A Compelling Case for a 24 Car Ferry?

Rich Frye, a Lummi Islander with an economics background, has submitted to LIFAC the Case for a 24-car Ferry 052118 a short (2 page) data-based analysis concluding that a 24 car ferry would be the best option to replace the Whatcom Chief. Whatcom County’s consultants (KPFF) apparently will recommend to LIFAC a choice between two ferry sizes: a 20-car ferry (just a bit larger than the Whatcom Chief, unable to handle any increase in vehicle traffic) and a 34 car ferry that should handle projected vehicle traffic through 2060.  KPFF has considered but will argue against a 28 car vessel, which they think would only be ‘marginally’ better than a 20 car ferry.  Frye’s analysis indicates that a 24-car ferry would provide an intermediate-sized option that is preferable in cost and function to a 20-car, 28-car or 34-car sized vessel.

Lummi Ferry Dock Location Options at Gooseberry Point

Three options for improving Lummi Island ferry terminal facilities at Gooseberry Point are being considered as part of the County’s ferry system improvement project. Each option has substantial long-term financial, operational and other pros and cons. This paper by Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC) summarizes some key aspects of these ferry terminal options.

The process for moving forward is for LIFAC, assisted by Public Works, citizens impacted by these options and the County’s consultants who are assisting with this project, to continue gathering and discussing pros and cons via meetings, an upcoming survey and comments submitted by individuals and groups. After analysis of all information, LIFAC will submit a recommendation (note: LIFAC decides nothing; it is just an advisory committee) along with all Consultant reports to the County Council. The County Council is the ‘decider’ on a preferred docking option, as well as replacement ferry.

Right-sizing Lummi Island Ferry – Demand and Capacity

A choice must be made about the size of the replacement Lummi Island ferry. PLIC-White-Paper-3-Demand-and-Capacity-Options- summarizes the planning consultants’ estimated demand for vehicle transport in the decades ahead, especially during ‘peak normal use’, generally commuting periods. It also describes how three larger ferries might accommodate that vehicle traffic.  All three ferries could be operated with 3 crew members (larger vessels would require adding a 4th crew member, thereby increasing labor costs by 30%).  There are trade-offs among these options on capital and operational costs, as well as on vehicle wait times when vehicle traffic is heavy.

Ferry System Upgrade – Population Projections

Estimating Lummi Island’s population growth over the next few decades is an important part of planning to replace the Whatcom Chief with an appropriately sized vessel, which will have a life span of at least 60 years. (Whether anyone thinks the population “should” grow, shrink or stay the same is irrelevant. There are many empty lots that owners have every legal right to build on – whether to live in full or part time, or rent out short or long term, or ‘just for the investment.’).

PLIC-White-Paper-2-Population-Projections (from Protect Lummi Island Community) briefly summarizes the planning consultant’s best guesses about how the population will change. These predictions are part of what’s needed to decide how to ‘right size’ the new vessel, though other factors also are important.

Ferry System Improvement History 2018

This short document by Protect Lummi Island Community (PLIC; volunteer island group) describes some of the decade+ history behind the current essential planning to replace the old Whatcom Chief and the dock at Gooseberry Pt, both parts of Whatcom County’s transportation/road system. PLIC-White-Paper-1-Ferry-Replacement-Background. It’s an excellent reminder for those who’ve been around a while, essential reading for island newcomers and all County residents who generally know very little, if anything, about this 100-year part of the County’s transportation system.

Update on 2018 Plan to replace Chief, Gooseberry Dock

More on the upcoming recommendations on Whatcom County’s planning to replace the Gooseberry Pt Dock and Whatcom Chief. Important stuff. If you want to have input, the next 3 months are crucial. Stu Rich, President of Protect Lummi Island Community, just sent out this summary.
Date: Sat, Mar 17, 2018 at 12:23 PM
Subject: PLIC – Stuart Rich- President letter on 3/14/18 Ferry Meeting
To: PLICEBlast

PLIC- Stuart Rich-President

The ferry consultant, KPFF Consulting, and Whatcom County Public Works have laid out their options for a ferry replacement boat (20, 28 or 34 car capacity vessel) and the future Gooseberry ferry terminal location (1.the present location, 2. move north to convenience store location, or 3. purchase up to 8 private homes). Now it’s up to us to decide what is in the best interest of Lummi Island and chose a ferry replacement system that will serve our future needs through the year 2060.

Let’s start with a priority decision- location of the Gooseberry terminal. Staying at the present location is not viable. Lummi Nation has served us due notice that there will be no renewal of the present-day lease. The second option of the convenience store location would mean the continuation of expensive upland and tideland leases with the Lummi Nation which would continue to impact operational costs and fares. The third option of purchasing private homes coupled with a tradeoff – changing the county- right-of- way to accommodate the proposed Lummi Nation marina in exchange for the Nation’s support for a federal right-of-way over the tidal water dock area – would forever eliminate the need for lease payments to the Lummi Nation. This option is cost effective and provides a permanent solution
Choosing a long-term replacement boat is a complex process which is directly tied to the level of service (LOS), operational costs and fares, as well as the future growth of Lummi Island. How big of a boat do we need? After examining several studies, KPFF has pegged Lummi Island’s annual growth rate for pedestrian/passenger ridership at 1.54% and vehicle ridership at 0.76 percent through the year 2040. After factoring in current peak ferry usage, the consultants have projected a low- middle- and high range for the required boat capacity through the year 2060.

PLIC Input to LIFAC about Ferry Replacement Report

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 »

How will LIFAC respond to community requests to modify their ‘Lower Fares’ proposal?

Tomorrow night, at LIFAC’s December 2, 2014 LIFAC meeting (Fire Hall, 6:30-7:40 PM), you can learn how LIFAC will respond to islander requests to modify LIFAC’s October recommendation to lower some Lummi Island ferry fares (see October 7, 2014 draft handout on their county website; a newer revised version is here, on the PLIC website).

Basic facts.  In October, LIFAC members approved a recommendation to ask the County Council to consider lowering selected ferry fares.  This sounds like a very nice idea, as we all love the idea of paying less for something these days, especially ferry fares!

However,Read More »

Moving toward Improved Lummi Island Ferry fares

Should a recent proposal by LIFAC to selectively reduce some ferry fares move forward as is, or not?  It’s great that LIFAC has started to tackle this issue, and we all sincerely applaud them for their efforts. The question now is,  “Is this particular proposal what we need, or does it need further review and modification?”

Surprisingly, 31 of the 33 islanders at the PLIC (Protect Lummi Island Community) public meeting (October 29, 2014) who stayed to hear all of the discussion voted NO to ‘just go for it’. Instead, the strong majority opted to ask LIFAC to hold off, review and modify details of the proposal before taking it to the County Council.

Based on that community input, the PLIC Board has submitted to LIFAC a letter reversing its original support of LIFAC’s proposal and requesting further consideration of issues raised by the community. They have posted that information on their website (plicferry.org), Facebook and NextDoor Lummi Island.Read More »

New PLIC Board & Report on Ferry Issues

The PLIC (Protect Lummi Island Community) Board has posted minutes from their annual meeting, in January 2013 on their website.  (for more information about PLIC, see their website, or search here  on the Ferry Forum for “PLIC”)

The Board reviewed ferry issues from 2012 and described their plans for 2013.  There was considerable discussion of ‘needs based’ fares, including the 2011 County Ferry Task Force recommendations that the County is considering.  A group of PLIC members will review this issue and bring forward recommendations at a future meeting.

New Board members were elected to replace Mike McKenzie and Stu Clarke, who stepped down to avoid conflicts with their roles on LIFAC, the County Council’s Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee (thanks, Mike & Stu).  The new PLIC Board, whom you can contact by phone or email (info@PLICferry.org) is:

  • Rhayma Blake, President
  • Mike Kmiecek, Treasurer
  • Mary Ross, Secretary
  • David Wing
  • Tess Winds-Johnson
  • Janet Lutz-Smith
  • Jansen Pierce