Meeting Notes: Ferry Committee Annual Meeting 2009.01.19


January 18, 2009


 Attendance:  43 +  Ferry Committee members (Glen Veal, Carl Cady, Steve Orsini, Terry Ebersole, Dyvon Havens)

Special Guest: Commissioner Ron Wesen


Chairman Glen Veal opened the meeting and introduced Ron Wesen. He thanked the GICCA for the use of the Hall, Win Anderson for providing GIFC with a free mailbox at The Store, and Joseph Miller for ferry committee information made available on LineTime.


Support Team

A sign-up sheet was sent around, with the opportunity for people to indicate their desire to participate on the Ferry Committee Support Team. Dyvon Havens explained this would involve helping with providing coffee and cookies and possibly setting up chairs at the annual and quarterly meetings and perhaps stuffing envelopes for rare mailings.  Thirteen people signed up (Richard and Gail Nicolls, M.J. Andrak, Joan Palmer, Anne Passarelli, Ginger Orsini, Janice Veal, Ann Cady, Ray Maichen, Bob Easton, Susan Brendon, Bob and Jacquie Prescott).



Glen provided a recap of actions since the last quarterly meeting, including the Commissioners coming to Guemes for a public meeting, the Commissioners’ extended service compromise, and the fare schedule. The Ferry Committee was successful in preventing an overall fare increase in 2009.




Participants were asked to give input for the things they would like to see in the 2009 ferry committee work plan. The following were suggestions:


Anne Passarelli asked why there is no printed schedule yet, and it was explained that there may be more schedule changes coming up. It is believed that union negotiations may be involved.


Carol Pellett asked for clean-up runs on the Sunday 8 pm ferry. It is currently very difficult for people visiting for the weekend to get off the island by 8 pm.


Susan Rombeek asked for a change in the crew break time on Friday evenings. The current break between 6:30 and 8 pm creates long lines and wait times for out of towners. She would also like to see later Sunday runs and a holiday schedule restored. [Editor note: Average summer usage is 40% higher than winter, with weekends adding the most to this increase. There is a 0.81 correlation when relating Friday afternoon ridership to Guemes with those leaving in the afternoon Sunday.]


Bob Anderson expressed appreciation for the emails the ferry committee has been sending out. He would like to see some of the cut services restored when the economy improves. He also noted that when building permits are issued, there is an implied contract with property owners for access to their property. Specifically, he cited the example of the midnight ferry on weekends and stopping the service at 6:00 pm Monday-Thursday, which was in place when he moved to the island.


Danny Lauve said he has to shut down his business early to catch the ferry. He would be willing to pay more for later runs.


Max Benjamin would like the reinstatement of the 7:30 am and 8:30 am runs on Saturdays. He noted the cost for fuel and lubrication for two runs is the ticket fare for two cars. The crew is paid the same, regardless of whether or not those runs are made.


Joan Palmer suggested the situation of the Ferry Manager being a member of the union be addressed. It puts the Ferry Manager in an untenable position.  She also commented that it appeared the County Commissioners put more stock in the verbal comments at the December meeting than in the many many written comments that were submitted.


There was a comment that setting a ferry schedule should not just be the purview of the Ferry Manager, but should involve islander input.


Anne Passarelli noted that the long break during the noon hour on Friday and Sunday creates long lines with people coming to the island for the weekend.


Glen Veal commented that Guemes Island road may not need to be widened if the ferry ran more frequently.


Commissioner Wesen said the plans for 6th Street and the new terminal are part of the request by the County for funds from the pending federal stimulus package.


Max Benjamin went to the TIP meeting and learned that the County received funding for one of two projects. They did not get money for the terminal building. He learned that $40,000 was  spent by the County for blueprints and that the building would cost an estimated $400,000. He looked for the building permit in the County records and found none, but Commissioner Wesen pointed out it would be with the City of Anacortes. Wesen said he believed two of the County Commissioners would not vote to spend the money to build the Anacortes terminal.


Max also learned that the County is planning to replace both bridges at the same time, with the project starting in September. Estimated down time is six weeks. Max feels the Ferry Committee should have been at the TIP meeting. Glen commented that he was assured the terminal project would not go through, so we were not concerned about it at this time.


Jan Ebersole would like to know how the County is going to address the special considerations for disabled. She would like clarification of those special issues. She noted that under the new fare structure, the old 3-month price of $210 was doubled. It is a hardship especially for those who are not able to walk on and must go off the island daily for medical reasons. She also commented that it was strange to have senior/disabled motorcycle multi-user fare and no consideration for disabled riders using vehicles.


Anne Bosworth pointed out the walk-on pass for disabled people quadrupled in price.


Luke Lumina and Thelma Palmer commented that 24 people used the $210 multiple use card last year.


Bob Anderson would like a commitment from the County that we get correct information and that we have notification several months in advance of planned outages so people can make arrangements with work obligations. He also noted that it is cheaper to put a bicycle in a wheelbarrow and walk on than to wheel the bike on. Glen clarified that bikes are free for walk-on passengers with a punch card.


Frank Mudge would like to see a rolling 6-month punch card expiration date to avoid year-end expiration of all cards. This would increase efficiency by eliminating the increase in cash fares at the end of the year. He also noted that the Ferry Manager serves two masters--the crew and islanders. Frank asked the question: if the manager spends one minute with a passenger and ten minutes with the crew who do you think will be best served?


Ginger Orsini would like to see more efficient ticketing, using scanners, vending machine sales, and tickets being sold at grocery stores.


Jodi Meekins is very concerned about parking security on the Anacortes side and would like to see this addressed. Her vehicle, and many others, have been stolen or vandalized this past year. By show of hands, approximately six people in the audience indicated that they had recently had vehicle vandalization in the Anacortes parking lots.


Leta Hayden noted the frequency has increased of late departures from the Anacortes side. It does not seem to be a matter of the crew being behind in their work, because it is occurring also on the 1 pm run. Others have observed the same thing.


Luke Lumina asked if ferry service could be contracted out. Glen said the County attempted to explore that option previously; but because of union constraints, they ceased further exploration into privatization.


Ian Woofenden suggested the ferry go back to having more on-demand runs and fewer scheduled runs. It was pointed out there is some confusion about the terms “on demand,” “overrun,” and “double,” and that these need to be clarified. Ginger Orsini said overruns are needed especially on the 11:15 am and the 6:30 pm.


Deb Bear commented that 1.5-hour breaks in the evening, plus other breaks, is uneconomical. It was also noted that the union does not specify the times the crew take breaks, only the duration.


Frea Woofenden asked the Ferry Committee to share their list of Work Plan items with the group, and Carl read and explained the list. The list of F.C. Work Plan ideas is made a part of these minutes as Attachment A.



The meeting was opened for nominations for two Ferry Committee positions.


Position 1 for a one-year term. Terry Ebersole was recently appointed to fill the position vacated by Marilee Fosbre earlier this year. The full term expires in 2010, but an election is required to complete the remaining year in 2009.

Steve Orsini nominated Terry Ebersole. Anne Jackets seconded the nomination. There being no other nominations, Terry will complete the remainder of the term.


Position 2 for a five-year term. Glen Veal currently holds this position.

Gail Nicolls nominated Glen Veal. Joan Palmer seconded.

Max Benjamin nominated Allen Bush, Jr. Joost Businger seconded.


Since Allen Bush was not present, he will be asked to submit a statement in writing that he is willing to serve. Pending his statement, ballots will be mailed to registered voters on Guemes.


The group was asked for suggestions on how the Ferry Committee can raise the $500 needed to pay for the election. The last election was paid for out of the pockets of the ferry committee members. Two suggestions were made: 1) Put a collection box out today; 2) Put a request for donations on the ballots when they are mailed. A collection bowl was set out, and $58 was collected.


Chairman Veal thanked everyone for their ideas and adjourned the meeting.




Submitted by Dyvon Havens


ATTACHMENT “A”to Guemes Island Ferry Committee Annual Meeting January 18, 2009




Ferry Committee Annual Work Plan ideas


  1. Codify Roundtable procedures with Public Works.
    1. Propose Work Plan to Commissioners in May 2008


  1. Security of Vehicles in Anacortes Ferry parking lots.
    1. Obtain incident reports from Anacortes Police Dept.
    2. Obtain incident Reports for Guemes from Skagit Sheriff Dept.


  1. Accommodation of summer traffic (Summer/Winter Schedule)
    1. Monitor Sunday ferry usage and ridership needs


  1. Process for setting fare structure for 2010.


  1. Implementation of 3 person crew w/o slow down of operation.
    1. Assure Cash Handling meets State Audit needs
    2. Consider other ticketing options


  1. Support Fire Department –Emergence Access to Ferry
    1. Guemes Island Road widening to three lanes to Church
    2. Increase Ferry operation as needed


  1. Develop Ferry Level of Service Standards
    1. Based on other ferry operation but specific to Guemes
    2. Include economic considerations


  1. Fare Target Structure
    1. Bridge Analogy vs. Current 65% of all costs.



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