Panel seeks Islanders’ input on range of transportation issues

A Vashon citizens’ committee is mailing a survey to all Vashon households this week in the hope that it will help Islanders influence a range of state and county decisions on both ferry and bus service on Vashon.

The survey — crafted by the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council’s transportation committee — asks Islanders to answer 23 questions on issues ranging from recent cancellations of the south-end ferry to the possibility of building a bridge to the Island.

The survey will also collect demographic information about the Island.

Vickie Mercer, a member of the transportation committee, said she hopes it will garner enough support to provide strong statistical information about the Island, its residents and their transportation needs and desires.

The community council conducted a similar survey in 2004, which 2,200 people participated in. Mercer said she hopes 2,500 people will answer the questions in this new survey.

“The total numbers speak volumes,” she said.

The committee’s survey comes at the same time that the state’s Department of Transportation is conducting a lengthy survey about a wide range of ferry-related issues. But that survey is expected to tally the responses of only 300 Islanders, Mercer said. What’s more, it is being handed out only on the ferries and thus fails to capture the sentiments of people — some of whom are low-income — who use the ferries infrequently.

“We encouraged (the state’s) consultants to broaden their horizon and include those who cannot afford to ride the ferry,” Mercer said. “We’re doing that by having one of our distribution points at the food bank.”

Mercer said the community council was able to provide $1,300 to cover the costs of the survey.

There’s evidence the 2004 survey influenced regional planners, she said. The state was considering directing all Vashon ferry traffic downtown to Coleman Dock until Islanders indicated their objection in Vashons’ survey.

Mercer said she hopes this survey will also have an impact.

“Lots of money has been spent on regional transportation planning, but we don’t feel they’ve gone into the community and gotten some nitty-gritty information,” she said. “We are hoping to show that a regional transportation plan can benefit from our answers.”

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