The Washington Ferry Coalition brings together ferry riders, community organizations and businesses that recognize the importance of an efficient ferry system to fill the transportation needs of Western Washington and serve as an economic asset for the entire state.
Washington State Legislature Considers New Ferry Funding
The Washington State Legislature released their House and Senate transportation budget proposals in late March. Both budgets recommend funding for new ferries and conversion of two diesel-powered Jumbo Mark II vessels to electric hybrid propulsion.
The House budget allocates $99 million in the 2019-2021 biennium to begin construction of one new Olympic Class 144-car hybrid ferry and to begin planning for a second. Additional money is allocated in a future biennium to complete construction of the first ferry. Summary here.
Both budgets consider a surcharge on vehicles using the ferry system and a potential fare increase to support the needed funding.
Earlier this year Washington State Ferries released its 2040 Long Range Plan. The Plan recommended building five new Olympic Class ferries as soon as possible.
Ferry ridership is expected to grow by more than 30 percent, from 24.5 million riders in 2017 to nearly 32 million in 2040. This increased demand presents challenges to an already overburdened fleet and aging infrastructure.
Between now and 2040, 13 of the 23 WSF vessels are due for retirement and replacement. Without investment in new vessels, there is growing risk to service reliability that accumulates every year. Even with one-for-one replacement as older vessels retire, the current fleet size does not include sufficient relief vessels to support a reliable system.
As the Long Range Plan states, the time is now for new ferries.
The Washington Ferry Coalition urges its members, business organizations, ferry communities, transportation advocates and all others who care about an effective and reliable state transportation system to show their support for additional ferry construction funding.