WSF may give Southworth its own boat

Southworth ferry riders could be getting a boat of their own under terms of a revised plan being considered by WSF. - Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo
Southworth ferry riders could be getting a boat of their own under terms of a revised plan being considered by WSF.
— image credit: Jeff Rhodes/Staff Photo

Following numerous boisterous meetings with ferry commuters across Kitsap County and beyond, Washington State Ferries officials released a revised version of their controversial long-range plan last weekend.

One of the changes proposed in the new plan includes separating the three stops of the Triangle Route that serves Southworth, Vashon Island and Fauntleroy.

“This is the most troubled route in our system,” said David Moseley, who directs the WSF as assistant secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation in charge of ferries, as he presented the long-range plan in Olympia Monday.

Moseley said the new plan’s “Scenario A” would add a fourth boat to the route — the M/V Hiyu — and run one dedicated boat between Fauntleroy and Southworth, one between Vashon and Southworth, and two between Fauntleroy and Vashon.

“For a very modest increase, we can both improve service for our customers and provide efficiencies,” Moseley said, explaining that the boats would also travel at slightly slower speeds to increase fuel efficiency.

Breaking up the route was one of the suggestions presented by ferry riders at the public meeting held last month in South Colby.

Rich Barringer, a member of the Southworth Ferry Advisory Committee, advised ferry officials that if they wanted to save fuel, instead of just slowing the boats down they should quit having them stop at Vashon Island between Southworth and Fauntleroy.

Too often when that happens, he said, fuel is wasted as boats turn around getting into or out of the dock, or when a boat sits idle for 10 minutes or more waiting in the slip.

“Scenario B,” however, would take away one of the Triangle Route’s current boats, leaving it with only two and less service.

Also speaking Monday in Olympia with Moseley was Jill Satran, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s transportation policy adviser, who said that while there was “no easy fix on the horizon” for the ferry system’s financial problems, Gregoire is “facing the realities of the WSF’s” crisis.

“The bright spot is, ‘Plan B’ is a very real call to action,” Satran said, explaining that ferry workers also “stepped up to the plate” and offered to renegotiate recently for no salary increases.

Now that the long-range plan has been presented, Teresa Berntsen, a member of the Washington State House of Representatives’ Joint Transportation Committee, said the next steps will be “scrubbing and reviewing” the numbers before reporting back to the legislature in early March.

In the meantime, a group formed by Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor), to write create another option for the WSF, “Plan C,” will be meeting again tomorrow, Feb. 7, at the Norm Dicks Government Center in downtown Bremerton from 9 a.m. to noon.

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