FAIL (the browser should render some flash content, not this).

Archive for the ‘LIFAC’ Category

Text of Public Comment by Mike Skehan to LIFAC on Jun 13, 2018

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 03:06 PM
posted by mike

June 13th, 2018

From:  Protect Lummi Island Community (501c3)

To:  Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee

Subject: Text of Public Comment by Mike Skehan, Secretary on this date


PLIC has been working hand in hand with LIFAC and our community over the course of this Ferry System Improvement Project and would like to share our final thoughts with you prior to your making a final recommendation to the Whatcom County Council.

It’s clear that the Whatcom Chief and trestles on both sides of Hales Passage are in need of replacement and/or repair in the near future.  There are 280 ferries operating in the US.  Only 35 vessels are older than the Chief.  Terminal facilities, trestles and the like are part of our bridge to the mainland.  Last year there were over 56,000 structurally deficient/obsolete bridges in the US.  Of the 8,120 bridges in Washington State, 2,193 were deemed deficient or obsolete, and in Whatcom County, of 350 bridges, 90 were deemed deficient/obsolete.  These numbers have not improved over the last 10 years, so there is a significant backlog of infrastructure projects in the wings, both locally and nationally.

Kpff has identified a capital need of over $102m over the next 28 years (Financial Forecast) for vessel and terminal improvements, but stops short of laying out a financial plan due to the uncertainties of future funding options.  We understand that.

Therefore, PLIC strongly urges LIFAC to not make a recommendation to the County Council that does not acknowledge the realities of future needs and future resources to pay for that.  We do however support a statement in your recommendations that says: “These findings and recommendations to you should not preclude taking advantage of future opportunities that may arise to acquire a replacement vessel and/or future terminal improvements”.

Respectfully Submitted, PLIC Board of Directors

Source of data FHWA (Federal Highway Admin) & BTS (Bureau of Transportation Statistics)


      By Stuart Rich, President


  • Whatcom Chief’s deferred maintenance costs will increase future costs.
  • In the European Union, people drive smaller cars. We could likely get 34 small  cars on the Whatcom Chief.  What  kind of vehicles we drive in the future will change.
  • Lummi Island water studies have determined the island’s growth limits and the consultant’s project growth estimates need to be linked to these water studies
  • The ferry consultants’ studied growth rates from ten years ago, but they need to go back 40 years for a more comprehensive growth picture.
  • Unless there is a zoning change, the water study indicates a maximum growth population of 3,000 people on Lummi Island.
  • It is difficult to develop a reasonable growth rate projection for the long-term future.
  • For the sake of the future, we should not removed the all electric propulsion option from consideration along with other green alternatives.


  • We are losing revenue due to the ferry’s lack of capacity.



  • Since we are a small rural ferry service, our costs are higher, but I would like costs to be contained similar to today’s fares and costs.
  • contained as possible and similar to today.
  • Costs is always a significant point and should be kept in mind through every step of the process.
  • The cost of fares the level of ridership is related and elastic; when one goes up the other may go down.
  • In the hotel industry, the saying is ” the most expensive bed is the empty bed”, the same can be said about the ferry.
  • Leveling out ridership with webcams and other tools would provide people with choice to keep the ferry full but to avoid waits times by changing their ferry departure times.
  • I think that a $9000 increased operating cost to have a hybrid diesel electric vessel is too costly.
  • We need to clarify the difference between a diesel electric and a diesel hybrid propulsion system.
  • A diesel-electric is an old and widely used propulsion system with proven capabilities.
  • In choosing a propulsion system we should stay consistent with what the WA State Ferries are doing to take advantage of a trained labor pool, ability to convert to electric etc.
  • If we used the Whatcom Chief as a back-up could Skagit County be a partner for the emergency dry dock vessel?
  • It is not cost effective to pay for a second boat to be used as a backup.
  • We need to stay focused on the new boat and doing work on the terminals and look to other possible improvement down the road
  • Living on an island and not having a way off the island is scary. I don’t want to be stranded




  • It is undetermined whether a Ferry Taxing District to qualify for regional funding would be a Lummi Island only or a county-wide district.
  • Whatcom County may be able to form a ferry taxing district but the citizens would have to vote on the levy.
  • It’s unrealistic that we would not have to show support for the ferry project by not having a ferry district (skin in the game).
  • It is not clear how a ferry district would work.
  • The Public Works representative said that LI would not have to pay for capital improvements for the new ferry system just their share of operations and management.
  • We have to continue to work at keeping up the level of commuters as they are the backbone of ridership.
  • The 45% of ferry operation cost paid for by the County does not coming out of the cities (only the unincorporated County areas) even though cities do benefit from the ferry system.
  • Lummi Islanders paid much more taxes than the rest of the County and we are only 1/2% of the total county population.




  • A larger ferry will change the island with more cars, longer lines, and more development on Lummi Island.
  • A larger ferry would not mean larger lines.
  • If you are running the ferry every 20 minutes, that’s a failure
  • A 34 car ferry is safer
  • A 34 car ferry provides for alternative scheduling based on supply and demand.
  • Does this flexibility justify the cost?
  • Given the capital and similar operation and maintenance costs, it is more important to have a boat.
  • Having a small boat hurts the commuters the most as visitors care less about the wait time
  • The ferry wait time issues faced by commuters is also an issue for those with medical needs that need to keep their medical appointments.
  • We are told that the efficiencies and costs are comparable for a 28 and 33 car ferry; by that statement are we being slanted towards choosing the larger boat?
  • Remember we aren’t buying the boat, the County is lines
  • Hybrid diesel electric is convertible to electric and is ” greener”
  • The diesel propulsion option is cheapest to build and to maintain.




  • Presently, there are 2-3 houses for sale in Gooseberry. The County should pursue buying these properties.
  • Can the County government buy property without having an approved plan?
  • Gooseberry Options 2 and 3 use the same dock area; the difference between the two is the uplands development.
  • Parking is a huge issue so the property purchases are important to consider
  • How will queuing work on Option 2 if Lummi Drive is closed and redirected?
  • There is no clear information about the possibility of no future tidal or upland leases with the Lummi Nation and the trading of the county right- of-way for Lummi Nation right of way.
  • If a passenger floating dock were built, would it be available for community good Samaritan use when the passenger boat was not there yet?
  • A passenger-only dock is different from a “passenger loading dock/walkway which is an alternative for the Gooseberry relocation dock in the future.
  • Due to winter weather conditions there would be a concern for leaving the passenger-only dock in operational use year-round.
  • If the County is to acquire Gooseberry private property, you need to have a willing seller.
  • Does anybody know what the Gooseberry trestle deficiency rating is?
  • It is inspected three times more often than any bridge in the County.
  • The 90 K estimate for the cost of the webcam is the capital cost; the operating cost would be an ongoing expense.
  • There has been some concern about people’s privacy with the use of a webcam which can be addressed by blurring the resolution of the camera.
  • There would be only electronic ticketing on the ferry. A ticket vending machine would be located on Gooseberry.
  • It is clear that a two phase development plan is necessary to defer the costs over time and to allow the County and Lummi Nation time to work out the details for the Gooseberry relocation dock.


June 10th is the deadline for the LIFAC online ferry questionnaire which can be accessed at:

or paper copies are available at The Islander. On June 13th at 6:30 p.m. at the Fire Station  LIFAC will meet to discuss the questionnaire results.



Lummi Island Ferry Advisory Committee

Sunday, January 12, 2014 @ 06:01 PM
posted by mike

Purpose: The Committee provides review and recommendations to the Whatcom County Council and Executive on issues that affect the ongoing operations and infrastructure of ferry service to Lummi Island. The committee also provides a forum for those who depend upon Lummi Island ferry service to voice their ideas and concerns about the ferry service.

Duties: To advise the County Council or the Executive on the following functions:

A. Review and provide recommendations on proposed changes to ferry operations and fares; and

B. Review at least annually ferry revenue and expenditures, ferry fund balance, and actual versus targeted fare return, and

C. Assist the County in collecting information from ferry riders on actual and desired ferry services, concerns, and ideas for improved service; and

D. Analyze and develop recommendations to continue and improve the cost effective operation of ferry service to Lummi Island; and

E. Research, review, and make recommendations regarding ferry replacement, long-term planning, parking, transportation to and from ferry docks, alternative docking locations, alternative funding sources, and other major capital and operational issues regarding ferry service to Lummi Island.

Authority:  Whatcom County Ordinance 2012-005, Whatcom County Code 2.145

Contact Person:  County Council Office, 676-6690

Term Limit:  2 full consecutive terms, with one year separation from the advisory committee required before applying again.

Term Length: 3 years, one year separation required after two terms.

Number of Members: 7 members total. At least 4 and no more than 5 members are Lummi Island residents or property owners.