Re: “3 agencies investigate Washington ferry after engine fire” [April 27, Local News]:
The ferry fire is an example of why Washington State Ferries needs $1.5 billion in the 2021-23 biennial to maintain a good state of repair. However, WSF forecasts only 41.9 million riders, making each round-trip cost about $75. With revenues of only $319 million, each round-trip needs a $60 round-trip subsidy. Regressive gas taxes and license fees on all drivers pay for this subsidy. New taxes and environmental regulations will increase gas by about $1, 30%. For equity, ferry fares should also be increased by 30%.
WSF ferry-rider surveys show the average ferry rider is white and affluent. White affluence and political power have built a highly subsidized and almost segregated transit system. Black, Hispanic and low-income residents ride a ferry one-fifth as often as white riders.
Likes the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Highway 520 floating bridge and Interstate 405 express lanes, ferries should be paid for by their users. The governor plans to invest $4 billion in new electric ferries, not a penny to be paid by ferry riders. Before we make the ferries green, let’s make them fair.
Bob Ortblad, Seattle