Fewer Ferry Service Hours, Higher Fares?

Could ferry users (Lummi Islanders and non-islanders alike)  be facing less service and higher fares in the near future?

At the first meeting of the County Council’s new Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee on May 21, 2012, Mike McKenzie (who was elected chairman of the committee at that meeting) noted that Public Works’ next report on recommendations about service hours and fares and administrative changes is scheduled to be delivered to County Executive Jack Louws by June 30, 2012.  Both service cuts and higher fares have been mentioned by Public Works as possible options. (The final paragraph in this post describes the 2011 Task Force recommendations on service and fares).

Public Works’ report to the Executive will include the ferry budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2012.  The Ferry Committee recognized that their time to review the proposed budget and give input to the county will be very short. They agreed to meet on Monday June 4, 2012 to review the draft budget if they can obtain it.  More information about that upcoming meeting will be published when available.  All Ferry Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public, with a period for public comment.

You can learn more about what’s going on by attending tomorrow night’s PLIC meeting (Tuesday, May 29, 2012; 6:30 PM at the Grange Hall).  We need as many islanders as possible who understand the whats, hows and whys of potential changes to service and fares, so that we can learn how to provide informed, timely and effective input to the Ferry Avisory Committee and our County officials about proposed changes.

The next Ferry Advisory Committee meeting (open to the public) is tentatively scheduled for Monday June 4, 2012, at the Fire Hall.  A main topic of their discussion will be Public Works’ draft budget, presuming the committee is able to obtain it before their meeting.  This committee is now the county’s official mechanism for obtaining ‘citizen advice’ on decisions about ferry issues.

NOTE: Read the 2011 Ferry Task Force recommendations for some service cuts in the evening and on weekends in their report (Recommendations 2 and 8, with supporting data and reasoning in the Appendix).  The Task Force evaluated more morning, midday and night-time cuts but found, after looking at ferry usage data and consulting with islanders, that more drastic cuts would create capacity problems and make it impossible for many islanders to meet their work, educational, business, family, health care, civic or other commitments.

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