Transportation Commission examines ferry financing

Long-term financing for the Washington State Ferries and the results of a recent ferry rider survey will be some of the items discussed at the Washington State Transportation Commission meeting next week in Olympia.

According to Tuesday’s agenda, Steve Pickrell of Cambridge Systematics will be presenting the “Phase 1 Report” of the commission’s long-term financing for WSF.

The study includes a review of state laws and regulations on transportation financing and taxing authority at the local, regional and state level; a review of other ferry systems regarding funding sources and financing mechanisms; and explores possible future funding strategies.

During the Tuesday afternoon session, commissioners will hear a presentation from Rebecca Elmore-Yalch, the senior vice-president from Opinion Research Northwest, that will include “preliminary qualitative results” of the ferry customer survey being conducted over the next year. The report will center on input gathered at the nine focus groups the commission and its consultant hosted throughout the communities served by WSF.

The meeting starts at 9 a.m. on both Tuesday and Wednesday in the Commission Board Room of the Transportation Building, 310 Maple Park Avenue SE, Olympia.

Members of the public are welcome to attend and have an opportunity to address Commission members during a public comment period at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Barb Ivanov, director of the WSDOT’s Freight Systems Division, will present the results of a study conducted by the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics on a freight resiliency plan for Washington, which refers to the ability of the freight distribution system to recover after a disruption such as an earthquake or the closure of a major freight corridor, such as I-5 last December due to floods.

The commissioners will discuss the findings of the study and ways the state can improve communications and recovery planning with the freight industry.

During Wednesday’s meeting, staff from WSDOT’s Aviation division will brief the commission on work of the Aviation Planning Council, a 10-member, Governor appointed advisory board.

The council’s key elements of work will be on the statewide long-term air transportation planning study, which examines current airport capacity at commercial and general aviation facilities and future needs to meet air transportation demands.

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