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    Ferry system to get fresh Band-Aids

    Gov. Gregoire appears to have given up on the comprehensive reforms she demanded in January. San Juan Islands legislators are talking about the best session in a long time.

    (Page 2 of 2)

    He expressed support for one of the House funding bills, which would help finance a variety of state functions by raising licensing and vehicle-use fees that have not seen an increase in decades. That measure passed the House Transportation Committee on Thursday because of solid support from majority Democrats.

    "You're going to put pain over here or put pain over there," he said. "There's going to be pain one way or the other."

    "Our only reservation on the fare increases is the elasticity [of demand],” Rosenfeld added, speaking for the county council and the advisory committee. "We need to maintain ridership. As soon as the ridership starts to decrease, you go into a death spiral. You need to raise the fares more, and that causes more people to drop out." Service cuts, he said, would be "very bad. We're just barely getting enough service as it is to maintain the economic traffic."

    In a recent commentary for the online San Juan Islander, Rep. Morris, Sen. Kevin Ranker, and Rep. Kristine Lytton, who collectively represent the San Juans, took an optimistic tone: “Because of our maritime unified front, this is shaping into one of the best legislative sessions for ferry service in some time. Operation efficiencies, performance measures with consequences for not meeting our goals, and new ferry construction funding have all moved forward. While the current level of service is not acceptable, we are getting near to stopping the decade long erosion of service.”           

    Reacting to the legislature's unwillingness to craft a more comprehensive solution, Gregoire spokesman Scott Whiteaker said, “I think she [the governor] is still evaluating proposals in the House and the Senate. Depending on what the bills contain, she'll be determining whether that takes us a step forward.” He declined to speculate, however, on what criteria she would apply in signing or vetoing ferry legislation.

    In rolling out her taxing-district proposal in January, the governor stated, “What I do not accept and cannot accept is we walk out of here with another Band-Aid.” At a signing ceremony last Wednesday, however, she conceded that the pending legislation is "just a Band-aid."

    "We can bandaid our way through this biennium,” she continued, “but there's no more bandaiding after that.”

    Time will tell.

    C.B. Hall is a freelance writer and has been following Pacific Northwest transportation issues since the 1990s. He can be reached through editor@crosscut.com.

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    Posted Mon, Apr 18, 7 a.m. Inappropriate

    I hope the Governor has a whole bunch of bandaid's when then project starts.



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