Washington State Ferries (WSF) has drafted a plan to cut ferry service beginning next June to make up for a $52 million shortfall that stems from the passage of Initiative 695 and the loss of revenue from the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. The plan has been approved by the state Transportation Commission
and will be forwarded to full review by the state Legislature, which makes the final determination on ferry service levels.
The ferry system's loss in motor vehicle taxes is $52 million in fiscal years 2000 and 2001. The agency can tap $30 million in cash reserves, but the remaining $22 million must come from expenditure reductions. Paul Green
, director and CEO of WSF, has already announced plans to eliminate 92 management and support staff positions. The rest will come in ferry service reductions.
In terms of ferry service, those reductions follow these essential goals:
· Weekday peak-hour vehicle and passenger capacity is maintained as much as possible. Instead, there are reductions in night and/or mid-day service.
· Passenger-only service, which is heavily subsidized, has been eliminated throughout the system.
· The summer tourist route capacity will be maintained where cost effective.
"We've tried to maintain the core weekday service as much as possible, with reductions coming in evening service and off-season recreational service," explains Ray Deardorf, WSF planning director.
The service-reduction plan means the following vessels will be removed from scheduled service: Hyak (once Yakima is back in service), Sealth, Evergreen State, Quinault, Hiyu, Chinook, Snohomish, Tyee, Skagit, and Kalama.