-passenger ferries are between 40 and 65 years old. While these older ferries continue to be workhorses, all nine need to be replaced in the next 20 years.

On Tuesday the governor signed legislation to fund the final ferry in a five-boat replacement plan. A 144-car and three 64-car ferries were already funded, and with this legislation, funding is secured for a second 144-car ferry.

The funding for the ferry system comes from reducing costs and increasing revenue. Beginning in July 2013, the state retail and use tax will no longer be charged on fuel used in ferries, and a new 25-cent charged to fund ferry construction.

"Our aging ferry boats are an ongoing liability to reliable service and safety,” said Rep. Jeff Morris. “This is a good balance to get new boats in the pipeline while also reducing costs.”

The bill also redefines the roles of captains to increase their responsibility for management of the boats and crews.

Read more: Washington State Ferry Projects