Ferry Task Force Meeting & Update Report to Council

Barbara Ryan, Chair of the Lummi Island Ferry Task Force, forwarded this email regarding the agenda for the Monday, June 6, 2011,  task force meeting and the pressing need to develop recommendations regarding ferry fares and cost saving measures.  This is a meeting you may not want to miss!

From: Barbara Ryan <barbararyan88@hotmail.com>   (Date: Sun, Jun 5, 2011 at 3:28 PM)

Subject: Lummi Island Ferry Task Force Agenda June 6

To: Kathy Berg <kathyberg@comcast.net>, audidancer@hotmail.com, Patricia Dunn <patriciaedunn@gmail.com>, lizzieisland@gmail.com, Chandler Johnson <chandler.johnson@stanford.edu>, Riley Starks <innkeeper@willows-inn.com>, Paul Davis <thetome@lummiislandcable.com>, Kathy Kershner <kkershne@co.whatcom.wa.us>, colleenmccrory@gmail.com, David Wing <borntofish@q.com>, lummiferry@gmail.com, Bill Fox <mail@savetheferry.com>, info@plicferry.org, Jill Nixon <jnixon@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Mike McKenzie <mike@plicferry.org>, Rhayma Blake <rhayma@me.com>, “wynnelee@earthlink.net” <wynnelee@earthlink.net>

Hello all —

Attached is agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting at The Grange.

I believe it is imperative that we develop recommendations for ferry fares and for recommendations regarding cost savings tomorrow night. Feedback is most useful if Islanders can react to specifics. These recommendations should be ready for the Open House we have scheduled for June 20 to solicit reaction.

We have come a long way, but there is an entire report to develop between now and August 1. This means using the information we have collected and shaping it into a cogent set of recommendations and report. I know we can do it, but Monday night is our last opportunity to work together for several weeks.

In addition, I would love your help reviewing my outline of an update I have been asked to provide to the County Council at their Tuesday Committee of the Whole meeting at 1:30. Any and all of the Committee are most welcome to attend, and of course it is an open meeting for all. At that meeting I hope to a) recap the Council charge to the Task Force, b) provide an overview of efforts to date c) emphasize community involvement, d) discuss process going forward and final report, and e) solicit feedback from Council about what they want from the Task Force. I do not intend to provide any specific recommendations until we have clear, concise recommendations with plenty of backup data, which we have yet to develop. I think it might be useful to provide some of the specific, detailed graphs regarding increases in operating costs which Patricia gave to us at our meeting at the Garden Room several weeks ago. That may help Council understand the concern of Islanders regarding fare increases and pave the way for whatever cost savings recommendations we may make later. What do you think?

I have attached an outline for your review.

See you Monday.

Barbara Ryan, chair
Citizens’ Task Force for the Lummi Island Ferry

Lummi Island Task Force Agenda June 6

Outline of Lummi Island Task Force Report to County Council on June 7


One thought on “Ferry Task Force Meeting & Update Report to Council

  1. I attended some of meeting last night, and very much appreciated the direction TF is taking to try to keep multiride fares relatively affordable (in the ball park of most recent pre-surcharge rates). This approach is an acknowledgement that the ferry is an essential service for residents, and I fully support this direction.

    Boosting single-passage fares for occasional riders to even higher rates than with the present burdensome surcharge is less easy to support. The argument seems to be that occasional visitors will not make efforts to economize on their trips to Lummi Island because of exorbitant (approaching $20) one-time cash fares. While this may be true for some classes of irregular users (B&B and rental patrons), it is probably not true for one-time contractors or day-tripping clients or customers to island businesses. Contractors will either not serve the Island or will charge a premium for services here. Patrons and clients of small businesses will go elsewhere. People who could work for Island businesses will be reluctant to commute from the mainland. All of these effects put downward pressure on the island economy.

    Mainland contractors, island employees, and potential patrons of island businesses all benefit from moderate rates, which facilitate the economic and social interactions between the island and the mainland that benefit the entire County. It is in no one’s economic interest to raise fares beyond a ‘reasonable’ level, yet it is clear from last night’s discussion that blind adherence to the arbitrary 55% rule is likely to shoot everybody in an economic foot.

    Therefore, though I understand the TF’s interpretation that its charge is to come up with a fare structure that meets the 55% recoverability rule, I agree with many others who resist blind adherence to that rule because it includes many more kinds of costs than when it was initially established. Whether you call it a ‘moving target,’ or ‘bait and switch,’ it still means that compared to the initial allocation of ferry system costs between ferry users and the broader tax base of the entire County when the 55% rule was initially adopted, over time users have been paying considerably more than 55% of the ‘operating costs’ as originally defined. So I think the TF has a responsibility to address this issue directly, documenting these impacts and making a case for appropriate revisions to the 55% rule that will keep rates moderate enough not to clog the wheels of regional commerce and well-being.

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