chinooksaleebay.jpg

The Chinook

Washington State Ferries has re-listed the passenger-only Chinook ferry on eBay, starting the bidding at $4.5 million , the same price of the

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Why is WSF Getting Rid of Boats?

chinooksaleebay.jpg

The Chinook

Washington State Ferries has re-listed the passenger-only Chinook ferry on eBay, starting the bidding at $4.5 million, the same price of the previous listing that fetched no bidders.

WSF"s director of legal services and contracts, Tim McGuigan, admits that he too questioned why the vessel was listed at a price that's already failed. But, he said he was instructed by WSF executive management to re-list the vessel at the fair market value ($4.5), per the instructions of Senate Bill 5862 that instructed WSF to sell the Chinook and Snohomish and deposit the money into an account to be used by King County for passenger-only ferry service.

"Given some of the comments we've heard from potential bidders," he said last week, "our initial listing may have been too high, at least for a sale in the near future."

The Snohomish, however, will not be auctioned off. McGuigan said WSF still intends to sell the boat, but that it will retain the Snohomish until they feel comfortable that they won't need to use it as a backup. McGuigan defered to WSF executive management when asked why they were allowed to retain the Snohomish, even though the bill calls for its listing by June of 2007. A WSF spokesperson said they had been given a "bye," and could sell the Snohomish when they no longer needed it as a backup.

Update, 4 p.m.: When asked why WSF was allowed to retain the Snohomish, even though the bill calls for its listing by June of 2007, Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Steve Reinmuth said, "We have had communications with (the Legislature) as we have designed mitigation as the steel electrics (were) pulled. They have indicated through legislatures and others, that it's OK."

He also said there is language in the bill that gives the department of transportation "unique authority" in times of emergency, which he says WSF has been through recently. Reinmuth said he was not sure which legislatures WSF had received permission from to not sell the Snohomish, but that he would find out and get back to us.

That WSF is selling any working vessels at the moment is a bit surprising. WSF doesn't have enough operations vessels to fill its runs as it is. Steilacoom II, servicing the Port Townsend/Keystone run, is on loan from Pierce County. And as recently as last month, WSF had to go outside the fleet to lease boats for the Bremerton run.

In a email received from the office of Sen. Phil Rockefeller, one of the bill's sponsors, the Senator says the Chinook does not have a bow load configuration, and therefore cannot land at any of the WSF terminals, besides Pier 50 in Seattle. According to McGuigan, this is something that could be added to The Chinook. Though he's not sure what it would cost. (The Chinook used to run between Bremerton and Pier 50. Since then, the dock in Bremerton has changed, and the boat would not be able to land there.)

So, why doesn't WSF hold onto the working vessels they have, even if it means updates and repairs?

Reinmuth says it's because WSF and DOT are following the Legislature's instructions and because the Legislature had not allocated any funds to be used that way.

 
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