ferries

Jeannie Yandel speaks with former Washington State Secretary of Transportation, Doug MacDonald, about why the ferry system has trouble replacing boats, finding a permanent assistant secretary and securing funding.

Courtesy of Steven J Pickens

In 1948, at the height of discontent over a Puget Sound transportation controversy, a group of agitated locals, nicknamed the “Vashon vigilantes,” prevented the ferry Illahee from docking.

A local business man, two candidates for governor and a network of traversing boats came to a head over a seemingly simple issue: how much to charge to cross the waterways between cities and islands.

Cherie LaMaine is a ferry walker on the Edmonds-Kingston line: She makes laps around the deck as the boat glides from port to port.

The habit started with her husband when he needed to make frequent trips to Swedish Hospital. “We would still walk, holding hands,” LaMaine said. “He couldn't walk too fast, but it was great.”

If you live near downtown Seattle, you may have recently heard a long, low horn reverberating through the soupy nighttime air.

It happens every once in a while and has some Seattleites mystified. Where does the sound come from? It is a train? A boat? Last call at a Capitol Hill bar?

The nation's biggest ferry system is aiming to convert some of its fleet from diesel to natural gas propulsion.

Last Friday, a large ferry collided with a sailboat, sinking that much smaller craft.

Washington's most famous ferries are in Puget Sound. But another, inland ferry operated by the state has been quietly shuttling cars across the Columbia River since 1948. And Wednesday, that ferry crossing got a badly needed update.

No new boat ceremony would be complete without breaking a bottle over the bow. But it took a few tries to actually break this bottle.

Flickr Photo/A. Davey

Correction 7/9/13: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that on the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry, the peak season, round-trip fare for a car and driver would go up $0.90 to $17.30. That total was a one-way fare. In fact, the round-trip fare would increase $1.80, to $34.60.

If you ride the Washington State Ferries, prepare to pay a bit more. The Washington State Transportation Commission wants to increase fares by about six percent within the next year. The commission says the rate hike is needed to meet revenue targets set by the legislature in the 2013-2015 transportation budget.

Washington state lawmakers are considering ending a requirement that ferries be built in state. According to a recent state audit Washington is overpaying for ferries compared to other states. Ross Reynolds talks with ferry maker Brian Mannion about his thoughts on opening up state ferry production to outside competition. 

Flickr Photo/Becky Striepe

State auditors say that Washington state ferries cost too much money to build. The Chetzemoka ferry for example, which transports passengers from Coupeville to Port Townsend, cost around $36 million more than a similar boat that was built on the east coast. Auditors say it’s due to a state law that requires ferries to be built by Washington companies. Now they’re asking lawmakers to get rid of the law. Ross talks to Clipper Navigation CEO Derrell E. Bryan to get the details.

Washington State Ferry system staff cutbacks are leading to some last minute cancelations and that is causing headaches for some ferry commuters.  Yesterday, two ferry sailings were canceled due to crew shortages. Ross Reynolds talks to state ferry system director, David Moseley.