First, a compliment to Bruce Agnew of the Cascadia Center for Regional Development. The guy keeps pushing for new ideas in transportation, even when the rest of us are running away from the Heartbreak House of bold new ideas to solve our congestion. Cascadia wants to grab the Eastside rail line that might otherwise be torn up for a walking trail and make it into a Snohomish-to-Renton commuter rail line. (Cheap, but the line does not really go where the cities are.) The institute wants to solve the Alaskan Way Viaduct problem by boring a tunnel under Second Avenue, deflecting the through traffic so the waterfront only needs a modest surface boulevard. (Expensive, and needing a private partner, which alarms public-sector Democrats.) And now, a network of foot ferries on Puget Sound. Not so fast. While we are enjoying a binge of nostalgia for old-fashioned transit, such as streetcars, this is an idea with more problems than charm. First, let's hear the pitch, from Agnew's column in the Sunday Focus section of the Sunday Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The Port Townsend-Seattle holiday season run illuminated a tantalizing past-as-prologue notion. Passenger-only vessels should still be crisscrossing the Salish Sea, breaching political boundaries in Puget Sound and someday British Columbia, as they did when Native American and First Nation tribes used these waterways for trading and socializing. Later in our pre-interstate highway history, the ubiquitous "Mosquito Fleet" foot ferries carried people and goods from Victoria to Olympia. Regional leaders increasingly get that foot ferries using our abundant waterways can establish new and direct city-to-city connections, plus temporarily substitute for dry-docked car ferries, and provide crucial emergency transportation if a major earthquake destroys our bridges and highways – as San Francisco tragically experienced in 1989. Pie in the sky, I say, with some regret. Among the problems, which have long bedeviled such attempts at revival, are these. Ferries take large parking lots, which are devilishly hard to shoehorn into existing cities. They move very small numbers of people, mostly tourists and some executive commuters, for quite high costs (including fuel). Since they are mostly for tourists, they don't work in our long rainy season. They require cross-jurisdictional agreements that are notoriously hard to execute in our Balkanized politics. They have to slow down in some critical places, lest their wakes disturb shorelines. And they siphon off money from the car-and-passenger ferries, which badly need the funds. An illustration of these points is the Vashon Island ferry, where for reasons of cost the state had to get out of the foot ferry business to downtown Seattle. Of course, there are ferries to West Seattle where, if you could ever convince Metro to run lots of coordinated buses from the terminal to downtown, you could effectively have an autoless service, saving millions of dollars. Hasn't happened. Not Metro's problem. I rest my case.