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New ferries director set to visit SK

The newly appointed head of the struggling Ferries Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation is scheduled to be in South Kitsap tonight to meet local riders.

“I want to meet face-to-face and have constructive conversations with the people who depend on the services we provide every day,” said David Moseley, who took the helm of the maligned agency which has struggled recently to keep enough boats on the water.

Moseley’s visit tonight will be just part of the South Sound Ferry Advisory Committee meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. at South Colby Elementary School. (Past meetings have typically been held at John Sedgwick Junior High School).

The meeting will begin with a period for public comments, then include the introduction of Moseley and discussion of a revised long-range plan for the ferries system.

For those who cannot make tonight’s meeting, another is planned for Monday, also from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Norm Dicks Gov. Center at 345 6th St., Suite 100, in Bremerton.

Last fall, WSF officials began introducing their revisions to the system’s long-range plan, which stemmed from ferry financing legislation passed last year — the Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2358, “the Ferry Bill,” and the associated biennial transportation budget ESHB 1094.

The legislation contains specific policy and operational directives to assess the efficiency and costs related to how the WSDOT Ferries Division provides service. The results of the studies are intended to shape strategies for future agency operations.

The spring meetings will be followed this June 2008 by another round of public meetings focusing on pricing strategies and terminal design standards. Then in October, another series of public meetings is planned for officials to present and take comments on the revised draft long-range plan.

After the meetings, the long-range plan will be finalized going into the 2009 legislative session, and WSDOT officials are encouraging customers to participate in the process and help shape route plans and service strategies.

Also this month, the Washington State Transportation Commission is conducting a survey of WSF riders.

According to the commission, the purpose of the survey is to gather information from riders throughout the system on their travel behaviors and attitudes.

The research will also ask customers to provide feedback on a number of operational and other strategies that are being considered by WSF to help inform decisions regarding how to better utilize ferry capacity, increase the efficiency with which the system operates, and evaluate the need for capital expansion to meet current and future demands for service.

Continuing through late March, Opinion Research Northwest will be conducting a survey of ferry riders on-board the ferries, riding on more than 150 randomly selected trips. All routes will be surveyed as part of this comprehensive survey effort.

Participation in the survey is voluntary, and individual survey responses will be kept confidential and will only be used for statistical purposes. For more information on the WSTC Ferry Customer Survey, go online to: www.wstc.wa.gov/FerryCustomerSurvey/default.htm.

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