Home News County Council Department Favorites
Elwa  Ferry Advisory Committee  Evergreen state

FAC Regular Meeting Wednesday June 16

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday June 16 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the Legislative Hearing Room (Council Chambers) at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The Agenda is available below and on the county calendar.


WSF Public Meeting June 25, 2014

WSF is holding a community meeting from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m. Wed., June 25 in Friday Harbor at the San Juan County Council chambers , 55 Second Street.

This meeting will be streamed live from the San Juan County website video page

Questions will be taken via email by writing coursem@wsdot.wa.gov.

Discussion topics include route-specific issues, liquefied natural gas, new vessel construction, and long-range planning. 


FAC Regular Meeting Wednesday May 28

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday April 30 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The Agenda is below:


FAC Regular Meeting Wednesday April 30

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday April 30 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The Agenda is posted below and also on the county calendar 


FAC Regular Meeting Tuesaday March 11

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Tuesday March 11th from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The Agenda is below: 

 


Ferry Funding Bill Passes

Great news, HB-1129 to fund construction of a third new 144-car "Olympic" class ferry, passed the Senate Thursday on a 41-8 vote. Sponsored by our Representative Jeff Morris, this bill has already passed the House on a 62-36 vote. The strength of support for ferries, particularly in the Senate, was particularly encouraging.  
 
What this means is that the oldest boats in the fleet, the Evergreen State class, can finally be retired and replaced by newer and more reliable vessels. While beloved, the three E-State class boats are approaching 60 years of age and increasingly costly to maintain. 
 

Letter to State Senators in Support of Ferry Funding

This letter was sent to the members of the Senate in support of funding the third 144-car ferry. 

Dear Senator ___,
 
I am writing to ask for your vote for E2SHB 1129, Representative Morris's bill to fund a third Olympic-class 144-car ferry. This bill is pending on the Senate floor with a "do pass" recommendation by Senate Transportation Committee. This bill makes good economic sense, if not this then we will need to spend a lot more, later. 
 
I am writing as chair of the Ferry Advisory Committee for San Juan County, a council-appointed committee which works closely with both the public and WSF to improve ferry service and efficiency.
 
No one likes higher taxes or additional fees, but transportation systems are among the things that individuals cannot do for themselves. Transportation also serves the public good, and needs to be paid for somehow. Since 1999 we have been struggling with how to fund transportation. This bill won't solve that problem but it will cover one piece of it, and get us closer. 
 
Ferries are essential to the Puget Sound communities and important to the economy for the entire state. They take people to work and shopping, attract visitors as a primary tourist attraction, and knit our islands and communities together. 
 
Why this bill, and why now? WSF currently has two Olympic 144-car vessels under construction, to replace two of the three oldest boats in the fleet, which are nearing 60 years of age. The advantage of having a "class" of boats is shared parts, tools and skills to maintain them. A class of just one remaining E-State-class boat makes no sense-- a complete set of spares for one boat?-- and would be very expensive to keep running. And run it must, because WSF has no extra boats-- the only designated "spare" in the system is the 34-car Hiyu, too small to be useful anywhere in the system except the San Juan interisland run. Which is where it has been for the last few weeks while underwent unscheduled repairs. Aging machinery of any sort needs increasing maintenance.  
 
Building a third 144 now allows the contractor to continue the build process and saves the cost of re-tooling and re-training. Stopping and restarting will certainly raise the cost, and changing tacks at this point will cost even more. And one additional 144 allows the aging E-State class to be gracefully retired, avoiding escalating maintenance costs and the increasing chance of some unforeseen fatal breakdown.  
 
Yes, this is not perfect, and certainly we as a state can do better with ferry costs and construction. And of course ferries can continue to operate more efficiently. We are committed to helping find ways of doing all that, but we need some breathing room for the aging fleet. 
 
Please vote for E2SHB-1129. Many thanks for your consideration, and for your service to your communities and to our state. 
 
Respectfully submitted,
Jim Corenman
Chair, San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee
 

The Sealth Problem

by Jim Corenman, Chair, San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee

Most of us in the islands are concerned about the ongoing problems with the Sealth, one of our three mainland ferries, which is undergoing lengthy repairs in Anacortes. Understandably, cancellations and late sailings have given rise to a great deal of frustration. There is a tendency to blame Washington State Ferries for not solving the problems quicker, or at least providing another boat that could substitute for the Sealth in the meantime.

Each time Washington State Ferries visits the islands for their semiannual public meetings, we've heard David Moseley (Assistant Secretary and head of ferries) repeat the concern that ferries is not financially sustainable. What we may not have understood, until now, is that he was talking about exactly the situation we find ourselves in, with one boat out of service and no adequate replacements available.

FAC and ferries are very aware of the frustration stemming from the Sealth issue. We’ve been in contact with George Capacci (Deputy Chief and head of operations and capital) almost daily. Ferries is doing everything possible, the problem is that there aren't a lot of options. We can rant all we want but that doesn't get the boat fixed, nor get us a replacement that can keep up with the schedule.

The problem with the Sealth is a very infrequent steering failure at one end of the vessel. Tracking down the cause and fixing it has turned into a colossally frustrating exercise. The engineers and contractors have replaced all of the hydraulics and thought the problem was fixed, only to find that it failed once again during or after sea trials. They are now going through the electrical control system, part by part, testing and replacing. No one knows how long this will last.

It is important to understand that Ferries has only one spare boat, the 34-car Hiyu. It was brought up to replace the Evergreen State, which in turn has replaced the Sealth. So we have the full vessel complement for the current schedule, just smaller vessels and in one case slower. But that's a whole lot better than being short a boat. The bulletins regarding reduced speed and delays have hopefully provided the opportunity to make adjustments. That was one thing we stressed to ferries: Keep folks informed.

Until the legislature is willing to establish sustainable operational and capital funding for ferries, this is likely to be a more frequent occurrence. David Moseley's comments on funding are not empty words: The funds that the legislature has allocated since 2000 (when dedicated MVET ferry funds were lost) are not adequate to operate the system on an ongoing basis. Operating funds have to be "borrowed" from other WSDOT accounts, new boats are delayed, major maintenance is put off, and vessel life is stretched to 60 years (while no other similar system goes past 30 or 40 years). Kicking the can down the road is not sustainable funding.

Frustration is understandable, but what is needed is feedback towards the legislature. A comprehensive transportation package is needed, but off the table for now. Our Representative Jeff Morris has introduced a bill to fund a third new 144-car "Olympic Class" ferry (HB1129), if this can be passed it will have a direct benefit to our routes. The bill has passed the house and is pending before the Senate Transportation Committee. Our Senator Kevin Ranker supports this bill, urge him to help find votes. Talk to your friends across the mountains, ask then to press their senators to support ferries. We are all one state, and our ferries are not that much different than their rural highways, they all need public funding.

Senate email addresses:  https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx?Chamber=S

Info on HB1129:  http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1129&year=2013


FAC Regular Meeting Wednesday Feb 12

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday February 12th from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:


FAC Regular Meeting Tuesday Jan 14

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held TUESDAY January 14 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:


Anacortes Terminal Spaces-Remaining

WSF has developed a great new tool for planning your arrival time at the Anacortes terminal. The "Terminal Conditions" web page shows the number of remaining spaces for upcoming sailings, which is a great when trying to decide whether to risk lunch in Anacortes or head for the terminal. 

You can get to that page from the Ferries home-page by clicking on "Terminal Conditions" on the right side under "Current Status", or use this link (and bookmark it): 

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/vesselwatch/TerminalDetail.aspx?terminalid=1

The spaces-remaining data comes from EFS (Electronic Fare System) at the toll booths, so if there is a queue up the hill (rare this time of year) then those vehicles are not yet counted. 

 


Current hot topics for ferries include:

Fares: We participated on the FAC/tariff advisory committee which held six meetings through the spring. The legislative requirement is a 2.5% overall fare increase per year for this biennium (2013-2015), but the details are determined by WSF and WSTC (Transportation Commission) with input from the community via the FAC/tariff committee.

The approved fares schedule increases passenger fares an average of 2% and vehicle fares 3%. Youth discounts are increased to 50% (same as seniors) and a new round-trip Friday Harbor / Sidney fare avoids the return-fare inequity. The annual increase this year will be October 1, and next year May 1. 

For more details see Ferry-Related Documents (click here, or on the link in the sidebar) and refer to "2013-2014 Fare Proposal Documents". There is an overview, the notice of hearing, and the proposed language. 

LNG: Ferries continues to work towards a conversion of the six Issaquah-class ferries (including the Sealth and Chelan which serve our routes) from diesel to LNG (Liquid Natural Gas). LNG is a cryogenic liquid which would be stored in exposed tanks on the "roof" of the ferries. The advantages are much lower fuel costs and reduced engine emissions, while the concerns are safety (natural gas is highly flammable), availability and cost in a dynamic world energy market, and total environmental impact (LNG is largely the result of "fracking"). As a counterpoint, the Issaquah-class boats are already among the fleet's most efficient.  

WSF's recently-released "Safety and Security" study is here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Environment/LNG.htm

Reservations: Ferries has proposed to extend the vehicle reservations system to the San Juan Islands routes, and is currently in the planning phase. More information is available from the reservations project page at:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Planning/VehicleReservations.htm

Ferry funding: The legislature adjourned until 2014 without passing Representive Clibborn's Transportation Package. The ferries operations budget was passed in regular session without service cuts. But there is no funding for a third new 144-car ferry, and no dedicated funding for operations-- only what can be transferred from other accounts. 

Senator King, co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee which blocked the transportation package from reaching the senate floor, has organized hearings around the state to seek input on transportation funding,  Click here for more info and schedule. 


WSF Public Meeting Dec 4 11:30-1:30

Washington State Ferries will hold a public meeting in Friday Harbor on December 4, from 11:30am to 1:30pm, in the County Council Chambers, 55 Second Street, Friday Harbor. 

Topics will include recent legislative activity concerning ferries, planned LNG conversion, and updates on reservations planning. 

Live video streaming will be available at: http://sanjuanco.com/council/video.aspx#mode.live

For information about topics of concern for San Juan County FAC, see our current "Hot Topics" on our FAC News Page.

For more information about WSF public meetings see: at: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/CommuterUpdates/pub_meetings


FAC Regular meeting Thursday Nov 14

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held THURSDAY November 14 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:
 

No FAC Meeting for October

There will be no regular FAC meeting for Oactober. The next regular FAC meeting will be Wednesday, Nov 13 in Friday Harbor. 


FAC Regular meeting Wednesday Sept 11

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday September 11 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the council chambers at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:
 

FAC Regular meeting Tuesday August 13

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Tuesday August 13 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the council chambers at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:

FAC Regular Meeting July 10

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday July 10 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the council chambers at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:

WSF Public Meeting June 12

WSF will be holding a community meeting on Wednesday, June 12 in the San Juan Islands. The meeting will from 5-7 pm, in the San Juan County council chambers, 55 Second Street in Friday Harbor. There will  with a video-conference connection to the Orcas and Lopez libraries, and via online video streaming from the county website. Questions may be submitted in person, via video at the two libraries, and by email to coursem@wsdot.wa.gov

Meeting topics will include a recap of the 2013 legislative session, liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a source of fuel for propulsion, the new Olympic Class vessel construction, performance measures, tariff process updates, and issues specific to our routes. 

Please plan to attend, this is the opportunity to get answers to our tough questions directly from ferries management. 

FAC Regular Meeting June 12

A regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee will be held Wednesday June 12 from 8:30 to 10:30 am in the large conference room at the county offices at 55 Second Street, in Friday Harbor. 

The agenda is available below, and with the county calendar:

San Juan Islands Partnership Group June 12 in Friday Harbor

The San Juan Islands Partnership Group will meet from 11:30 to 1:45 pm on Wednesday June 12 at the San Juan Island Yacht Club, 273 Front St. Friday Harbor. The public is welcome to attend, and there will be a public comment period. 

More information on the vehicle reservations planning process, and the agenda and notes for the meeting, can be found here:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Planning/VehicleReservations.htm

FAC Regular Meeting April 10 on Orcas Island

A regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be held Wednesday April 10 from 9:30-11:30 in the county conference room at Orcas Landing, 8368 Orcas Road, Orcas Island.

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar prior to the meeting, and can be accessed via the link below. 


San Juan Islands Partnership Group March 13 in Friday Harbor

The San Juan Islands Partnership Group will meet from 11:30 to 1:45 pm on Wednesday March 13 at the San Juan Island Yacht Club, 273 Front St. Friday Harbor. 

More information on the vehicle reservations planning process, and the agenda and notes for the meeting, can be found here:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Planning/VehicleReservations.htm

FAC Meeting March 13 in Friday Harbor

A regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be held on Wednesday March 13 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar prior to the meeting, and from the link below:

Fall Schedule Review

San Juan County FAC will be reviewing the fall ferry schedule at its meeting on Feb 14, and be considering suggestions for fall 2013. The fall schedule was in effect from Sept 23 through Dec 29 2012. Compared to summer there is one sailing to Sidney versus two, and one less boat assigned to our routes. 

Comments are welcome, either at the meeting or via email to: fac@sanjuanco.com
Additional service is always desirable, but the schedules are tightly packed and resources are limited-- both by available boats, and budgets. So to be constructive, requests for additional sailings or added stops need to be balanced against reductions elsewhere. 

FAC Meeting Feb 14 in Friday Harbor

A regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be held on Thursday Feb 14 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar prior to the meeting, and is available below:

FAC Meeting Jan 9 in Friday Harbor

A regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be Wednesday Jan 9 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar prior to the meeting, and is also available here: 

WSF Public Meeting Dec 6, 5-7pm

WSF will hold a public meeting on December 6, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm in the County Council chambers in Friday Harbor at 55 Second St. This meeting is part of a series of fall public meetings conducted by WSF, and will cover the upcoming legislative session including proposed service reductions on our routes, new ferry construction, liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a potential fuel for the fleet, and issues specific to the San Juan Islands.

If you cannot attend in person, this meeting will also be streamed live via the San Juan County website at: http://sanjuanco.com/council/video.aspx
Questions may be submitted via email to Marta Course, CourseM@wsdot.wa.gov

Also, two-way video conferencing will be available from the Orcas and Lopez libraries. 

More information, including copies of the meeting materials, is available from the ferries website at: 
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/CommuterUpdates/pub_meetings

FAC Meeting Dec 6 in Friday Harbor

A regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be Wednesday Dec 6 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar prior to the meeting, and is also available here: 

FAC Meeting Nov 9 in Friday Harbor

The next regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be Wednesday Nov 9 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor. 

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar, and is available below. 

FAC Meeting Oct 24 in Friday Harbor

The next regular meeting of the San Juan County FAC will be Wednesday Oct 24 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

The agenda will be posted with the listing on the county calendar, and is available below.

FAC Meeting Sept 19 on Orcas Island

The next regular FAC meeting will be Wednesday Sept 19 from 9:30 to 11:30 AM at the Orcas Landing Public Works Meeting Room, at the Orcas Ferry Landing.

The agenda will be posted on the county calendar, here
And is available here:

Participants sought for WSF reservations planning group

As David Moseley (Assistant Secretary for WSDOT and executive of the ferry system) announced at the June 7 WSF Public Meetings on the inter-island ferry and in Friday Harbor, WSF will be establishing a Community Partnership Group to assist with planning for a vehicle reservations system for the San Juan Islands routes.  The group will consist of approximately 20 members from all four ferry-served islands and will begin meeting this fall.

This group will meet approximately every six weeks for up to 1½ years to establish the reservation plan for the San Juans. Meeting schedules and locations are not yet set, but will likely alternate between in-person and online meetings. 

"I look forward to beginning this very important process with our customers in the San Juan Islands," said Assistant Secretary David Moseley, "We have engaged this community partnership process on two routes in the system to great success. This process has been essential to understanding the unique needs of our customers, and to exploring ways to meet these needs. Please join me in partnership as we explore this possibility together."

WSF will make the final group selection and has asked the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) to solicit interest and make recommendations.  WSF and FAC are looking for participants who will commit to the meeting schedule, and who represent an important user group. Specifically, WSF is seeking customers who routinely use the system, including representation from residents, frequent riders, ferry-dependent businesses, the hospitality industry, etc. Key requirements include willingness to:
  • Attend regularly scheduled meetings
  • Travel to meetings
  • Review materials before/after each meeting
  • Use technology, including email, conference calls, and web for online meetings/discussions
  • Willingness to explore possible solutions to issues identified.
Interested residents should send an email to the FAC at: fac@sanjuanco.com by Monday August 13. Please include your contact information and a brief background and description of your interests and how you can contribute.

FAC Meeting August 8 in Friday Harbor

The next regular FAC meeting will be Wednesday August 8 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

The agenda will be posted prior to the meeting listing on the county calendar.

FAC Meeting June 27 in Friday Harbor

There will be a regular meeting of the San Juan County Ferry Advisory Committee Wednesday June 27 from 8:30-10:30 in the Large Conference Room, Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor

The agenda is available here:

WSF Public Meeting Thursday June 7

WSF will be holding a public meeting on Thursday, June 7. This is part of a series of spring public meetings conducted by WSF, and is a particularly important meeting for the San Juan's because of the focus on the upcoming reservation system. Much planning has already been done with very little discussion and input from our community. This will be our opportunity to find out what has been planned, and how we can be part of that process.

The meeting will be in two parts. The first part will be aboard the inter-island ferry from 11:35 am until 2 pm. The format will be primarily question-and-answer and will focus on vehicle reservations. (Click the link for more info).

11:35 a.m. Departs Friday Harbor

12:25 p.m. Departs Orcas Island

12:40 p.m. Departs Shaw Island

1:05 p.m. Departs Lopez Island

2 p.m. Arrives Friday Harbor


The second part will in the County Council chambers in Friday Harbor (55 Second St), from 5pm to 7pm.
Interactive (two-way) video conferencing will be available at the Orcas and Lopez libraries, and this meeting will also be streamed live via the San Juan County website (click link).
Questions may be submitted by those attending, via the interactive video conference link to the libraries, and via email during the meeting (address will be posted on the video).


FAC Meeting May 30 in Friday Harbor

The next regular FAC meeting will be May 30 in Friday Harbor at 8:30AM at the county offices. See the county calendar for details.

Agenda:

Summer Schedule Posted

WSF has posted the proposed summer schedule here:
  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Service/ScheduleProposals.htm

The schedule has been carefully reviewed by both WSF and FAC. There are relatively few changes from last summer: Some 5 or 10 minute adjustments to improve on-time performance, and an additional stop for Shaw in the morning and the afternoon, to streamline operations with respect to loading/unloading.
Summer is many folks' least-favorite ferry schedule, yet does a good job of moving an awful lot of folks to and from and around the islands during the busy summer season.

The summer schedule will be in effect from Sunday, June 17 through Saturday, Sept. 22.
Please send any comments to FAC@sanjuanco.com and/or wsfplanning@wsdot.wa.gov


FAC Meeting April 11, in Friday Harbor

The next regular FAC meeting will be April 11, from 8:30 to 10:30 in the large conference room at the county offices, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

Orcas and Lopez dock closures scheduled for October

WSF has advised that a four-day vehicle closure of the Orcas ferry ramp, and a one-day vehicle closure for the Lopez ferry ramp, will be required in October 2012 for necessary maintenance.

The Orcas closure has been scheduled for Tuesday, Oct 23 through mid-day Friday, Oct 26. The work will consist of hydraulic and structural repairs, and should proceed on schedule irrespective of the weather. Walk-on service will be provided on the normal schedule, and parking will be available at both Orcas and Anacortes terminals.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr20/orcastransferspan/

The Lopez ramp will be closed to vehicles for one day in late September or early October for work on the roadway surface. This work is dependent on weather, and we will update this with specific dates as they are made available. Walk-on service will be provided on the normal schedule, and parking will be available.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr20/lopeztrestlerehab/

The docks will remain available for foot passengers, and free parking will be available in Anacortes. And we are certain that the community will respond with offers of rides to and from the ferry terminal.

"Necessary maintenance" always means inconvenience, but our view is that scheduled maintenance is better than unscheduled breakdowns, and October is better than July.
We will keep everyone informed.

FAC meeting Mar 21, in Friday Harbor

The next regular FAC meeting will be March 21, a week later than normal, from 8:30 to 10:30 in the large conference room at the county offices, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor.

Agenda:

FAC monthly meeting Feb 8 in Friday Harbor 8:30-10:30

The next regular monthly FAC meeting will be February 8, 2012 from 8:30 to 10:30 in the large conference room in the Legislative Building, 55 Second St., Friday Harbor. The agenda will be posted on Monday with the meeting announcement on the county calendar.

There will also be a FAC briefing to the County Council during the Council meeting on Feb 7, on Orcas, at approximately 11am.

Ferry Funding Legislation (updated)

The Governor has proposed a 10-year funding package totaling 3.7 billion to fund transportation maintenance and preservation, including 1 billion (over 10 years) for ferries. This will provide funds needed to maintain current service levels and maintain existing facilities. New vessel construction is also needed, but not included in this package. Funding would be provided by a $1.50/barrel fee on processed oil, a fee on studded tires (to compensate for road damage that they cause) and a fee for electric vehicles, which use roads but don't contribute to gas tax.

HB-2660 and SB-6455 are the governor's funding proposal. The House Bill is HB-2660 and is sponsored by Representatives Clibborn, Ryu, Moeller, Finn, Billig, Eddy, Fitzgibbon. It has been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and a hearing was held on Jan 24.

SB-6455 is the companion Senate bill, sponsored by Senator Haugen and referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation. A public hearing was also held on Jan 24.

Walt Elliot spoke on behalf of the FAC executive committee, on the need for ferries funding and the likely impacts if it is not found. The view is that the FAC/exec is expert on ferry issues but not expert on sources of funds, so testimony will focus on the need for funding and not the source. Jim Corenman, FAC co-chair, spoke for San Juan County FAC.

The major source of funding for the governor's proposal is a $1.50/barrel fee on processed oil products. Feedback so far is that, given the short session and pressure on the general budget, this proposal will likely find significant resistance.

Our question, I think, should be: "If not now, then when?". As you know, ferry planning runs months ahead and if operating revenue is reduced for the next biennium (July 2013) then planning for a reduced summer 2013 schedule must start in early 2013, long before the legislature will have the budget sorted out.

HB-2053 is Representative Morris' bill to fund the second 144-car ferry with increases in various motor-vehicle fees. It didn't make the cutoff last session, and is expected to be re-introduced.

Five new 144-car ferries are needed over the next ten years to replace aging vessels, just to maintain current service levels. (The four Evergreen State class boats are all approaching 60 years and need retiring or major refurbishment, which gets progressively more expensive for older vessels, plus a working spare so that the Hyak can get a much-needed refit).

SB-6518 is Senator Rolfes' bill to expand the responsibilities of the FAC/executive committee to include fares and costs. We believe this will provide greater public input and increased transparency. This bill has also been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee and a public hearing was held on Feb 1. Lovel Pratt testified in favor, as did Walt Elliot (FAC/exec co-chair) and Greg Beardsley (FAC chair for Vashon). David Moseley (Deputy Secretary and head of WSF) expressed concerns.

For current information on any of these bills (and others), go to http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ and type in the bill#. 


Orcas and Lopez dock closures

WSF has advised that a one-day vehicle closure of the Lopez ferry ramp, and a three-day vehicle closure for the Orcas ferry ramp, will be required in mid-to-late October 2012 for necessary maintenance. We appreciate that this information is of little help without specific dates, but dates won't be know until work contracts are in place. Late October was chosen as a compromise between heavier traffic during summer and early fall, and the potential for late-fall and winter weather causing delays with being able to re-open the ramps.

The docks will be available for foot passengers, and free parking will be available in Anacortes. And we are certain that the community will respond with offers of rides to and from the ferry terminal.

"Necessary maintenance" always means inconvenience, but our view is that scheduled maintenance is better than unscheduled breakdowns, and October is better than July.
We will keep everyone informed.

Governor's Transportation Package

The governor has proposed a transportation package of 3.7 billion over ten years, to be paid for by a per-barrel fee on oil products produced in the state. In a telephone conference with FAC chairs on Jan 12, David Moseley (Deputy Secretary of Transportation and head of ferries) said that of the 3.7 billion, 1 billion will go to ferries for preservation and maintenance of the fleet, not including building new vessels. This will make up most of the shortfall between what is needed, and what is provided by current dedicated funding. "This is our shot", Moseley said.

This funding package is vitally important to our community, and we need to get behind it and get it passed by the legislature. This is as close as ferries has come, in the 12 years since MVET disappeared, to something that approaches sustainable funding. A second bill, a re-introduction of HB 2053, will provide funding for a second new 144-car ferry.

The legislature started the 60-day 2012 session on January 9. Bills are introduced during the first half of the session, and are acted upon during the second half. We don't yet have details for the ferry bills, but will post them here.

Also see our "Ferry Documents" page to the left, the Governor's policy statements are there and also links to the Ferry Community Partnership (FCP) which will be tracking the bills and coordinating lobbying, and the Lopez-based SJI Ferry Group. It is not too early to let our legislators know that we support the governor's transportation proposal, and to let our County Council know that we need them in Olympia working for us.

Regular FAC meeting on Lopez, Jan 11

The January regular meeting of the FAC will be Wednesday, Jan 11 at the Lopez Library, from 1:30pm until around 3:15pm. The agenda will be posted on the official meeting notice on the county calendar on Monday Jan 9.

FCP Meeting in Bremerton

The next meeting of the Ferry Community Partnership will be Saturday Jan 7 in Bremerton, from 10:30 to 2:30.
The agenda is here (Word doc) and more information about the FCP can be found here:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/4fcp/

The primary topic for this meeting will be the recently-concluded meetings of the Governor's "Connecting Washington" Task Force, and plans for turning the recommendations into legislation.

More information about the Task Force is here:
http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/transportation/connectwa.asp
No final report has yet been published as far as we can determine.

We will be attending the FCP meeting and will have a report for the Jan 11 FAC meeting, and will post a summary here.

WSF Public Meeting Thursday Dec 1

Washington State Ferries held a public meeting on Thursday Dec. 1 from 5:30-7:00 PM at the Council Chambers, 55 2nd Street in Friday Harbor.

The meeting was streamed live from the county website and is available for viewing after the event, click here and find it under the "recorded" tab. Recent improvements should make the video streaming much more accessible, see below for more info.

More information about the WSF fall meetings is available here, and the schedule and copies of the hand-outs are available here. The page on reservations is particularly interesting, click here for a copy (PDF file). (For the record, we've been repeatedly assured that there will be plenty of opportunity for public input before anything is decided).

Many folks have had problems with the county video. Some of this is network congestion during evening hours, but we are also reducing the video bitrate for this meeting which should help greatly. A DSL connection is still required, but it should work fine on most connections. For more information about the video streaming, click here for our FAQ page.



Winter schedule posted

WSF has posted the proposed Winter 2012 schedule:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries/Service/ScheduleProposals.htm

The only changes from last winter's schedule are some 5-min adjustments in order to improve on-time performance. A PDF file showing changes from Winter 2011 in red is available, click here to open or download.

Any comments can be sent to: fac@sanjuanco.com


Upcoming FAC meetings

FAC normally meets on the second Wednesday of each month. The next two meetings will be Dec 14 in Friday Harbor, 8:30-10:30 in the large conference room at the county offices;  and Jan. 11, 1:30-3:30 PM at the Lopez Library. Please join us!

Welcome!

Please join us in welcoming Larry Vandermay to the Ferry Advisory Committee. Larry replaces Ed Sutton as the representative for Orcas Island, and is appointed to a four-year term by the County Council. Welcome, Larry! 

Getting Ferry Updates


Ferry issues

It's been a crazy couple of weeks for ferries, with broken boats and service disruptions. The fundamental problem is not enough boats-- the only spare in the system remains the tiny (34-car) Hiyu, and the only route that it can realistically run is our interisland route. WSF desperately needs the new 144-car boats that have been in the works for ten years, only one is currently budgeted by legislature.

FAC thanks WSF for a job well done during the recent breakdowns of the Yakima and then the Hiyu. It was a difficult situation and WSF staff did a great job with very limited resources. It could have been much worse, we were fortunate that the Chetzemoka was enroute to the boatyard at Dakota Creek in Anacortes, and WSF was able to juggle maintenance schedules so that the Chetz could provide interisland service. The only wrinkles (besides broken boats) were some delays with communications to the island terminals, and FAC and WSF are working to resolve that.

TVW's "Staying Afloat" Special Report: Challenges facing Washington State ferries

TVW (Washington State Public Affairs TV Network) recently did a special report on ferries, titled "Staying Afloat: Challenges facing Washington State ferries". This special edition of "The Impact" has its own web page, "FerriesStayingAfloat.org", which also includes links to reference and historical data.

A larger version of the video (with a full-screen option) is available on TVW's web page here:

http://www.tvw.org/media/mediaplayer.cfm?evid=2011090067&bhcp=1


In this follow-up, ferrries Director David Moseley and ferry district legislators Sen. Christine Rolfes & Rep. Jan Angel respond here: TVW's "The Impact"


Looking for Feedback

We're looking for feedback on the recent summer schedule, in effect from June 19 through Sept. 24. Please let us know what worked for you, and what you would like to see changed next year. Please send us an email to: fac@sanjuanco.com

Thanks for your help!

FAC monthly meeting on Orcas, Nov 9 2011 9:30-11:30

The next regular FAC meeting will be Wednesday Nov 9 at the Orcas Landing. 

Council Seeking Ferry Advisory Committee Member from Orcas

The San Juan County Council is accepting applications for a Ferry Advisory Committee (FAC) member from Orcas Island to succeed 18-year veteran board member Ed Sutton, who retired earlier this year.

FAC is a committee established by state law to advise the Department of Transportation’s Ferry division concerning the County’s service needs and preferences as well as weighing in on fares and a variety of other issues that affect ferry users.

San Juan County’s FAC is comprised of one member from each of the four ferry-served islands, plus three members representing the County Council, commercial users, and tourism-related users.

FAC Co-Chair Jim Corenman describes the ideal candidate as, “someone who is interested in ferries, works well as part of a group with diverse interests and priorities, and is able to spend the required time.”  The committee meets monthly and holds periodic special meetings and appearances with Washington State Ferries and others, both on and off-island.

To apply for the consideration, or to get more information about FAC, go to the County website: http://sanjuanco.com/council/CommitteeVacancies.aspx.   An application for committee membership is available online, or you can call Maureen See at 378-2898 or email maureens@sanjuanco.com.

The FAC maintains a website which contains information about recent activity and issues at: http://sanjuanco.com/fac


Ed Sutton Retires

Ed Sutton has retired from the San Juan County FAC after eighteen years of service. His devotion and commitment to improving ferry service was unfailing, and we on the FAC wish Ed the best of luck with his new ventures. He will be missed.



"Connecting Washington" Task Force


"Falling off the Cliff", by WSDOT
The Connecting Washington Task Force, established by Governor Gregiore to recommend transportation funding solutions, has begun meeting and has a deadline to finish by Thanksgiving. The 30 or so appointees have broad representation but no specific ferry representation. The first meeting in July was a general discussion, the next meetings in September and October will focus on specific proposals.

The work of this Task Force is critically important. The resulting 10 year comprehensive revenue package will determine the direction of transportation in the State. The package will either go to the voters in 2012, go to a special session this year, or to the 2012 session.

One of the Task Force tasks is to solve the ferry funding problem. Without specific ferry representation, and in the face of all the other transportation issues, there is concern that ferries won't get the attention and results that we need. Ferry riders and ferry-served communities need to take this opportunity to keep the ferry issue a priority for this committee.

It is hoped that ferry riders and interest groups will submit a flood of comments. Each Task Force meeting will have a public comment period for those that can attend, and the committee is accepting comments at this website:
   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MJD7YS7  (linked also from the Task Force website, below)
Finally, each member of the committee can be contacted personally.

At this point there are no specific proposals on the table, what is needed now are comments which provide background on the importance of ferries to our local communities. Ferries are marine highways and an integral part of the state's transportation system, and need to be treated as such-- rather than being funded by what is "left over" from other departments, as has been the case since MVET disappeared 12 years ago.

More below...



More on the Connecting Washington Task Force

Here is the Governor's "fact sheet" on the task force:
   http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/transportation/fact_sheet.pdf

The Task Force also has a website with members, meeting dates, documents and agendas: 

  http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/transportation/connectwa.asp


There are a number of documents listed there which provide background info. The "Falling off the Cliff" chart above is from the Governor's May briefing and repeated in the "Transportation Needs" document, below:

Governor's May briefing:

http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/transportation/transportation_revenue.pdf


Documents from the first meeting on July 19:

Meeting agenda

National forces affecting transportation system (presentation by Cambridge Systematics)

State forces affecting transportation system (presentation by Dept. of Transportation)

Transportation policy goals and plans

Initial Presentation of Statewide Transportation Needs


TVW video's of the first meeting:

Segment "A"

Segment "B"


Here are some additional resources:
Ferry "fact sheet" compiled by the Ferry Community Partnership:
  http://sanjuanco.com/committees/fac/docs/Ferry_Fact_Sheet.pdf

And help is needed. If you know of documents or links that can be used to illustrate the importance of ferries to our communities, please send an email (fac@sanjuanco.com) and we will post them here.
And if you have time to go through the Task Force meeting videos, please note the time-stamps for segments which discuss ferries. We can post clips here, and that will allow folks to respond to specific issues and comments.

Connecting Washington Task Force -- Video Clips

This is a test page for embedded TVW video clips

July 19 Meeting #1, Governor's introductory comments on ferries (Segment "A", 00:08:13 - 00:09:39)
(The reference is to the Governor's proposal to create a regional ferry district to govern-- and pay for-- ferries).


WSTC Fare Proposal Comment Period

The Washington State Transportation Commission recently held public meetings on the interisland ferry, and in Friday Harbor on July 25. The meetings were lightly attended, but some useful good feedback was heard. Commission members Philip Parker (Clark County), Jerry Litt (Douglas County) and our own Tom Cowan attended for WSTC.

The comment period is currently open, until the August 24 WSTC meeting and public hearing, where the commision is expected to take action on the proposal. Comments submitted prior to Aug 24 will be considered.

WSTC Fare Proposal web page:
http://wstc.wa.gov/Rates/FerryFares/FerryFareProposal/default.htm

Printable comment form:
http://wstc.wa.gov/Rates/FerryFares/FerryFareProposal/documents/2011_0804_FerryFareCommentForm.pdf

Online feedback page:
http://wstc.wa.gov/ContactUs/feedback.htm

We've also scanned the handouts that were made available at the meeting, a combined PDF file is available here:
http://sanjuanco.com/FAC/docs/FACDocs/2011_WSTC_handouts.pdf

Alternate FAC members confirmed

At the recent July 13 Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, the FAC voted unanimously to confirm Paty McKay and Deborah Hopkins as alternate members of the FAC, representing commercial ferry users and visitors, respectively.

State Code requires WSF to seek public input, and creates FAC's to provide that input. The Code specifies five members, and the county ordinance provided for two additional alternates in recognition of the complexity of our routes and our dependency on ferries. The recent ordinance changes removed that provision, which is now replaced by an agreement with WSF that additional members are valuable to both WSF and the county.


Additional Ferry Service for the July 4th Holiday

WSF released the following bulletin on Tuesday, June 28:

Anacortes / San Juan Islands - Fourth of July Weekend

Please plan ahead for heavy traffic this Fourth of July weekend. We encourage customers to walk on instead of taking their vehicles. Paid parking is available at the Anacortes terminal. The San Juan routes will operate on the regular summer sailing schedule.


However, additional service has been authorized, if needed, for the evenings of June 29-July 1 and July 4-5. These additional sailings will be added based on need, at the discretion of the terminal supervisors, and will supplement the scheduled evening service to and from all of the islands.

These additional sailings are limited by the availability of boats and crews. One additional westbound sailing can be added for Wednesday evening, two for Thursday, and one for Friday. For Monday and Tuesday one additional eastbound sailing can be added, plus a second on Tuesday. Again, these are all on an as-needed basis at the discretion of the terminal supervisors.

Traffic to and from Sidney is also expected to be heavy during the holiday weekend, and travelers are encouraged to make reservations, see the WSF website at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries



WSF Public Meeting June 8

Many thanks to those who attended the WSF Public Meeting on June 8, either in person or via the county's streaming video.

The video is available for viewing on the county website, click one of the following links:
  Council video page
  View WSF Meeting

and the documents that were available at the meeting are here:
  WSF Meeting Handout
(PDF file, around 1.6 MB)
 



WSF Summer Schedule Released

The Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney B.C. summer ferry schedule has been finalized, and released by WSF. The San Juan County FAC would like to join WSF in thanking everyone who submitted comments and suggestions. Working closely with WSF staff, we were able to make some significant improvements over the draft schedule in response to the suggestions received. Unfortunately there are many constraints on ferry schedules so it is not possible to satisfy everyone's needs and desires.

There are three significant changes from the draft that were incorporated in the final summer schedule:
1)    The 1:35 p.m. Anacortes to Friday Harbor sailing was shifted to 2:00 p.m. to better accommodate commercial schedules and resident needs. This will now be a dedicated sailing to Friday Harbor rather than the shared boat with Lopez last summer, which was made possible by adding a direct sailing to Lopez in the afternoon. 
2)    The westbound Sidney ferry will now stop in Friday Harbor in the morning, at 9:40 a.m., rather than the afternoon. This provides the opportunity for a day trip to Sidney, returning on the 5:55 p.m. sailing from Sidney (arriving in Friday Harbor at 7:20 p.m.).
3)    A 6:25 a.m. stop at Lopez was added to the early (5:45 a.m.) Friday Harbor to Anacortes sailing, to accommodate Lopez commercial traffic.

The summer schedule is the most difficult of the year, with large numbers of visitors joining increased resident, commercial and commuter traffic. Again, thanks to the feedback, FAC and the WSF scheduling staff were able to create some new solutions for some of the concerns raised during the public comment process.  We would also like to pass along a sincere thank you to WSF staff for their efforts on our behalf, and to the maritime unions for their recent concessions and flexibility in work shifts, salaries and overtime.

The Summer 2011 schedule is available in two formats (PDF files):
  Standard printed sailing schedule format
 
Detailed format showing eastbound vehicle space allocations



 




"Connecting Washington" Task Force (superseded)


"Falling off the Cliff in 2013", by WSDOT
The Connecting Washington Task Force, established by Governor Gregiore to recommend transportation funding solutions, has begun meeting and has a deadline to finish by Thanksgiving. The 30 or so appointees have broad representation but no specific ferry representation. The first meeting in July was a general discussion, the next meetings in September and October will focus on specific proposals.

The work of this Task Force is critically important. The resulting 10 year comprehensive revenue package will determine the direction of transportation in the State. The package will either go to the voters in 2012, go to a special session this year, or to the 2012 session.

One of the Task Force tasks is to solve the ferry funding problem. Without specific ferry representation, and in the face of all the other transportation issues, there is concern that ferries won't get the attention and results that we need. Ferry riders and ferry-served communities need to take this opportunity to keep the ferry issue a priority for this committee.

It is hoped that ferry riders and interest groups will submit a flood of comments. Each Task Force meeting will have a public comment period for those that can attend, and the committee is accepting comments at this website:
   http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MJD7YS7  (linked also from the Task Force website, below)
Finally, each member of the committee can be contacted personally.

At this point there are no specific proposals on the table, what is needed now are comments which provide background on the importance of ferries to our local communities. Ferries are marine highways and an integral part of the state's transportation system, and need to be treated as such-- rather than being funded by what is "left over" from other departments, as has been the case since MVET disappeared 12 years ago.

More below...