Quite a bit is happening tomorrow night at the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee meeting (6:30-7:40, District 11 Firehall, Lummi Island). Here’s the agenda: LIFAC agenda 2016-05-03
Here’s Stu Clark’s (chair) report on the LIFAC March 1, 2016 meeting (not included: Agenda; brief bios of members Bailey, Blake and Forbes). A key action was the vote to ensure that the County’s 20 yr Comprehensive (Comp) Plan recogizes the Lummi Island Ferry system as an essential ‘arterial’ road that requires ‘concurrency’ of future transportation and growth/development. Read More »
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at the next LIFAC meeting in January (tentatively, January 5). Read More »
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.
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.
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.
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The agenda for tonight’s LIFAC meeting (Sept 1, 2015, 6:30 PM, at Lummi Island Fire Hall) is here. Hit the ‘download’ button for the Sept. 1 line to see the pdf file. Key agenda items:
- Rob Ney (Public Works) will give updates on dry dock, old ferry passes and inspections
- LIFAC members will report on their progress on the Level of Service (LOS) work plan (approved at their August 2015 meeting; not yet posted on the LIFAC county website). The LOS work plan was jointly developed by LIFAC and Public Works. Gathering and analyzing this information is the next essential step toward determining an appropriate replacement for the Whatcom Chief.
Note: When the LOs work plan is up on the county website, I will post the link here.
At last night’s meeting of the Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (LIFAC), committee members and islanders heard some good news from Rob Ney (Public Works): the County has begun Phase I of its required due diligence in considering whether or not acquiring the Hiyu is a viable option to consider.Read More »
Rhayma Blake, president of the PLIC Board, asked to post this about what they submitted to LIFAC today, including survey results, concerning the Ferry Replacement Subcommittee’s report re: possibly replacing the Whatcom Chief with the Hiyu and keeping the Chief as a backup vessel. Thanks to the PLIC Board for their continued effort to listen to islanders’ obviously varied opinions. Job very well done. Read More »
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.”
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.