David Moseley, the head of Washington State Ferries since 2008, is stepping down effective April 15.
Moseley made the announcement Tuesday, saying he’ll leave the ferry system in a stronger position than it was six years ago when he took the job.
He cited progress on building new, safer boats, but warned the system needs a sustainable funding source in the near future.
“I’m pleased with the progress we’ve made. But it is now time for the next person to build on our successes, correct our mistakes and continue to move the system forward,” Moseley said.
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The state ferry system has been beleaguered by money and staff issues. Last September, Moseley apologized after 31 ferry trips were canceled over a single weekend. The ferries system also came under intense scrutiny in a KING 5 investigative series that questioned millions of dollars in potential waste and problems with accountability.
But Moseley’s tenure was praised by key state lawmakers, who credited him with pushing for reforms and a stable funding base for the system.
“I think he can hold his head up high,” said state Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, who chairs the House Transportation Committee. “There is always room for improvement, but I think David did a good job.”
State Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, who co-chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, said he was disappointed to learn of Moseley’s departure.
“When he took over the ferries division in 2008 it was in disarray,” King said. “Over the last six years, he has turned the division around and finally has it heading in a positive direction.”
Moseley, assistant secretary for the state Department of Transportation, said he’d planned for some time to step down after the 2014 legislative session.
Moseley said he was happy lawmakers made progress on ferry funding this year — passing a bill to provide a dedicated revenue source for ferry construction.
But lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a broader transportation package including a sustainable funding source for ferry operations. That needs to happen soon to maintain the services people expect, Moseley said.
The state ferry system includes 22 boats that carry more than 20 million passengers a year.
“It’s hard to run the largest ferry system in North America on a shoestring,” Moseley said. “This is great system that needs to be financially supported. It’s not a gift, it costs money.”
Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee, said there was no pressure on Moseley to resign. She said a nationwide search will be conducted for his replacement.
Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @Jim_Brunner