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Angel proposes changing WSF's name

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but a ferry system by another name could be in line for additional state funding. Or so goes the thinking behind a bill sponsored in Olympia this week by 26th District Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) that would rename Washington State Ferries the Washington Marine Highway System.

"Citizens throughout the Olympic Peninsula rely on ferry service for their livelihoods,” said Angel. “It's an integral part of our economy in Western Washington. Yet, when there's a shortfall in the state's transportation budget, it seems the first place lawmakers look to cut is service for Washington State Ferries."

Angel said she got the idea from the state of Alaska, where she formerly lived.

“No one would dream of removing a highway simply because funds are short,” she said. “Yet when you remove or curtail ferry service, that's exactly what you’re doing – removing a marine highway. We need to begin thinking of it as such. The best place to start is by changing the name to reflect the real purpose of our ferry system.”

The measure has been referred to the House Transportation Committee for further consideration.

“Alaska has the Alaska State Marine Highway System,” Angel said, “and everyone thinks of it that way. People in Alaska understand the importance of their marine highway in the movement of cars, people and freight.

“I'm very concerned that because we think of the boats here in Washington as the ‘ferry system,'’ the priority of funding gets placed on the back burner,” Angel said. “We need to be looking at the bigger picture of what this system really does, and why it is so vital to our state's economy. This legislation would give credibility and accountability to the importance and function of our state ferries. We have a marine highway system in Washington, and that's how we need to consider it.”

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