Report on Feb. 2, 2016 LIFAC Meeting

Below is a concise report on what happened last night’s Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) meeting. It’s just a quick report, not approved  minutes. Stu Clark sent it out by email today (Feb. 3). Stu is the newly elected LIFAC chairperson. Other newly elected officers and members are listed in the report. The report provides a quick look- ahead to topics for the March 1 meeting.  My sincere thanks to LIFAC for getting these out so quickly! Read More »

LIFAC Draft Report on Ferry Level of Service 12-01-2015

The Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) has made public its draft report on ferry level of service LIFAC LOS Project Part 1 Report – DRAFT 12-01-2015. This report is part of their co-operative planning with Public Works re: replacement of the Whatcom Chief.  Included are definitions, history and more about what ‘ferry level of service’ is and how it is defined by Whatcom County.  This is a substantive document with considerable detail and comparisons to other WA ferry systems.  Public comments on the document and issues are welcome, and can be submitted in writing to lummiferry@googlegroups.com or at the next LIFAC meeting in January (tentatively, January 5).   Read More »

What is the Ferry Level of Service?

Why review the ferry Level of Service (LOS) now? LIFAC and Public Works are currently exploring the County’s ferry LOS history and options as part of their brief to advise the County Council on a replacement of the Whatcom Chief at some future time.

What  is a “Level of Service”, anyway? In Washington state, LOS is the legal term for how a county, city or other governmental entity defines what it deems ‘acceptable traffic flow’ on roads, ferries etc. They do this supposedly to help plan for the transportation infrastructure that will ‘accommodate’ projected changes in population and development.  The Washington Growth Management Act (1993) requires transportation infrastructure planning to be part of required comprehensive land use planning to accommodate projected growth. The notion is that transportation infrastructure plans should be ‘concurrent’ with development.

Sometime in the 1990s, Whatcom County assigned our ferry system a ‘ferry LOS’ as part of its the ‘transportation concurrency’ part of its comprehensive plan. The current ferry LOS was defined (I think) as the total # of people and/or vehicles transported annually/# island residents, measured at some past point in time.

Does the ferry or any other LOS matter?  Defining a traffic LOS doesn’t necessarily mean that traffic flow is kept ‘reasonable’ from the drivers’ perspective. That’s because local governments can define ‘acceptable’ a traffic LOS, either overall or at specific times (e.g., commute times) that allows very heavily congested roads etc.  So what if the government entity doesn’t have or want to spend more monies to to increase its transportation infrastructure, and if neither developers nor taxpayers are willing to pay more for improvements that would keep traffic congestion down? Well, they can simply lower the ‘acceptable’ LOS, resulting in more traffic congestion as development and population increase.

Examples of ‘traffic planning’ via LOS (best appreciated by those who’ve been in Whatcom County 10+ years).  Guide Meridian, especially at rush hour is definitely worse now than 10 years ago. Looking ahead, think about traffic at the Bakerview Road/I5 interchange as Costco, more apartments, more stores, and more hotels are built, plus (maybe) more airport traffic. Or, consider how traffic has worsened between Seattle and Marysville as the northward population has grown. Yes, some changes have been made to roads, but traffic is still way more congested than it was.

I’m glad LIFAC and Public Works are exploring ideas about changes in island population and the ferry system that might ‘accommodate’ population projections.  But I’ve no illusions that any LOS they recommend as ‘reasonable’ will result in an increased numbers of runs or a larger ferry with more vehicle capacity that might keep car traffic flowing as well as it does now.

LIFAC Meeting/Worksession Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Below is the notice of the next LIFAC meeting / worksession on the ferry ‘level of service’. On Facebook (or somewhere) I read that that Rich Hudson, the Chief’s new Senior Master, will attend this meeting, at least briefly. Note that, as usual, brief (3 minute) public comments will be taken at the start of the meeting.

—–Forwarded Message—–
From: Stu
Sent: Nov 27, 2015 2:52 PM
To: LIFAC Announcements
Cc: LIFAC Members
Subject: [LIFAC Announcements] LIFAC Meeting Announcement for Dec. 1 , 2015

Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC) will hold it’s regular meeting this month on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, at 6:30 PM. The meeting will be held in the Lummi Island Fire Hall.

This will be a work session largely devoted to reviewing the Level of Service (LOS) Work Plan. As always, there will be an Open Session for receiving public comments.

Thank you for your interest.

To contact LIFAC, send message to: lummiferry@googlegroups.com

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To contact LIFAC, send message to: lummiferry@googlegroups.com

New Senior Master Appointed

from Whatcom  County Public Works, via Mike McKenzie, Chairperson of LIFAC.

Rich Hudson has been selected as the new Senior Master to captain the Whatcom Chief. He fills the vacated position created by Fred Nyland’s retirement, effective Dec. 1. “Richie has some great ideas, and we’re excited to have him in this role,” said Rob Ney, PW director of special projects.”

Here’s the process used to make the selection. It differs greatly from the previous criteria of just seniority,

Lummi Island Ferry Rates Starting October 4, 2015

How much? The full table of 2015 ferry fares for the Lummi Island Ferry are on the County’s Public Works (PW) website. New fares start on Oct. 4, 2015. The fare table has been on PW’s site for a while, as Ferry fares eff 10-4-2015 (presume ‘eff’ stands for effective).

When & where? Public Works staff will be at the ferry office (on LI dock) on 10/4 to sell punch cards from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. After 10/4, you can buy punch cards, as usual, on the ferry run back to the mainland. Cards also can be purchased online or by mail (for how-to details, see the County’s ferry website, left column).

The County PW ferry website link is always the top link ( “County ferry website”) on the Ferry Forum blogrolll/list of links.

Old punch cards. The County website includes the Whatcom County ordinance, which established the new rates  Table 7 of the ordinance gives all the changes, in detail. It sets six months (April 4, 2016) after new cards are issued (Oct. 5, 2015) for expiration of current (higher rate for pedestrians and car/driver) punch cards.