moseley.jpg

WSF chief David Moseley. Photo by Chris Kornelis.

Audio: A Bremerton rider discusses disparity in service between Seattle and Bremerton runs, and selling The Chinook

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WSF's Got What You Need, But You Can't Have It

moseley.jpg

WSF chief David Moseley. Photo by Chris Kornelis.

Audio: A Bremerton rider discusses disparity in service between Seattle and Bremerton runs, and selling The Chinook and The Snohomish, with WSF's Regional Operations Manager, Doug Schlief.

(Note: The meeting was on Monday, not Friday, as I initially reported. Thanks to Susan Gilmore for reminding me which day we were at the meeting.)

Yes, we have no backup boats.

New WSF chief David Moseley's message was painfully clear to Bremerton riders at last night Ferry Advisory Committee meeting. It's not a new message. It's a reality Bremerton riders are aware of almost as well as those in Port Townsend, who were without a boat again this morning due to technical issues aboard the Steilacoom II.

Bremerton riders aren't exactly ignorant country bumpkins, even if their mayor, Cary Bozeman, did show up to the meeting in jeans, boots, and a green flannel shirt (which he pulled off nicely). But, they (sorry, we) have simple needs. At Monday's meeting, they made two requests: Please, give us some peace of mind that a boat -- ANY BOAT -- will take us to Seattle; and please give us reasonable evening service so we don't have to miss the end of plays, concerts, and Mariners games. (evening options are 10:30 p.m. and 12:50 a.m.)

So, the fact that Moseley says they have no backups, wasn't blindly accepted. They know WSF has, on hand, a pair of backups: passenger-only boats The Chinook and The Snohmish. And beyond possible use as emergency vessels, WSF could put them into use for the crucial, yet non-commuter late-night runs.

“I'm wondering why the ferry system is getting rid of those passenger boats when they may be the only backup boats we have right now,” on rider asked.

The answer, from Doug Shlief, WSF's Regional Operations Manager, was the same one that's been beaten to death: the legislature instructed WSF to get out of the passenger-only ferry business. This is true, but it happened before Paula Hammond retired four of the fleet's boats, and the ferry service, sailings were canceled, and riding the ferry became became about as much fun as driving across the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

What WSF and DOT didn't tell the convened riders, but has been reported repeatedly, is that the governor and Hammond have unique authority to act in the event of an emergency, and not sell the boats. This is (temporarily) what they've done with The Snohomish (although a sale is imminent).

“From the overall global perspective, I think my challenge, the challenge for the ferry system,” Moseley told the Bremerton audience, last night, “is to rebuild public trust and confidence in the ferry system that has been shaken because of surprises that we've had.”

It makes too much sense for WSF to retain and refurbish the passenger-only boats for them to hide behind pre-emergency legislation. If Moseley, who did not return calls for comment today, is serious about rebuilding public trust, he'll do everything in his power to keep the working vessels he has to ensure that riders can get from point A to point B, even if that means asking the governor to use her executive authority to retain both boats.

Certainly reliable service was legislated at some point, too.

 
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