Guest Post – Comments to LIFAC about Ferry Replacement Hiyu Report and Recommendations

Editor’s note In this guest post, Beth Louis shares her comments to LIFAC about the Ferry Replacement Subcommittee’s January 3rd draft report and recommendations re: acquiring the Hiyu (links are at end).  Beth’s long-time profession was in public transportation management. She was a part-time resident of Lummi Island for years and moved  here full time ~1 year ago.  Beth is on LIFAC’s long-range planning sub-committee, attends LIFAC meetings regularly and recently joined the PLIC Board. (Her comments are part of the public record, like all written input to LIFAC.)

Beth’s summary comment:

“The Sub-Committee should be commended for the effort and detailed work put into the Report to gather information about ferry replacement options.  It serves as a good starting point for discussion about how and when the Whatcom Chief should be replaced.  The Report makes clear that there is an opportunity to acquire a used replacement ferry and strongly conveys the benefits for pursuing the Hiyu.

However, without a comprehensive comparison of benefits, dis-benefits and costs and a discussion of trade-offs between acquiring a used boat with a similar life span to the Chief vs. keeping the Chief and beginning the process for funding and acquiring a new boat, it is not possible to make an informed decision about which ferry replacement option is the most financially and operationally suited to County budgets and ferry users needs.

The information collected by the Technical Sub-committee could be passed on to the County for their information and use in evaluating a ferry replacement option, but until additional data is provided, including a true assessment of costs, their impact on fares and a funding plan, it is not appropriate to forward a recommendation that the Hiyu be acquired at this time.  I have submitted the attached comments to LIFAC based on the Report entitled “Acquisition of the M/V Hiyu From Washington State Ferries for Use at Lummi Island” released by the Technical Sub-Committee on January 3, 2015.”

Part 1 of  HIYU Report 01032015 comments Walukas-Louis 1 (overview)

Part 2 of HIYU Report 01032015 comments Walukas-Louis 2 (detailed table)

Editor’s note 2.  I’ve heard there’s an updated version / draft of the subcommittee report, but LIFAC has chosen not to make that  available to the public until after their February 3, 2015 meeting at which they will discuss and vote on what to do next. That means that commenters can respond only to what’s in the draft report released on January 3, 2015.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post – Comments to LIFAC about Ferry Replacement Hiyu Report and Recommendations

  1. I agree with passing the information/report to the county with no recommendation from LIFAC. I think islanders see only one area of this subject. That is why I do not know what the county wants. We do not consider the Lummi Nation Lease – it is a given. I do not know how important it is to the county. But what I do know is that the county has put their name in the hat for purchasing the Hiyu so it is good we know something about it. To say we are for or against the Hiyu is more complicated.

  2. Brava, Beth! What a great analysis of the situation and information available!

    My comments, sent to LIFAC today, also support your conclusion that there simply isn’t enough information for the subcommittee or LIFAC to make any recommendations based on the report. Here’s what I sent:

    “Two things have become very clear in the presentation and ensuing discussion of the Hiyu report written by the Replacement subcommittee:

    “1. There are a lot of unknowns that could make a tremendous difference in the conclusions drawn about whether the Hiyu would be a good replacement for the Chief or not.

    “2. None of us (LIFAC members, subcommittee members, nor community members) have the required expertise to make any legitimate recommendations. The crucially important questions remaining can only be answered by marine engineers.

    “The most prudent thing LIFAC could do now would be to forward the printed report and the supporting data from the subcommittee to Public Works for them to evaluate. Recommendations should be omitted, for reasons stated above.

    “It would be premature to send the information to the County Council, as they will need the same professional input as the rest of us before they could do anything about it. Presenting it to Council now with all the unknowns would only be a waste of their time.

    “I hope these comments will be helpful, and thank you for your time.
    Nancy Ging”

  3. Lummi Island and Whatcom County are blessed to have someone of Beth’s talent offer her advice and experience on this issue. Her career in the San Francisco Bay area on the Transportation Commission over a number of years puts great weight on her measured words of advice. I whole heatedly concur with her analysis and roadmap for how LIFAC and Whatcom County PW should proceed from here.
    The Whatcom Chief makes over 12,000 crossing yearly. The Chiefs stellar safety record of 600,000+ crossings in the last 53 years is nothing to be dismissed so lightly without an objective viewpoint tempering recent claims to the contrary.

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