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It would be easier if the ferry had sunk with their cars on board, but no people, making the choice more obvious ... and providing an income tax writeoff ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 11, 2007 9:48 AM

Iím sorry if I sound unsympatheticóand Iím sure some people will be genuinely inconveniencedóbut is it really the end of the world if a few suburban residents have to reorganize their schedules to get around by some means other than driving from home to work and back?

Is it really an inconvenience to take the bus all the way to west seattle and then back when you miss your stop? I guess sympathy is only for the self-centered.

Posted by shoe on other foot | December 11, 2007 9:49 AM

I don't think that anyone would expect you of all people to be sympathetic about this, so no need to worry about that. Same thing will happen that always happens in these situations: most will get over it pretty quickly, and some will never quit complaining and pining for the way things were.

Posted by Hernandez | December 11, 2007 9:55 AM

It seems irresponsible of the Times for not playing up the passenger-ferry angle and helping commuters get around without their cars. This could be a big opportunity to retire that route as a car-ferry one and stick with what we've got now.

Posted by Greg | December 11, 2007 9:56 AM

The ferry system is part of the highway system, not any bus or transit system. In essence ferries are mobile bridges.

But since they don't serve Capitol Hill, Erica isn't interested, since that's the only part of the universe that matters.

Posted by Fnarf | December 11, 2007 9:56 AM
Iím sorry if I sound unsympathetic

No you're not.

is it really the end of the world if a few suburban residents have to reorganize their schedules to get around by some means other than driving from home to work and back?

No. But the Times article doesn't claim it is.

It is, however, a major pain in the ass for some of those small towns on the peninsula. Port Townsend isn't exactly a suburb. It's more like an exurb. And to a town with 10,000 people in it, cutting off 1,000 cars a day can add up to a significant loss of revenue.

Etc etc, blah blah blah.

I could go on about that at some length, but I don't know why I'd waste my time trying to explain this shit to you. You're perfectly intelligent. If you haven't thought it through it's because you can't be bothered, regional bigot that you are. Next time you wonder why Seattle Democrats in the state legislature get stonewalled by party legislators from outside the city, think back to this post.

Posted by Judah | December 11, 2007 10:00 AM

Suburban? ECB, You call Port Townsend suburban? I know this will shock you, but the whole state does not revolve around Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle. But none of that affects you, right?

Posted by bigyaz | December 11, 2007 10:08 AM

Stupid, stupid suburban residents and their puny little problems. If they knew as much as the clever, clever Capitol Hill residents they'd know the solution to broken ferries is the same as the solution to broken viaducts - replace them with nothing, find a way around, and quit bitching.

Posted by pox | December 11, 2007 10:09 AM

I know English is my second language, but is Port Townsend a suburb?

Posted by SeMe | December 11, 2007 10:10 AM

You whine about not being let off the bus before the next stop in West Seattle ("not even real Seattle!"), and now you post this? Will it never end?

Posted by tsm | December 11, 2007 10:14 AM

Okay, well, there are a whole list of facts why the post makes little sense.

Whidbey Island, and Port Townsend are not suburbs.

Whidbey Island is largely rural, and the only centralized economic engine is the Naval Station on the northend, and the little town of Oak Harbor, a hour's drive from Keystone. The island is mostly small business, and the smattering of local municipal services in the half dozen or so small towns. The bus doesn't cover the whole island, but only hits a few key nodes.

How do I know? I grew up there.

Let's talk about Island Transit. It was one of the first rural transit systems and is one of the only ones supported by taxes; originally, out of sales taxes. The bus lines are on the main roads, but again we are talking about a rural area, and so that means people don't live in urban clusters in overpriced apartment buildings. Many people live several miles from a bus line. The weather up there is a little more harsh (wind, cold) this time of year then it is for wet Seattle. Asking people to walk in that is a bit much. Most roads don't have a shoulder, much less a "bike lane" and so riding can be quite dangerous, especially in a culture up there that doesn't understand the concept.

As for Port Townsend, also rural, and a two hour drive from Bremerton/Bainbridge Is.; their business relies a lot of tourism, from the "Cascade Loop" highway (hwy 20). People are going to go elsewhere, and so many people will lose their jobs, and their livelihood.

The trouble with your analysis is, like the one you put forward re: the Viaduct, is that eliminating a choke point link cold turkey creates more problems then it solves. That ferry run is a major choke point in the Island/Jefferson County transportation system.

People in PT will get hosed more them the people on Whidbey. It is ironic that PT is the one sort of lefty-green community out on the Peninsula, and they are being told to eat it, as they clearly are not good enough by Seattle standards (!) .

I won't mention the problems associated with dropping off/picking up kids around work schedules, how far apart amenities like grocery stores are, and disabled folks, as that it another five paragraphs, and I've already made my point.

Posted by tpn | December 11, 2007 10:16 AM

The real headline here is WSF's continued failure to replace the four Steel Electrics. They've been in service since 1927, for Christ's sake. We should've built new boats back in the days of the MVET--or relocated/dredged the Keystone terminal back in the seventies, before Coupeville was flooded with Seattleites searching for second homes, bringing their NIMBYism with them.

Posted by niche | December 11, 2007 10:20 AM

Well, I suppose after 80 years no one can say the state didn't get its money's worth.

Posted by Orv | December 11, 2007 10:21 AM

So is not a suburb, so basically by referring to PT as a suburb this reporter is basically just being smug and dismissive of Port Townsend folks as those non-liberal, dumb, suburban people. I tell ya, alt-Journalists can be guilty of the same smug parochialism suffered by Seatown's so called hipsters. This post actually makes some valid points, but the need to be better is always the underneath. I guess someone forgot to tell them that Port Townsend is filled with liberals,lefties, bad poets, artsy fartsy folk, skater kids and green hippies, just like Seattle.

Posted by SeMe | December 11, 2007 10:31 AM

@5: Thank you Fnarf, for saying exactly what I was thinking.

Posted by kerri harrop | December 11, 2007 10:31 AM

Well, not everyone involved is just going to one point or the other, or just commuting to Seattle. They're going other places in the region as well, places that have no transit.

Not that choosing to live in such a place where a car ferry was a major commuting point was a good idea in the first place, but this kind of cuts off a lot of travel options for these people.

Posted by Gomez | December 11, 2007 10:37 AM

Port Townsend suburban? You gotta be kidding me. Erica, have you ever lived in a rural area (Austin doesn't count)? The world does not revolve around Capitol Hill.


Posted by notonthehill | December 11, 2007 10:40 AM

We have too much mode worship/mode bigotry (I love all ferries; I hate all ferrries; I love all roads; I hate all roads; I love all buses, I hate all buses ditto with rail, streetcars, etc.).

This intertribal warfare does not lead to a transportation system that makes sense, that moves people effectively, that is well integrated and synergistic.

We need to get on the same page to compare projects with the same yardsticks -- you can't manage what you can't measure.

We should learn the total ridership of the route, how many millions for capital costs and operating costs, and the capital and operating cost per rider.
Also: is it integrated with other facilities (is it connected to other routes and modes) and faster than the alternative of building nothing (headways, travel time versus driving as an alternative). Also greenhouse gas analysis.

Then we can make irmeded decisions about our resources and where to use them.

For 1,000 trips a day, what is the alternative, and what are the operating subsidy per rider and the capital cost per rider, should be the starting point of the discussion.

Not "I love ferries" or "we over here want those dollars, you don't need ferries."

The same approach goes for any project whether light rail, BRT, monorail, road projects, SLUT expansion, the new County fery plan.

Do these things move a lot of people in an integrated system, cheaply and in an environmentally responsible way -- or do they move a few people here and there in a wasteful way?

Here's an interesting point: each monoorail or light rail station adds 2,000-6,0000 trips a day to a rail system. So building four new boats to provide 1000 trips a day ....raises issues.

Not saying we should not consider the fact they have historically relied on this ferry route, or that taking something away causes ahrdship, just saying we should have all the data points instead of having knee jerk reactions.

All the tax money in the State belongs to all of us, spending on one project means not building another porject, and we all want a system that makes sense, moves people and helps the environment instead of hurting it.

Posted by Cleve | December 11, 2007 10:51 AM

ECB you got the basics of this one right. PT is a small town not a suburb but the run that is out is not crucial to most PTers. It does make it harder for tourists and therefore the hospitality industry. The only reason the ferries are part of the highway system is to get gas tax money and that happened when Black Ball sold to the state and the unions insisted on gas taxes supporting the boats.

Perhaps the lack of importance of the run is why the ferries weren't replaced. Has Whidbey passed any ferry tax votes?

Posted by whatever | December 11, 2007 10:53 AM

I know lots of people who live up in PT. I think the real impact is not on commuters who live in PT and use the ferry to get to work, but that PT's economy relies heavily on tourists who use that ferry. If the tourists don't come, PT is fucked.

Posted by M | December 11, 2007 10:53 AM

Condos did it.
Those people on the ferry are scum because they never went to Kincora.

Posted by paul | December 11, 2007 10:54 AM

Other typos are not as cryptic. Apologies.

PS: also need to know useful life of the improvement.

Posted by Cleve | December 11, 2007 10:55 AM

Sorry, Erica. I like you, I really do. But you just came of sounding like an fucking moron.

Posted by Rotten666 | December 11, 2007 10:59 AM

But evidently I may be just as buffoonish for failing to editing my post.

You are forgiven Erica.

Posted by Rotten666 | December 11, 2007 11:01 AM

Port Townsend is not a suburb.

Port Townsend is not a suburb.

Port Townsend is not a suburb.

Port Townsend is not a suburb.

This from Judah:

You're perfectly intelligent. If you haven't thought it through it's because you can't be bothered, regional bigot that you are.

Is exactly correct.

Posted by sniggles | December 11, 2007 11:19 AM

When you work within six blocks of where you live, I suppose it's hard to imagine people who can't walk everywhere they need to go, or that buses don't always go where you need to, and often don't run at the times you need them.

@25: Anything not Seattle is a suburb. I believe Portland and Spokane are Seattle suburbs. Basically any place with a park-and-ride is a suburb. Remember, park-and-rides only encourage people to drive to the bus.

Posted by K | December 11, 2007 11:31 AM

So, using this same logic, what should we do if the kingston-edmonds ferry has to be shut down. Oh, no big deal, we can just drive around through seattle-bainbridge. But what if that one gets shut down? Oh, no big deal, you can just drive around through tacoma. Nobody uses it anyways. Apparently I-5 is the only road of any import around here. You know, I-90 doesn't carry as many cars as I-5, so we shouldn't fix it if it breaks.

As someone who used that ferry twice a week for over two years, I can tell that the alternative of going through kingston-edmonds is far less than ideal. Imagine that you lived in oak harbor and you have horses in a trailer that you need to get to sequim. Without the PT ferry, you would have to drive north to anacortes (35min.), east to I-5 (20min.), south to edmonds (1h20min.), catch the ferry (40min.), then drive another hour and a half to sequim. That's nearly five hours of travel time, all for a trip that is only about 20 miles as the crow flies.

I find it funny that just yesterday there was discussion about flood victims who consistently vote against taxes because it only benefits king-pierce counties and everyone here on slog said fuck 'em. But now here you have a rural community that needs some real help, who's very liberal, and doesn't constantly complain about their tax dollars building stadiums they'll never use. They need help, and you say "Fuck 'em". It's like hearing a pampered rich kid complain when they have to help pay their aging parents medical bills.

Posted by Super Jesse | December 11, 2007 11:44 AM

Cleve, what are you smoking?

Who the hell is WE? And what does the Monorail have to do with the Port Townsend ferry?

What seems to escape some people's attention is that we live in a STATE, which among other things has a STATE HIGHWAY AGENCY, which among many other things runs a couple of ferries. Providing the ferry to Port Townsend is no different than providing State Route 129 from Clarkston to the Oregon border, or State Route 6 from Chehalis to Raymond, or State Route 25 from Davenport to Kettle Falls. How many people drive those roads every day?

The Port Townsend ferry isn't in Seattle, it isn't in King County, it isn't in the Metropolitan Area, and it doesn't have any fucking thing at all to do with transit planning in Seattle.

Posted by Fnarf | December 11, 2007 12:33 PM

ECB again demonstrates why it is that she shouldn't working as a journalist.

This opinion driven journalism is not, contrary to ECB's thoughts, helping "have a conversation. It shows that Seattle dumbfucks have no clue how anyone else in the rest of the state lives. It shows that Seattle know it all, don't know much about anything. It shows that ECB should be hit by a bus without her helmet on.

I suppose she isn't going to be happy until all of our infrastructure collapses, and we'll be living in huts made out of grass and our own spit, snot and shit. Now THAT would be sustainable development!!!

Dumbass, I can't wait to see you when you are 40, still single and hanging around other lonely women at a stitch and bitch complaining about how there aren't "Any good men out there".

Posted by ecce homo | December 11, 2007 12:52 PM

@29. weird.

Posted by superyeadon | December 11, 2007 1:04 PM

@30 - you have a typo; it's "word"

Posted by amused as shit | December 11, 2007 1:07 PM

What the hell is going on.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 11, 2007 1:52 PM

What has happened to you recently, ECB? We all expect your posts to be activist, but usually you find a way to point out a higher truth. Sadly, this post does not meet this standard.

"Is it really the end of the world if a few suburban [sic] residents have to reorganize their schedules to get around by some means other than driving?" This is very myopic of you: you would never stand for someone saying, "Is it really the end of the world if a few hipsters have to reorganize their schedules due to infrequent or canceled bus service?" As others have pointed out, integrated transit and other alternative modes are simply not as feasible on the islands. Let's keep our facts straight and devise solutions that realistically improve conditions according to their circumstances. Most agree that Seattle needs less new roads and more transit. And most agree, except you, that vehicle ferries are a necessity on the islands. If we want real solutions to this state's problems, we must stop projecting our problems [lack of transit] on "the others."

Better luck next time ECB.

Posted by sam_iv | December 11, 2007 2:06 PM

@32: Yes.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 11, 2007 2:21 PM

Thank you to everyone who has stressed the fact that this is a big frickin deal. Port Townsend is my home town and it is awful to watch the outcome of this ferry incident. In the short time this ferry has been out of service, businesses downtown have already had to start laying people off.

In PT, as in all tourist towns, winter is a devastating season and it's often all a business can do to stay open during the winter. The costs of doing business, especially in a small town, have gone up significantly over the past few years. Now, with the loss of a car service ferry...

It's so easy to cast things aside when they aren't staring you in the face. So thanks to the people who've been addressing this as a real issue...

Posted by PT girl | December 11, 2007 2:28 PM

Speaking as one of the people who actually lives in Port Townsend...
Yeah, it's a tiny-ass peice of nowhere, and I can walk anywhere I need to go, but a lot of us go to school outside that tiny-ass peice of nowhere. We want to get the fuck out, and believe me not being able to take a ferry strait across the water adds an extra hour when going to any location on the other side.


Posted by Woodbun | December 11, 2007 2:36 PM

I would assume that there would also be an impact in the cost of transportation of goods and services (tree pruning, plumbing, etc.).

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | December 11, 2007 4:17 PM

This seems to be another one of the "it's just Slog so it doesn't really have to make sense or show that I really gave it any thought" kind of posts that Erica and Josh specialize in.

Posted by bigyaz | December 11, 2007 5:34 PM

From PT one uses the Kingston- Edmonds ferry unless you're going north or to Whidbey. PT citizens should make a point of eating out in town more and supporting the local businesses. As for the horses to Sequim - should they need to go to Victoria should we start a ferry route there?

Posted by whatever | December 11, 2007 5:39 PM

I think it's time to have a come to Jesus meeting about the entire ferry system. The recent panel just done indicates that the household income of the average ferry user is....$90K annually. That's a hell of a lot more than the average person in the state. Yet the farebox return of the ferries is a lousy 17 cents on the dollar, they get a lousy 10.5 passenger-miles per gallon (and that's diesel, which has a substantially greater carbon footprint than gasoline, because it has more carbon in it per gallon), and because the maritime industry has successfully fought regulation, these boats put 100 to 1000 times as much NOx and other pollutants in the air as diesel cars and trucks per passenger mile.

So maybe now is the time to just pull the plug on the whole damn ferry system...starting with Port Townsend.

Posted by George Hanshaw | December 11, 2007 5:52 PM

Why should the people of the state who, on the average, have LESS income than the ferry users continue to subsidize these rich people who desire a rural lifestyle like Vashon, Bainbridge, or Jefferson County, but want the REST of us to subsidize their transportation requirements one they SPRAWL out to these rural areas outside the urban growth management zone?

At the VERY least, if these ferries are to be built they should be paid for with USER fess, just like the new Tacoma Narrows bridge. Let's see, they say they will need three boats at (they hope) $30 million each to do 3/4 of a million passenger trips a year. That's $90 million at 4.5% interest annually, and about the same amount to pay off the principal over thirty years.... call it $2.7 million annually for interest expense...or about $3.60 per ticket...before you start to cover the REAL expenses, crew, maintenance, fuel, liability.

Hey, the no-shit capital and O&M cost of the WSF last year was $279 million ( )

Fares covered a lousy $32.5 million of that. Of course, fuel's going to be a lot more this year, as will maintenance (we'll pay for drydock time on the Steel-Electrics even though they turned out not to be economically repairable.

Look people, eventually we are going to have to acknowledge the fact that ferries are a different SORT of mass transit. A hugely expensive and environmentally harmful one. Kind of like the Concorde Supersonic Transport that lost money on every highly subsidized flight that (mainly) rich people took on it.

Posted by George Hanshaw | December 11, 2007 5:53 PM

Providing the ferry to Port Townsend is no different than providing State Route 129 from Clarkston to the Oregon border, or State Route 6 from Chehalis to Raymond, or State Route 25 from Davenport to Kettle Falls.

You really don't think so? Well you have to be shitting us....

While we may have to subsidize the capital expenses of SR 25, we are not only subsidizing the capital expenses of the ferries, but the operations and maintenance expenses as well.

Non-users are providing 83 cents of every dollar of the cost of operating those ferries, even after the capital cost is written off altogether.

Do you really believe that the state is subsidizing 83 cents of every dollar of gas, oil, insurance, and maintenance of that driver between Davenport and Kettle Falls? Let alone providing him with a licensed crew to do the driving for him.....

Posted by George Hanshaw | December 11, 2007 6:23 PM

Nothing I've ever read in The Stranger- going back 154 years now- underscores its CapHill insularity more than this story (and yes, I used to live there myself). Try coming to the North Olympic Peninsula by any means- including our tenuous Kenmore Air link- and tell me we're a fucking Seattle suburb full of rich people like Vashon or Bainbridge. It's a different world up here, people- and one, after a decade and a half amid the terminally hip in Seattle- I'll gladly stand up for.

Posted by Olympic Peninsula Resident | December 11, 2007 6:47 PM

It's a different world up here, people- and one, after a decade and a half amid the terminally hip in Seattle- I'll gladly stand up for.

Fine. Stand up for it. But when you retreat to your rural paradise, you make choices. You want small town or rural existence? That's fine, but you aren't going to necessarily have a major medical center to take care of you when your hurt or sick, you aren't necessarily going to have an unlimited opportunity for educational options, or for theater/arts, etc.

But YOU made the choice. Don't expect the REST of the people in Washington State to subsidize a major medical center or a major university or a mahjor theater in your locale.

Hey, I've got no gripe if you want that stuff. But if you do, PAY FOR IT YOURSELF. If you want hourly commuter aircraft running from Port Townsend airport to Paine, Boeing Field, Sea-Tac, Renton, or whatever...go for it. But don't ask ME to subsidize it.

Ferries are polluting and inefficient movers of people, and in 2006 the average Washington State ferry user paid fares that recovered only 17% of the operating costs and the proof of that is right HERE:

I don't mind you dancing, guy, but YOU....not anyone else, should pay the piper when you do.....

Posted by George Hanshaw | December 11, 2007 8:23 PM

What is the farebox recovery for your precious Metro busses?

Posted by Zoomwsu | December 12, 2007 9:20 AM

I take the bus from South Seattle, I don't knit (or stitch, or whatever) and I'm not single. Additionally, I always wear a helmet (and so should you.) So screw all of you. But especially you, Ecce. You're really fortunate that I'm in a different time zone, because your comment is in violation of our comments policy, and I certainly would have removed it if I'd seen it earlier.

Posted by ECB | December 12, 2007 10:26 AM

What is the farebox recovery for your precious Metro busses?

Not a great deal better, actually. Only 19%.

But the VAST MAJORITY of the rest is generated by local taxes, with only 1% coming from the state.

If you want to fund all but 1% of your ferry O&M costs from local taxes, I've got no gripe about the state helping throw in the 1%. But since right now you are only paying 17 cents on the dollar, that means you'll have to increase what YOU pay from local funds almost six-fold to get on parity with our "precious" Metro buses.

You know, the more statements like the above that you self-centered ferry boat riders make, the more foolish and greedy you look. Do a little RESEARCH befgore you shoot your mouths off, why don't you?

Posted by George Hanshaw | December 12, 2007 4:22 PM

@44 & @47

You know what? Shut the fuck up.

There's plenty of lopsided subsidization going on in Washington State, but if we're going to play the "do a little research" game, maybe you should ask yourself how the situation you're bitching about came to be. The ferries you're complaining about were established to serve, among other things, our timber and ship-building industries on the peninsula. They weren't created so suburban commuters could get into the city: they were created so city workers could get to outlying industries, and so city businesses could make money off them. Seattle has historically served primarily as a hub for the export of yields from local extractive industries and the import of goods from abroad -- for use in outlying communities established to service local extractive industries. For most of its history, Seattle has been a city of middlemen. The gigantic transportation network that is now being used to support our sprawling suburbs was created to give Seattle access to the wealth of the surrounding communities -- not the other way around.

All that started to change about 20 years ago, and we do need to revisit how we fund and maintain those facilities now that the state's economy is moving away from extraction (timber, mining, etc) and into IT, research and financial services. But copping attitude like the state ferry system was created to serve the needs of "self-centered ferry boat riders" displays an appalling lack of historical and regional awareness.

And just as an aside:

Don't expect the REST of the people in Washington State to subsidize a major medical center or a major university or a mahjor theater in your locale.

So you know that one of the biggest employers in the city of Seattle is the state funded University of Washington (with its state-funded major medical center and its several state-funded theatres), right? That the UW, established with a state land grant, brings billions of dollars into the city economy from out-of-state students? That the UW has actually been engaged in an active campaign to remove limits on the number of Washington State residents they're required to accept in order to continue receiving state funding, so that they can get more of those fat out-of-state dollars? Seattle's economy is hugely dependent on state resources and the city itself doesn't pay out remotely what it gets back from having the University.

Posted by Judah | December 13, 2007 9:28 AM

Durnit. Missed a close bold tag there.

That's what I get for using bolds.

Posted by Judah | December 13, 2007 9:59 AM

@44 & @47
You know what? Shut the fuck up.

I love it...the intellectual bankruptcy of the ferry rider parasite.

The ferries you're complaining about were established to serve, among other things, our timber and ship-building industries on the peninsula.

When was the last time you...or anyone else...saw logs being carried aboard a ferry? You FLOAT the damn things, ...tugboats do it all the time. And as for ship-building....if you have such AWESOME ship-building capability, it ought to be pretty easy for you to BUILD YOUR OWN DAMN FERRIES, without soaking the rest of us to pay for them.

You don't like Seattle having the U-dub? Build your own university...plenty of towns have.

But none of those things have the least bit to do with you ferry-parasites being a drain on the taxes of the rest of us, while contributing disproportionately to sprawl and pollution.

Have you no shame at all?

Posted by Geroge Hanshaw | December 14, 2007 8:11 PM

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