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Budget includes $18 million for reservation system

There’s $18 million in the Senate transportation budget to set up a pilot project for a ferry reservation system, but it can’t be tapped for at least a year.

And it can’t be touched at all until ferry officials come up with a more detailed proposal, state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen said Friday.

Additionally, a reservation system won’t happen if a majority of the people directly affected by such a system don’t like it, vowed Haugen, a 10th District Democrat from Camano Island and chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Earlier estimates for a ferry reservation system have ranged from $28 million to $45 million.

“It’s a whole lot less than they asked for,” Haugen said of the Senate appropriation. “We gave them enough money to start looking at it.”

But she added: “There would have to be a huge buy-in by the community. That’s the way I feel.”

She said the $18 million for the reservation system is a place-holder in the transportation budget for the next two years. It couldn’t be drawn upon until an acceptable preliminary proposal is submitted by ferry officials.

And no action would be taken on the issue until next year’s legislative session.

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