Ferry service and cost-cutting

Opinion piece

Please …
Do not panic
after reading the first two paragraphs below.

Nothing has happened, no decisions made — just ideas.

Be realistic
Some aspects of ferry operations, costs and fares will very likely change soon. There’s little chance of returning to the Good Old Days.

Be effective
We’ve time  to work with the Ferry Task Force and neighbors to suggest solutions to funding sustainable, fiscally  responsible and community-supportive ferry service.


As Barbara Ryan gently alluded to in her notice about the June 20 Ferry Task Force open house, the County Council is very serious about cutting ferry operation costs. A lot.  Total County tax revenues are down 10% so far this year and the ferry operations budget that is paid for by county road taxes (not fares) is about 1% of the county’s total budget.

At last Tuesday’s County Council Committee meeting, one cost-cutting idea suggested by the Council was to maybe reduce ferry service to eight hours (one crew shift), maybe 4 hours in the morning, a long mid-day break, then 4 hours in the afternoon to very early evening.  This was just an idea that someone suggested, not a decision or even a preference, so please don’t immediately “blast” the Council for bringing it up.  (I applaud them for putting their ideas — even ones I think are unworkable — out in the open. This gives us a chance to think seriously about pros and cons.)

Next Monday, June 13, the Ferry Task Force will (among other things) present and discuss a range of cost-cutting options that they might recommend to the County Council. Costs  need to be cut, including possible cuts to service among other ideas.  (The Task Force might send out a draft of possible cost-cutting ideas today or tomorrow, for everyone to see, think about and comment on.)

If you want to provide input on cost-cutting, the next two weeks is the time to find out what our real (not pie-in-the-sky) options are, advocate for those you think are workable and bring other relevant information to the discussion.

If you can’t attend task force meetings, submit your ideas and concerns to Kathy Berg, Task Force secretary, at kathyberg@comcast.net, or bring them to the June 13 meeting. (click here for contact information of all Task Force members)

One thought on “Ferry service and cost-cutting

  1. It seems that the number of dock inspections has skyrocketed in the last two years. How can this be cost effective? And what is the rationale for the dramatic increase in the number, and frequency of inspections. It doesn’t seem like the docks are any more reliable now, than they were before the increase in frequency.
    Also, before the county makes any cuts in service to the ferry, they should ask themselves what other service cost the county has so dramatically increased to resident users in the last couple of years. Just a note, the WTA recoups less than 3% of operating cost from the fare-box… And I see empty buses running around all the time.

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