Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee Quarterly Meeting 2008.10.26



Guemes Island Ferry Committee Quarterly Meeting

October 26, 2008



Glen Veal, Ferry Committee Chair, called the meeting to order at 1:35 PM.  There were forty people in attendance.  The Ferry Committee members also included Carl Cady and Steve Orsini.  Terry Ebersole was presented as the newest member of the ferry committee serving out the term left vacant by Marilee Fosbre.   Dyvon Havens could not attend this quarterly meeting.


The two main topics for the meeting were:


1.       A review of the cost of Extended Service

2.       A discussion of the proposed fare increase to be presented to the Skagit Board Of County Commissioners (BOCC) 9:30 am, 10 November 2008 in the Commissioners council chambers at 1800 Continental Avenue, Mount Vernon, WA.


1.       Carl Cady presented a thorough status of the effort to reconcile of the costs for the Extended hours.  He reviewed the history of one year ago when the County calculated the additional cost for the first year of extended operation at about $43,000 vs. the Ferry Committees (FC) $168, 000.  

a.       There are a number of variables from which run to use as the start of the extended run period, 6:30 included or not, to differences of how many hours of crew time is involved, i.e. whether to use about three hours vs. about 4 hours.  The issue of the union contract at 176 hours for each full time crew was reviewed as a basis for steep cost increases

b.       To date, a figure that is becoming the basis for an agreement is a loss per year of about $82,775. 

c.       A number of good questions were raised and well answered.  It was pointed out again that a contemporary bar code system would provide rapid loading of the boat, facilitate data capture and led to reduction of the crew from 4 to 3. 


2.       The proposed fare increase of one dollar cash for the car and driver with a summer surcharge of an additional dollar was discussed.  The new cash fare will then be $8.00 and 10.00 respectively.  There were a number of questions about the de facto fare increase inherent with the changes to the media (passes), including the demise of the unrestricted passes.  Issues of cost for the disabled, including car and driver and the roll of a helper were reviewed. 

a.       The concern was raised several times that another fare increase at this time would help pay for the cost of extended service before the final decision on the extended service was made.   The common sentiment in the room was that another fare increase at this time put the cart before the horse.   It was also pointed out that a further increase in car and driver fares could have a negative impact on revenue as more people would elect not to take a vehicle on the ferry.

b.       The Plan B fare concept was also discussed.  Plan B, the ferry committee’s alternative, would not increase fares but would provide a way forward for the BOCC.  Plan B would leave most categories of fare as they now are, accept the changes in passes- while adding a new 23 trip worker pass for car and driver and walk on passenger.   This new “worker pass” would have a 25% discount off the cash fare as opposed to the 10% for the new passes.  This 23 trip pass will also expire at the end of each month.   One questioner speculated that it might not be advantageous even to offer a Plan B at this point in time.

c.       On the extended topic of how to pay for the extended runs, the sentiment was that those that use them should pay for them.  A hand vote was taken and a majority of people in the room supported the concept that the extended runs should have a surcharge of double the normal fare.    Carl Cady pointed out that, in order to keep an accurate correlation on the use of regular passes that they could not be used, or double punched, for extended service.  Extended service will have to be on a cash or credit card basis to maintain the integrity of the passenger count with the punch card utilization


3.       At the end of this two-plus hour meeting, people were encouraged to attend the BOCC meeting on 10 November 2008.  It was also pointed out that there will be one more Round Table meeting prior to 10 November.  Several people in this group expressed interest in attending this next Round Table meeting as they had done so on the previous RT meeting. 



Submitted by Steve Orsini