LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Reservations: Bad idea
March 12, 2009 · Updated 8:38 AM
To the editor:
First, a thank you to Norma Smith and Langley Mayor Samuelson for hosting the meeting allowing island residents to vent their frustration regarding the proposed reservation system for the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry run. Also, a quick thank you to reporter Jeff VanDerford for the excellent article.
Hopefully our other representatives (Mary Margaret Haugen and our Island County Commissioners) see this proposal for what it is: another way to change the rules and transportation mindset of our state officials that will greatly deteriorate the economic footing of Island County as well as Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island and the greater Kingston area.
Note the quote attributed to WSDOT assistant secretary Moseley below:
“There is a gap between dedicated revenue and expenditures and it’s our belief that the reservation system would dramatically lessen the need for new ferries and terminal replacement or expansion.”
The above quote makes it painfully obvious that a reservation system is a means to decrease ridership. It seems a real “gap” may exist between those who ride the ferries and the elected and appointed advocates for those riders.
The impact of a ferry reservation system on our commuters will be devastating to South Whidbey.
Every ferry of every weekday morning is close to full or beyond. That’s 124 cars on nine commuter runs (from 4:40 to 8:30 a.m.) departing Clinton each day. Each of those commuters (1.25 per car due to car and vanpoolers, thank you) likely average about $50,000 per year in salary. This totals nearly $70 million annually coming home to South Whidbey.
These commuters truly are the lifeblood of sustained economic activity on South Whidbey, and making it harder to get to their jobs will simply drive them off the island. It doesn’t seem a good idea to chase off those who are bringing home our bacon. The impact will be decreased retail activity (and the choices we have because of it), decreased school populations (and associated school funding) and decreased property values for all.
This proposed reservation system should be sunk before it gets out of port! I trust our elected representatives will understand its adverse impacts and (in concert with Vashon and Bainbridge Island representatives) take action now.
But wait, perhaps reservations are a good idea if only we take them to a more appropriate level; other state transportation corridors are insufficiently funded and overcrowded. Start with reservations (and $6 each way fares) for cars on the Highway 520 and I-90 bridges, then add fares and reservations for I-5 between Olympia and Everett. Or maybe I haven’t read the fine print of the current proposal.