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Archive for the ‘CITIZENS TASK FORCE’ Category

Whatcom County Ferry Task Force Report

Monday, August 1, 2011 @ 04:08 PM
posted by mike

On August 1, 2011, the Ferry Task Force submitted its 161-page report to the Whatcom County Council.  The report is the culminations of a 6 month review of data and input from islanders, crew, and county administrators.  Read the report in its entirety here:

Table of Contents


1-6       Introduction

7-15     Recommendations

16-19    History

20-25   Ridership

26-39   Recommended Changes in Fare Technology/Drydock/Gooseberry Point Parking/Level of Service

40-64   Recommendations on Long-Term Fiscal Health/Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax and the Ferry Fund/45%-55% Formula/Enterprise Fund/Potential Grants and Districts/Capital Needs/Used vs. New/Coast Guard Boat Classes/Maintenance

65-88   Recommendations on Classifications of Ferry Expenditures and Accounting Practices/Professional Service Review/Cost Allocations and Overhead Review/Capital or Expense/Revenue Recognition

89-108  Recommendations on Fare Levels and Structure

109-119  Ferry Operational Budget  2006-2010

120-125  Characteristics of Six Ferries Used in Puget Sound & their Aptness for use to reach 3 different possible Whatcom County Terminals/Ferry Rate Comparisons

126-128  Chapter 10.34 with Recommended Changes in Ferry Rates

129-161  Process and Public Participation

Observations 4/25: Former Tsawwassen mgr shares insights

Long-time manager of the Tsawwassen ferry system in Canada shared ideas about efficient management of ferry systems, and participants raised questions with the task force. Preparations also were laid for the May 2 Open House. Task Force Observations 4-25-11


Observations 4/18: Fare structures & comparisons

Thursday, April 28, 2011 @ 03:04 PM
posted by mike

Diane Harper and Chandler Johnson created some scenarios for discussing the variety of fare structures, and comparisons to two other counties. Task Force Observations 4-18

Here is a link to an expanded version of fare structures, a power point presentation made by Diane Harper.


Observations 4/11: Operations analyses

Monday, April 18, 2011 @ 06:04 PM
posted by mike

Four members of the Task Force made presentations on topics ranging from electronic ticketing to what-if analysis on cutting the early and late runs. Also, bigger boat analysis, Gooseberry Point parking, and dry dock. Task Force Observations 4-11


Ferry Accounting 4/4: Costs, fuel tax, revenue, & more

Sunday, April 10, 2011 @ 08:04 PM
posted by mike

In this exceptional power-point presentation, Task Force member Patricia Dunn, a professional accountant w/ vast experience in transportation, dug into what she called an “antiquated” accounting system utilized by Whatcom County. She made many interesting discoveries among details that are not transparent, and overall found that, other than operating with an inefficient and difficult-t0-read accounting methodology, the County is by and large on target with its accounting of ferry operations.

Good reading, with some specific conclusions and probable forthcoming recommendations.


Observations 3/21: revenue streams, combined tax district, & more

Sunday, March 27, 2011 @ 06:03 PM
posted by mike

From combined notes by PLIC board members, comments by Task Force vice-chair Diane Harper, and input from attendee Terry Terry: Task Force Observations 3-21

A wide range of ideas floated from the floor after Jim Dickinson gave a report on some ideas of how additional revenue could stem from (a.) a combined tax district with the City of Bellingham where most ferry traffic flows, relieving all of the burden from falling on unincorporated areas; (b.) a back-up ferry that could be contracted for hauling propane service vehicles on a route to Orcas Island, and (c.) renting the Whatcom Chief for special events, such as weddings.

Attendees spoke to issues such as revenue generation from marketing Island events and the Whatcom  Chief, from a combined Lummi Nation/Lummi Island tax district, from grants, from naming rights, and from a closer review of cost allocations.


Observations 3/7: Review of Budget History

Friday, March 11, 2011 @ 09:03 PM
posted by mike

On behalf of PLIC, board member Rhayma Blake compiled notes, highlighted by Task Force member Pat Dunn’s findings on ferry expenses from 2000-2009 delineating labor and maintenance expenses.  The group, by consensus, agreed to delay examination of ferry user needs and a study of trips taken until the end of April, after more detailed 2010 census data might become available.

Task Force Observations 3-7-11 Mtg.

Task Force 2000-2009 Ferry Fund Expense


Observations 2/28: grants, history, fare comparison, & ridership

Friday, March 4, 2011 @ 09:03 PM
posted by mike

Members of the PLIC Board combined notes, and Rhayma Blake compiled a report of the Task Force’s examination of historical data on the ferry’s History, Fare Comparison as compared with other ferry systems, Ridership History, and possible sources for grants.  Here is an overview of the proceedings from that meeting:  

Task Force Observations 2-28-11


Observations of 2/21 meeting w/Ferry Crew

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 @ 08:03 AM
posted by mike

Members of the PLIC Board combined notes, and Rhayma Blake compiled a report of ideas and thoughts presented to the Task Force by ferry captain Mark Richardson and deckhand/purser John Mulhern. Task Force and Ferry Crew Report 2-21-11

They talked about operations and revenues and responded to questions from the task force and audience. Among many points made: they favor no discounted fares except for multi-ride usage (punch cards); they favor an electronic fare-collection system; they feel that operations, because of set scheduling and duties, is by-and-large efficient; 10 full-time crew and 5 retired crew receive free passage along with spouses and dependent children (when applicable), by labor contract, but not other family members.

One item directly relating to the task force’s exploration of costs and revenues: upward to $18,000 a year occurs in uncollectible fares (loosely referred to as IOUs) such as riders who present a credit card, a Washington state ferry pass, or do not have cash or a punch card.  Most common occurrences are with service vehicles and non-resident visitors to the island who don’t know the system.  Mulhern said he would venture a guess that IOUs could amount to $50 a day, on average.


Previous February Meetings 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 @ 10:02 PM
posted by mike

Presentations by Public Works and County Finance Department 2/7 in Bellingham

FERRY TASK FORCE – Abart Report compiled from notes by a PLIC Board member.

Treasurer’s Presentation 2-7-11 handed out by County Treasurer.

NEEDS-BASED FARES REPORT taken from notes of a PLIC  Board member.

OVERVIEW OF MEETING 2-7-2011 created by a PLIC Board member.


Summary: 2/7 Abart Session

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 @ 10:02 AM
posted by mike

County Treasurer Steve Oliver presented a report on special needs fares. Treasurer’s Presentation 2-7-11

Public Works Director Frank Abart presented a report on all facets of the ferry operations, and fielded questions from the Task Force and citizens in attendance.